Solo, Bob Mold discovers his musical past

On Wednesday night, Lark Hall in Albany will host one of its biggest shows yet when punk and alt-rock icon Bob Mold brings his one-man electric tour to town. A one-man show conjures up thoughts of a laid-back affair, but for Mold, performing alone is anything but laid-back.

“The solo show is more work than a group show,” he said. “With the volume and power of the three-piece band, people think, ‘Wow, that’s really physical.’

“Solo is like, ‘Wow, I gotta cover all the parts,'” Mr Mold continued. “I’m always more tired after solo exhibitions.”

The tour that brings him to Albany is built around two aspects of his discography: the “Distortion” box sets – which chronicle his entire post-Husker Du career – and his brilliant 2020 album “Blue Hearts”, a set loud and fast with protest songs that channel the power and musical intensity of his punk rock past. Playing solo is a looser experience for Mould, giving her the opportunity to expand her set list and explore the full depth of her song catalog.

“When I’m working with (drummer) Jon (Wurster) and (bassist) Jason (Narducy), we don’t have a lot of time to rehearse, so there’s a slate of work ahead of time,” explained Mr Mold. “By myself, I am not bound by these constraints; the list of songs is much deeper, the songbook opens wider.

“One-man shows are more flexible, spontaneous,” he added. “Because they’re more intimate, I can get a sense of what people enjoy and that flexibility is really different.”

Musical flexibility has come to define Mold’s career. As a solo artist, he often took unexpected sonic detours. His 1989 “Workbook” LP was a radical departure from Husker Du’s aggressive punk rock, rooted in folk and more muted tones. Living in New York in the late 1990s, Mold got into the club scene and took up DJing. These influences are reflected in the all-electronic soundscapes of his 2002 album “Modulate.”

The 18 studio albums, four live releases and two rarities albums on the ‘Distortion’ set show Mold’s willingness to take sonic risks and defy expectations. By bringing all of his work together in one collection, Mold discovered that there were thematic coherences that ran through all of his work, regardless of style.

“There’s a guideline: my work is always very personal in nature and even when it’s more observational, it’s still very personal as it explores my perspective on others,” he explained. . “There’s a methodology to the way I write, and I really try to showcase my geography and my place with my writing.

“When Husker Du broke up, I was locked up in Minnesota, learning to write and play guitar again outside of the band,” Mr. Mold continued. “When I was living in Manhattan, I was really immersed in the gay life, the subculture and the club music, and the music reflected that. These are pretty opposite examples of environment – geographically and physically – and how that had an impact on what I was writing.

In theory, a project like “Distortion” risks seeming nostalgic, a way of staying in the past instead of moving forward. But Mold sees it differently, because it happened “at an interesting time.”

The pandemic “made it difficult in terms of anticipation” and focusing on new projects. “Distortion” allowed him to process and organize his past.

This has come in handy during his electric solo shows, as it helps him redesign songs in a way that interests him.

“I’m not one to look back and ‘nostalgia’ is such a strong word,” he said. “A songbook is part of a living being that I constantly update, it’s not something fixed.

“Solo shows allow me to reinterpret songs on the fly,” Mr. Mold continued. “A song like ‘What Do You Want Me To Do’ was written like 70s power pop. When I play it myself, I play it like slow blues and it reads differently. Moments like that are the fun part.

Bob Mold with J. Robbins

When: 8 p.m., Wednesday, May 18

Where: Lark Hall, 351 Hudson Ave., Albany

Tickets: $35

Note: Masks are mandatory for participation as requested by Bob Mold

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