Melvins Do Grog Shop
Just when you think LA-based band The Melvins cannot create a new twist to their power metal punk sound, it births The Bride Screamed Murder
The new release, which hits the streets June 1, is the band’s 18th studio release (the eighth from Mike Patton’s Ipecac Records). To promote the new release, The Melvins hit the road the same day as a part of its 27-city tour which stops at The Grog Shop June 23.
Singer/guitarist Buzz, with his trademark frizzy graying afro (think Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons), describes the latest release as having “the musical sensibilities of Captain Beefheart, the fashion sensibilities of George Clinton and the blang of Lenny Bruce and made it into a band that was playing heavy metal.”
The Bride Screamed Murder is one of the band’s most versatile albums to date. It runs the gamut of straight-ahead metal-punk to what Buzz, 46, calls “the heavy metal, drum core military cadence” of the funk-punk opener, “The Water Glass”.
“We set the bar pretty high with that one.”
Started in 1984, The Melvins is the creation of Roger “Buzz” Osborne, who is affectionately known as “King Buzzo”. Through the more than dozen player changes, Buzzo and drummer Dale Crover have been the rock-solid demented drone duo who have persevered.
Since their inception, the Melvins has played a hybrid metal and punk mixture on such classic albums as Glue Porch Treatments, Houdini, Stoner Witch and Honky. And while many a punk band was speeding up their sounds, The Melvins was slowing things down and forging ahead with a richer, thicker wall of sound.
By 2006, the band had recruited the current Melvins members — left-handed drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren, who also perform as the band Big Business. The addition of this twosome filled out the Melvins’ sound and made it even darker and louder.
Fresh off 2008’s Nude With Boots (featuring fan favorite “Billy Fish”), The Bride Screamed Murder should maintain the band’s hold as a truly original band not afraid to vary its sound while many more popular punk bands opt for prefab, marketed trends and sounds.
The Melvins inspired many punk bands who rode the popular grunge sound which broke in the early ‘90s. Being from Montesano, Washington, the area was an alternative community ripe for the picking of up and coming bands. The late Kurt Cobain actually auditioned for the band at one point before going on to find his fame with Nirvana. After the grunge sound faded and the dust cleared, there was The Melvins, alone and still standing.
“We have never quit. Maybe one of the keys is never having had massive success,” Buzz says with part ire and part irony. “You can line all those people up in a row and I still won’t get any royalties. We don’t worry too much about that stuff.”
“I always wanted to make music that I liked as a fan, even though I don’t listen to my own music,” he admits. “That’s what I was trying to do, make music that I would appreciate. I don’t appreciate K-Mart-style punk rock, by the numbers. That’s not my kind of thing — it never was. I didn’t like it 27 years ago.”
What he has liked over the past near-three decades is his crafting of the band’s barrage of brawn and wall-of-sound that makes it hard to categorize The Melvins.
“We’ve always been music fans so there are always bands out there that inspire you to make things that you like,” he said. “Sometimes I’m inspired by bands I’ve never heard of, that I am now getting into. I am not a record collector, I am a music collector.
“I listen to our records up to about the point they come out. Then I have to walk away from them. Let them be the public’s at that point.”
There’s a lightheartedness to The Melvins, too, that is sometimes subsumed by the weight of its long run and extensive influence. “I don’t think people really get into the humorous side that we’re into,” said Buzz.
And as the band is aging, Buzzo still feels appreciative of the support but acknowledges that some things never change.
“We see new fans all the time, that’s the kick. Our audience stays the same age and we keep getting older. I couldn’t really relate to younger fans when I was young.”
Does this mean life is imitating art as he himself becomes a senile animal? Not really. In fact, he hopes his fans think well of him as one of them. “I don’t want them to think I was a tyrant,” he said.