One of the most influential members of the American punk rock brotherhood, Bob Mould, has returned to his trademark sound. His new album, "Body Of Song" (YepRoc), is a concoction of dirty guitars and gracious melodies, a style die-hard fans and curious youngsters alike will enjoy.
Tracks such as "Paralyzed" and "Best Thing" hearken back to Mould's salad days with Husker Du, the Minneapolis trio he formed in the early 1980s, and Sugar, his band in the 1990s. The songs contain a dichotomy of ripping guitar work and infectious choruses -- Mould's signature. However, don't tell Mould he is returning to his roots.
"That's what I do," says Mould. "I'm always playing guitar. I just added some contemporary sounds this time."
Ever the innovator, Mould reaches into his bag of tricks for some different sounds. On songs like "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope" and "I Am Vision, I Am Sound," Mould's love for house music comes through. Mould's vocals are treated with electronic effects, which sound excellent over the guitar-driven music. The former track even contains a techno drum loop. But with Fugazi's Brendan Canty on the drums, the song keeps its genuine rock feel.
The new sounds should not be a surprise. Mould has been a club DJ for years, and even released an electronica album, 2002's "Modulate." Is playing with a band similar to spinning records?
"Well, with house music, you have to keep your eye on the crowd," Mould says. "If they don't like something or just aren't feeling it, you have to react quickly. With the band, its all about interaction with each other, and the audience."
Mould says the fan reaction to "Body Of Song" has been "overwhelmingly positive." Interestingly, the album's first track, "Circles," has been used on Fox's "The O.C." Say it ain't so, Bob. "Actually, I loved it. I hope it will circulate."
Part of the reason Mould has stayed relevant is his support of new bands. "There so many good bands out there. I like Death Cab For Cutie, The Delays and the New Pornographers."
With all the good music available, Mould has some strong feelings about file sharing.
"I don't mind a site posting one or two songs. But I think posing a whole album for free goes against common decency. If new bands use it as a way to get their music out there, that's their business. But everybody's numbers are down. Also, going out and buying the album, with all the artwork and everything, that's part of the experience."
So, is there any way to curb music downloading?
"No, its already out there," he says. "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."
The first leg of his 2005 tour was his first full-band tour since 1998. Ending in October, the trek saw Mould dust off some Husker Du and Sugar classics. "This record warranted it," Mould says. "I hadn't done this sort of thing in seven years, it was getting stale. Plus, Brendan is a great drummer."
But when Mould plays Shank Hall Tuesday, Nov. 15, it will be sans band. "Economics dictate it," he says. "But I hope to take those guys on the road again."
With a diverse catalog to choose from, does Mould prefer the band setting or playing solo shows? "Both. I just like to play. Some songs don't work in a solo setting. If it's a "Workbook" (Mould's solo debut) crowd, I will play those songs. It depends on crowd response and how my voice is feeling."
Mould will be touring solo through February, and will put out an album "as soon as its done." His Web site is bobmould.com.