Bob Mould on wrestling, the internet, and mp3s.
February 10, 2002 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Bob Mould on wrestling, the internet, and mp3s. With his first new album in years coming out, Bob's got a new outlook that's different than the old open taping/bootleg philosophy. Since he's distributing his own work, and paying for it all, you're taking money out of his hands, so he's going with the honor system. Is the value of music really going down, or will Bob have no problem finding people to pay for it?
posted by mathowie (29 comments total)
Bob is god. This was the mantra of myself and some fellow Husker Du/Bob Mould (umlaut how? I dunno) afficionados, back in the days when. I suspect that the sort of people who have followed and loved his music over the years are the same sort of people who are most likely to make sure that he is compensated for all that glorious noise (assuming that the new stuff doesn't suck horrendously, which I think is a reasonably safe assumption).

Meanwhile, what what what? - "... I got sidetracked for 7 months in late 1999/early 2000, assuming the role of Creative Consultant at the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling branch of AOL/TimeWarner..."
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on February 10, 2002

I loved Hüsker Dü, thought Sugar was okay, and have never been able to bring myself to continue listening to the Bob Mould solo albums I've bought, despite the fact that my brother keeps telling me they're great. Dunno why, but for some reason they never grabbed me in the way Husker Du did. Some of it sounds okay as bumpers between pieces on NPR, but....

Hey, I wish him luck. I'm glad he's trying new stuff out. Sorry I won't be there.
posted by geneablogy at 6:11 PM on February 10, 2002

Good have old Bob back, "Makes No Sense at All" is something of a personal anthem with me. I, for one, would definitely pay for the privilege of hearing some new Mould tunes. Without some record company between us and him it's bound to be a good deal, costwise anyway.

I'm personally waiting for Bob to do a collaboration with my main man Mick "Mankind" Foley on the next WWF tribute album.
Actually, Bob's a good-sized guy, perhaps he should step into the ring himself. It worked for Andy Kaufman...
posted by jonmc at 6:16 PM on February 10, 2002

I don't have a clue who this guy is, never listened to Hüsker Dü. I like his approach, though. Cut out that big, fat record company middleman, and channel all the profits directly to the artist who creates the music.

That, I would pay for.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:21 PM on February 10, 2002

But has music "de-valued" in this post-napster age? I haven't heard anyone put for that idea until now.

I know if I hear something good somewhere, the first thing I do is come home, search kazaa, and if I can't find more than a track or two, I'll remind myself to buy the CD at the local record store. If, however, I can get a copy of the entire album, in 192kbps, each with perfect naming conventions making the purchase of the CD only save me the time to burn it, I sometimes don't end up buying the disc. Money's tight everywhere, and I buy much, much less music these days. I used to use mp3s as a way to find new music, but it's become the eventual format all my music is heard in these days. Actual CDs are only for listening in my car, and I use them nowhere else.

I have to ask myself if, over the past year or so, I've devalued the worth and cost of good music, and what effect that is going to have on the industry (whether people self-publish or not, it affects them).

I think I'm having some morning-after guilt after waking up from a napster fueled all-nighter that lasted over two years.
posted by mathowie at 6:30 PM on February 10, 2002

I don't know that I personally feel guilty. If I can download his stuff at high quality, I would definitely want Bob to get paid, and without the record conglomerate that reduces his overhead and as a relatively marginal record-seller he'd miss my money more than say Britney Spears.
Now, I use WinMX to scout out new acts and fill in gaps in my collection and get bootlegs and the like, but devout record raccoons like me will still go out and prowl the racks. Wasn't one of Shawn Fanning and co.'s defenses that CD sales had actually gone up since the inception of file sharing?
posted by jonmc at 6:39 PM on February 10, 2002

I downloaded about 3/4 of the tracks from audiogalaxy as soon as they were available...and the day the album goes on sale, I'll buy a copy of it. I'll buy my ticket(s?) when he comes through LA, and I'll buy the other two of this trio of albums as well. Some of the electronica is good, and some of the straightfoward alt-pop is fabulous. I think that Sound on Sound is one of the best songs on the album and stands up against the best Sugar tunes.

The sugar-list has been going back in forth now for years about mp3s and internet all started when someone started a ftp site (pre napster) for uploading/downloading bootlegs of bob's solo shows. It was fine until someone started uploading bootlegs that had unreleased material in them..Bob freaked out a bit, the site was closed, and Bob stopped allowing taping at his shows. Similarly, when someone on the bbs downloaded some mp3s and reviewed them, the bbs was shut down. I am an absolute Bob Mould SuperFan, and I think that he has some valid concerns about IP theft and the value of music, but I think he is overly cautious about dealing with it, and sometimes alienates his fanbase because of it.
posted by chacal at 6:57 PM on February 10, 2002

(umlaut how? I dunno)

ü is Alt + 0252, you can find this stuff all over the place, I did a search for ASCII code, but I am sure there are better resources.

