Roadburn Melvins Interview

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The bout was set for July 20th, 1999. The gloves were off. Sudsy Malone's had offered up a feast for the ears: the Melvins. With their new album The Maggot fresh on the shelves, the Melvins headed for the stage that night intent on destroying every stereotype the music industry had thought to command. Without remorse or tact, they threw death metal jabs and punk rock uppercuts right into the chins of the raucous, steaming crowd. Late into the third round the crowd got restless. After a short Sudsy's sound failure, the Melvins received an earful of Cincinnati charm. With parched foot in mouth, the city dwellers yelled fun loving obscenities at the legendary trio. When Dale Crover, (drummer), climbed from his throne and King Buzzo, (guitarist/vocalist), rested his five string strung neck, I feared for the worst. My fears resided when Crover, leaving his immaculate set behind, reclaimed the guitar under his own passage. With mic in hand, Buzz introduced the crowd to a boy, "John", who was about to take his first step into a larger world. Like a toddler trying on his father's shoes, their newfound friend stepped behind the drums with pride. Aided by King Buzzo, John held the beat throughout the Flipper cover, "Sacrifice", (recorded by the Melvins on their infamous Lysol album). Upon the arrival of the first lyrical break, the crowd stirred again. Someone chanted, "Play a real song!" Buzzo faltered, personally shaken by the blow, then punched back. "Play a real song?" he questioned. "It's a great fuckin' song. If you don"t like it, you"re a fuckin' idiot!" He made a valid point from where I stood. Before the night was through, each member of the band had given the crowd a piece or two of their minds. The newest addition to the Melvins, bass player Kevin Rutmanis, (ex bass player for the Cows), did everything but back down from the action. Ringside at Sudsy's had never been better, and the crowd loved every minute of it.

From Ozma, ('89), to The Bootlicker, (the second album of the new Trilogy), the Melvins rocked for 90 minutes. It was "experi-metal" at its best. With clothes full of sweat and a belly full of Melvins, I walked out of Sudsy Malone's a content man. It was a hell of a show. One of the beautiful things about the Melvins is their ability to capture different feels for their albums, while at the same time, staying true to their style. They continue to surpass themselves with each new recording. Ipecac Recordings is the newest home to the Melvins, promoting their new Trilogy starting with "The Maggot" released late May of this year. Dale described The Maggot as "manic" and "raw". While Kevin told me The Bootlicker, (due out in August), is "quiet and kinda psychedelic". The third of the Trilogy, The Crybaby, (due in November), features an array or artists stringing from Beck, to Tool, to Skeleton Key. Also applying vocals on The Crybaby will be Mike Patton, (Faith No More/Mr. Bungle), who, in April, launched a side project called Fantomas, (also on Ipecac), with King Buzzo and Dave Lombardo, (ex Slayer drummer). Since the Melvins formed, the group has often involved themselves in such projects. Dale Crover recently recorded an album of his own doing on Man's Ruin Records, entitled Altamont, Civil War Fantasy. The Melvins have plans to return to Man's Ruin next year to do an album of cover songs before starting another tour next April. I had a "first chance of a lifetime" opportunity before the festivities to speak with the Melvins about past, present and future events, the new albums, and music in general. It's a little segment I like to call: 10 Questions with the Melvins

1. Was there a specific feel you were going for with The Maggot or the rest of the Trilogy? Dale: "Each one is so different. Like with 'The Maggot' we were trying to go for something real manic. Kinda like 'Eggnog'.payday loans online'Eggnog' was like recorded really quick. I think we kind of captured it better on 'Maggot', but...We did Oz Fest last year. A supposed heavy metal festival and outside of a couple bands there really wasn't anything heavy about it at all. So, I think we're takin' the kids to school with this one." Buzz: "Yeah, they all have a specific feel,definitely. 'The Maggot' is...I wanted it to be more, uh, over the top energy wise,more of a testosterone thing. 'The Bootlicker' is less of that and more of a ...more of a female thing." [laughs] Kevin: "Um... the second one,'The Bootlicker' that's my favorite. I think that one's really amazing. But I have a feeling that's the one people are gonna like the least cause it's the most unusual. It's really quiet and kinda psychedelic. It's really good, I really like that one."

