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Bob Mould

Alt-Rock Vet Strikes a Keynote at Noise Pop

Bob Mould is a busy guy. In addition to a solo career that has produced nine albums during the 20 years following the breakup of HŁsker DŁ, he regularly co-hosts Blowoff, a reoccurring DJ gig usually held in clubs on the east and west coasts. He is also working on an autobiography, prepping for high-profile gigs at Coachella and Carnegie Hall, and participating as a keynote speaker and performer at this yearís Noise Pop festival. He will join Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr./Sebadoah/Folk Implosion) at the Swedish American Music Hall on February 27th for the keynote discussion at the festivalís Industry Noise conference, and performs at that same venue the next day. He spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from Washington, D.C.

SF Station (SFS): You wrote on your blog that 2008 was medium-busy. How is 2009 shaping up for you?

Bob Mould (BM): Itís crazy busy. I donít have a weekend or many days to call my own until sometime in June. We have 15 events with Blowoff during the first half of the year and Life & Times is coming out the first week of April. I have all of the solo performances to get the record up and running, Noise Pop and Coachella, and a Carnegie Hall tribute to R.E.M. On top of that, I have six months to finish my autobiography. Ultimately, it will be a great thing, but it is pretty exhausting.

SFS: It seems like you like it like that.

BM: Yeah, believe me, I would much rather be this busy than sitting around wondering if anybody is listening any more. Itís very fortunate to be this busy.

SFS: What do you enjoy most?

BM: The dichotomy between my normal singer/songwriter life and my DJ life. Those two things are pretty brilliant for completely different reasons. When Iím promoting a record, I am out touring and playing the songs that I have played my whole life, and itís pretty rewarding. Thatís what brought me to all of this in the first place.

The DJ side of things really compliments that because I am with my friends: Gay men in their 30s and 40s, younger and older, and gals too. We get together, have these great parties and there is a real sense of community that I havenít felt before. Thatís really validating and rewarding, and I can get my electronica kicks out with that too. Itís pretty darn good, either way.

SFS: Do you work on your memoir every day?

BM: I try to work on it every day. Some days I work on it more than others.

SFS: Have you learned anything new?

BM: Yeah. I have never been one to look back and Iím a pretty forward-looking kind of guy, so this whole process is a real shock to my system because it is all about looking back. Frankly, this is the first time Iíve looked back on a lot of things. Everyday, my life is a little different than I thought it was, and it will probably be that way forever. Iím learning a lot of things. Just when I thought everything was a certain way, it shifts a little bit. I have six months to put it in place.

SFS: It sounds like it could be a difficult process, depending on how hard you look at things.

BM: Iím looking pretty hard at things, and itís sort of brutal. I really didnít think it was going to be like this. Iím happy to be in it and Iíll be really happy when itís done. Hopefully the next book I write wonít be quite as taxing.

SFS: What do you plan to discuss with Lou Barlow during your keynote conversation at Industry Noise?

BM: I donít know. We will probably get together and figure that out right before we do it. I think itís something about emerging technologies and how that factors into the creative process, which I will be glad to talk about. I will be happy to sit with Lou. We always have a good time when we chat; we crack each other up.

SFS: Is now a good time to be in an emerging band, or is it tougher than ever?

BM: I think it is always a great time to be creative and express yourself. In business terms, things are really tough and really competitive. As technology has become affordable, and more people have access to the once-exclusive tools for making high-quality recordings, we have seen a glut and more recordings than ever.

The whole industry has changed so much, and the music industry I grew up with doesnít really exist any more. Itís been replaced with a system that is predicated on micro-payments, impressions and niche branding. For new bands, I think there are exciting ways to get your music heard and build visibility, but I have never seen so much traffic and so many people on that same road trying to get the attention of the same people.

Itís overwhelming how much music there is now. The challenge is how to filter the stuff that we know we are not interested in. That is the race for people who aggregate, consolidate and stream music. Itís not the guy at the record store anymore; itís all of these other voices.

SFS: How do you filter it?

BM: I have a list of about 200 MP3 blogs, and a stack of music news sites that I go to every day. I have people sending me music and I watch other peoplesí playlists. Itís a full-time thing.

Other Noise Pop Highlights:
February 24th: Deerhunter
February 25th: The Aimless Never Miss
February 26th: Kool Keith: Dr. Octagon vs. Dr. Doom and Mike Relm
February 27th: Industry Noise
February 28th: Flosstradamus & N.A.S.A.
March 1: Les Savy Sav

For more information, visit www.noisepop.com