When you read recent articles about Bob Mould, you notice a common theme: career renaissance.
The indie rock godfather has been making music consistently for nearly 40 years, with Husker Du in the ’80s, Sugar in the ’90s and under his own name since then, but his last three albums, “Silver Age,” “Beauty & Ruin” and 2016’s “Patch the Sky” have shined a new light on the 55-year-old musician.
He performs Sept. 11 at Wooly’s.
“I think in my younger days, starting out around the punk scene, there was a pretty nihilistic mythology reflecting Pete Townshend’s saying ‘Hope I die before I get old,’ ” Mould said during a phone interview. “As a young man, I sort of bought into that idea. I was living pretty hard and never felt there was much of a future for us in the early ’80s that were not young Republicans.
“I never envisioned I would be where I am now, especially in my 20s. Good God, I was probably lucky to get out of my 20s alive. But time goes on, you don’t die, keep on living and you do more stuff. All of a sudden, I’m the person I probably hated when I was 20. It’s funny how that works, but I’m grateful I made it.”
Mould recently posted a picture of himself flipping off one of the nude Donald Trump statues near his San Francisco home. Surely 20-something Bob would have agreed.
“Patch the Sky” was written following the loss of his mother, the end of a relationship and several other life-changing moments. It’s dark, harkening back to the songs from the Husker Du days, but Mould said the songs are proving to have a different energy when played live.
“In the six months of writing, I was pretty much isolated from people and just digging into my own spirit and soul trying to figure out what was going on,” Mould said. “My work, for me, is finding out about myself and spending time away from people so I can get to the bottom of my thoughts. This record, I think, is a lot more introspective than ‘Silver Age’ and ‘Beauty,’ but when I took the songs out of the studio and take them on stage in front of people, they respond differently than what I think. The excitement of the live show, with people getting together and listening, lifts the spirit of everything.”
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of one of Mould’s most enduring pop culture contributions: his theme to “The Daily Show.” In 1996, his song “Dog On Fire” was first used to open the show, and it has continued on ever since, with versions performed by They Might Be Giants during Jon Stewart’s tenure and remixed by Timbaland for Trevor Noah’s incarnation.
“I’m just grateful they kept the song,” Mould said. “I got in early, and the song is catchy and has become strongly identified with the show. It’s kind of like the ‘Friends’ theme. I knew if the show was a success, the song would become a success.
“When I heard Jon was leaving, I thought, ‘Oh no, they’re going to get rid of it!’, but they got a hold of me and said they wanted to keep it, with some updates. I told them to do whatever they need to do, but keep whatever semblances of the song you can.”
It’s still here, forever changed, yet instantly recognizable. A lot like Mould himself.■
Joe Lawler is a music writer who has probably interviewed your favorite band. And your least favorite band.