:: Bluebird Theater :: September 12 ::
By Joe Kovack
The Melvins have never been one to shy away from pushing the boundaries of rock. It’s the fire that fuels the turbine of their ever continuing production of music. Now, after nearly 30 years in the business, the group is pushing the limits again for their upcoming tour that, if all goes well, will land them in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing 51 shows, in all 50 states and D.C., in 51 days.
One would think that a band that has been around for almost three decades would be content releasing an album every few years and touring once in awhile for their faithful fans. But that’s just not how the Melvins work. The ‘godfathers of grunge,’ these maestros of experimental rock just can’t cap off the creative flow.
So far in 2012, they have toured and released a free five-song EP through the car company Scion, will release a four-song EP with the original 1983 Melvins lineup, and have just finished the Canadian tour for their newest full length album Freak Puke, under the project Melvins Lite. — all in preparation for their record-attempting tour set to launch in Alaska in early September.
In a recent interview with The Marquee, lead singer and purveyor of weird Buzz Osborne said that the band is getting ready for the momentous tour the only way they know how. “Meditate, masturbate. That’s it,” Osborne said in his usual sardonic tone. “I mean, we’re not doing anything more than normal. We’ve done lots of tours where we did 20 plus shows in a row, and I think our record is around 33. But there’s not a tremendous amount of difference. Some of the drives are long but we’re not afraid of a long drive.”
It was in the early 1980s as a teenager when Osborne first heard of the record for most shows in a row for a tour. Blues rocker George Thorogood claimed to have set the record, but actually stopped after 30-some concerts. Now, three decades later, the Melvins hope to set the record straight with an official attempt of their own. “It’s a big publicity stunt. That’s all it is. I don’t really care about playing 51 shows in a row, but I want to do something that is weird. It’s part of the grand scheme of things, somehow it fits together,” Osborne said.
The record-attempting tour will be under the group’s latest incarnation Melvins Lite. The project is a restructuring of sorts. In recent years, the band has been accompanied by the gentlemen from Big Business, adding a second drummer and bass player alongside Osborne and long-time partner in crime, drummer Dale Crover. With the addition of bass player Trevor Dunn, Melvins Lite is a three piece that has been described as “evil cocktail jazz,” but Osborne has never liked being categorized. “I would say it is definitely a different kind of animal. Because Melvins is more double drummer and more aggressive. It’s definitely a different thing and we tried to make it that way. As far as what we’re doing, I guess it’s more Captain Beefheart playing heavy metal. That describes us really well,” Osborne admitted.
Dunn will be bringing to the mix his upright bass and unique style that he has cultivated working with the avante garde, experimental rock groups Fantomas and Mr. Bungle. And because Osborne has also been the guitarist with Fantomas since their inception, he and Dunn have proven to work well together. “I knew he would understand what we were doing and I knew he was a good player, so I knew he wasn’t going to be an idiot. Plus he laughs a lot at my jokes. I wasn’t looking to do something normal, it’s basically a reinvention of what we do. But 2012 has been a lot of work with a lot of releases that don’t sound anything like each other. It’s all good,” Osborne said.
As the ominous tones of Dunn’s upright bass open the album, it is clear that Freak Puke is not your traditional Melvins record. But don’t let the moniker fool you. Like two brothers that share many similarities yet are individuals in their own right, Melvins Lite works off traditional Melvins foundations while creating a vibe of its own. “There really is no separation as far as I’m concerned. But I don’t want to be accused of a bait and switch. That’s the whole point of the name. I mean it’s definitely lighter as far as a different kind of vibe, and clearly on the album we tried to use as much of the upright bass sound as possible,” Osborne said.
The tour will be accompanied by an ongoing virtual diary fans can access via Spin magazine’s website to see the musings of the band as they venture through the U.S. It will be a tour unlike any the Melvins have done in the past. “In Canada we did pretty much the whole Freak Puke album, and the rest of the set was all older Melvins songs. We can play pretty much whatever we want. All the Melvins songs will work with it. If the people in Canada can handle it, the people in Denver can handle it too.”
:: Melvins Lite ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: September 12 ::
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