“All I know is that people say I was influential,” says former Hüsker Dü drummer/songwriter Grant Hart near the beginning of the documentary Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart. He’s not bragging but humbly acknowledging the significance of the Minneapolis-based hardcore/post-punk band that’s revered for its aggressive style of playing. It's a great moment in a film that chronicles the band's remarkable story.
The movie screens at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and director Gorman Bechard will be on hand for a Q&A that’ll take place after the screening.
The movie commences by going back to the site of El Cheapo Records, the record shop where Hart and singer-guitarist Bob Mould first met. “This is where the partnership began,” says Hart, who died last year. “It was like the meeting of two gunfighters. He would bring his guitar, and I would bring my drums.”
In March of 1979, the band officially formed with bassist Greg Norton. The impetus was a gig that would pay them $350. The group would issue its first single in 1981 and quickly become an underground sensation. Critics hailed the band’s 1984 effort Zen Arcade for the way it distilled the band’s harsher sensibilities and tempered them with introspective lyrics and accessible melodies.
Hart says that when the band let the record label pick the singles from 1986’s Candy Apple Grey it was a sign that the guys were no longer in control of their music. “We all became corrupted by one thing or another,” he admits.
The group would split in 1987, and Mould would have a successful solo career, and Hart would have a less successful solo career. In the film, Hart compares himself to the French painter and writer Marcel Duchamp in the respect that he, like Duchamp, made one masterpiece and then simply experimented in its wake.
Most of the film centers on recent interviews with Hart, who talks candidly about everything from his drug use to Hüsker Dü's battles with its label, SST Records, but Bechard expertly mixes in archival concert footage, publicity images and old flyers to create a compassionate portrait of a talented guy who deserved a better life.
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