Back in 1998, feeling ignored and more than a little bored with loud guitar rock, Bob Mould took a semi-permanent vacation from the grind after touring out the aptly titled The Last Dog And Pony Show. Mould moved from New York to Washington, D.C., began dabbling in electronic music (culminating in 2002’s syncretic Modulate) and started DJing a gay-friendly dance night at the 9:30 Club. Now comes the return of Bob rock, with Body Of Song (Yep Roc) splitting the difference between Sugar’s blast-furnace emo and Modulate’s laptop pop. Just don’t call it Moby Dü. He hates that.
Let’s go back to The Last Dog And Pony Show. What’s going through Bob’s mind? Bob is tired of …
Bob is tired of a couple of things: Bob is tired of playing the same old guitar music he’s been playing for 20 years. I was starting to hear other music that was interesting, whether it was hip hop or dance music. I wasn’t particularly happy with Rykodisc at the time; it was a label that was in definite decline and in “sell” mode. Overall, I just wanted a break; you know, being in my late 30s, living in New York and wanting to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Just spend a few years taking care of myself and having a good time with life and figuring out a new way to present myself.
You look a lot healthier than you did in, say, 1985.
I’m fucking buff. [Laughs] I’ll put you through a fucking wall.
What’s your secret?
I’m a gym rat. I work out six days a week, usually nine times a week. A lot of lifting. I hate cardio. I am a clean-living machine right now.
You don’t drink anymore?
No. The last time I had a drink was at Greg Norton’s first wedding in 1986.
What prompted you to make guitar-based rock ’n’ roll again?
From 1999 to the beginning of 2004, I just spent a lot of time on the computer. A lot of time with loops, a lot of time with samples and listening to house music. And trying to merge that with the rock stuff. It wasn’t like I was trying to double back with the guitar; I just started writing those kind of songs again.
Reading through your blog and talking about your DJ nights, you sound really happy and well-adjusted. But when you strap on the guitar, the old Bob Mould—sour, glaring, accusatory—seems to come out again.
I think as Bob Mould records go, this is a pretty sunny record. But if all I ever wrote was, “Yeah, had a great workout today and finally nailed that perfectly rare steak on the grill,” it would not make for the best lyrics. So I draw on relationships: personal, temporal, political.