At first glance, it may not look like much: just a shopping website with six different T-shirt designs for sale at $25 a pop. On a symbolic level, though, the new official Hüsker Dü merchandise site marks the first thaw in a glacial ice pack that formed in early 1988, when the influential Minneapolis punk trio broke up.
“Just 30 years in the making,” bassist Greg Norton quipped of the Official Hüsker Dü Merchandise page, which debuted over the weekend. It’s the first real bit of new Hüsker Dü business the three band members have agreed to since Warner Bros. issued the 1994 post-breakup album "The Living End." And it sounds like it won’t be the last.
Per Norton, the three long-feuding band members finally came together and agreed to recruit Dennis Pelowski, Minneapolis-based manager of the Meat Puppets, to “help us figure out how to get a foothold back in the business.” Pelowski and the Puppets already have experience dealing with SST Records, the label run by Black Flag guitarist and one of punk’s most maligned businessmen Greg Ginn, which issued five of Hüsker Dü’s earliest albums.
Among the new developments so far, the band sorted out licensing issues with SST, which helped lead to the 1984 classic “Pink Turns to Blue” being featured in a recent episode of the AMC TV series “Halt and Catch Fire.” Next up, an official Facebook page is likely to go online soon, replacing several fan-run pages out there.
Norton said there also could be some posters and other artwork on the merchandise page soon, much of which features designs done by singer/drummer Grant Hart. T-shirts and posters have been available here and there over the years, but a lot of that product was unauthorized. The official shirt designs available now include artwork from the band's "Everything Falls Apart" and "Land Speed Record" albums and their 1981 debut single "Amusement."
Of course, the one thing fans really want to know is whether or not this new business front might lead to the old recordings being freshly cultivated. Hüsker Dü might have the most poorly mined catalog in all of rock, with no anthology or outtakes collection, just one album reissue (the originally self-released "Everything Falls Apart"), no remastered or expanded editions of other records, and just the one live album – an unusual dead zone that stems from legal conflicts with SST, plus the fact that the catalog is also split between a second, bigger label, Warner Bros. Singer/guitarist Bob Mould has also resisted new Hüskers business for a long time to retain focus on his ever-active solo career.
“There are more moving parts than we’d like to deal with, but we’ll see what happens,” Norton said, pointing to possible vaulted live recordings and film footage that could be issued anew. But it sounds like that's all still loose talk.
“The main thing is, there’s ongoing communication between the three of us now,” Norton recapped -- another development that's only been decades in the making.