Dang, the Melvins sure look excited to be here.Dale Crover is one of the fiercest rock and roll drummers of the last 20 years, but you'd never guess it by his supremely subdued demeanor as he chats from his home in Los Angeles. The thundering Melvins' beat keeper talks humbly about the band's new record, Nude With Boots, but seems more inclined to talk about the demise of analog tape, musical history, or likening a touring band to a Major League Baseball team.
After some discussion of sea-side Puget Sound fishing towns, we finally begin talking about Nude With Boots, an 11-track album that features a quintessentially big-and-heavy Melvins sound, that some critics have referenced as the band's 19th record. The number is impressive in its own right, but Crover says the figure needs some tweaking.
"I think it's more than that, actually. I kind of stopped counting after a while. It's been a lot, but I think we've probably made a record for every year we've been a band," Crover says of the band's 24-year career and corresponding 24th record.
The Melvins are both a character in the much-read chapter of rock and roll history that is the late 1980s-early 1990s as well as an endurance-tested touring band with a hell of a following. The Melvins are, and will forever be, linked to the Pacific Northwest and the musical explosion that spawned Nirvana. This is because Crover and the band's lead singer, guitarist and Sideshow Bob look-alike Buzz Osborne started the Melvins in a town called Aberdeen, Washington. It was there that a skinny blond kid named Kurt Cobain once auditioned unsuccessfully to join the band on bass. The Melvins relocated to San Francisco in the late 1980s, before the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Nirvana explosion, but still the connection to the region remains. A recent review of Nude With Boots in a major publication referenced the Melvins as a "Northwest band."
"We'll always be connected with that, but oh well. People will always want to know the history of music. I know I do as a music fan," Crover says. "I guess it's history, ya know? People still associate us with Seattle and still think we're from there, even though it's been 20 years."
After almost a quarter century in existence, the band, which for all intents and purposes has consisted of Osborne and Crover with myriad bass players passing through the band in near-but-non-fatal-Spinal-Tap fashion, has garnered a reputation as a solid heavy rock band that far exceeds the "guys that knew Nirvana" tag that some might still attach to them. The past two-plus years have seen Osborne and Crover bring the rhythm section of fellow sludge rockers Big Business (who will also open the Domino Room show) into the band in the form of bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis to give the Melvins a two-drummer attack.
"A long time ago we thought, 'what would it be like to have another drummer? We don't really need another drummer, but wouldn't that be cool?'" Crover says.
And indeed this massive percussion onslaught is cool, especially on the new record, which Crover says has as many as 20 tracks of drums recorded on certain songs. Those who've seen the Melvins in concert since the Big Business rhythm section addition will attest to the bigger sound (as if the Melvins' sound needed to get any bigger) the band is dishing out.
And the crowd that will flock to the Domino Room next Wednesday won't only consist of flannel clad 40-somethings looking to relive the glory days of the Pacific Northwest music scene. In fact, Crover says those sort of folks don't come out en force, insisting quite unscientifically that once anyone hits 34 years old, he or she stops going to live shows with any frequency.
"There's always a new crowd of young people out there every year who probably learned about us because of Nirvana," Crover says, and doesn't have to see a problem with that.
The Melvins, Big Business
8pm doors, 9pm show Wednesday July 23. Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $18/advanced, $20/door. Tickets available at Ranch Records or ticketswest.com.
MEET THE MELVINS!
The Melvins will be at Ranch Records on the July 23 from 6-7pm for a meet and greet session and will also sign your CD.