Out alternative rocker Bob Mould is on the road with a new album, and a date in Philadelphia.
As an icon of alternative rock with bands like Hüsker Dü and Sugar to his credit, Mould said his latest release, “Sunshine Rock,” is an effort steer his sound and songwriting in a more positive direction than his prior albums.
“I wrote a song called ‘Sunshine Rock’ in the spring of 2017. It is drawn from a set of experiences that I had over the course of a couple of days in one of the other places that I have been living, Berlin, Germany,” he said. “It sort of became a tent pole for what I was hoping would be a more optimistic record. The two albums prior to ‘Sunshine Rock’ were both heavier, dealing with loss, in particular the loss of my parents.”
Mould said he didn’t want to go that route again if he could help it. “I had been writing for a few months, and when the song appeared, I thought, Here’s the moment. This is a good place to start in earnest toward writing this record.”
For the recording of the album, Mould did something he had never done before: He allowed a camera crew to document parts of the recording and creative process for the album. He shared some of these moments online for fans to enjoy.
Mould said that sharing the video was novel for him, even if most other musicians do this regularly now. And while he’s happy and comfortable giving fans these windows into his routine, he still prefers to maintain some level of mystique between fan and artist.
“I’m still a music fan, and there are a lot of bands that I love. And sometimes I just want to know about the music,” he said. “I’m not someone who obsesses about people on social media. So, I guess if I don’t do that, I’m not sure I’ve seen the need to share that much. I don’t do it, so I was thinking, Why would somebody else do that? It’s nice to have a private life.”
Mould said, however, that it was also nice to include his fans in the creative process. “We had a lot of fun in the studio. We grabbed some cameras and made a quick document of what we were doing and I think it turned out really well.”
In addition to his optimism on his new album, another big change for Mould was moving to Berlin. He moved to Germany two years ago, and spends time there when he isn’t in San Francisco or on the road. Mould said a change of scenery that’s that dramatic always finds a way to make its presence felt in the creative process of any artist.
“The fact that I don’t speak the language made it a little difficult,” he said. “I had to learn to navigate through that and learn the bits that I needed to do transactions.”
Mould said he also spent time absorbing and copying what people were doing and figuring out the lay of the land. He called it similar to San Francisco, but also different because of those smaller cultural things.
“Those interactions and those routines of finding where do I go every day, all of those things seem small. But the sum total of throwing yourself in a new environment always shows up in the work a little bit.”
One thing that hasn’t changed for Mould is his ability to create out-loud, immediate, in-your-face, organic rock music. And while some critics are quick to declare rock music dead, Mould said he has no plans to dig any graves.
“Sorry to see you go, people who think rock is dead,” he said with a chuckle. “We’ll miss you. I hope you’re able to find it on a streaming service someday. I think for people to create a narrative that something is dead to elevate something else, that seems counterproductive and utterly American in a sense that ‘something has to be number one!’ Why can’t everything coexist? Rock has been dead at least five or six times since I started making it. I don’t know how that is, but it’s funny stuff. So, I doubled down on the title of the record. It should be clear.”
“Sunshine Rock” was released Feb. 8. Bob Mould performs 8:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. For more information or tickets, call 215-232-2100 or visit www.bobmould.com.