Go Bob Mould! I still listen to some of his Sugar and Solo stuff from time to time. I think File Under Easy Listening didn't leave my car's tape deck for the entire summer of '94.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:00 PM on February 10, 2002

I remember once reading an interview with Bob, he said he has CTS so bad in his left wrist he can barely hold anything, and he has tinitus so bad he has to sleep with the TV blaring so as to avoid hearing his ringing ears!

Now that's Rock-N-Roll!!
posted by Blake at 7:16 PM on February 10, 2002

Meanwhile, what what what? - "... I got sidetracked for 7 months in late 1999/early 2000, assuming the role of Creative Consultant at the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling branch of AOL/TimeWarner..."

Details are in today's NYTimes magazine here, and a very interesting story it is. I was going to post it but I never know how many people will care about a particular popstar. Mould is a god, his live version of "Shoot Out The Lights" (solo acoustic) in 1992? changed my life. (So to say, made it a bit better)
posted by luser at 7:20 PM on February 10, 2002

the cassette-record player cut into the market...its still goin. of course this mp3 is more adaptable, portable, and sound quality....small analogy but i think valid. The label kings will deal with the software folks and cut someone back in the middle....'digital thief' that has a ring,
posted by clavdivs at 7:27 PM on February 10, 2002

The WWF is still hiring writers, if anyone's interested.
posted by owillis at 7:46 PM on February 10, 2002

luser, that article is what I linked and the whole reason for this thread, in case you missed it.
posted by mathowie at 8:00 PM on February 10, 2002

The only thing that has been devalued is the notion of the LP. I'm not just talking about vinyl, I'm talking about the idea of a group of songs that are thematicly linked. Napster killed that dead as a Sony sponsored medium. I'm sure what we'll soon see is the total commoditization of pop music down to the granularity of individual songs. People that make good music will be forced to decide on which side of that temporal line they wish to create. If there is enough money to be made doing shows and self-publishing, the non-pop market will thrive. Napster didn't nail good music's feet to the ground, it let it grow wings. I see the digital revolution's effects on music as being the death of the A&R man fucking up good art.
posted by machaus at 8:13 PM on February 10, 2002

machaus - thank you! Rock critic Dave Marsh has said that rock-and-roll is primarily a singles based medium. Meaning that rock-and-roll is consumed one song at a time and the best rock has the virtues of concision, directness and catchiness(of course there are exceptions:Frank Zappa, Led Zep, etc.). With the dawning of album-rock in the 1970's these virtues began to fade and self indulgence sunk in and we were treated to bloated "experiments" and and a general neglect of the art of songcraft. Let's be honest, what's the greater work of art: "Dark Star" by the Dead or "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen?
Not to mention, we are stuck with the exploitation of having to purchase an $18 CD full of filler to get the one good song we want.
Now since the dawn of punk rock and even more since the dawn on the MP3 age, we've seen a revival of the art of the single. Now I personally don't care what physical form it comes in; I'd rather hear a scratchy 45 of a good song than 256 Kb/s MP3 of a bad one. However anything that helps revive primal rock-and-roll verities is fine by me.
posted by jonmc at 8:23 PM on February 10, 2002

Mould said: I'm afraid that the value of music is going down.

Translation: I'm afraid people won't hand over as much cash for music products as they have in the past.

The value of music (the joy, inspiration, catharsis or whatever that is the music experience) is not going down, unless perhaps people are getting desensitized to the beauty of music -- I don't think that's the case, and it'd be a completely separate issue if it were.
posted by mlinksva at 8:24 PM on February 10, 2002

Has anyone listened to the 'commercial' for his new album (my realaudio is hosed)? Last I heard he was heading back to the studios with an eye toward mastering the cello (long a great part of some of his solo work). Just wondering if he took that tack or went another way.

Thanks for the link matt, Bob's music has got me through a lot over the years and I'm glad to hear there's more to come. Now as I sign out... I have "Compositions for the old and young..." in my head.
posted by kokogiak at 10:31 PM on February 10, 2002

luser, that article is what I linked and the whole reason for this thread, in case you missed it.

In case? :)

I need sleep....
posted by luser at 2:34 AM on February 11, 2002

Hmm. I went into a Sugar/Husker Du phase for a short period, most of it was alright, Beaster rocks like a rocket full of rocking horses aimed at Ayers Rock but veering off course because it rocks so much. Still one of my favourites.

Interesting Bob Mould's approach to the net thing tho'. Even way back in '94 he had an email address on F.U.E.L. and so I sent off the usual "neat album" message, and he'd send out tourdates to the mailing list and that.

