Q&A: Grant Hart On His Double Album The Argument, Bob Mould's Memoir, And The Conditions For A Hüsker Dü Reunion

As Grant Hart bravely dealt with a godawful fire that nearly gutted his boyhood home in his native South St. Paul last year, the drummer/guitarist and visual artist—formerly of American noise-pop legends Hüsker Dü—found an emotional outlet, positing his brilliant pop songsmithery towards arguably his most immense effort to date, the double-concept-LP sprawl of The Argument.

Not many artists besides the intrepid Hart—who already has struck concept-album gold with the monumental opuses Zen Arcade (with the Hüskers) and Last Days of Pompeii (in his post-Hüsker outfit, Nova Mob)—would tackle 17th-century poet John Milton's epoch Paradise Lost (which was originally published in ten books) and transform it into a galvanizing, theatrical 90-minute set. The Argument, rich with Hart's trademark masterfully crafted '60s Spector-isian pop song glory, does just that.

Sound of the City spoke to Hart in length about The Argument, his hardships as of late, his recollections of the Hüsker Dü memories put forth in his ex-bandmate Bob Mould's recent memoir See A Little Light, and the possibility of getting back together with his former band.

So, you paneled a seminar at this year's South by Southwest?

I had a good crew for the seminar. I don't know how long it was; I imagine it was an hour of talk. I chose the title "Writing from a Narrative: Zen Arcade to The Argument." It pretty much covered what I know about dressing up your record and calling it a concept album.

Who else was on the panel?

No one. I was pretty much driving blind. I got a nice turnout. I expected it to be maybe five people, just seeing how unbusy that particular end of things were. The whole thing seemed dumbed down from two years ago when I was last an attendee.

You didn't go to SXSW last year?

No, I was in Skopje, Macedonia attempting to see the sun rise over the ancient observatory at Kokino. I hunted for a time that would be astrologically significant—or, let's say, "astrometrically"—but too bad for the weather, it was overcast and windy, we still had a really good time. Since so much of (John Milton's) "Paradise Lost" is in and of the movements of the planets and such, he really worked as much into that.

And The Argument, your new record, is based on Milton's Paradise Lost?

It flows musically but sometimes the verses may jump ahead, a book or so. It pretty much flows in time, as do the books by Milton.

Did you play everything yourself on the record? The instrumentation is pretty expansive.

There's a bass player I worked with who played some stuff on Hot Wax and there's an upright bass player that came in. At different points, I approached different people. For me, there's a super tight budget that this one would be on due to the loss of my house a year ago in February [due to the fire]. Emotionally, I had to dedicate myself to [The Argument] and I'm glad I had a project like this to absorb my attention and to absorb my energy.

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