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Husker Du was a rock band formed in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota in 1979. The band's continual members were Bob Mould, Greg Norton, and Grant Hart.
Mould and Hart split the songwriting/singing duties, with each singing only the songs he had written, though they occasionally harmonized vocally. Mould's lyrics were known for being more soul-searching and intense than the often whimsical and cryptic ones of Hart. Husker Du first gained notice as a hardcore punk band with thrashing tempos and screamed vocals, but also with a melodic, soulful edge that became more pronounced in the band's mid-career as they drifted away from their early sound, becoming one of the most influential bands in American alternative rock in the process.
Husker Du never achieved mainstream success, but attained an impact far larger than their modest sales figures would indicate. They are notable as one of the first 1980s American underground rock bands to sign with a major record label, a move which blazed the trail for the breakthrough of alternative rock a few years later.

The group that became Husker Du formed when Bob Mould, Grant Hart, Greg Norton and keyboardist Charlie Pine began playing together in 1978. At the time, Mould was a freshman at Macalester College, and frequented a record store where Hart was a sales clerk; Hart and Norton had originally met while applying for the same job. Hart and Mould bonded over a shared love of the Ramones, and soon after enlisted Norton and Pine to form a band. They were soon gigging, playing mostly cover songs, some classic rock, and frequent Ramones tunes. Unbeknownst to Pine, the remaining bandmembers disliked their sound, and began practicing without him, writing a few originals.
They owed their new name to a rather sloppy rehearsal of the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer". Unable to recall the French portions sung in the original ("qu'est-ce que c'est..."), they began shouting any foreign-language terms they could remember, when someone said "Husker Du", a board game that had been popular in the 1970s. (The name is a Norwegian and Danish phrase that means "do you remember?"). The group added Heavy metal umlauts, and had their new name. Mould reports that they liked "Hsker D"'s somewhat mysterious qualities, which set them apart from other hardcore punk groups with names like "Social Red Youth Dynasty Brigade Distortion". Mould also reported that while Hsker D enjoyed much hardcore punk in general, they never thought of themselves as exclusively a hardcore group, and that their name was an attempt to avoid being pigeonholed. Hart, Mould and Norton fired Pine during their first official performance, on March 30, 1979, and continued as a trio.
By 1980 the band was performing regularly in Minneapolis, and their music evolved into a fast, ferocious, primal sound, making them one of the original hardcore punk bands. Through heavy touring they soon caught the attention of punk trailblazers like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra, which helped introduce Hsker D to new fans. Black Flag guitarist/songwriter Greg Ginn later signed the band to his label, SST Records.

The band started releasing singles on Terry Katzman's Reflex Records in 1981. Their first two albums, Land Speed Record (a live recording) and Everything Falls Apart , brought much critical praise. Determined touring brought them to the attention of The Minutemen, who released their debut and the In A Free Land single on their label, New Alliance Records. This, in turn, led to the band signing with SST.
The intense, but varied, Metal Circus EP/mini-album was released in 1983. The next year saw the release of Zen Arcade, a double album recorded and mixed in 3.5 days, regarded by most critics as their crowning achievement. Zen Arcade is a concept album following a boy who leaves home to face a harsh and unforgiving world. Its artistic and conceptual ambitions were a great stretch, given the purist sentiment then prevalent in U.S. punk rock.
Zen Arcade received significant mainstream attention (including a glowing Rolling Stone review by Mikal Gilmore, who compared the record to landmark albums like London Calling and Exile on Main Street), and, according to Azerrad appeared on many magazines' year-end best-of lists. In fact, the album was so well-received that SST, whose most popular records usually sold only a few thousand copies, had problems pressing enough copies to keep in stock for stores.
Follow ups New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig continued musical exploration, while tempering the speed and volume. Opinions among the band's early fans differ widely as to their comparative importance and quality.
Although by this time the band had an international appeal, they continued to play in and support the local Twin Cities music scene. In a nod to the band's Minneapolis roots, 1985's Makes No Sense At All EP featured "Love Is All Around", the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which had been set in Minneapolis.

Major label era:
In 1986 the band signed to Warner Bros. Records. Many of Husker Du's peers saw the band's deal with Warner Bros. as a sell out, but the band pointed to a contract that gave them complete artistic control over their recordings, and insisted that Warner Bros. could expand the band's audience to areas that SST's relatively modest distribution couldn't reach. (The contract, in fact, became a model for future alternative bands that made the jump to the majors: Thurston Moore sought Mould's advice when his own group, Sonic Youth, was being courted by major labels.) Mould also cites the distribution problems with SST as a reason for the move, mentioning that there would sometimes be no records to sign when the band would show up for promotional events. The young Warners executives who forged the deal saw Hsker D as a 'prestige signing,' never expecting to make much money on the band, but backing them as a statement against the mainstream rock climate of the time, in which uncompromising new artists were typically denied large-scale distribution, MTV visibility, and major press coverage. Their goal was to make a statement that Warner Bros. was willing to put its money where its mouth was, supporting a band that many industry professionals admired, but were reluctant to sign to a contract. Azerrad reports, however, that the group's Warner's albums were profitable, due in large measure to the group's low overhead costs: for example, they were used to touring with one van and one roadie and didn't expect or even want a great deal of marketing expense from the label.
Their two albums on Warner Bros., Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse: Songs and Stories (a double album), show the band as more mature psychologically and musically, though, again, opinions among fans differ as to whether these advances were worthwhile. Both albums scored a few modest hits (primarily on college radio) and appeared briefly on the low end of the Billboard charts.

