Melvins: Interview


    The Melvins should be the de facto answer to the question of who was the best, most influential band ever to come from the Seattle area, but we all know that history sometimes disguises the truth. From the ultra-slow grind/sludge of their first LP, Gluey Porch Treatments, they quickly became adept at applying the sideward step against predictability, forging songs from the crucible of metal, punk, and black humor into a sticky tar-like substance, impossible to remove once contact has been made. How many bands would cover songs that run the gamut of the Cars, the Wipers, Alice Cooper, Flipper, Kiss, and Merle Haggard? Who else would record collaborations with people ranging from Jello Biafra, Leif Garrett, and Shirley Temple’s daughter? Who would not only subject their audience to 50 minutes of formless noise, but then also release it as a record (Colossus of Destiny)? No one in their right mind, which is what makes the Melvins so brilliant.


    Their reinvention continues with The Bride Screamed Murder, the third album made from the lineup of mainstays Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, fused with the duo of Big Business (Jared Warren and Coady Willis). Before the first of two nights at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, we talked about Warren’s outfit predilections (for that show, he wore some sort of mutated He-Man/superhero/third-grade play outfit), golf with celebrities, playing at festivals, and our newest Hallmark Holiday, Fucker’s Day.


    I would like to say Happy Father’s Day to you, Dale. I don’t think have any kids, do you Buzzo?

    Buzz Osborne: Not that I know of.


    Dale Crover: Happy Fucker’s Day.


    I don’t know if you are hoops fans —

    BO: No. I hate basketball.


    Good, because we Celtics fans are still smarting from the results of last Thursday.

    BO: Oh, well, serves you right for being a Celtics fan. If you quit liking basketball you wouldn’t be disappointed. You can just get off to the fact that Boston is beating the Dodgers.


    The return of Manny.

    DC: He hit a home run the other night, but they got beat in the bottom of the ninth.


    BO: We’re gonna watch the game tonight, can’t wait.


    You guys cracked the Billboard 200 with the new record, The Bride Screamed Murder. I read a recent interview in Subba-Cultcha where you were talking about the death of the album. Is this one of the death knells right there?

    BO: I would say that that’s true. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be — can’t be a good thing.


    The opening song, “The Water Glass,” has kind of a Marines chant almost going on.

    BO: It’s not almost; it is.


    Coupled with the release of the “Star Spangled Banner” a couple years ago, is this some kind of nationalistic thing you are working?

    DC: Absolutely. we are totally into the military. 


    BO It’s our big neon sign: USA. We’re Section 8s.


    The record’s closer, “Pg X 3,” was kind of an interesting choice. It’s almost like an Irish folk song.

    DC: It is an Irish folk song. Canadian, possibly?


    Like a maritime area, Nova Scotia thing?

    DC: We’re not really sure. I’m sure someone knows.


    Who does the kid’s voice in that song, doing the numbers count?

    BO: It’s a ghost. No, it’s Dale’s daughter.


    It all comes back to Father’s Day.

    DC: Fucker’s Day.


    What about the jazz breakdown in “Hospital Up”?

    BO: You call that jazz? Okay…


    DC: It was inspired by Peewee Herman and John Coltrane.


    BO: Peewee Coltrane.


    DC: I tinkled the ivories.


    BO: You tinkled on the ivories.


    DC: I squeezed the balloons.


    BO: You squeezed somebody else’s balloon.


    DC: I squeezed your balloon.


    Tell me a little bit about Bonnaroo. Did you guys have a good time there? You were probably one of the only louder bands there.

    BO: Isis played before us; they were pretty loud. Jeff Beck seemed like he was doing his best to be loud after we played. I would imagine, without really knowing, that Stevie Wonder probably wasn’t quite as loud on stage as we were.


    You were just there for one day?

    BO: Not even one day. It was hot and uncomfortable.


    You guys have played a few All Tomorrow’s Parties Festivals. How do they compare to Bonnaroo?

    BO: I like those better.


    DC: Smaller, a little more comfortable.  


    BO: We had a perfectly good time at Bonnaroo. The crowd was receptive and that was all fine. Under the same circumstances, I’d probably do it again. But by and large, festivals are about anything except music.


