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The Melvins’ full-meal deal

- June 29th, 2012

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Buzz Osborne is dishing it out as fast as he can.

“I’m feeding my dogs at the moment,” the Krusty-maned Melvins singer-guitarist explains down the line from his L.A. home. “It’s all about dogs in my house. We have four — Itchy, Coco, Buster and Gigi — and they’re not about to wait for me to finish an interview.”

Melvins fans aren’t about to go hungry anytime soon either. As usual, the Seattle-born sludge-metal gods have a feast of tasty projects on the burner, including: Their new album Freak Puke; a Canadian tour by their streamlined new Melvins Lite configuration; a record-setting tour of all 50 U.S. states (and D.C.); and a slew of surprises for their 30th anniversary in 2013.

While his hounds chow down, the 48-year-old Osborne — a former schoolmate of Kurt Cobain — took us through the band’s upcoming menu. Let’s dig in:

Freak Puke
For their 18th album, Osborne and longtime drummer Dale Crover benched their current bandmates — bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis of Big Business — and recruited standup bassist and sometime collaborator Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk and Fantomas. Why? Why not, says Buzz. “I’m always looking for weird things to do. And I’m certainly not afraid of a challenge by any means. I’ve been friends with Trevor since the mid-’90s, and I saw him playing standup bass with Nels Cline about a year and a half ago. I’m not really a big fan of that snooty jazz-type stuff, but he was doing something a little more rock-oriented, and I thought we could do something like that. So we did some live shows to see if it was even feasible. That’s when I knew it would work.” The album — recorded in about two weeks — is a touch leaner and cleaner than some of their previous work, but still The Melvins at heart. “It’s something really amazing and special,” says Osborne.

Canadian Tour
On July 3, the trio — dubbed Melvins Lite — kick off an 11-date tour north of the border. “We’re saying Melvins Lite just so people understand it’s different. If some idiot thinks they’re getting burned somehow because they’re watching a guy play standup bass, we can go, ‘Look it’s Melvins Lite.’ I don’t really see any difference. It’s The Melvins. You can tell it’s us, but it’s a really different thing. We’re doing a combination of stuff off the new album and songs that people are familiar with, but done in a completely different way.” They’re also playing some cities they haven’t visited in a decade, but don’t blame the band for that. “I have nothing against Canada. The problem is the paperwork and the trouble crossing the border. I’ve never been in any trouble, but I have more trouble crossing that border both ways than any other, because America and Canada are the two most paranoid countries on Earth. If we didn’t have so much trouble at the border, I would add at least 10 Canadian shows to every tour. I honestly wish it was just one big country.”

51-Date U.S. Tour
Their Canadian swing is a warmup for their most intense tour to date: 51 shows in as many days in all U.S. states and D.C. “We’ll see how that goes,” Osborne grumbles. “Our record is over 30 shows in one go, so it shouldn’t be tremendously difficult. And with this lineup, we use less equipment, so it should work.” If it does, the band will submit it for a Guinness World Record, he says. “If we’re going to do it, we might as well. After all, it’s a publicity stunt! That’s all it is. I don’t really give a s— about playing 51 shows in 51 days. I just wanna do something crazy.” But didn’t George Thorogood do 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days back in the ’80s? “Nope, Thorogood never made. I was a George Thorogood fan, and I remember they quit at about 33 shows because he said they were tired. But everybody thinks he did it. I’m not in competition with George Thorogood.”

The Future
“We have a lot of things happening besides Freak Puke,” Osborne says. “We just put out a five-song EP (The Bulls & the Bees) with Coady and Jared. We just recorded four songs with Mike Dillard, the original drummer from The Melvins; that’ll be out in time for the 51-city tour. So we’ve got three discs this year with three different lineups.” Expect more fun when the band turns 30 in 2013. “We’ve got a bunch of ideas for things coming up, and a bunch of releases that I can’t talk about now. We recorded a lot of material at the beginning of the year and a lot of people will be surprised by it.” Further down the road, Osborne admits “I’m not going to be able to do this my whole life.” But for now, he believes The Melvins are at full strength. “I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge against any band. I don’t care how old they are. If people want to put a bunch of 18 year olds up there, we will stomp them into the dirt. This bunch of old men will hand them their hat.” After all, there’s more than one way to dish it out.

The Melvins Lite Canadian tour dates:
July 3 | Montreal | Corona Theatre
July 4 | Ottawa | Cisco Ottaway Bluesfest
July 5 | Toronto | The Opera House
July 6 | London | Call The Office
July 7 | Hamilton | Club Absinthe
July 9 | Winnipeg | West End Cultural Centre
July 10 | Regina | Exchange
July 11 | Saskatoon | Louis’ Pub
July 12 | Calgary | Republik
July 13 | Edmonton | Starlite Room
July 15 | Vancouver | Venue

darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca
@darryl_sterdan
facebook.com/darryl.sterdan

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