Bob Mould. Photo by Blake Little Photography.

Quiet Rage

Punk singer-songwriter Bob Mould plays classics and workshops new songs on solo-electric tour stop in Eugene

Legendary punk singer-songwriter Bob Mould, former frontman with the wildly influential Midwestern hardcore band Hüsker Dü, has toured a few times recently as pandemic restrictions have ebbed and flowed. 

Mould’s current solo-electric tour, though — concluding in Eugene at Sessions Music Hall on April 19 — is something like a new beginning for the musician. It’s a chance to bring back classics after a prolonged period of relative dormancy, from Mould’s early Hüsker days to songs from his eclectic and lengthy solo career, and even some material from Mould’s short-lived post-Hüsker Dü band, Sugar. 

Mould will also likely perform material from his latest full-length release, Blue Hearts, and selections from the massive, solo and Sugar-era career-spanning boxed set Distortion: 1989-2019, both released in 2020.

More than anything, though, Mould hopes this tour will inspire new songwriting.

“Usually, when I’m in the car by myself and I have those four to six hours a day of driving, I really just enjoy thinking about words, thinking about stories, trying to come up with ideas toward future music and future recordings,” Mould tells Eugene Weekly over the phone. “Those periods of time end up being pretty fertile for me. I get to sound check and I usually come up with musical ideas.”

This approach worked for Mould once before in 1991, when he left Virgin Records for a period of solo touring, after which came Copper Blue and Beaster, two favorites from Sugar.

“That’s a lot of the purpose of this tour — not only to get back to work and get out and talk to people about the last record, but all the things that lead to the next record,” Mould says. “I’m hoping to have a number of good songs by the end of the year.”

A distinctive vocalist with a melodic bark that sometimes sounds like a punk rock equivalent to Richard Thompson, Mould is also an instantly recognizable guitarist, equally known for playing acoustic and electric guitars.

On this tour, though, Mould says he accompanies himself on electrified six strings, primarily for logistical concerns, but also for the improved audience connection afforded by playing standing up. Otherwise, Mould continues, his guitar playing and tone were inspired by the Ramones, Tom Verlaine from Television and even Pete Townsend.

Even though he’ll be performing alone in Eugene with just one instrument, Mould says to expect somewhere between a singer-songwriter performance and the full noise onslaught for which he is sometimes known — or, as Mould describes it, “quiet rage.”

Referring to Hüsker Dü, Mould says, “If I look back at the history that others have written,” of his revolutionary first band, which emerged around the same time as The Replacements in the Minneapolis music scene, it was among the first to take punk and hardcore away from political rage “and toward ’60s pop with an emphasis on melodies and personal politics.”

And although he’s experimented with many styles and sounds over the years, Mould has no problems calling the music he writes today “punk rock.”

“We all, over time, end up where we started. In a way, we all circle back,” he says.

Bob Mould performs solo-electric renditions of classics from throughout his career as well as new material, 7:30 pm Tuesday, April 19, at Sessions Music Hall; $25 advance, $50 dinner and a show; 21+.