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The Melvins: A sludge colossus lumbers on

Monday 31st, August 2015 / 13:47
By James Olson
Photo: Kevin Willis

Photo: Kevin Willis

VANCOUVER — In the Melvins’ illustrious and infamous 30-plus year career, the only constant has been change. Within the last five years, the band has released almost as many albums, each featuring a different lineup under the moniker helmed by the wild-haired guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne and drumming extraordinaire Dale Crover. On a break between legs for their tour, promoting for their 22nd studio release, Crover reported that the band would see a lineup change in the midst of the tour, as Jared Warren and Coady Willis from Big Business would be returning to the fold. An ever shifting lineup is just part of the Melvins’ methodical madness. “We like playing with a bunch of different people. We’re not married to one lineup. It’s calculated but not. It always happens to work out one way or another.” Crover says. He notes that since last October, the band has played shows with aforementioned drum and bass duo from Big Business, JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers), and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle). No matter who’s on stage with himself and Buzz though, Crover adds, “We consider them to be part of the band no matter what.”

Beyond the longstanding chemistry between Osborne and Crover that’s sustained the legendary sludge rock act for so many years, collaboration with multiple musicians and experimentation have remained key facets to the Melvins enduring artistic character. Their latest album Hold It In, saw Melvins join with Pinkus and another Butthole Surfers’ alumni Paul Leary, both long time friends of the band. Crover is quick to express his admiration for Leary particularly, “I’ve always thought Paul was a solid guitar player. I think he’s one of the most underrated guitar players there is so it was great to record with him and work with him and I’ve always liked his work with production too.” Although it’s hard not to note a hint of minor disappointment at Paul’s reluctance to tour along with Pinkus and co. “We tried to get him to tour with us but he’s too set in his routine, staying at home and bike riding, 3:30 comes around and he has to watch Judge Judy,” Crover chuckles. “He toured with Butthole Surfers before and that might have given him second thoughts about touring again.”

Photo: Erin Broadley

Photo: Erin Broadley

Over the next year, fans can look forward to yet another collaborative album featuring a different bassist on each track, many of whom have played with the band in some capacity before as well as some surprise guest stars. The new record, according to Crover, brings together “All the bass players that we used to have along with the ones we have worked with in recent years.” Along with Jared Warren, JD Pinkus, and Trevor Dunn, two of the more exciting guest performers include Krist Novoselic who played in some little band called Nirvana and Steven Shane McDonald from Redd Kross and OFF!

Yet another major project on the horizon is the release of The Colossus of Destiny, the first ever documentary about the band made by by Bob Hannam and Ryan Sutherby. Having launched a Kickstarter campaign in March of this year that reached its goal within a month’s time, Crover expresses excitement about the project coming to fruition. “They raised quite a bit of money so it looks like it’s gonna happen. Those guys have some pretty cool interviews. We helped them in some ways, giving them suggestions on people to interview even going so far as to give them our blessing to do this. So it’s more or less official,” Crover reports. “We’ll see how it goes with how those guys put it together but hopefully it will be cool.”

So with a feature film in the works and yet another sprawling, guest star filled record on the way, the Melvins continue to thunder along like some great mutant machine. The glue that’s held the band together for so long? Crover says, “That we’ve been able to make a living off doing this. This is what we do, we’ve got nothing else. No chance of me going back to college now [laughs]. If we weren’t able to make a living off of the band we wouldn’t be doing it. And we like it so why quit? I don’t see why bands break up, it’s pretty weird.” Singular in vision, willfully bizarre, and heavier than hell, the Melvins persevere.

Melvins perform at Venue on September 9.

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