Friday, October 28, 2005

Bob Mould | Interview | The Believer

The October issue of The Believer has an interesting interview with legendary Bob Mould. The interview touches on Mould displeasure with the current music scene, his love and involvement with professional wrestling and new album, Body of Song.

The interview isn't available online but here are a few quotes to chew on:

BM: Music has gone from being a very important standalone art form to the soundtrack for other mixed media.

BVLR: You mean the way that, suddenly, every television show has an accompanying soundtrack CD?

BM: I'm just trying to think about it now. It used to be a sort of religius experience to go to see bands. There would be hundreds or thousands of people gathering for this common experience, and you don't even see that so much anymore. I mean, you do, but everything is sort of down one level from where it used to be. And now I think people are really fond of the kind of event where there's maybe fifty like-minded people. So, weve really created this world of niches.

I remember seeing this happening over the past ten or fifteen years. I remember the first time I got a CD in my mailbox from AT&T, promoting their new 56K modem, and it had, like, four free songs on it. I looked at it, and - you know, I remember getting Archies songs off the back of cereal boxes in the 60's - But I looked at this and went, "OK, so now something that they wanted me to pay for is showing up for free in my mailbox." This was almost ten years ago. I just thought, "This is the beginning of the end. The business is so desperate that they're going to start giving it away." And sure enough, they did, and then all the online mp3, P2P stuff happened.

BLVR: But that, in itself, doesn't necessarily mean that music has become devalued, right?

BM: Maybe I'm too removed now because I'm older but I'm just not sensing the sort of affinity that used to be there. You know, when Don Kirschner's Rock Concert came on and Alice Cooper came out with a snake, everybody talked about it for a year. They were like, "Holy shit, there was this freak on television with a snake." That was before everything was so overexposed and burned out in ten minutes. There was mystery; there was conjecture about what this guy was really like. That's all gone now.

It's always "cringe-worthy" to hear comments from older musicians, that don't seem to keep up with emerging music, commenting on the current music scene. They always take a negative stance and show their ignorance of the scene at the same time.

None of Mould's points really tie together. They seem to be a shotgun approach to ripping today's bands and fans. It seems he is distant from the club scene these days and is piecing together cliche arguments against that scene that he's overheard at dinner parties. However, his general point is that people are apathetic towards music these days. This may be true on the major label side of the business but if he spent some time checking out the indie scene, I think he would challenged to call it apathetic. In fact, David Bowie and David Byrne, who do seem engage in emerging music, would probably disagree strongly with Mould.

The scene isn't any better or worse than it was in the 80's when Husker Du was prominent. It's just still in the tiny clubs and if you aren't in those clubs, it's easy to miss and hence dismiss as worthwhile.

Here are a few quotes regarding his involvement in pro wrestling:

BLVR: In the late 90's, you took another break from music to work for World Championship Wrestling before emerging with another stylistic departure, the largely electronic Modulate, in 2002. I want to know everything I can about professional wrestling. How did you get that job?

BM: It was through friends of friends. I'd dabbled in it a little in Minneapolis in the 1980's, sort of got let in to the inside and learned how it worked. I had creative ideas, and I talked to people [at WCW] - a position opened up because there was a regime change - just imagine any kind of TV show where the writers are rotated. For seven months I sat in on the committee that basically wrote and produced the TV shows. I was in a very stressful position because I was the last stop before people went through the curtain. It was my job to make sure the show looked right. You know, that the show hits all the marks, I guess, in a Broadway sense. All the time cues. I had to tell the referee to speed things up or slow things down. Or tell the guys to do this or do that.

BLVR: That seems like a huge responsiblity.

BM: It was kind of kooky. I got that responsibility put on me by the head writers, and I think I handled it well, but I was there for seven months working with a couple of different writing staffs. The numbers were sinking before I got there, and I wasn't able to help turn it around. I went home and they tried other people and went out of business in a year. I did the best I could.

Over the next two pages, Mould explains the history of pro wrestling, his childhood love for it and how he thought wrestling had lost good character-based stories in favor of silly stunts.

BLVR: What did the other writers think of your ideas for more fleshed-out, old-school characters? Did anything make it through?

BM: There would be days when I would be sitting on committee, just listening to people bullshitting, just trying to brainstorm, and one week I remember I just said, "OK, I'm going to see how far I can push this." And I just started saying crazy stuff like, "Why don't we have this match where these two guys who really hate each other are fighting in a cage. They're fighting over this girl - we'll have the girtl chained up on top of the cage and they have to climb up the pole to get the key to unchain her so that she can climb up another pole to get some Viagra." And the head writers were like, "Man, you're on fire today, Bob! This is unbelievable!" And I'm just sitting there going, "Oh man. My time here is limited."

There were people in the WCW - talent who had really gripping personal life stories - being homeless at a young age, getting mixed up in drugs, people who were rock stars in Mexico - there were all these true fascinating verifiable lives and you could do video packages on these people to try to bring some reality back. Because when you lay out a story like that, where somebody had an abusive childhood, then you've got people's attention. Then, month's later, you can do something with it. But, you know, they wanted Viagra on a pole. What can you do?

Interesting interview to say the least. There is also a good interview with author David Sedaris where he discusses the crazy stories readers tell him at book signings. Plus, the king of soccer and music writing, Nick Hornby, is always great in his monthly column.

1 comment:

NDfrom NJ said...

Why is it that whenever someone makes a point about "how great the music used to be and how bad it is now", they always wind up talking about props??