Creative and personal tensions between Mould and Hart had become irresolvable by the release of Warehouse, which amplified when Mould began overseeing most of the band's managerial duties following the suicide of manager David Savoy on the eve of the Warehouse: Songs & Stories tour. In September 2006, Hart told Britain's Q, "I take full responsibility for [David's] suicide. It was a direct result of the pressure of working for Bob and me, because he was being forced into a two-faced situation." Mould also calls the suicide "the beginning of the end". To make matters worse, drug problems (mainly Hart's heroin use) were hurting the band, while Mould was trying to overcome his own alcoholism and amphetamine use. By January 1988 they were no longer able to work together; Recollections differ. Mould and Hart both claim that they quit. Some versions say that Hart was ejected from the band, which promptly collapsed. The Living End, a live collection taken from the band's final tour, was released after the band's demise.
Mould and Hart have continued making music, albeit separately; including solo albums and forming successful alternative bands, Sugar and Nova Mob, respectively. Mould has also joined Richard Morel in the band Blowoff. Bob has returned to touring regularly with his current solo album "Body of Song" and is playing Husker Du (as well as Sugar) songs live again. His backup band features several notable musicians including Brendan Canty. Norton formed the short-lived band Grey Area, played with Shotgun Rationale, and became a chef; he and his wife, Sarah own a restaurant in Bay City, Wisconsin called The Nortons'. In addition to his restaurant duties, in 2006 Norton returned to music as bassist for the Minnesota based band The Gang Font, feat. Interloper. The group released an eponymous album in 2007.

Surprise reunion:
Mould and Hart did a brief, unannounced reunion in 2004 at a benefit concert for the late Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, who had been receiving treatment for cancer. At the end of what had been scheduled as a Bob Mould solo set, he brought Hart out and the duo played two Hsker D songs, "Hardly Getting Over It" and "Never Talking To You Again". Mould wrote on his blog that the performance was an impromptu, last-minute suggestion by Hart and shouldn't kindle any "false hope" for a reunion.

In June 2005, Mould told Billboard magazine in an interview that SST had not given the band an accounting of their record and CD sales in several years, and that plans to regain the master tapes from SST and reissue them elsewhere were being held up by business disputes between the former band members.

Musical style:
A particular strength of the group was the two powerhouse singer/songwriters, Mould and Hart. The tension between their musical styles (Hart was generally the angrier songwriter, Mould the more melodic one), and their willingness to collaborate, made the whole of their contributions greater than the sum of its parts. Grant and Bob were also fiercely competitive men; each continually trying to upstage the other in song writing. This competition led to a steady growth musically and with two powerful songwriters, the band benefitted greatly; particularly in the early days when the songs were more collaborative. By the time "Warehouse" was released the albums were more evidently Bob and Grant each showing up with their respective material.

Their music shows the influence of folk, 1960s pop music, psychedelic guitar solos, often combined with speed, guitar distortion and aggression.

Songwriting and vocals:
The lyrics made astute, sharp personal and social commentary, showing a great deal of vulnerability and sympathy for their subjects.

Another strength was Mould's unique, resonant guitar sound, described by a critic at the time as "molten metal pouring from the speakers". Mid-period Husker Du songs are immediately recognizable via Mould's incandescent guitar tone, achieved by splitting the signal in the studio between amplified and direct tones and adding a light stereo chorus effect. Mould's technique involved playing resonant drone notes on the high strings, as well as copious usage of the MXR Distortion+ guitar pedal. The result is a piercing, high end tinny sound.

Husker Du are widely regarded as one of the most important and influential bands in the 80's. Their most lasting legacy was in bridging the gap between hardcore and alternative rock.
The group's career is thoroughly chronicled in the book, Our Band Could Be Your Life, a study of several important American underground rock groups of the 1980s.
Green Day, Lifetime, Gravenhurst, Million Dead, Entombed, Deacon Blue, Therapy?, Mega City Four, 59 Times The Pain and Anthrax, are among those who have recorded versions of Husker Du songs. The Replacements, Sebadoh, Foo Fighters, Buffalo Tom, Trip Shakespeare, The Posies, Sonic Youth, Norton, Jason Anderson, The Ataris, The Wildhearts, The Promise Ring, The Choir, The Blow, Splitsville and The Dead Milkmen have made reference to the band and its members in their own songs. Pixies, Jeff Tweedy, Jay Farrar, Uncle Tupelo and Nirvana have also called Hsker D a major influence. (In fact, the newspaper advertisement placed by Black Francis of the Pixies, which was answered by Kim Deal, described the band he wished to form as a Hsker D/Peter, Paul, and Mary-type band.)
VH1 has said that Husker Du are one of the two most important American post-punk bands (along with R.E.M.). Additionally, on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Artists they ranked 68, just below the Rolling Stones.

-Grant Hart (vocals, drums).
-Bob Mould (vocals, guitar).
-Greg Norton (bass guitar).
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