Bob Mould walks the ’Line’

by Sam Baltrusis

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday March 8, 2008

When it comes to revisiting the painful war stories from his in-the-closet past including a messy band breakup with his H?sker D? cohort Grant Hart and a stint at a Minnesota farmhouse where he quit drugs and alcohol, alt-rock icon Bob Mould speaks with a candid sincerity.

However, when asked if he has any lingering resentment about the infamous 1994 Spin magazine profile that outed the indie forefather against his will, Mould's tone changes.

"I have a lot of thoughts looking back at that piece," he says about the article by noted novelist and journalist Dennis Cooper. "Spin proposed this article and they were like 'we're going to talk about Bob's homosexuality with or without him.' I could pass and they would write what they want or I could talk to them and they would write what they want."

Mould says Cooper spent several days hanging out with the legendary musician and his former boyfriend in Austin, Texas.

"There was one moment during the second day he turned his tape recorder on and he got a handful of attributable quotes," he says, recalling the inflammatory comments he made to Cooper regarding gay pride. "I know I can be a loose cannon at times and I'm not necessarily the best role model. But coming out is never easy. There isn't a handbook or anything. I did the best I could."

Mould, phoning from a caf? near his home in Washington, D.C., says he's gotten over the initial resentments he had when the Spin article first hit.

"At this point, I laugh about it," the 47-year-old veteran says. "My life is really integrated and I feel a lot better about myself and understand my place in the community. Now, everything is great but it's taken awhile to get there."

Armed with eight influential H?sker D? albums, three MTV-friendly Sugar records and eight solo efforts, the latest of which, "District Line," mishmashes all of his previous work into an emotive, guitar-friendly package, gone are the booze-and-speed-fueled H?sker D? days that earned him the "meanest man in rock" reputation.

Whether he mellowed out with age or finally came to terms with his canonized musical past, Mould is a changed man.

"I was a confused, self-hating gay man during the Reagan years ... a lot of fun there," he says about the tumultuous early days with the '80s hardcore act H?sker D?.

Mould partially attributes the transformation from an angst-ridden hellraiser to an openly gay musician comfortable in his own skin to his decision to cut drugs and alcohol from his life in the late '80s.

"I was 25-years-old going on 26 and I had been drinking everyday for 12 years," he says, adding that his decision to live sober literally saved his life. "I knew where it was going to lead. I was drinking a lot of alcohol and fully functioning and that was scary. Where do you go from there?"

After H?sker D? broke up in 1988, Mould sequestered himself in a remote Minnesota farmhouse, quit drugs and alcohol cold turkey and crafted the songs that would make up his stripped-down first solo album, "Workbook."

"Everybody likes to pen that the heroin thing broke the band (H?sker D?) up, but I'm willing to take my fair share of the blame," he says.

"I know I can be a loose cannon at times and I'm not necessarily the best role model. But coming out is never easy. There isn't a handbook or anything. I did the best I could."

With more than 20 years of sobriety under his belt, Mould offers advice to young musicians struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.

"Our business isn't good at taking care of its artists," he says. "Sometimes I wonder if they see an artist struggling and if they're able to produce great work in a messed-up state, I feel like the business has the tendency to try to keep them in that state because they feel like helping them may negatively impact their work."

Mould continues, "Once we throw away that romantic notion of the candle burning in the wine bottle and sitting there over a scotch and soda and pouring over our misery like no one will understand, then you're able to move on with life and grow up."

District Line is available now on ANTI-Records. Check out for more information.

Bob Mould's "District Line" national tour:

Saturday, March 8: Cleveland OH, Grog

Monday, March 10: Toronto ON, Mod Club

Wednesday, March 12: Boston MA, Paradise

Thursday, March 13: New York City NY, Fillmore

Friday, March 14: Philadelphia PA, Trocadero

Saturday March 15: Washington DC, 9:30 Club + BLOWOFF

Monday, March 17: Charlotte, NC, Visulite Theatre

Tuesday, March 18: Atlanta GA, Variety

Thursday, March 20: Austin TX, Antone's

Saturday, March 22: Boulder CO, Fox Theatre

Monday, March 24: San Diego CA, Belly Up

Tuesday, March 25: Los Angeles CA, El Rey

Wednesday, March 26: San Francisco CA, Great American Music Hall

Friday, March 28: Portland OR, Doug Fir

Saturday, March 29: Seattle WA, Neumo's

Sunday, March 30: Vancouver BC, Richard's

Sam Baltrusis has worked for WHDH-TV, CW56, MTV, VH1, Seventeen, Newsweek and as a regional stringer for The New York Times. He's currently a full-time freelance editor/writer based in Boston. Check out his blog at