When Henry Ford Museum kicks off its summer concert series July 12, alternative rock icon Bob Mould will take the stage to strike the first chord on his 1980 Fender Stratocaster.
The concert series is part of the museum’s new “Rock Stars’ Cars & Guitars” exhibit, which features the guitars and rides of luminaries like John Lennon, Elton John and Madonna.
When asked what kind of car he drives, Mould cops to a Honda Element. “Nothing fabulous. My favorite car I ever had was a 1970 Lemans,” he says, adding that the car was torn in half after being hit by a stolen vehicle after he’d only had it six weeks. Following that, he learned not to become too attached to his cars.
Mould, who hails from Washington, D.C., is excited to be part of the event and looking forward to checking out the museum and Greenfield Village. “People have told me that that area is very historic,” he says.
“Historic” describes Mould’s own rock ‘n’ roll history. From the late ’70s through the late ’80s, Mould fronted the influential punk band Huesker Due. Kurt Cobain used to frequent their shows, and Huesker Due’s melody-laden punk undoubtedly influenced the sound of Nirvana and other ’90s rock acts.
After Huesker Due’s demise, Mould went solo before forming Sugar, a successful band during the ’90s alternative-rock era. It also was around this time Mould came out of the closet or, rather, was outed by an article in Spin magazine. It was a nerve-racking moment for him personally and professionally.
“I had a lot of personal factors, as everyone does with it: wanting to sort of protect my family, feeling like I needed to protect my professional work,” he says. “Over the last 13 years, I’ve been a lot more open, and I think it’s maybe a direct reflection about how the country has been a lot more open.
“People are people now. I am who I am. I don’t dwell on it too much; I just do what feels right. … I’m pretty happy with who I am right now.”
Though homophobia still exists somewhat in the music industry, Mould says it was more prevalent in the early ’90s. Coming out cost him radio play. “When all of that happened in ’94, there was a Sugar album that was coming out, and some of the commercially-oriented rock stations in the south and southeast backed off of the record. I understand why. I didn’t take it personally. I suspect it was a professional decision. They have to keep their advertisers happy. Anyone who thinks that radio
stations exist to keep their listeners happy is crazy.”
Being labeled a gay artist, however, is limiting – and Mould resists it. “I think artists who self-identify as being gay artists still have a hard time,” he says. “I think as time goes on, it will become less of an issue.”
That’s not to say that Mould shuns gay-specific events. Two years ago he performed at Capital Pride in D.C., and each year he and fellow artist Morel schedule their Blowoff event – where Mould puts down his guitar and gets behind a DJ table – at Nightclub 9:30 to correspond with Pride.
Mould’s career, post-gay or not, is still thriving. Throughout the summer he’ll be playing acoustic dates. He’ll release a concert DVD in October, a new single in November and a new album in January. Not to mention, he’ll tour in 2008. He says, “There have been a lot of people much more talented than I who have not survived it (the music business).”
Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn
Ages 18 and up