Bob Mold’s artistic rebirth – Tone Madison



Tone Madison: A great theme of Sun rock want to stay optimistic, or at least be determined to appreciate things and love others in the face of crises, then Blue hearts seems like, “Okay, these are the fits.”

Bob Mold: Yes. Indeed, they are. I think at that time, the clear and present dangers that were before us at the end of 19, and going through all – what ended up going through all 20, and continuing this year with politics in general, yes. I mean, my time in Berlin was pretty free and easy for me – I was building a new life, building a new circle of friends in a foreign country, and really enjoying it all. And when I came back here at the end of 2019, it was very clear what the problems were in America, and maybe I didn’t see them day to day, because I was in Berlin. But yes. I think you were talking about identity, and you know, for me, looking at where politics was in 2019, and looking at my life as a young homosexual in the early ’80s, when things were terribly difficult too, and that ‘is right – I mean, it was so obvious… maybe the whole thing was a little too much on the nose, but that’s the material I had to work with! [Laughs]

Tone Madison: Is it really possible that it’s too much on the nose? The whole world has been on the nose since 2016, at least.

Bob Mold: Law. Law. Yeah, it’s been wild, you know, between Brexit, which I think was the first iteration of what we’ve been through here for a number of years – yeah, a lot of things kind of stacked up and aligned, and who would have imagined that it could be so comparable, if not similar? It’s quite mind-blowing.

Tone Madison: Did life in Berlin impact the writing of Blue hearts, in that you could be a little bit removed from what was going on, just stepped away from it, and then just sort of watched it from afar with a bit of detachment?

Bob Mold: Yes. Well, Berlin is a city very rich in history. There is a lot to learn by observing how other countries run their politics, how they run their history, how they run the future. In Berlin it was very, very progressive and very aware of things that had happened before and things that had to happen in the future. And, they just had — Germany just had their national elections a few weeks ago. You know, they have six big parties! And they must create a coalition government.

Tone Madison: They have to.

Bob Mold: They must. Who wins the majority of the popular vote, and I think this time it was the SPD, which is the center-left party, and I think they won 28%? So they have to come out and find 22.1 percent more among the other five parties to create a government. It’s very different from a binary choice, which is what we have in America, the kind of winner mentality that takes it all. So, I mean, you know, having been there in 2017 to observe their political cycle, it felt like a better system to me, because it forces coalition and compromise. I don’t know, I guess that’s one thing I remembered from my time there? And then looking back here, it’s just kind of a death match. [Laughs]

Tone Madison: How do you generally create songs? Do you have some methods that you like to use, or are you inspired by it as it comes, or is it just something that works back then?

Bob Mold: Always grateful when a new melody or a new set of words appear. I document these melodies or phrases as quickly as possible. Sometimes, for example right now, in the middle of a touring cycle, I just collect ideas on the back of the napkin. And one of the beauties, I guess, with the solo tour like the one I have starting on Friday, is that I have a lot of time alone in the rental car every day, and I can think of those melodies and those words, and kind of keep track of whatever goes through my mind. And I can work on new ideas at the soundcheck, I can work on new ideas in the car. I can just keep putting things together. Typically, it’s a question of – for me, it’s a question of putting all these lost ideas together. Once I’m done with a cycle, with a new album, and with all the touring, I’ll come home, wherever the house is at that time, and look at all the ideas and see what I have in mind and I will see if there are themes, whether musically or lyrically, they will show me the way to the next album. When I start writing albums, I usually write them with sort of openings, closings, side closures, and side openings, as anchor points to tell a continuing story, like I tried to do. with Blue hearts. Sometimes it’s really successful, sometimes I end up with lots of mixed up ideas that make an album, but I always try to write 40 minutes of popular music, a 12 inch double-sided album. These are my settings, I guess, that I’m trying to write inside.

Tone Madison: That’s a great formal consideration. I guess another thing is, what stylistic aspects of your guitar playing influence your composition the most?

Bob Mold: Rhythm guitar part. I am a bad solo guitarist! [Laughs] And it gets worse and worse over time!

Tone Madison: “I’ll never forget you” out of Zen Arcade has a great guitar solo!

Bob Mold: [Laughs] Oh, that was a long time ago. I appreciate kind words, but I don’t think I could play like this if my life depended on it now! [Laughs] I like to look at the guitar as some kind of all-in-one band, and rhythm guitar is really more suited for that – I can keep the basics with the low strings, and I can be really punchy with my playing on the strings. higher. And with solo electric shows, that’s the function of my playing, it’s more like playing acoustic guitar, just playing a kind of rhythm part – creating rhythm and melody and foundation all at the same time. I think I’m a really good rhythm guitarist and not such a good lead, but I’ll take your praise on the ’84 album for sure.


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