We’re going to try to do something bigger than anything like rock & roll and the whole puny touring band idea. I don’t know what it’s going to be, we have to work that out, but it’s going to go beyond the whole idea of ‘punk rock’ or whatever. (Bob Mould)
Formed in 1979 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Husker Du eventually became on of the most recognizable names in rock music and for a good reason – their songwriting and musical skills were growing by leaps and bounds with each new album and only a tragedy and a number of unfortunate events prevented them from becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
Band started out as a quartet which consisted of Bob Mould (then a freshman at Macalester College), Greg Norton, Grant Hart (who worked at a Cheapo Discs record store in St. Paul, which was frequented by Mould) and Charlie Pine. Hart and Mould shared their love for Ramones and soon started a band, recruiting Pine and Norton. Pine, however, was given a boot during their first show on March 30, 1979 and thus they became a trio (and remained that way until the end of their career, with line-up intact).
They were touring actively throughout the 80s, while playing their brand of incredibly fast hardcore punk music (although they never saw themselves as a purely hardcore band and one indicator of this is their name chosen to its lack of association with politics or social issues of the day). They attracted attention of SST Records chief Greg Ginn who signed them to his label in 1982.
Much of their early material (live album “Land Speed Record” and “Everything Falls Apart”) came out on Reflex Records, while fellow band Minutemen released Husker Du single “In A Free Land” on their own label New Alliance records, which, in turn, led to a deal with SST.
1983 EP “Metal Circus” showed a different side of the band – its combination of melodicism and more traditional hardcore sound (“Diane”, in particular, which was based on a true story of a murder) led to their recognition among college crowd and was played by many college radio stations across US.
1984 double album “Zen Arcade” was recorded in 1984 for $3,500. Its a concept album about a boy who is leaving home in order to face the world. Musically, it was a mix of hardcore, avant-garde and, in the words of Rolling Stone’s David Fricke it was “the closest hardcore will ever get to an opera … a kind of thrash Quadrophenia”. Album contained a whole number of instrumentals, including a 13 minute+ closer called “Recurring Dreams”.
Being cautious, however, SST pressed only few thousand copies of the album and the record sold out before the band went on tour and remained out of stock for months to come, which frustrated both band and fans alike.
A follow-up called “New Day Rising” was released in 1985, six months after the release “Zen Arcade”. “Flip Your Wig” came out in the end of 1985 and became their last album for SST. Both “New Day Rising” and “Flip Your Wig” were featured in top-ten Village Voice magazine critics poll.
During the recording of “Flip Your Wig”, Husker Du were approached by Warner Bros. and since the band felt that the notion of being on SST no longer seemed attractive, they signed a contract with Warner. They were also interested in retaining a full creative control of their work, which was another reason for a move to Warner.
Warner Bros. contract led to 1986 “Candy Apple Grey” and 1987 double-album “Warehouse: Songs And Stories”, both of which enjoyed modest sales and even led to a band appearance on Joan Rivers show. It is said, however, that both of them are seen as less important than the band’s work for SST.
The band’s career came to a halt, following a suicide of the band’s manager David Savoy and Hart’s addiction to heroin, which led to the break-up during a 1987 tour in support of “Warehouse: Songs And Stories”. “The Living End” posthumous collection was based on band’s final tour.
All three members are still active in music business – Bob Mould was a member of Sugar (who scored a hit with “JC Auto” in the mid 90s), Mercyland and Blowoff, while Grant Hart was a member of Nova Mob. Greg Norton left music to concentrate on restaurant business, but eventually returned with a new band called Gang Font Feat Interloper, which also included members of Bad Plus and Happy Apple.
Grant Hart (Nova Mob)
Statues / Amusement 7″ (Reflex Records, 1980)
Land Speed Record LP (Alternative Tentacles, 1981 / New Alliance Records, 1981 / SST, 1987)
In A Free Land 7″ (New Alliance Records, 1982)
Metal Circus 12″ (SST, 1983)
Eight Miles High 7″ / CD-Single (SST, 1984)
Zen Arcade 2xLP / CD (SST, 1984)
Flip Your Wig LP / Cass/ CD (SST, 1985)
Makes No Sense At All / Love Is All Around 7″ / CD-Single (SST, 1985)
New Day Rising LP / CD (SST, 1985)
Candy Apple Grey LP / CD (Warner Bros., 1986)
Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely 12″ (Warner Bros., 1986)
Sorry Somehow 12″ / 2×7″ (Warner Bros., 1986)
Could You Be The One? 12″ (WEA / Warner Bros., 1987)
Husker Du 12″ (Warner Bros., 1987)
Ice Cold Ice 12″ (WEA, 1987)
The Warehouse Interview 2xLP (Warner Bros., 1987)
Warehouse: Songs And Stories 2xLP / CD / Cass (Warner Bros., 1987 / WEA Music of Canada, 1987)
Selected Compilation Tracks:
“Real World” on The Blasting Concept (SST, 1983 / 1990)
“Deadly Skies” + “Lifeline” on Underground Hits 2 (Aggressive Rockproduktionen, 1983 / 1992)
“In A Free Land (Live)” + “Target (Live)” + “It’s Not Funny Anymore (Live)” on Code Blue (Last Rites, 1984)
“Won’t Change” on A Diamond Hidden In The Mouth Of A Corpse (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1985 / Visionary Communications, 1997)
“Ticket To Ride” on NME’s Big Four (New Musical Express, 1986)
“Makes No Sense At All” + “Masochism World” + “Love Is All Around” on The 7 Inch Wonders Of The World (SST, 1986)
“Erase Today” on The Blasting Concept Volume || (SST, 1986)
“Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill” + “Powerline” on It’s Clean, It Just Looks Dirty (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1987)
“Don’t Try To Call” on SST Godhead Storedude In-Store Play Device #5 (SST, 1987)
“Won’t Change” on Smack My Crack (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1987)
“Eight Miles High” on Duck And Cover (SST, 1990)
MP3: Won’t Change