"Walking around with your head in the clouds
It makes no sense at all"
—Hüsker Dü, "Makes No Sense at All"
It makes no sense at all"
—Hüsker Dü, "Makes No Sense at All"
Hüsker Dü were an American Hardcore Punk / Alternative Rock band from St. Paul, MN who were together from 1979-88. They were composed of singer / guitarist / lyricist Bob Mould, bassist Greg Norton, and drummer / lyricist Grant Hart. While they never had a hit record, among their most well known work is the Concept Album Zen Arcade, the follow-up New Day Rising, their Cover Version of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High," and their single "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely," which was notably featured in the film Adventureland and covered by Green Day. They are regarded as seminal in the creation of the Alternative Rock and Post-Hardcore genres.Rising tensions between the two primary songwriters, Mould and Hart, eventually led to the band's breakup in 1988. Since then, Mould and Hart have launched their own solo careers, while Norton became a restaurantuer in the Twin Cities. Bob Mould has released an autobiography called: See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, while Grant Hart was the subject of a documentary: Every Everything, the Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart.Although mainstream success eluded them, the influence they had on bands such as Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, Green Day, Foo Fighters, and a plethora of others has secured their place as one of the most important bands in modern rock music.As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
"New Tropes Rising:"
- All Just a Dream: The first twenty songs of Zen Arcade, given "The Tooth Fairy and the Princess" (song twenty one).
- Alternative Rock: One of the first alternative bands to sign to a major label.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: How they ended up with their name. While doing a cover of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" during a rehearsal, they were unable to remember the French portions of the lyrics and instead started shouting out any foreign words they could remember. One of the phrases ended up being "Hüsker Dü," and they decided to use that as the name of the band.
- Awesome McCool Name: Grantzberg Vernon Hart.
- Badass Mustache: Greg Norton.
- Blah Blah Blah: They have a song with this title.
- Breakup Breakout: Bob Mould and Grant Hart both pursued solo careers following Husker Du's break-up. While neither artist is quite mainstream, Mould would appear to be a lot more popular, as his listeners on last.fm outnumber Grant Hart's ten to one and he played on two Foo Fighters songs.
- Call-and-Response Song: The verse sections of "In a Free Land."
- Careful with That Axe: The verses of " The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill" are mostly Grant Hart screaming at the top of his lungs.
- Concept Album: Zen Arcade, which tells the story of a youth who leaves his unfulfilling home life to find that the world outside is even worse.
- Cover Version: "Eight Miles High," Donovan's "Sunshine Superman," and the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
- Crapsack World: One of the primary concepts of Zen Arcade.
- Dance Sensation: "Do the Bee."
- "Days of the Week" Song : "Monday Will Never Be the Same."
- Does Not Like Shoes: Grant Hart usually drummed without shoes.
- Downer Ending: The band's collapse after failing to find commercial success.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Pink Turns to Blue" is about a girl who overdoses and dies.
- Eagle Land: While not an overly political band (at least by Punk standards), songs such as: "In a Free Land," "Folk Lore," and "Divide and Conquer" portray America as a Type II.
- Echoing Acoustics: A common feature of the production on their studio albums, especially the later ones.
- Emo Music: The band themselves don't qualify, but the "classic emo" bands of the 1990's especially Jawbreaker were heavily influenced by them.
- Epic Rocking: "Reoccuring Dreams" clocks in at 13:47 (14:01 on some versions of the album). The band's early single "Statues" is 8:45. Finally, "Hardly Getting Over It" is 6:07.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Shortly after "Ice Cold Ice" fades out, a final chord is played at the song's original volume.
- Friendly Rivalry: With fellow Twin Cities rockers The Replacements.
- Hardcore Punk: Their early material consisted of fast, blistering hardcore with slight hints of the melody that was to come.
- Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: Even though they're not a Metal band. Probably ironic.
- Instrumentals: "Reoccurring Dreams," from Zen Arcade.
- Live Album: Two of them. Their full length debut, Land Speed Record, and The Living End, a compilation released after the band collapsed.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "One Step at a Time" and "Monday Will Never Be the Same."
- Looped Lyrics: "New Day Rising" has no lyrics besides the song's title. "Plans I Make" has a brief loop of: "I gotta make plans for the plans I make / Gotta have plans for the friends I make / I gotta have friends for the friends I make / Gotta have friends for the plans I make / Go make plans." After the first minute, the rest of the lyrics are: "go" and "make plans."
- Meaningful Name: The band's name was taken from a board game, the title of which means "Do you remember?" in Danish and Norwegian. The band added the Heävy Mëtal Ümlauts.
- Miniscule Rocking: Land Speed Record packs 17 songs into 26 1/2 minutes.
