Bob Mould – Tickets – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC – September 6th, 2014

Bob Mould

Bob Mould

Cymbals Eat Guitars

Sat 9/6/14

Doors: 6:00 pm

Bob Mould - (Set time: 7:30 PM)
Bob Mould


Here’s the deal. In 2012, people loved Silver Age (to a degree that surprised me, pleasantly), likewise Beauty & Ruin in 2014 (despite the heaviness of the subject matter, which I thought might be a bit alienating… apparently not. Another pleasant surprise.).

But PATCH THE SKY is the darkest one.

After the Letterman performance in February 2015 where “dust fell from the rafters,” it would have seemed logical to go the punk rock route—an entire album of two-minute songs—but that wasn’t where my soul was at.

I withdrew from everyday life. I wrote alone for six months. I love people, but I needed my solitude. The search for my own truth kept me alive. These songs are my salvation.

I’ve had a solid stretch of hard emotional times, and thanks for the condolences in advance. I don’t want to go into the details—more death, relationships ending, life getting shorter—because they’re already in the songs. Just listen and see if you can fit yourself into my stories. The words make you remember. The music makes you forget.

But PATCH THE SKY is also the catchiest one.

I always aim for the perfect balance of bright melodies and dark stories. I’ve used this juxtaposition for years. This time, I’ve tuned it to high contrast.

The first side of the album is generally simple and catchy. The second side is heavier in spirit and tone. Opposing forces and properties. I love both sides of PATCH THE SKY.

At the core of these songs is what I call the chemical chorus—you hear it once and your brain starts tingling. The heart rate picks up. It gets worse—you know it’s coming again and you can barely stand the anticipation. Then, the beautifully heartbreaking bridge appears, and you’re all set up—hooked for life. Music is an incredibly powerful drug. I want to be your drug dealer. I have what you need.

On the current band.

I’m currently in the best band in the world with Jon Wurster on drums and Jason Narducy on bass. We’ve been working together since March 2008. Jon and Jason are involved in many quality projects, and I’m amazed they find the time to play music with me. I am always thankful for their contributions.

On the recording process.

Beau Sorenson engineered the tracking sessions at Electrical Audio in Chicago. We all played really hard, and I used very loud amps. We mixed PATCH THE SKY at Different Fur in San Francisco. Bob Weston mastered the album at Chicago Mastering Service. Sonically, it’s deeper and richer than the previous two albums.

On the state of my music.

Beyond the aforementioned trials of life, I found myself thinking about the 1970s, where heavy metal, soft rock, and confessional singer/songwriters collided (and gay porno was better). I circled back to the forgotten sounds of my teen years, and how I used to absorb, learn, and emulate in order to create.

When I was younger, I always felt the need to justify my work. These days, I don’t have time or energy for that. I only want to finish the songs that get stuck in my head for days and weeks and months on end. And add lots of guitar solos.

On the last campaign, I had a song called “Little Glass Pill” that talked about “a window and a mirror.” That’s what music is to me, both as creator and lifelong fan. The window—where you can see inside my soul. The mirror—where I look to find my own truth. When the inspiration hits, roll with it. Write what you live, love, and know.

On gratitude.

Apparently I’ve been given some special dispensation. How many musicians get to play loud rock at 55 and still have an audience?

It’s amazing that people from so many different cities, countries, ages, and walks of life all continue to find something in common in my music. I take the art form very seriously; I appreciate being recognized for my efforts, and I’m incredibly grateful for the time I’ve had in the light. I like the brightness, and Lord knows I’ve got darkness covered.

* * *

Anyhow—let’s try to make something enjoyable out of all the heaviness of life and death and love and failure and fear and regret that we all go through. Talk with me about normal stuff. Ask me fun questions. I’ll say some crazy shit because I’m old. Kids will think I’m out of touch with modern times. I love it. Let’s do it.
Cymbals Eat Guitars - (Set time: 6:30 PM)
Cymbals Eat Guitars
“Wanna wake up wanting to listen to records / But those old feelings elude me / I raise a toast to the rock n' roll ghost,” sings Cymbals Eat Guitars frontman Joseph D’Agostino on the hyper-adrenalized “XR,” which sounds like a Tonight’s the Nightouttake recorded at triple speed, with its braying harmonica and spitfire vocal delivery. It’s the track that perhaps best captures the spirit of the band’s third LP, LOSE, one of coping with abject loss and grief by rediscovering what you’ve always loved, as difficult as it may be—the redemptive power of music. For D’Agostino, this entailed coming to terms with his best friend and musical collaborator Benjamin High, who passed away suddenly seven years ago, just as Cymbals Eat Guitars began recording in earnest.
LOSE is a very apropos title because it refers not only to losing Ben, but also it's about a sort of nostalgia, a longing for a time when music meant everything to you and your friends, and it seemed like one great rock record could change everyone's life the way it changed yours,” says D’Agostino. “It's about being in mourning for your long-held belief that music could literally change the world. That's the contradiction at the heart ofLOSE... You're disillusioned, but somehow you can do nothing else but rail against that feeling mightily and try, once again, to make a record that makes you and everyone else ‘wake up wanting to listen to records’.”

And indeed, the band, rounded out by bassist Matthew Whipple, keyboardist Brian Hamilton, and drummer Andrew Dole, alongside producer John Agnello, do little wallowing. This is a raucous affair, an Irish Wake, ultimately rooted in nothing less than a celebration of just being alive.

“Jackson” kicks off the album in prototypical Cymbals fashion—all allusions to suburban ennui, drugs, and geography, as D’Agostino reminisces, “We're riding through Jackson Pines / Towards Six Flags to wait in lines,” with an agoraphobic romantic companion whom he directly addresses, “You're taking two Klonopin / So you can quit flipping / And face our friends.” Yet, this is a leaner, more sinister Cymbals. The vocals are crisper, the drums more dynamic, the bass more melodic, all buttressed by a sensational see-saw guitar figure that blossoms into a lacerating yet anthemic rocker.

“I think this one is obviously more accessible than Why There Are Mountains or Lenses Alien,” says D’Agostino, referring to the band’s first two LPs, their debut having been awarded Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music. “The first two had a lot more stop and start,” he continues. “This one has a ton of momentum. It's got fluidity and grace. I think I gave the lyrics more room to breathe, so you can kind of follow what's going on.”

The record also features some radical stylistic departures for the band. “We just got tired of playing mathy, ponderous songs every night,” laughs D’Agostino. This sea change is exemplified by the tranquil, gorgeous Velvets-esque ballad “Child Bride,” and the soulful slow-burn of “Laramie,” that finds D’Agostino crooning in a near Prince-esque falsetto, “I'll do the Kev and you can do the Charles,” slyly referencing band favorite The Wrens, before admitting with contrition, “We were both in need of rescue / So who saved whom?”

And that’s what’s perhaps most impressive about LOSE—the manner in which D’Agostino comes clean with his emotions, tackling seemingly ineffable mourning without equivocation. “There are no $5 words that you'll have to pull up dictionary.comfor... some of the lyrics are directly confessional. Very open, no obfuscation,” he explains. “I lost my dear friend a while ago and I've sort of been addressing it in song for most of my career, though you probably couldn't really tell until now. It’s just a direct expression of grief. I figured if I confronted it head-on on record it'd make for some interesting music.”

But this is more than interesting—LOSE is a headlong rush of regret sublimated into a grand catharsis.

“These songs are a joy to play, and hopefully they will be a joy to listen to,” says D’Agostino. “I know I still get chills from every song on this record, so that has to mean something. You have to trust that feeling.”
Venue Information:
9:30 Club
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
http://930.com