“[Husker Du] provided the sonic blueprint for the roaring punk-pop hybrid that crossed over into the mainstream in the early ‘90s”
Hüsker Dü was an American rock band formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1979. The band’s continual members were guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould, bassist Greg Norton, and drummer/vocalist Grant Hart.
Hüsker Dü first gained notability as a hardcore punk band, later crossing over into alternative rock. Mould and Hart split the songwriting and singing duties.
Following an EP and three LPs on independent label SST Records, including 1984’s critically acclaimed Zen Arcade, the band signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1986 to release their final two studio albums.
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 of the Midwest. Through heavy touring they soon caught the attention of punk trailblazers like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra, which helped introduce Hüsker Dü 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 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 Records.
The intense, but varied Metal Circus EP/mini-album was released in 1983. Hüsker Dü’s more melodic take on hardcore struck a chord with college students, and various tracks from Metal Circus, particularly Hart’s “Diane,” were put into rotation by dozens of campus radio stations across the US. In addition, on Metal Circus the band showed more invention, skill, and melody than it did over the course of their previous full album Everything Falls Apart. Songs such as “Real World” helped to illustrate that the band was capable of writing songs with a deeper, more personal meaning. This represented a shift from the perceived punk ethos of the time. While some punk rock musicians and fans seemed to embrace an anarchist ideology, Hüsker Dü was experimenting with a more holistic integration of musical styles and genres, as well as a different attitude than their punk rock counterparts.