Monday, September 17, 2007

Melvins Unleashed and on Tour!

The following is a short piece I penned for the Seattle P-I, in which I interviewed Melvins co-founder and traps pounder Dale Crover. At the time, the Melvins were still a trio--it would be a few years before the enlistment Big Business partners bassist/shouter Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis. The latest Melvins incarnation is again making a menace of itself in U.S. clubs through the fall. If you haven't had the pleasure of subjecting yourself to the savage splendor of the Melvins' latest LP, A Senile Animal, well, then what are you waiting for? Look for a lengthy Q&A with King Buzzo from 2000 (previously printed in The Rocket) in the coming weeks.

Club Beat: No Energy Crisis for the Melvins
Friday, January 26, 2001


"We're just lucky, I guess."

That's one way Melvins drummer Dale Crover explains his band's remarkable longevity of 17 years. And he's right, they are lucky. The Melvins, who, in Aberdeen, forged grunge by crossing metal (Sabbath) with punk (Flipper) and slowed the whole thing to a sludgy crawl, and who acted as a catalyst in the formation of Nirvana, remain standing, still aspiring toward new artistic heights, and showing no signs of fatigue. A mighty achievement for a band that only haunts the fringes of the mainstream.

The Melvins—Crover, guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne (a.k.a. King Buzzo) and bassist Kevin Rutmanis—perform tonight in the Sky Church at EMP, the museum their formidable sound helped build (8 p.m., $5). (But don’t call them a museum piece.)

"We've had our ups and downs, but we really enjoy playing with each other," says Crover, whose soft-spoken manner belies his bombastic drumming. "I still really like all the songs that Buzz writes. It's exciting, challenging, worth doing."

The Melvins, now based in Los Angeles, have survived in a hostile music industry largely because of the strong bond that exists between Osborne and Crover and their fierce devotion to the band's independence and craft. Even when they were signed to Atlantic for three albums (1993's Houdini, 1994's Stoner Witch and 1996's Stag), they maintained that integrity.
If anything, they grew more adventurous—not to mention dissonant—during their major-label stay and allowed their metallic mountain-moving sound to wander freely into more experimental realms.

By eluding convention the Melvins have kept things interesting for themselves. In doing so, they've befuddled their fan base, something in which the band undoubtedly takes great delight.
For instance, during 1999 and 2000 the trio released a trilogy of albums, The Maggot, The Bootlicker and The Crybaby (Ipecac), each bearing little similarity to the other. Maggot stomped around familiar Melvins noise-metal territory; Bootlicker delved into psychedelic madness and creepy ambiance; while Crybaby kicked and screamed through a disjointed mess of unusual collaborations with likes of Hank Williams III, former teen idol Leif Garrett, among others.

The Melvins' next wave of releases is equally perplexing. First up will be Electroretard (Man’s Ruin), an EP of covers and reworked—or mutated—versions of old songs, in February, followed by a live album of scalding-hot white noise titled Colossus of Destiny, in April. Crover calls Colossus "our Metal Machine Music album," referring to Lou Reed's infamous noise recording from 1975.

"We never know what to expect with our band," Crover admits. "So it's even a surprise to us."

While anything's possible at tonight's show, count on the Melvins not to consign themselves to EMP's permanent collection.

Go see the Melvins (tour dates):

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