- On Everything Falls Apart, "Punch Drunk" is 0:30, "Bricklayer" is 0:34, and "Obnoxious" is 0:55. Their usage of this trope would drop off with time.
- Minneapolis / St. Paul: Robert Street (an actual thoroughfare in St. Paul, not a person) is mentioned in "Diane."
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly a 6-7 on their early albums, mostly 5-6 later on (though they have some songs, i.e. "Never Talking to You Again," "Perfect Example," "Too Far Down," and "Hardly Getting Over It," that drop below this point).
- Murder Ballad: "Diane," which was apparently based on the real life rape and murder of West St. Paul waitress Diane Edwards by Joseph Ture in 1980.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: An early incarnation of the band featured a keyboard player named Charlie Pine, who was soon booted by the other three after they decided that they wouldn't need a keyboard player. For the rest of their career, the line-up would consist of Mould, Hart, and Norton.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Their experimental side is probably best seen on Zen Arcade. While the band's sound was still rooted in fast, aggressive punk, their songwriting had become noticeably more melodic, experimenting with elements of folk, noise, and psychedelic, as well as including piano interludes.
- New Sound Album:
- Either Everything Falls Apart, Metal Circus, or Zen Arcade (depending on the listener's perspective) is where their songwriting became melody based enough to differentiate them from traditional hardcore.
- Flip Your Wig had a much more polished production than their previous records, and largely did away with the remaining traces of their hardcore roots. The band's next two albums would continue in this domain.
- Noise Rock: Some of their instrumentals lean in this direction.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Terms of Psychic Warfare."
- Obsession Song: "Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill"
- Odd Friendship: Punk rocker Grant Hart ended up becoming close friends with novelist, essayist, and painter William S. Burroughs.
- Pop Punk: An influence on the genre, and their later songs serve as examples.
- Post-Hardcore: One of the Trope Makers with their addition of melody and experimentation to Hardcore Punk.
- Post-Punk: The band counted Joy Division as an influence, and some of their earliest recordings, such as "Statues" and "Amusement" fall under this category. However, it wouldn't be long before they shifted their style to Los Angeles-inspired hardcore.
- Protest Song:
- "In a Free Land."
- "Folk Lore," combined with Adults Are Useless.
- Pun-Based Title: Land Speed Record refers both to the ferocious speed of the material and the band's fondness (at the time) for amphetamines.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mould was the Red Oni, with his more aggressive songs, while Hart was the Blue Oni, with his more introspective songs.
- Rock Trio
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: "Gilligan's Island:""Gilligan's Island
Is where I wanna be
I wanna fuck Ginger
Underneath a big palm tree
I wanna make the professor
Make some good drugs for me
Oh Gilligan's Island
Is where I wanna be"
- Single Stanza Song:
- "New Day Rising" is just the title repeated over and over.
- "If I Told You."
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The lyrics of their early material were decidedly on the cynical side, though as their career progressed they began to drift slightly more toward idealism.
- Sociopathic Soldier: "You're a Soldier," of the "joined up to kill" variety.
- Strawman News Media: "Turn on the News" attacks sensationalism.
- Straight Gay:
- While it had been an open secret in the Twin Cities music community for some time, Bob Mould officially came out as gay in the early '90s.
- Grant Hart is usually described as gay or bisexual. The Every Everything documentary reveals that he had a son from a heterosexual relationship early on in his career, but most of his adult relationships have been with men.
- While the band was together rumors swirled around Greg Norton (mostly due to his handlebar mustache), the one band member who's actually straight.
- Studio Chatter: Mould, at the end of "Plans I Make," the last song on New Day Rising, says: "It's the end of the album."
- Subtext: Mould is gay and Hart is bisexual, although this was not widely publicised at the time the band was active. This knowledge adds an extra layer of meaning to songs like "The Biggest Lie," which thereby becomes a very different song. (Note that, while it was rumoured that Hart and Mould were romantically involved and their tensions were a reason for the band's breakup, both of them have flatly denied this).
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Being a Hardcore Punk band, any of their acoustic songs count — especially the two on Candy Apple Grey. "Hardly Getting Over It" even has a synthesizer solo!
- Stop Being Stereotypical: In "Real World" and "Deadly Skies," Mould rejects the notion that punk bands need to constantly involve themselves in radical politics, thus emancipating the band from some of the expectations imposed on them by their subculture.
- Textless Album Cover: The cover to Warehouse: Songs and Stories.
- Uncommon Time: "Masochism World."
- Vocal Tag Team: Usually, Bob and Grant would each sing on the songs they individually wrote, though sometimes they'd each take different vocal sections on the same song.