As if marking the 20th anniversary of his top-selling album weren't enough for one tour, Bob Mould just released one of his best records yet.
"I knew if I went out on the road only to play 'Copper Blue,' I was probably going to burst," said the blunt-speaking Twin Cities rock alum, who'll perform that disc in its entirety Saturday at First Avenue with his latest trio.
"Copper Blue," by Mould's short-lived power trio Sugar, is one of the most concise, ageless, perfect records of the alt-rock era of the early '90s -- a wave that Mould, 51, helped ripple to life with his St. Paul-reared group Hüsker Dü. The album, which sold about 300,000 in its original incarnation, earned a deluxe-edition reissue in July on big-time indie label Merge Records.
But that's not all he'll play Saturday night. Merge also just issued the new album "Silver Age," Mould's hardest-blasting effort since his Sugar days.
"I had these moments while making it where I was thinking, 'Am I copying myself here?'" Mould recounted. "Finally, I was like, 'Fuck it. Just go with it.'"
Mould has been in the spotlight since the release of last year's autobiography, "See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage & Melody," in which he opened up about his anger issues, his coming out as a gay man and the many facets of his 33-year music career.
He still had plenty to talk about last month in a phone interview from Las Vegas.
On the factors that led to "Silver Age": "It was pretty much 1, 2 and 3: I spent a year on the book and was tired of editing every word; I knew the 'Copper Blue' stuff was coming, and then hanging out with the Foo [Fighters] guys made some kind of an impression. After the tribute [concert for Mould last fall] in L.A., I had this burst of songs. That was in December, and then Jason [Narducy], Jon [Wurster] and I got together January 2nd. It was just the three of us in a room together in San Francisco, learning the songs, doing takes until it felt right. You can hear that on the record."
On what he had left to write after his autobiography: "I mostly just wanted these words to pour out, after laboring over all the words in the book. I'd figure out later what they're all about. Somebody asked me about [the 'Silver Age' track] 'Briefest Moment,' if it's about something from my childhood, and it's not. I had the second verse first, so then I had to set the stage with the first verse and grabbed that line, 'Just a small-town kid,' and everybody assumed it was autobiographical. There are things on this album that are based on personal experience, but it's not like the book."
On the reasons behind the Sugar reissues: "That era of writing that stuff and getting with [bandmates] David [Barbe] and Malcolm [Travis], that was a real high point for me personally. It was great fun. I love those songs. A handful of them stayed in my set permanently over the past 20 years. People love that record. That's a good reason to do it right there. With all the difficult projects I've put out, the more selfish projects, this one was easy and unselfish."
On the prospect of Hüsker Dü's albums seeing similar treatment: "The three of us all have the same representation now. I'm cautiously optimistic that business may move forward at some point. I don't think any of the personalities have changed much, the three people in the band and how we feel about each other. You know the three personalities of everyone involved, so you know that it's very much working in baby steps."
On performing at First Ave nowadays: "It still sort of hurts. There's so much history. I always perceive a greater expectation when I'm there, because I have such a history there. Every time I load into that room, I have a lot of emotions come up, because that's really where I grew up. That's where I learned how to do what I do, in the Entry and First Ave."
On Minnesota's proposed amendment to ban gay marriage: "Once it's legal everywhere for gay people to marry, it's going to seem like such a non-issue. We'll think, 'What was the debate about?' But let's not be complacent about it now. You can't assume that everyone is OK with it. Go to your parents or whoever and explain it, that there are good people who won't have the same basic rights as other U.S. citizens because of this."