Who am I? What am I doing here? Where's Ally? Well, I'm the biggest Melvins geek that Ally knows, so when Shockwave Magazine told her they scored an interview, she asked if I would do the write up. More than happy to oblige! My biggest fear was that I would go too Fanboy on them, but I think I did a respectable job of containing myself. I thought that we'd probably get about 10 or 15 minutes with Buzzo and Dale, but we talked to them for nearly an hour, and still there were so many questions left unasked! Still, I am beyond grateful for all that we did get to talk about, even if the answers weren't always to the questions posed – I expected nothing less.
But first, a brief bit of history: It was back in the halcyon days, around 1990, I believe, when a friend of mine liberated one of his brother's cassette tapes (which was the style at the time.) On one side of this tape was a mix of Pixies B-sides, which was cool, but on the other side was (unlabeled of course) the Melvins' Ozma. The girl I was then with told me that it gave her a headache; I immediately knew that they were on to something. Aside from aggravating people who have bad taste in music, that album, and any others that I could subsequently get my hands on, fundamentally changed the way that I thought about music – I mean, fuck the 1; the 1's where we say it is! They were way more together than the punk stuff that we had, and yet, still filthy. In short – magnificent. Between then and now, I've probably seen them more than 20 times, and I've never been disappointed, except one time at the Black Cat in the early 2000s when the P.A. was underpowered (the Black Cat quickly remedied that unfortunate situation, thankfully). Throughout the intervening years, I've had the chance to talk to the guys a couple of times, and it was always entertaining – even sometimes accidentally enlightening (they can be somewhat enigmatic in conversation, understandably so after ripping through sets the way that they do), but never like the chance we had this time.
To start with, the Melvins are currently attempting to break a Guinness World Record by playing 51 states in 51 days (the 51st being D.C., which they say they believe should be a state). The show at the Ottobar was number 33. When asked about the difficulty and inadvisability of such an undertaking, Buzzo replied that it only seemed so ridiculous because they were being compared to other musicians – a notoriously lazy lot, to paraphrase – also adding that nobody makes a big deal in other professions when someone works that much, usually for longer than 75 minutes a day. Personally, I think there's a bit more work involved than that, but who am I to argue? The whole tour is being recorded by the band and posted on Spin magazine's site; it is hysterical and informative, and I highly recommend checking it out.
Now, I've never done an interview before, and this was a hell of a one to cut my teeth on. Having talked to these guys before, I didn't think that our talking points would be strictly adhered to, and I was not disappointed. We kind of threw things out there and let Buzzo go off, for the most part. Dale was very helpful in reigning in the screeds. The conversation covered a whirlwind of topics, from the death of music to, well, the death of music; not really, but it was an amusingly recurring theme replete with dinosaur imagery. I did get a chance to ask Dale if Altamont (one of Dale's side projects) had anything in the works but, alas, nothing is set as of now. The Altamont show at the old Ottobar, by the way, was the loudest show I've ever been to, which is saying something, with the decibel level probably owing in part to the fact that the place was a glorified broom closet– and I mean that in a good way.
I think that one of my favorite parts of the interview was when I asked them about seeing their name and one of their songs displayed on the radio in a Scion commercial. Apparently, Scion approached them to sponsor their most recent EP: The Bulls & The Bees (which is very cool). In addition to this, they got to design a signature Scion. Buzzo explained that he'd seen flame jobs on cars before, and that the flames were always swept back to indicate speed. Not the case on this baby – these flames go straight up; this thing doesn't look like it's going fast, it looks like it's sitting there on fire. Fucking hilarious, you should Google this thing.
Too much happened to fit into this tiny space, and I suppose I should talk about the show too. Most of the interview, minus the parts that make me look stupid, will be available for perusal on the Shockwave website. So onto the show!
This tour is being billed as "Melvins Lite," as is their most recent album Freak Puke. This is either because they are not with Big Business, as they have been for the last couple of albums, or because Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle and Fantomas fame) is playing a stand up bass, or both, but in any case, the set was anything but lite. They opened with "Eye Flys," which lent itself particularly well to a bowed bass, and then went into a couple of my back to back favorites from Stag: "Captain Pungent" and "Berthas," which I thought were a single song for the longest time (me and my inattention to track IDs). From there it was "National Hamster" (The Bulls and The Bees), and then a bunch from Freak Puke. I'll give a set list, but in brief, I was happy to hear "Hooch" and "Set Me Straight" from Houdini, as well as their version of "Let Me Roll It," a Wings cover from their new album. Trevor Dunn's solo was really cool too; how can you go wrong with the theme from Jaws on a bowed bass? The set ended with "Shevil" from Stoner Witch, which couldn't have been more perfect for me.
After the show, we went back up to say goodbye, and more importantly for me to pass off my band REZIN's entire catalogue. I debated whether or not to do this, but in the end decided that I would forever be kicking myself if I did not. I handed off the CDs and said, "I have to do this, you guys are welcome to throw them away when I'm not looking," to which Buzzo replied, "So, when you're not looking, huh?"
Eye Flys, Captain Pungent, Berthas, National Hamster, Worm Farm Walt, Leon Vs. the Revolution, Mr. Rip Off, A Growing Disgust, A History of Drunks, Hooch, Baby Won't You Weird Me Out, Holy Barbarians, Let Me Roll It (Wings Cover), Set Me Straight, Deserted Cities of the Heart (Cream Cover), Sky Pup, Electric Flower, Inner Ear Rupture, Shevil