As for the general idea of mp3's killing the album. Hmm. Fair point, though I still buy 99% of the music. I download mp3's of two varieties - stuff from obscure bands that I've heard interesting things that I want to check out first, (if good, I'll order the album in, if bad, zap goes the file.) and rare tracks, b-sides and whathaveyou from bands I've already bought a lot of albums of. And I still buy a stupid quantity of albums.

Artists need to eat. Sometimes.
posted by GrahamVM at 4:37 AM on February 11, 2002

During my rock critic days, I met him at the record release party for File Under: Easy Listening. I was shocked at how regular-guy he was. He had become so LARGE in my mind. It was pretty obvious he didn't want to be there--not because he couldn't be bothered, but more, it seemed, because he felt uncomfortable playing "rock star" for the writers and industry people who swarmed around him all night.
posted by jpoulos at 7:05 AM on February 11, 2002

I agree with machaus, but I go a step forward. I love LPs. I love flipping them over, I love the way they sound when they are played over and over again. I love wearing them out, I love the enormous covers, I love the big posters that they contain sometimes. I love the pictures. I never really bought tapes, sometimes I would tape my records to play them in the car, but I would always buy records. They are so permanent.

Then, in about 1990. The recording industry decided that CDs were cheaper to produce, so they stopped making LPs, there was still a demand for them, but they got rid of the supply, so that we, the consumers would have to buy CDs. Then they increased the price by 50%.

They made music digital so that they could remake it cheaper and make a bigger profit. We use digital music to spend less money on music. Who is cheating who?

An mp3 is a great substitute for a CD, but a CD was never a great substitute for an LP.
posted by goneill at 7:28 AM on February 11, 2002

Artists need to eat. Sometimes.

That they do, they needed to eat before tape and vinyl came along as well - what did they do then?

I personally believe that napster and Audiogalaxy etc. can do the music industry a great favour - by forcing a change in the means of distribution and payment for material they will hopefully make Artists play live more as a means of income. Bring back the performers and shoot the recording artists. The world will be a better place without Britney, Durst, Manson and all the other Record Industry Lackeys
posted by twistedonion at 9:16 AM on February 11, 2002


There were some strings on his last album (the last dog & pony show)..Alison Chesley, who used to be the cellist in Verbow played the parts..other than that, there are no strings to speak of. Bob's gotten really into electronica, and I think in general on this album he's done a pretty good job of fusing synthesizers, drump loops, etc..with his buzzsaw-guitar pop.

I have to say that the 'commercial' for the new record on his website seems HEAVILY influenced by his tenure in pro wrestling. Either influenced by that or Monster Truck raillies..

Sunday, Sunday, the Civic Center!!! Watch Bob Mould and his stratocaster CRUSH CARS AND SHOOT FLAMES...
posted by chacal at 10:17 AM on February 11, 2002

Bob Mould's voice is the sound of my youthful confusion. The man is a force of nature. I pretend no objectivity here.

I like the fact that Bob is into WWF (he's mentioned this in interviews before). In a way, it's an attempt to bring punk back to its genuine working class roots. Lately, punk has seemed to be almost the exclusive property of lefty anarcho-weenies.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2002

A CD is, contrary to goneill's assertion, an excellent substitute for an LP. CDs hold nearly twice as much music as LPs. You don't have to flip them over. They do not deteriorate with repeated play. They are portable. They can be played in cars. They can be accurately copied or converted to MP3 at many times real-time (e.g. I can rip an entire CD to MP3 in about 5 minutes).

Only a twisted mind could assert that LPs are better than CDs because you have to turn them over every so often. I mean, come on.

The price of CDs in constant dollars has fallen steadily over the years.

The larger artwork is the only actual benefit I can think of of the LP format, and it is not related to the music itself. The band almost never has approval over the artwork, which is usually done by the record company and has as its primary goal selling the record. Some of it is great, despite these limitations, but the cover art is not the music. In any case, if you want a larger size of artwork, many record stores will be happy to give you a poster when they don't need it to sell the record anymore.
posted by kindall at 11:00 AM on February 11, 2002

What's an "LP"?
posted by dong_resin at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2002

Vinyl bigots are sad contrarian luddites. Sorry.
posted by GrahamVM at 4:54 PM on February 11, 2002

Kokogiak : "Bob's music has got me through a lot over the years"

As one, brother. No other musician has ever helped me the way Bob did to hold onto the last few shreds of sanity when I was at my lowest, many years ago. That might sound a bit weird to some folks, but hey, I'm a wonderchicken.

I'm better now.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:07 AM on February 12, 2002

oh, you guys. i know it's ridiculous, it's just that my brain makes a link between the mp3 plight and the vinyl to cd. i'm not trying to be a sad contrarian luddite, i guess i just am one
posted by goneill at 6:50 AM on February 12, 2002

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