Breaking the Mould
BOB MOULD, formerly of Hiisker Dii and Sugar, is unplugging his amps and opting for quieter times. Words: Alastair Mabbott
To his fans. it’ll feel like the end of an era — perhaps the one that began with his namesake Bob Dylan being derided as ‘Judas!’ for fronting a plugged-in, wired- up rock ’n’ roll band. For Bob Mould. the man who made the power trio credible again — splitting ears first with Hiisker Dii and then Sugar — has decided that this will be his last tour with an electric band. The new album, The Last Dog And Pony Show. is the swansong of a dense. furious sound that’s been his signature since the days of punk. Henceforth. although ‘anything’s fair’ in the recording studio. he’ll be concentrating on solo acoustic performances when he appears live.
‘l’ve been doing it for almost twenty years. and it’s been very reliable and all those things. but I don't want to overstay my welcome.’ he says. ‘And there’s been moments in the last couple of years when I’ve sort of felt . . . not losing interest in it. but sensing that I will lose interest in it at some point. And I really don’t want to stay too long. 'cause then it doesn’t serve anybody well. Another issue is that I’m 37 now. l want to try to create a life beyond my career for the first time. and touring with a band is pretty destructive as far as having a real life goes.‘
In some ways. it’s been a long time coming. The comparatively pastoral solo debut ll’orkbook was one of his finest hours. showing that his songs could be just as effective with the amps turned down. or with no amps at all. But so quickly did he abandon that sound for the relentless cacophony of Black Sheers ()fRain that it’s surprising to hear how gush)‘ he can get when reminded of it.
‘God. 1 would kill for another one of those. I’m serious. Oh. man. who cares if it sells. I’d just love to have a record with that feel again. Workbook — what a vibe. God. That’s like Harvest. right? So when does Harvest Moon come for me? When do I get close to that again? ll’orkbook is a pretty stellar moment in my life.‘
'I want to try to create a life beyond my career for the first time, and touring with a band is AS pretty destructive as far as having a real life goes.’
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Mould is known as much for the volume and intensity of his bands as for his integrity and general all-round good-blokeishness. But the essence of what he does. and what he is. is always present. whichever format he chooses. ‘The acoustic shows are no well- mannered child. either!’ he points out. ‘That thing can be pretty ugly. snarly . . . it’s equally loud and energetic.‘ those who were fortunate enough to squeeze their way into an early-90$ Bob Mould solo acoustic gig at the Sub Club will testify. ‘There’ll be things very reminiscent of that in years to come.’ assures Mould. ‘And I look forward to that too. It’s my life when l do those. It’s fun. I so look forward to those. because I’m not on a schedule. I’m not on a tourbus. I’m not handcuffed to something. I‘m just free to do what I want. I love it. By the same token. this fall will be . . . knowing there’s a beginning to the fun and an end to the fun. it should all be fun.‘
Last Dog And Pony Show is released on Creation on Mon 24 Aug
ROCK Spare Snare
According to the self-deprecating Jan Burnett, the world is not waiting for the next Spare Snare album. Fortunately for the world, or the part of it that digs intriguing musical surprises from left of centre, it’s about to be released regardless. Animals And Me, the Snare's third album, is the finest and most varied expression of their DIY aesthetic yet and a pointed reminder that budget home-recording can stretch the imagination more effectively than slicker productions where studio effects are handed to you on a plate.
The Dundee group, whose line-up is completed by Alan Cormack and Barry Gibson, have always been fringe operators, over the course of three albums recorded for their own Chute Records and a variety of singles and EPs for other labels.
'It's partly financial,‘ says Burnett of their practice of recording at home, ’and partly feeling at ease — we don’t have to look at the clock.’
This freedom has helped produce an album that charms, from the surprisingly poppy opener ’l'll Get By’ to the wistful strains of 'I Feel The Sun And It’s Mine’. Highlights tend to coincide with the effective use of slide guitar and other countryish influences, like the ragged Joy Divisionesque 'What's Going On’.
Burnett is unsure how this material can be reproduced live but there are no global tours on the schedule anyway, or plans for much beyond sticking to their guns and keeping up the personal approach to contact with the music industry.
'Industry people never come up to Dundee,’ laments Burnett. ’They come up to Glasgow but they don't seem to realise Dundee is just an hour and a half from Glasgow. In future we won’t be dealing with anyone that won't come up to my house and have a cup of coffee with us. We've got an airport - it’s not that hard!’ (Fiona Shepherd)
a Animals And Me is released on Chute Records on Mon 24 Aug.
“Spare Snare: on a drum roll
20—27 Aug 1998 THE usr no