    What about Coachella? Did you ever play that?

    BO: We have never been asked to play.


    DC: We don’t get asked to do too many of those things. Not sure why.


    BO: It’s because we are unappreciative bastards. That’s why we don’t get asked, and you know it. We have a bad attitude — that we like to call a baditude.


    I went to the ATP in New York last year.

    BO: Oh, you did?


    You guys played “Okie From Muskogee” at the end of your set. Was that a little jab at Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips?

    DC: No, we recorded that on a record [The Crybaby]. No wait, why would it be a jab? Did they cover that song, too?


    No, I just figured it was because they’re from Oklahoma.

    BO: They are not from Muskogee, though.


    DC: I really liked that show, I remember. That was the one when Jared [Warren] wore the Snuggie.


    He had the zebra Snuggie. He wore it for a while.

    DC: For about a song or two.


    Jared Warren: You know, that sounded like a really good idea. Buzz is like, “No no no, you got yourself into this. There is no de-Snuggieing.”


    BO: You made your Snuggie bed.


    I’ve seen you play in a bathrobe, the Snuggie, and also a captain’s suit.

    JW: I bought that at the Goodwill next door last time we played here.


    BO: He went through a Gilligan’s Island phase for a while.


    Who doesn’t?

    BO: Everybody does, but it’s usually only for three hours.


    So are you angling for an appearance on Project Runway?

    JW: No, model of the year.


    BO: Project No Way.

    DC: Wait ’til you see tonight’s gear; it’s good.


    BO: It’s a fashion don’t for everyone on stage tonight. We hit the brakes tonight.


    DC: Who are you supposed to be, Captain Cool?


    BO: Captain Crunch.


    Dale, how was your time with Shrinebuilder? Did it live up to your expectations?

    DC: More even.


    You guys going to keep it going?

    DC: Yeah, I think so. We almost went to Europe, but the volcano canceled that.


    Did you get to check out any of the other bands at Scion this year?

    DC: Just YOB, really.


    They were pretty awesome, probably my favorite set of the night.

    DC: Really? Then I saw the right show.


    You put out Chicken Switch last year, on which Melvins songs are remixed by others. I know you worked with some people before, like David Scott Stone.

    BO: Yeah, we’ve worked with him in the past.


    And then there are others, like Christoph Heeman and RLW, better known for their ambient/noise/abstract stuff. Did you guys pick who remixed?

    BO: No, we didn’t. We had absolutely nothing to do with it. A friend of ours from Atlanta did it, and we let him have artistic control of the whole thing. Thank God.


    Were you happy with the results?

    BO: Completely and totally satisfied. I wouldn’t change a thing.


    Anyone you want to single out as doing the best job?

    BO: Merzbow. It sounds like an air-raid siren through a distortion box.


    You always seem really funny in the interviews I’ve read, but I’ve seen you a half-dozen times live, and you don’t really talk that much on stage.

    BO: I don’t have much to say.


    When’s the comedy record coming out?

    BO: When? Ah, 2012 will be my comedy year: records, tour, all of it.


    DC: As soon as you upload this to the Internet.


    Coady Willis [handing Crover a set of drum sticks]: Happy Father’s Day.


    It’s Fucker’s Day.

    DC: All right! Thanks, man. My own wife and kids didn’t even get me a present today.


    Buzz, any plans for Fantomas?

    BO: I have all kinds of plans for Fantomas, but none of them Mike [Patton] wants to do, and it’s pretty much his deal.


    Did you see that Danny DeVito had a little Fantomas plug on a recent interview he did with Jimmy Kimmel?

    DC: Really?


    BO: Danny’s trying to make some points with his own kids, who are big fans of Mike Patton.


    DC: This was just a few days ago?


    It was on right before Game 7. They showed a clip of him at some gig at Coachella, and he was talking about Faith No More, and he mentioned Fantomas, as well.

    DC: I don’t know if you’ve seen the Fantomas/Melvins Big Band DVD, but there was audio commentary with Danny, and he talked nothing at all about the DVD.


    BO: Just ask him about assholes in Hollywood, of which he seemed to have no end of stories.


    DC: “Who is the biggest asshole in Hollywood?” Martin Short. No, Martin Lawrence.


