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So I was in Minneapolis, but even then exploring my sexuality wasn’t on the menu yet as far as out and being gay. When you were dating your first partner in the ’80s, your homosexuality was sort of an open secret to your close friends and musician pals. By the time Hüsker Dü went to [Warner Bros.], which would have been late ’85 or early ’86, people knew. It wasn’t a topic for conversation publicly with the press or with selling records.
It was a friend of mine who was a year older than me. I was 17 [or] 18 and I’m like, “I’m glad I’m gone and I’m not sure if I ever want to come back.” It’s not an indictment on the town I grew up in, but I don’t think it’s unusual in small towns in the ’70s for there to be an anti-gay bias.
Was there any trepidation about having to follow up a successful band such Hüsker Dü this time a solo artist?
I was up on a farm in rural Minnesota writing music by myself for a year.
I think the idea that I could actually be a musician definitely came from the first Ramones album.
I was a fan of heavy metal music, Kiss and Aerosmith, and all of those things seemed unattainable.