A Conversation with Greg Norton
May 18, 2023 by Kevin Gomez
Although only together for less than a decade, Hüsker Dü made a massive impact on the punk and alternative scenes. Frank Black of the Pixies, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, and all three members of Nirvana are just a few admit to being greatly influenced by the Minnesota trio. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic was once quoted as saying, “What Nirvana did was nothing new, Hüsker Dü did it before us.”

Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton has remained busy since the band broke up in 1988, most recently joining Ultrabomb, a punk ensemble featuring Finny McConnell of the Mahones on vocals and guitar, and Jamie Oliver of the UK Subs on drums. Norton spoke with me on his day off from the band’s current tour to talk about a recent health scare, Ultrabomb’s new album and their upcoming dates, including Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas.
Kevin: Hey Greg, I appreciate you calling on your day off. Ultrabomb is currently on tour right now, correct?
Greg: Yes, we’re in Nashville tonight and play Memphis tomorrow. We’re currently on the road with the Barstool Preachers.
Kevin: I know you had to cancel the European tour that was scheduled for last year. How’s your health been lately?
Greg: My health has been quite well. I had prostate surgery last July after playing just one Ultrabomb show, we had to cancel some dates around England and Scotland. They took out my prostate – I asked if I could donate it to the Punk Rock Museum but they said it was pretty unremarkable, as they had sliced it up to do biopsies. All my testing has been great since then and it looks like it was contained in the prostate.
Kevin: Have you rescheduled those dates yet?
Greg: Not yet, but we’re planning on getting over to Europe this fall.

Kevin: Wonderful news. How did you meet Finny and Jamie? Have you known them for a while?
Greg: This is the crazy part about this band. Finny had sent my wife a friend request on Facebook and said he was a huge fan of mine but was too shy to send me one directly. We became Facebook friends, and, in the summer of 2021, I left the band (Porcupine) I had been playing in. Jamie hit me up and said we should start a band together; I know the best punk rock drummer around, Jamie Oliver. A month later Finny was booked in a studio in Berlin at the same time Jamie happened to be there, so I booked a flight and we all met face to face. We wrote the first four songs that first session, and the other six on the second – so the entire album was written over two days.
Kevin: The album was officially released last summer?
Greg: Yes, although, there was a long delay in the vinyl, but they should be finally shipping out to everybody. The autographed sleeves for the bundle just got back to them this week, so they are working hard to get those shipped out ASAP. Once we get our hands on those, we will have them available on the tour.
Kevin: After all this time, is it hard to write punk music now, or will there always be things to rebel against and piss you off?
Greg: I think there’s always going to be too many things to be rebellious and angry about. In a way it’s sad but it’s like the songs write themselves. You just open up the newspaper and everyday there’s something outrageous that’s happened. And the way I write lyrics, I’m not writing about any particular subject, and even with Hüsker, Bob (Mould) and Grant (Grant) would write similarly which helps keep the music timeless and relevant. The Ultrabomb record definitely has a classic punk sound to it, but also sounds very fresh.
Kevin: I know you and Hüsker Dü itself got its start in Minnesota. Have you continued to live their all your life?

Greg: Yes, I moved to a small metropolitan area in 1983, shortly after the band started. So I’ve been living the smalltime life for the last 40 years. It’s quiet, it’s on the Mississippi River and peaceful and enjoyable.
Kevin: When I think of the biggest punk scenes, I think of Los Angeles, New York, Orange County. What is it about Minnesota that led to such a big punk scene that’s lasted all these years?
Greg: You know, we always used to joke about that. “It gets so cold in the wintertime, nobody wants to leave their house and go outside so we all put together bands and practice in the basement.” (laughs) Yeah, Minneapolis has got a great punk scene that’s still thriving, and we actually started the tour by playing the Turf Club in St. Paul.
Kevin: Why do you think Hüsker Dü connected with college radio so well?
Greg: We wrote good songs! (laughs) I don’t know, Hüsker Dü was hardcore that you could whistle. The songs definitely made an impact on people. Our first trip to the East Coast blew us all away because we were thinking we would have establish a following there, but we show up and there’s packed clubs and it was all due to being played on college radio.

Kevin: I remember the first time I ever heard of Hüsker Dü, I was in junior high school hearing Billie Joe Armstrong list them as one of his biggest influences. And Dave Grohl mentions in his autobiography, “The Storyteller,” what a big impact you had on him.
Greg: Foo Fighters did one of their big shows at The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and he said, “I’m just going to say this: no Hüsker Dü, no Foo Fighters.” Dave’s a great guy. I’ve never met Billie Joe, but his wife (Adrienne) is from Minnesota.
Kevin: You mentioned earlier about wanting to donate your prostate. Do you know if Hüsker Dü has any items at the Punk Rock Museum? Are you planning on visiting when you’re in Vegas later this month?

Greg: Yeah, we have a couple of items that have been donated. I actually have a couple more things that I want to send over when they’re ready to accept more memorabilia. I’m hoping to make it over in the daytime while we play Punk Rock Bowling.
Kevin: Speaking of which, you’re playing one of the Punk Rock Bowling club shows. Any concerns that your set doesn’t start until midnight?
Greg: Yeah, I think that sounds right. It’s the nature of being on tour; you play on different times. Sometimes you’re wishing it was a matinee. But yeah, midnight for the Sunday club show and then 3:55 p.m. Monday on the main stage. We’re really looking forward to both sets.

Kevin: You’re playing that club show with the Dickies. Did you ever play with them with Hüsker Dü or any other band?
Greg: Yes, way back in the day. The Dickies were actually an influence on us and we saw them a bunch of times back then. I’m looking forward to seeing Leonard and Stan again. It’s been….well, 40 years probably. (laughs)
Kevin: It’s good to have you healthy! What’s ahead for you guys?
Greg: Yes, Ultrabomb is back! We hit the ground running again and we’re hoping to get to Europe this fall and the plan is to go back to the studio in Berlin and cut a second record. In 2024, we’ll be touring a lot around the U.S. so keep an eye out.
Thank you Greg, and we look forward to seeing Ultrabomb live and hearing new music soon!



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