2. (to Dale) Is there any chance that the recordings of your project with Jason Newstead, (of Metallica), will ever be released?Dale: "Yeah, I doubt it...I haven't really heard from Jason in a long time. You know, he just kinda does, uh...puts together little projects with friends of his and stuff. He's got a home studio, so he just sits around and records when he's not working with Metallica. I heard that..., I don't think the other guys in the band want him to do extra stuff outside of Metallica that much. But you never know. Maybe someday."

3. (to Buzz) How long did it take to complete Fantomas, and are there plans for any more live dates? Buzz: "I'm sure we'll be playing live again yeah, definitely. I'm just not a hundred percent where. And it took about 10 or 11 days to record."

4. (to Kevin) How did you hook up with the Melvins? Kevin: "I have known the Melvins at least 10 years. Cows toured with them way back when, a few times. We did Lollapalooza together. And, uh... Buzz produced the last Cows record, I guess a year ago. So I've known him a long time and he just called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it. We all get along real good, so it's no problem at all."

5. What were the circumstances of Mark D stepping down, and how is Kevin working out? Dale: "It's pretty simple, I know... we fired him. Things happen. But being in a band is like being in a relationship. We were changing and so was he had to go. But, yeah...Kevin's great. He's a good guy, good bass player."

6. What is a "Green Manalishi (with the two pronged crown)"? Dale: "Well... obviously some kind of devil. But, I think the 'Green Manalishi' is money. They're the words of Peter Green. He's the guy that wrote it. Yeah, Fleetwood Mac. Old Fleetwood Mac...before they had girls in the band. They're really good."

7. With a song like "Laughing With Lucifer At Satan's Sideshow", (on Honky), I have to ask is that an accurate portrayal of what transpired with Atlantic/Mammoth? Dale: "Oh yeah...yeah, those are actual quotes that those guys said to us over the couple years that we were there. We actually lasted a lot longer there than most of the people that worked there. Pretty much the reason we wanted off the label was because nobody there was really doing anything for us. You know? I mean, being on the label was really great, the money was great, and I think we made some of our best records ever...but, uh... we just kinda felt after a while it was kinda pointless if these people don't know anything about music and aren't into the band. So we left. I think it was mutual." [laughs]

8. Where do you see underground music in the next ten years? Dale: "Hard to say. Hopefully somebody will come along and write some good songs and start some good bands up. There sure is a lack of them now. I think there always has been."Kevin: "I tend to doubt that it's gonna get good or anything... but you never know. Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe everyone will get so bored that something really cool will happen. That's what I always hope for." Buzz: "I don't know...uh...I don't see a difference in underground or overground. I hate underground bands as much as I hate overground bands." [laughs]

9.You're doing 70 shows this tour, do you have a favorite place to eat while you're out on the road? Dale: "Cracker Barrel. Ate there today. There's not a lot to choose from. Lots of grease." Kevin: "I love sushi. No doubt about it. Buzz and I often go get sushi if we can."Buzz: "Oh, they all suck. But generally speaking you pretty much eat whatever you have to, like a cockroach. It's bad. I don't eat this bad when I'm at home...I'll tell you that."

The Melvins remain an enigma of the music industry to this day. Their thick, offbeat drums, distorted, crawling guitars, and growling vocals have become a Melvins trademark. They continue to break new ground with each musical step they take, and although bass players may come and go like whores in the night... one thing is for sure the Melvins are here to stay. I quote Dale Crover:"We do what we do because we like what we do, and we're gonna keep doin' it because its all we can do." Melvins fan or not, you have to admire that. The fact that your average Joe would hear a Melvins song and stare into nothingness like a deer caught in headlights is even more reason to respect them. From small record labels to big labels, and back to small again, they never quit doing what they do best: making their own music on their own terms. And that's what it's all about. Many thanks to the Melvins for their time and hospitality, and to Jennifer Fisher from Ipecac Recordings for her friendly chat and cooperation.

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