Modern Drummer with Dale 1994

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  • HOUDINI (Modern Drummer, March 1994)
  • by Ken Micallef

"Update" Section (pg. 9)

Dale Crover

"Did you hear the one about the two drummers and Santa Claus?" asks the Melvins' dramatic skin basher. It seems this godfather of grunge is also a comedian. "The first drummer keeps bad time, the second drummer keeps good time, and then there's Santa Claus. They're walking down the street together when they find a fifty-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Who picks it up? The first drummer, of course - the other two don't exist."

On “Houdini” (Atlantic), this Seattle trio - Crover, King Buzzo on guitar and vocals, and Lorax on bass - bring their heavy, slow grind to a major label after years of underground renown (and indie label status) as the most influential group in the metal-punk niche of alternative music. Tall and gangly, Crover's grandly visual style is complimented by his trademark use of flams, a mastery of sludgy-slow tempos, and a big, echo-laden drum sound. "We work as a band on the drum parts," Dale says. "Buzz often has an idea of what he wants. That's really helpful, although I think a lot of drummers are against that kind of advice. They think, ‘Oh, no. I'm the drummer, you're the guitarist.' They can't compromise."

Crover's straighter side appeared on Nirvana's “Incesticide,” a collection of old tracks documenting Dale's tenure with that supertrio. He also released a solo album in 1992 on which he played everything including "lead drums, rhythm drums, and backup drums."

Crover even cuts loose with a drum solo on “Houdini,” the sculptured-sounding "Spread Eagle Beagle." Recorded on a borrowed 1948 Gretch three-piece set, Crover's recorded drum sound is as powerful as his live Tama setup of 26" bass drum, 16" rack tom, and 20" floor tom. He also favors 24" cymbals.

In addition to his musical and comedic skills, Crover has plans to release a drummer's fanzine, aptly titled Bongo Lips. "I've interviewed the drummers from Hammerhead and Poison Idea. We'll have lots of drummer jokes and good clean fun - just talkin' drums with the boys."