NEW YORK (Billboard) - Facing 50, many musicians would either be looking at retirement or resigning themselves to playing the county fair circuit. But Bob Mould, who got his start in the ‘80s with the Minneapolis punk outfit Husker Du and then fronted the more pop-rock-oriented Sugar in the ‘90s, is doing neither.
Mould, 48, has a new album, a forthcoming autobiography and a gig as a respected DJ. But even with all that going for him, he still faces one big challenge: how to be relevant to a generation born during his punk rock heyday.
With the release of “Life and Times” April 7 on Anti- Records, Mould will see if he’s still as timely as he ever was, or whether he should consider calling it a day.
His book editor, music writer Michael Azerrad, thinks Mould won’t have any problems staying in the spotlight. “Bob has had an extremely rare second and even third act,” he says. “Husker Du helped blaze a trail through America that indie bands are still following today, and trailblazers see things no one else has seen before.” Mould has written columns for the Washington City Paper and has blogged as well, so the leap from lyricist to memoirist isn’t a stretch for him.
“The trick is to take all that information and find my story in there,” Mould says. “Hopefully it will be more than just a recounting of what happened. I’m hoping that it adds up to people.” The as-yet-untitled book is due from Little, Brown in 2010.
Before he goes on a book tour, Mould will pack up his record bag and his guitar and hit the road. In recent years, he has built a reputation as a DJ that has helped expand his audience outside the classic punk rock sphere.
Since 2003, along with Deep Dish’s Richard Morel, Mould has been hosting Blowoff, a monthly DJ event at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club, which now has regular gigs at New York’s Highline Ballroom and Southpaw.
“It caters to a gay male audience, but it’s hosted in rock clubs,” Mould says. “I really can’t tell you how much fun it is. I so look forward to it every time I gather up my albums and go spin music.” Mould is bringing Blowoff to San Francisco later this year, with dates in Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta planned in the future.
As far as touring with a band in support of the new album, Mould is undecided about the look and feel of any shows. Typically sanguine, he says he’ll put together a touring band if he feels like he needs it to support a record and if the timing is right; he’s content to just play solo acoustic shows, too.
“It’s really liberating because I don’t have to concern myself with rhyme or pop structure,” Mould says. “It’s focused more on a style where I’m starting with words and ideas and I’m improvising music to that.” Mould started composing the material for “Life and Times” in the summer of 2007, but the jump from Yep Roc, where he had fulfilled his one-album deal, to Anti-, threw off the release timeline.
Mould is one of a number of established artists that Anti- has signed, among them Tom Waits, Nick Cave, the late Porter Wagoner and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.
The challenge is to bring them to newer, younger crowds, and with Mould and “Life and Times,” the label hopes to tap into the blogs that have focused on younger indie acts -- Mould’s recent collaboration with the young noise-punk band No Age at the recent Noise Pop festival in San Francisco certainly helped.
That Mould has become a Renaissance figure gives him more career options than just the recording/touring drill. While many older artists look for ways to capture their glory days through cycles of reunion tours or by dipping into their catalog, Mould’s interest lies with the future. “The idea is to try and keep it as inspirational as possible in the scenario,” he says. “I don’t think about making records; I just try to think about getting an idea captured.”