Laurie Lindeen shares her remembrances of Grant Hart, Hüsker Dü’s drummer and co-songwriter, who passed away on September 13, 2017
Everyone in the Twin Cities and beyond has far more interesting Grant Hart stories, because he fully inhabited every space he entered. I only have a few.
For a period in the early 90s, Grant and his new band, Nova Mob, had a rehearsal space down the hall from my old band, Zuzu’s Petals. We shared our space with Arcwelder and God’s Favorite Band. Gamber Roofing, located near railroad tracks and the Mississippi River on the furthest east side of Minneapolis, was a fully operational small business by day. By night it was crawling with bands, both shitty and extraordinary. On occasion, Grant might wander in to watch us, tell a story, or diss us, depending on his mood. His antics inside Gamber Roofing became the stuff of legend. In Zuzu’s Petals, we all had early morning day jobs, and our practice hours took place on the early side, before anything remarkable in Grantland took place.
In 1993, we served as the opening act for Grant’s first solo project, Nova Mob, on an English tour. Grant’s wit was fast, delicious, and oozing with contradictions. He once asked my bandmate Co to pose as his girlfriend for the British music press, in spite of the fact that his partner at the time, Tommy, played bass in Nova Mob. This twist would be fun, funny, and surprising. For my part, I had bronchitis and a bad attitude, and I observed.
Those weeks holed up in the Dalmatia Hotel, the London-based rock and roll B & B of the ‘90s, Grant enjoyed donning a shower cap around the clock. He was a star, and he lorded around hotels, restaurants, and clubs with an inappropriate, and therefore hilarious, sense of entitlement that befitted an opera house and not stinky mid-level rock venues. Because of Hüsker Dü, he’d already had a taste of the upper climes, and he was well suited for the work. He had a full-length leopard skin coat after all. He was funny, mischievous, and sometimes cruel. He shopped lasciviously, putting us, an all-female band of shopaholics, to shame. On stage he was unpredictable, sometimes brilliant, sometimes insolent, but his voice – his voice – was always moving in its warmth and perfect pitch.
Admittedly, I wasn’t a rabid Hüsker Dü fan, but I liked a lot of their songs like “Green Eyes,” “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely,” and “Flexible Flyer.” I would later discover that all of my favorite Hüsker songs were penned by Grant — or Grahnt, as they called him in England, and as we, in Zuzu’s Petals, would always call him. When he and I conversed, we tended to talk about history and books, and in spite of my degree in English Literature, he knew far more than I. He was friends with William S. Burroughs and Patti Smith, after all. Grant was fascinated with Pompeii and Milton, and for years worked on a musical project based on Paradise Lost.
Grant continued to make music and art. I got married, moved to the suburbs, became a mother – not necessarily in that order – and switched my creative focus to writing. The odds of us crossing paths were exceedingly slim. The last time I saw Grant, it was summer. I was sitting at the bar at King’s, a bistro in South Minneapolis, waiting to meet a girlfriend for a glass of wine. Grant walked in wearing white painter’s pants, the same pants I wore frequently in middle school. Chatty and animated, he told me that a film crew was coming to interview him in his backyard for a documentary about the Replacements. I was married to Paul Westerberg at the time. “I know!” he said with a smile. “You should come over and quietly work in my garden just behind me on camera!” We both knew how ironic, hilarious, and somewhat insulting this would be because no one in the crew would have any idea who I was, and this little piece of inter-textual hijinks might add a dimension to a project about which we were both, most likely, ambivalent.
What a mind, what a talent. There’ll never be another one like Grahnt. I hope you’ve found paradise, bright one.