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Former Hüsker Dü frontman Bob Mould 'makes sense' of life as an aging icon

Bob Mould performs during the second day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Saturday, April 18, 2009.
Bob Mould performs during the second day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Saturday, April 18, 2009.
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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Punk Rockers never die, they just stand in the back.

And one might see a lot of them standing in the back of the Hollywood Bowl this weekend when legendary guitarist Bob Mould takes the stage. 

Mould has been performing for nearly four decades now. He got his start with the seminal punk band Husker Du, known widely for their hit "Makes No Sense at All."

At 55, Mould is able to make a lot more 'sense of it all.' He recently sat down with Take Two's Alex Cohen to reflect on the trajectory of his career: from a young man making an angry brand of music in the Midwest with a bunch of other guys to a solo artist who sequestered himself away in Northern California to record a solo album released earlier this year.

What was going on in your world when you penned "Makes No Sense At All?"

In 1984, 1985, the music landscape was starting to change. It was almost as if what we were doing with hardcore punk and alternative music, you know, creating new venues for people to play, independent labels, fanzines, it was quickly becoming co-opted by the mainstream. 

That co-opting coincided with me as a songwriter starting to mature, starting to put a lot more emphasis on melody, more introspective lyrics. That was one of my favorite songs from that band — I think that was a real turning point for the band. 

You were a young guy at the time. When you're a young punk rocker, do you even think about what your life is going to look like when you're in your 50s? 

Not in my early 20s — I was just hoping to make it to 30. But I think as all of us get closer to 30, we go 'oh, maybe I'll make it to 40,' and by the time you get to 30 you realize 'oh, I'm probably going to make it a long time if I'd like to.' 

As far as being a lifetime musician, I was pretty short-sighted then. As the band got more popular and my writing got better, I started to hope for a future. 

I'd like to listen to a song your most recent album. This is a track called "The End of Things."

This is a song off of an album you released earlier this year called "Patch the Sky," and it was written during a pretty difficult time in your life. Can you share just a little about what was happening at the time and how it influenced the title?

The last five years have been really, really busy for me. I was out touring, and my dad passed in fall of 2012, so that was best of times at work, worst of times personally. That informed a lot of the writing for an album called "Beauty & Ruin" that came out in 2014. As I think happens to a lot of us who lose one parent, the second parent is not far behind. 

So at the beginning of 2015, when it was time to have some quiet, I went home to San Francisco and just spent six months at home writing music and words and rebuilding myself and gathering thoughts. 

So with this record, I think the stories are somewhat darker than normal. I think the music is a lot brighter. In my work, I think one of the techniques that I've used is that contrast of bright melodies with darker lyrics. With this record, it was pretty clear that I should turn up the musical brightness as much as possible. 

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.