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Baker's Dozen

Flip Your Wig: Bob Mould's Favourite Albums
Nick Hutchings , June 18th, 2014 10:55

With his new, eleventh solo album Beauty & Ruin just released, the Hüsker Dü and Sugar man gives Nick Hutchings his top 13 records


Ramones - Ramones
I didn't get a guitar until I was 15. I had a Sears Gibson SG copy for about nine months to see if I really wanted to stay with it and then I bought the good guitar (the Ibanez Flying V) but when I was a kid, when I was five/six years old I could sit down at a piano and hear something on the radio and figure it out. I think that's where I got my sensibility for music and then when I was nine I had a plastic chord organ and you'd play the chords over here and you'd have a melody over here so I'd learn to write songs on that. So I got a guitar when I was 15 and then the first Ramones album when I was 16…

Growing up in the country, at the time I was listening to stuff like Aerosmith and Kiss, Foghat, Ted Nugent and Rush, Fleetwood Mac and all the things you'd listen to in high school in the mid-70s. I used to buy this newsstand magazine, it was a music magazine called Rock Scene and it covered a lot of metal bands but it also covered the Max's Kansas City and CBGBs stuff like Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, Ramones, New York Dolls, so I would read about these bands and I got the first Ramones record for my 16th birthday and that was when I said, "OK, let's forget about the other stuff". To see the juxtaposition in the magazine of bands flying around in aeroplanes with guns and cocaine to these four guys in leather jackets who had to carry their own PA round the Bowery. I was like, "I'd rather do that". Especially when you'd hear it, definitely wanna do that.

I'm in the middle of Johnny Ramone's book right now - he was a tough case. I thought I was tough. He's an army brat, so there's that sense of discipline. Ramones was transparent - you could see through it, you could see through the music. When you listened to it, it was guitars over here, the drums and vocals sit here, everything has its place, it all makes sense together, and it makes sense separately. You could hear it so you could copy it, you could play along with it, sort of learn what they were doing and that got me on a course and I started listening to New York Dolls and obviously Johnny Thunders was a big influence. I spent some time with him. A little bit, just enough. I should have spent more, but enough. Not difficult, he chose it. It was tough when he couldn't find any heroin or whatever he needed, that made him grumpy for a few days, but you make do with what you can find.

In Minneapolis, there's a big club called First Avenue, which is the old Greyhound bus depot and could fit like 1,500 people in the main room. Then there's 7th St Entry [in the same building], the old coat check and storage room for the bus depot, which was the punk rock room where 250 people could fit. We played in there the night the Ramones played in the big room. We went into their sound check and said hi to Dee Dee, said, "Hey my name's Mould, we love your band, we're playing next door to you" - he was like, "Oh yeah yeah yeah". Of course I can sympathise now years later, he probably hadn't slept for a week - "Where's the fucking hotel I need an hour's sleep, whatever opening band." It happens. I even got it then. I was like, "Hey I just met Dee Dee Ramone and he was like, 'Hi see you later!'". It was enough to make me think I'll play extra hard tonight. That's what you do.

Hearing that record and seeing the Ramones right as Leave Home was coming out… They played up in Montreal and opened for Iggy Pop and just seeing the way they presented it live was like, "Woah!". Just that density of three/four songs, a little bit of a break, three/four songs, a little bit of a break - I still do that. I like that, I like the efficiency of it: why spend two hours doing what you can do in 75 minutes? People have lives. I'm not a big talker on stage with a rock band; there's not a lot to say, just play it. It was funny because seeing them and just being astonished how good they were and how tight it was, and then, I love Iggy, but that period - might have been The Idiot, right before Lust For Life - was loose to be generous. After an onslaught like the Ramones, I'm just gonna go out in the lobby and buy some Ramones T-shirts and wait for my ride back to the U.S., go home and think about this.