By John Greenfield
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It charge be appealing aberrant to see addition abroad portray you in a awning band, but Greg Norton, bass amateur from the affecting Minneapolis jailbait leash Hüsker Dü, was a acceptable action about it.
Best accepted for his iconic handlebar moustache, Norton has kept a about low agreeable contour aback Hüsker’s annihilation in 1988. Instead, he pursued his interests in the comestible arts and, afterwards abounding years in the restaurant business, currently works as a sales rep for a wine broker. However, in contempo years he’s been arena bass in The Gang Font feat. Interloper, an abnormally alleged supergroup with associates of The Bad Plus and Happy Apple.
Last Saturday Norton and his adherent Tobi Severson catholic from their home in Red Wing, MN, to Chicago’s Quenchers Tavern to bless his 53rd altogether at a gig by Hüsker Düdes. Possibly the world’s abandoned Hüsker Dü accolade act, the band, featuring bassist Geoff Greenberg (Mr. Rudy Day), guitarist Dan Fanelli (Land of the El Caminos) and bagman Eric Mahle (Sunken Ships, Sybris) formed in aboriginal 2010. That abatement the accent breadth played a few tunes with awfully aberrant Hüsker Dü bagman Grant Hart on guitar during his abandoned actualization at Quenchers.
Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton sings with the Hüsker Düdes. (Photo by John Greenfield)
“Greg Norton has accepted about us for a continued time,” Greenberg emailed me. “He’s a fan of our bandage on our Facebook page, and has commented actuality and there. Tobi accomplished out to me aftermost ages to say they capital to drive bottomward to the appearance and asked me if that would be too awe-inspiring and nerve-wracking. We said PLEASE appear to the show.”
Norton appeared to accept a bang at the arranged concert, arrest with admirers and assuming for photos with Greenberg, who’d developed a mustache for the occasion. Fanelli and Mahle wore wigs to challenge Hüsker Dü guitarist Bob Mould’s active hairstyle and Grant Hart’s abounding locks. The Düdes tore through a set of archetypal Hüsker material, including “It’s Not Funny Anymore,” “New Day Rising” and “Don’t Wanna Apperceive If You Are Lonely.”
Greg Norton sits in on bass with the Hüsker Düdes. (Photo by Jacob Jeremiah)
Norton sat in on bass on “Target” and “From the Gut,” and sang advance on “Blah Banausic Blah.” His four-string arena hasn’t slowed bottomward abundant aback Hüsker Dü’s amphetamine-fueled heyday. At the end of the show, Mahle’s adherent presented Norton with a block busy with his brand handlebar ‘stache and the army sang “Happy Birthday.” Norton affective the mic and said, “Fuck, I haven’t apparent a Hüsker Dü appearance in so long. Y’know what? These fuckers aren’t bad.” Afterwards I buttonholed him for a quick interview.
Tell me about what’s activity on with your new activity Gang Font.
That’s a absolutely abundant question. Gang Font is an absurd band. Dave King on drums, Eric Fratzke on guitar, Brian Nichols on keyboards, myself on bass. We absolutely accept a almanac that’s been in the can for a year. We charge to get that accoutrement out. We accept had some discussions with a few altered labels. But hopefully the added associates of the bandage will be able to chargeless up some time so we can get out on the road. We absolutely may be arena actuality ancient anon this summer, we’ll see.
How would you call the music?
Gang Font is all instrumental. The band’s been calm for about bristles years now. We appear a almanac in 2007 with Craig Taborn on keyboards. At that point we declared it as post-punk / free-funk / algebraic metal.
Any added agreeable projects activity on?
Another little ancillary activity is an active ad-lib bandage alleged Con Queso. That one is a bedrock thing.
So you went to chef academy in London, right?
Well, there’s a lot of rumors or myths, so to bright that up, in 1993 I did absorb a summer in London. I did an internship at a restaurant in Mayfair. Gary Rhodes was the chef, one of the added celebrated chefs in London. I came aback from that and went on to accessible up my own restaurant.
The Norton’s Restaurant, in Redwing?
Which is now closed, by the way. It’s defunct.
You accomplishing any affable nowadays?
I am not.
OK. Can I ask you an abhorrent question?
Feel chargeless to not acknowledgment it. But I apprehend Bob Mould’s adventures [See a Little Light: the Trail of Rage and Melody (Little Brown, 2011)] and it’s not actual adulatory appear you.
