Bob Mould, ex- of Husker Du and Sugar, after his June 14 reading at Magers & Quinn bookshop in Minneapolis.
He’s used to playing concerts for thousands of people, but Bob Mould said he was nervous on Tuesday night doing a reading for about 75 fans at Magers and Quinn books in Minneapolis.
“It’s my first proper book reading, ever,” said the rocker, singer, songwriter, guitarist and now, at 50, author. His autobiography, “See a Little LIght,” comes out today (June 15).
Much of the 75-minute reading dealt with Mould’s reflections on his coming out, because, he said, "For many years I haven't bridged my sexuality with you all." He had a steady live-in boyfriend in Minneapolis through much of the 1980s, when his band Husker Du was making a name for itself, but Mould said his gayness was “an open secret” at that time, something that he neither hid nor advertised.
Mould’s reluctance to be openly gay in his twenties and early thirties stemmed less from being in a hardcore rock world that he claimed was macho but not homophobic, and more from “my own ignorance,” skewed portrayals of gays in the media that made him feel he didn't belong, and a Catholic small-town upbringing in upstate New York. Those factors, along with the AIDS crisis, led Mould to “hate the fact that I was gay.”
Mould’s father (“he was a monster, and he was a great dad”) drove him west to Macalester College in 1979. Soon after, he met Grant Hart and Greg Norton (I didn't see either of them at the reading) and they formed Husker Du. Over the next nine years they became one of hard rock’s most cherished bands on the basis of nonstop touring and such albums as “New Day Rising,” “Flip Your Wig” and the the blistering, legendary, 23-song “Zen Arcade,” which was to the band as "Daydream Nation" was to Sonic Youth.
After Husker Du’s breakup, Mould moved to Pine City, Minn., and then to New York, emerging as a solo act with critically acclaimed albums like “Workbook” and “Black Sheets of Rain.” As frontman for the band Sugar, Mould made “Copper Blue,” an alt-radio and commercial success, in 1992.
The past 20 or so years have been Mould’s more overt coming out. He hit the gym, moved away from rock music, made new friends and workied regularly as a deejay in gay dance clubs in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. He said he discovered that his "type" of gay man was the masculine type referred to as Bears--often big, bearded and found in leather bars.
Mould spent nearly three years writing his new book, with Michael Azerrad, which traces his life in music and how his upbringing influenced the “anger and rage in my early work, which has tempered with age.”
Now living in San Francisco with a partner and doing some solo gigs at festivals and concerts, Mould seems content. “It’s nice to be whole, finally," he said.
"See a Little Light" by Bob Mould
"Makes No Sense At All" by Husker Du, from Flip Your Wig