Few bands in the history of music have had a huge lasting impact, yet remained out of the spotlight, like the Melvins have.
There’s no denying that the Melvins’ music has influenced many different genres—in part because the band never stuck to one sound. Sludge, metal, grunge, punk and thrash, all combined into one concoction—that’s the Melvins.
After more than 35 years and close to 30 albums, the Melvins are still here, piercing ears, blowing speakers and screaming at the top of their lungs—and the band has no plans to stop anytime soon. They’ll return to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sweaty, loud show on Thursday, Feb. 6.
“We’ve played there a bunch, I think maybe four or five times, inside and outside,” said legendary drummer Dale Crover during a recent interview. “I like inside more. Outside is a bit dusty. Pappy’s is always fun, though. We could easily play it once or twice a year. Every time we’ve played, it’s been sold out. The outdoor show we did was a part of the Stoned and Dusted festival with Fu Manchu and Brant Bjork—all that desert rock.”
The Melvins are one of the hardest-working bands in music. If the 27-album discography on Wikipedia doesn’t express that enough, here’s more: In 2012, the band did 51 shows, in 51 states, in 51 days. (They made a really cool documentary about it, available on Amazon.) I spoke to Crover about the challenge of translating multiple decades of music into setlists across such frequent shows.
“We never really look at our old records and say, ‘Let’s play this one!’ It’s more that we just remember old songs and bring them out,” Crover said. “We always try to have structure to the set: A third of it will be old material; a third will be the middle period, the last 20 years; and a third that’s somewhat new, maybe the last 10 years. Of course, we’ve always played cover songs. It’s just whatever we feel like playing. Sometimes we make setlists too long and have to cut songs. We’re starting fresh this year, so we’ll be concocting a new setlist, and it’ll be fun.”
Crover said that with the Melvins, he’s been able to do many things he never dreamed of doing.
“Once, we got to jam with Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon at the Roxy,” Crover said. “They actually invited us to the show to play with them, because Sean was really in to the record we had out at the time, Stoner Witch. They even had a song that was Melvins-influenced. It was very surreal but very cool at the same time.”
Crover’s “legendary” title is much-deserved simply based on his Melvins work, but it’s important to note his other drumming duties: He has been a part time drummer for Nirvana, OFF! and Redd Kross—and has done two sets a night when the Melvins and Redd Kross toured together.
“Redd Kross is different,” Crover said. “It’s definitely not as complicated as Melvins stuff—not as pounding, Neanderthal-style drumming. They’re almost a punk-rock band influenced by the Beatles. It’s Ringo, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts-style drumming, classic ’60s-type drumming. I’ve always been influenced by that stuff, though, so it’s not a new thing. I’ve been into those drummers for a long time. When I started, it was Peter Criss, because I was really into KISS, but the Beatles and the Monkees were the first bands I really got into. You can blame Ringo and Micky Dolenz.”
The Melvins, unlike most other acclaimed bands, have refused to “sell out.” They have remained humble despite the gigantic footsteps they have left.
“Certainly, if the Melvins hadn’t existed, you wouldn’t have one of the biggest bands that the grunge genre had,” said Crover. “We all came from this super-small, isolated area, and we definitely influenced all of those guys for sure. Soundgarden and a bunch of those other bands will cite us as influences, and it’s really cool. It’s weird to think about, and we try to keep our egos in check about it, but we definitely influenced a whole new genre of music.”
As for the future, Crover promised this will be a great year for Melvins fans.
“Usually, this time of year is when we’re working on recording,” Crover said. “We’re doing a bunch of that, and we have some stuff in the can. We’ve been doing some projects where we have bands we’re friends of, or that we’re fans of, come into the studio, and we’ll record each other’s songs. Not too long ago, we had the band Flipper come in, who were an influence on us for sure. We wrote a new song with them, and we covered some Flipper songs. We just had this band called Helms Alee, from Washington state, come in. We covered one of their songs; they covered one of our songs; we did a new one, and covered a Scorpions song.
“We’re also working on putting together a podcast; hopefully that’ll be out very soon. I’m touring with Red Kross soon, and Buzz (Osborne) has a new acoustic record coming out soon, with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle on upright bass.”
Melvins will perform with Hepa.Titus and Cunts at 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. The show is currently listed as sold out. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.