Thirty-five years after the abrupt and still mighty disappointing end of his first band Hüsker Dü, Greg Norton was ready to go all-in again this time last year.

"I want to get back to music being a career, and not a side hustle," the veteran bassist said.

Just as he was about to hit the road with his new group UltraBomb last summer, though, Norton's plans again came to an unexpected halt.

The same month he was to begin a U.K. tour with his new bandmates, the 64-year-old rocker-turned-chef-turned-wine-specialist-turned-rocker-again instead had to begin treatment for prostate cancer at the Mayo Clinic. He had been diagnosed only a few weeks earlier.

Noting how "frustrated" he felt, Norton wrote in a post at the time, "I was really hoping to be sharing how excited I was to be coming back to play England for the first time in 35 years!"

Unlike with his first noisemaking trio, though, UltraBomb's hiatus was only temporary.

The band he formed via Facebook friendships with two other veteran punk rockers from two different countries will kick off its first-ever tour next Thursday at the Turf Club in St. Paul.

UltraBomb's 17-city U.S. tour then heads downriver to Winona for a Mid West Music Fest gig next Friday. It culminates at the Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas with other old-time punk acts such as Rancid, Fear, Fishbone and L7.

In the interim since his cancer diagnosis, UltraBomb's debut album, "Time to Burn," has been pressed to vinyl. Norton's old band also has dropped a "new" record — a live collection recorded over a yearlong span 1979-1980 at Minneapolis' legendary Longhorn Bar.

As quickly as he's watched his music dreams dashed, Norton is seeing his musical pursuits indeed became a full-time occupation this spring.

And that's not the only good news.

"So far, in all the follow-up tests, everything looks good," he said of his cancer treatment, urging all men middle-aged and older to get their prostates regularly checked.

"The doctors caught it early enough to keep it contained."

Still proudly sporting the handlebar moustache he's been rocking since his Hüsker Dü days, Norton appeared at both the Electric Fetus and Down in the Valley on Record Store Day two weekends ago to sign copies of that day's exclusive RSD Hüskers release, "Tonite Longhorn."

The two-LP set came from cassette recordings made by longtime sound engineer and record-label operator Terry Katzman, who died in 2019. They are among the earliest recordings of the band.

More than any others in the Hüskers canon, "Tonite Longhorn" shows off the three members — all still under 21 at the time — having fun together while at the wildly spirited downtown Minneapolis venue. The Longhorn predated 7th St. Entry, where the trio would record their first full-length LP, "Land Speed Record," a year later.

"The material was mostly kind of goofy, and the performances are very raw, but I always loved the way we sounded back then," Norton said.

Highlighting how raw they were going into their Longhorn era, he remembered going to the club with his bandmates Grant Hart and Bob Mould to audition one afternoon for new owner Hartley Frank.

"There was like a businessman's brunch going on in the bar next door, and [Suburbs frontman] Chan Poling was actually there sweeping the floor or whatever," he recalled.

"We set up and start playing. Hartley comes out and is kind of screaming at us: 'Who are you guys? What do you want?' Grant was like, 'We want to play here.' And Hartley said, 'Fine, you can have the opening slot next Friday night. Just shut the hell up and get out of here!'"

"So technically we passed the audition. And for the rest of the summer, we would go to the back of the Sweet Potato [alt-weekly newspaper] to find the Longhorn ad and see, 'Oh [expletive], we're playing on Thursday night!' We wound up playing a bunch of opening slots and worked our way up to middle and then headlining slots."

Following Hart's death to cancer in 2017, "Tonite Longhorn" shows an ongoing level of cooperation among Norton, Mould and Hart's widow in culling the band's archives for new releases. There are still legal determents and record-label politics at play, but Norton happily reported, "There is plenty of archival material yet to be released."

"I don't think this will be the last Hüsker Dü release, but I also don't know when or what the next one will be," he summed up.

Norton briefly played in one band, Grey Area, after Hüsker Dü broke up in 1988, but he eventually quit playing music altogether for 14 years. He became a chef instead, working his way up from Table of Contents and the Loring Café in Minneapolis to opening his own now-defunct restaurant, Norton's, in Red Wing, where he still lives and is raising two daughters and a stepdaughter, ranging from ages 8 to 16.

It wasn't until jazz drummer Dave King of the Bad Plus recruited Norton into a new improvised group called the Gang Font in the early 2000s that he finally started playing bass again, after which he also played in the indie-rock trio Porcupine for several years.

Now, Norton is focused on playing the new tunes put to tape last year with his new UltraBomb bandmates, singer/guitarist Finny McConnell and drummer Jamie Oliver — the former of the Canadian band the Mahones, and the latter from the U.K. Subs.

With a classic Buzzcocks- and Ramones-copping, high-energy punk sound and frayed and frantic Hüsker Dü-style melodies, the trio converged in Berlin in 2021 when Oliver was there performing in another band. They recorded their album in a matter of days there with songs largely written on the spot.

"It brought me back to the early days of Hüsker Dü when it was three guys just hammering out songs together, working really efficiently and enthusiastically," Norton said.

UltraBomb's members "had a blast" when they reunited last summer, Norton said, for their one — and only one — gig at the Hook & Ladder in Minneapolis. McConnell dropped in a few Mahones songs to round out the set list at the show, and he and Norton shared vocals through several Hüsker Dü songs, too.

"Finny is a big Hüskers fan, so he knows those songs very well and loves doing them," Norton said. "Especially now that Grant's gone, I'm happy to play those songs to help keep his legacy alive."

As for his own musical legacy, Norton is happy to still be working on it.

"I'm having as much fun as I've ever had in music," he happily reported.


Turf Club: 8:30 p.m. Thu., May 11, with Bar Stool Preachers, St. Paul, $23-$25,

Mid West Music Fest: Midnight Fri., May 12, No Name Bar, Winona, $45/day, $79-$199/weekend,