    JW: Ah, that’s a big difference.


    BO: Dean Martin.


    You can pick those two out of a lineup pretty easily.

    DC: I was thinking Martin Short but I meant the other.


    BO: You think that Martin Short is the biggest asshole.


    JW: Martins all look alike to you.


    Have you had any interesting celebrity run-ins during your time in L.A.?

    BO: Have I?


    DC: C’mon, c’mon.


    BO: Which one?


    DC: Tell him who you’ve been golfing with.


    BO: I don’t golf. That’s not cool. [laughs]


    DC: Come on. What are you afraid of? This tape recorder?


    BO: I golfed with one of the guys from Sha Na Na. That’s my brush with fame.


    It’s gotta be Bowser, because no one else is in that band.

    BO: No, Screamin’ Scott.


    DC: OK, who else?


    BO: Trying to think. Oh, Jim Brown.


    The football player?

    BO: He’s a gambler. I’m not a gambler.


    Did he try to wage some money?

    BO: He certainly did. And I wouldn’t do it.


    DC: And tell him about Fred Durst throwing his golf clubs.


    BO: Fred Durst got two clubs stuck in one tree. He said it was accidental.


    Like the scene in Caddyshack when Judge Smails whips the club?

    DC: “It got away from me.” And Fred Durst accused Buzz of cheating in golf.


    BO: Yeah, he accused me of cheating in golf after I smoked his butt.


    So the Melvins/Limp Bizkit tour isn’t gonna happen?

    BO: It would never have happened. I’d do it for the money, but they’re not offering, so it’s not gonna happen.


    You’ve been producing your own records for the last 10 or 15 years.

    BO: We’ve tried our best.


    Any advantages or disadvantages about going it on your own?

    BO: The advantage about going on our own is that we don’t have to pay someone else to do it; that’s the advantage. 


    DC: That’s the best and biggest.


    BO: The best part was when we didn’t have to pay the money. The disadvantage is that we have no one else to blame but ourselves when it doesn’t work out.


    Where do you guys record, do you have your own recording studio?

    DC: No, the studio that we just did stuff at is in North Hollywood, a place called Entourage.


    Toshi Kasai has been doing the recording for the last few years, right?

    DC: Yeah, he’s really good.


    BO: We’ve got him over a barrel; that’s why he does it. We’ve got a lot of dirt on him. It’s not good dirt. It’s dirty dirt.


    Stuff that can be career crippling?

    BO: He could go to jail.


    That is dirt.

    BO: Yeah it is. The worst kind of dirt.


    One last question: What is the biggest misconception about the Melvins?

    BO: That we’re not gay [laughs]. That’s the biggest misconception. They call us metrosexual, but that’s bullshit. We’re fully gay. Nothing metro about it.


    DC: A girl last night told me that she went to the Danzig show —


    BO: Mistake No. 1. Speaking of gay, that’s quite a train of thought.


    DC: No, she was talking to somebody there, and she’s like, “I’m going to go see the Melvins tomorrow night. Are you gonna go see the Melvins?” and he’s like, “No, I’m straight.”


    BO: “I’m straight”? Straight, therefore I won’t go to a Melvins show?


    Glenn Danzig said that?

    BO: No, Glenn wouldn’t come and see us. No way. He’s too busy thumbing through Archie comic books at his house [laughs]. He got all hacked off because we stole a T shirt design that he stole. 


    DC: That’s right. He did some work with Toshi, and he asked him who he’d been working with. And Toshi is like, “Tool, Melvins.”

    BO: “I don’t like the Melvins.”


    What design was it?

    DC: The Fiend Club one.


    BO: That he stole from a movie. So let me get this straight: You’re pissed off because someone ripped off the shit that you ripped off? [laughs] What? You didn’t fucking draw it. It was a joke. Instead of him just going, “I’m mad because they made fun of me,” he said he was mad because we stole stuff from him.


    Have you guys ever been sampled in any songs that you know of?

    DC: Yes. Beck, “Beercan.”


    BO: Usually, when people sample your stuff, you get paid for it, but by the time his manager and the record label got done, the fact that he sampled us cost us money.


    How does that work?

    BO: You tell me.