New day rising

Mr. Mould goes to Washington
By BEN WESTHOFF  |  March 4, 2008

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As a member of alternative punk band Hüsker Dü and crunch-pop outfit Sugar, Bob Mould became legendary for blissful guitar melodies and personal lyrics that explored his inner angst. (He also wrote “Dog on Fire,” the Daily Show theme.) Having come out of the closet in the ’90s, he moved to Washington, DC, co-founded an enormously popular dance party, and released a pair of electronic albums. Like his previous disc, Body of Song, however, his latest CD, District Line, is mostly the guitar-based rock his fans know and love. The most shocking thing about his lyrics nowadays? He sounds so comfortable in his own skin. Mould plays the Paradise on Wednesday.

Will you be playing Sugar and Hüsker Dü songs on this tour?
Yeah. When I was touring Body of Song, I opened up the songbook to a handful of Hüsker Dü and Sugar songs, and it went over pretty well. They sounded good. I think people can expect more of the same, as well as a fair amount of the new record.

Would you say guitar rock remains your true love?
I’m guessing it [District Line’s guitar focus] is kind of a combination of two things — because Body of Song felt like a better fit to me, and because I got back out and played with a band in ’05. When I’m spending more time with the guitar, I typically write more with the guitar. It’s actually sort of that simple.

The stories on District Line feel, for lack of a better word, less angsty than those on your earlier albums.
I would agree with that. There’s a fair amount more resignation to the fact that life is exactly what it is, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to change it. You’ve just got to be in it. District Line is emotionally a bit broader than the other records, I think. There’s a fair amount of observation going on, about the simple stories of life, the simple stories of relationships. That’s what keeps all of us going, day after day. I don’t think it’s avarice, and I don’t think it’s lust — I think it’s wanting to belong in places with other people. I think these stories are observations on people that come and go, people that stay and then go, people that don’t show up. I think that’s really the core of what we do as people. We measure life by relationships and happiness and loss, and these are the stories in my head about those things.

What do you like about Washington, DC?
I’ve been here almost six years. I’ve got a love/hate thing with it like I do with anywhere. There are things that are really amazing, mostly my friends. There’s a fair amount of sky, a fair amount of space. It’s getting more dense and redeveloped and may become a condo corridor if it’s not careful. There are a lot of old houses. It’s taken a while to find the good people, but now that I’ve found them I really enjoy that part of it. It’s well located for the kind of travel I do.

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