This blog post is intended as a tribute to Grant Hart, drummer of Hüsker Dü, whose death I have just heard about. The reason I chose this song, apart from the fact that I love it, is that it showcases Hart’s fast drumming style. I probably could have chosen better examples of his musicianship, but this is the song that came to mind – it was, after all, the first song I’d ever heard by Hüsker Dü – a joyous highlight of an awful time in my life.
Born Grantzberg Hart, March 18, 1961 in St. Paul, Minnesota, in addition to being drummer of Hüsker Dü, (meaning “Do you remember?” in Danish and Norwegian), he was also a co-songwriter. Hart formed the band in 1979 with Bob Mould and his friend, Greg Norton. The band were initially part of the American hardcore punk movement of the early 1980s, but their song-writing ability and musicianship marked them out as different from the majority of such bands, who usually sank into obscurity after one or two singles/EPs. In 1986, Hüsker Dü became the first significant band from the American indie scene to sign with a major label, (Warner Bros.).
However, this did not herald a new period of success for the band. In fact, tensions developed in the band after this time, largely because of issues surrounding Hart’s heroin addiction, (which he never really fully recovered from), and he even accused Mould of ensuring that he could not have more than 45% of the songs on each of the band’s albums. The band broke up acrimoniously in 1987 after releasing ten albums, Hart stating that Mould’s songs had become increasingly “square.” (See Michael Azerrad’s book, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991). After the band’s breakup in 1988, Hart formed the alternative rock trio Nova Mob, where he moved to vocals and guitar. Hart’s solo career became his main focus after the dissolution of Nova Mob in 1997.
There is a forthcoming 3-disc release of Hüsker Dü’ s earliest material, entitled Savage Young Du, which shows what prolific songwriters Hart and Mould were, and how influential they were on the American underground music scene in the 1990s. Indeed, the Chicago Tribune say that the band, “cast a wide shadow over American rock of the ’80s and ’90s and beyond, influencing untold thousands of fans and musicians, not least Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.” This was echoed by Hart himself only recently, when said of Savage Young Du: “Hearing this stuff for the first time in a couple of decades, I [was] realizing the historical significance of what we were doing at the time. Of course, at the time, we were a bunch of kids playing rock ‘n’ roll in the basement. But the potential that Hüsker had showed right out of the gate.” RIP.