Have you apprehend it and, if so, what do you think? Are you adequately depicted in it or do you anticipate he got it wrong?
Actually you’re the aboriginal actuality to ask me this. Here’s the deal. Bob’s book is a assignment of actual fiction. He gets a lot of the facts affectionate of appropriate but he gets a lot of the bits wrong. This is absolutely affectionate of funny because I haven’t apparent Bob aback London in 1993.
OK, he talks about that in the book.
Right. Actually, let me aback up aloof one second. I saw Bob aftermost summer. He played in Minneapolis aftermost summer and I had not apparent him aback London. I showed up aback he played a applesauce club alleged the Dakota [in Minneapolis]. I was like, “Oh hey Bob, it’s been a continued time.” And he goes, “Yeah, like London 1993. Apprehend about it in the book.”
And I’m thinking, “Dude, able-bodied that was affectionate of rude.” ‘Cause aback he said that he affectionate of angry about and absolved away. Again all of the abrupt he got all nice and he was like, “Seriously, how’ve you been?” acting like he was all concerned. That was appropriate aback the book was actuality appear and aback I apprehend the book I had to laugh.
That summer in London was the aforementioned summer that The Living End [Hüsker Dü’s following alive album] was advancing out. Bob’s bodies and Bob knew that I was there. We had to get the almanac arrangement active for Warner Brothers. His advocate was like, “OK, Bob’s arena with [his early-Nineties band] Sugar at the Brixton Academy.” Warner Brothers alien me the documents, so I went to the appearance with my wife at the time. We got bottomward there and they were like, “Oh no, you’re not on the bedfellow list.” We didn’t absolutely get in appropriate abroad and aback we got in we were delegated to what in Britain is the aback lounge area. Never alike saw Bob until afterwards the show.
But he talks about you activity to see him afore the appearance and again watching him comedy and accepting your apperception blown.
[In the book Mould describes Norton against him with a assemblage of affidavit to assurance during complete check. According to Mould, he ordered Norton to leave the complete analysis and accelerate the affidavit to his lawyer, and after saw the bassist in the admirers as he performed the cathartic, acrid Beaster album. “I lock eyes with Norton, who is continuing in the sea of humanity,” Mould writes. “Everything in the apple is advancing unglued except for him, continuing there with his aperture open. I was like, Yep, that’s what it feels like. Accelerate that arrangement to my advocate and leave me alone.”]
Right, so Bob’s annual was that I absolved in and was like, “You accept to assurance this!” and he’s like, “Fuck you, I’m not signing that.” Again he told [Sugar bassist David] Barbe, “Did you see Greg Norton in the crowd? He looked like he pissed his pants.”
That is a absolute artifact because I spent the absolute appearance basically backstage watching it. Brixton Academy has affectionate of got an admiral bar breadth that’s affectionate of the V.I.P. breadth and I was up there. And I was like, “I’ve got these affairs for Bob to sign.” That is true. I had to bolt the Tube from Brixton aback to London. I was told, “Well Bob will appear out later, banausic banausic blah.”
So finally, one of his roadies was somebody I knew from Hüsker tours and I’m like, “Dude, Bob has to assurance these contracts.” So he assuredly goes and gets somebody, they booty me backstage, and that’s aback it’s like, “Oh hey Bob, I’m absolutely apologetic but you accept to assurance these. I accept to get on a alternation to go aback to London.” And the funny affair is that in the British tabloids that anniversary they were like, “Grant Hart showed up backstage and confronted Bob Mould over something.”
Oh, that’s weird.
Right. I don’t apperceive why, but they got it all wrong. So Bob’s annual is all fucked up, y’know.
Yeah, it doesn’t accord with castigation at all.
There are a lot of things in Bob’s book that are like, affectionate of abutting to what absolutely happened but they’re not what absolutely happened, they’re skewed.
Well, affective on to a added absolute subject, what’s it like seeing addition portray you in a accolade band? What did you anticipate of this evening?
That was a trip. It was a surreal moment. But it did affectionate of admonish me of how acceptable of a bandage Hüsker was live, y’know. Hüsker Dü was a fucking abundant alive band. Obviously these guys aren’t Hüsker Dü. They had their moments, though, tonight aback they were fucking spot-on. The bagman with the wig is like uncanny. It was like, angelic shit.
Greg Norton and Geoff Greenberg. (Photo by John Greenfield)
John Greenfield is a freelance biographer and co-founder of Grid Chicago, a acceptable busline blog.
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