Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Land Speed Record : A Conversation With Grant Hart

At this point Grant Hart should need no introduction, the former drummer/ vocalist and founding member of Minneapolis punk legends Husker Du, who later went on to form the criminally  under appreciated Nova Mob as well as releasing four sterling solo releases, has solidified his place as one of the American undergrounds most important artists, but you wouldn't know it when listening to his latest LP, the sprawling and flat out excellent, The Argument, Hart continues to push his song craft into new and engaging directions. In advance of his performance at The Davis Square Theatre tomorrow night, we caught up with Grant to dig into his latest work, the lost art of the concept record, and the legacy of Husker Du.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Let's start with The Argument, it's well documented that the album was inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost. What was your vision going into recording the songs that would end up on the album?

Grant Hart: Going in I wanted to secularize the material, remove any particularly Christian content and tell a story where either gods were men or all men were gods.

AGP: How were you first introduced to Milton's Paradise Lost?

Grant: The story has resonated in western thought for centuries. After seeing a version that Burroughs wrote, I was motivated.

AGP: Are there any plans for a stage production of The Argument?

Grant: Not with the type of funding I have at my disposal.

AGP: Do you think we can draw any correlation between the album's theme of the fall of man with the current state of our country?

Grant: Any era can have those correlations, be it government or the social order or anything. We are always on the way to hell.

AGP: Was it a conscious decision to record these tracks primarily on your own?

Grant: As a multi - instrumentalist it is easier for me to transmit my ideas this way. Some parts beyond my ability were played by others, particularly Davin Odegaard on bass.

AGP: With having recorded three conceptual albums, Husker Du's Zen Arcade, Nova Mob's The Last Day's of Pompeii, and now with The Argument, what draws you to the concept record?

Grant: I like to tell stories. I think ordering single songs into song cycles is attractive.

AGP: You have been out supporting the record and on Thursday you will play The Davis Square Theatre, how has the new material translated to the Live setting on what can your fans expect from your upcoming performance?

Grant: The performance will cover a lot of ground, old, new, and hyper new.

AGP: Does it get tiresome answering questions about Husker Du, when you have spent so much time away from your former band releasing high caliber records with Nova Mob and as a solo artist?

Grant: I'm proud of my early efforts, for instance my first LP with Husker will never be matched by me for sheer physicality. We were ahead of the curve. The other concepts were fine also, but Husker Du contained two excellent artists whose work is still vital.

AGP: Do you feel reuniting like so many of your contemporaries have done would tarnish the legacy of Husker Du?

Grant: If something like that were ever to happen it would be done in a way to expand the original concept, not merely exploit the enduring popularity of what was done.

AGP: After spending time in the early punk scene with some of the genres seminal bands, do you retain a connection with those early days or the music?

Grant: I have always tried to maintain the same level of revolutionary spirit. True anarchy rather than the anarchy you can buy at the mall.

Grant Hart plays The Davis Square Theatre tomorrow May 22nd at 8 PM

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