It's quite the undertaking especially considering that they've already toured for all of April, all of May, and almost all of July. The 51 dates version of the Melvins will be The Melvins Lite, which features founding member Buzz Osborne on guitar, almost-founding member Dale Crover on drums, and recent Melvins associate, Trevor Dunn, on standup acoustic bass. Meanwhile, the band just released the LP Freak Puke the EP The Bulls and the Bees, have a reported 50-55 songs still in the can, and have plans to continue as BOTH the current four piece Melvins with Jared Warren and Coady Willis as well as Melvins Lite. Whew!
To see how the band is preparing for their audacious undertaking, staff writer John Gentile called up Crover to talk about the band's training regimen for breaking the record, the new album, and also, the importance of being nice.
You've announced that you are going to do 51 shows in 51 days in 50 states plus the nation's capital. Are you doing any training for this harsh regiment, such as when Rocky eats raw eggs and punches meat?
We are eating raw bacon. That will be the secret. Raw bacon will lube you up… raw bacon and lots of other grease. That and real sugary coffee.
What is the official record that you are going for?
The tour will be 51 shows in 51 days. That's the way you get these things because Guinness has a lot of crazy records for "longest hours on a pogo stick" and etcetera. The official wording of it is "Fastest tour across the USA and Washington DC by a band." People are saying "it doesn't count without Guam or Puerto Rico," but how can we reach those places in less than a day?
Plus, there are other territories. I mean, you can't really play all of the US Virgin islands in a short time. People are jerks and whiners. But seriously, are you nervous for this undertaking?
We’ve done longer tours, but this is back to back with a previous tour. I don't think there is going be too much of a problem. Usually, when we tour, we're going to do something every day. On this tour, we just don't have any days off. Evidently, George Thorogood tried to do this in 1980. So, they were doing 50 states in 50 days and I think they got to 30 shows and stopped because the guys were "too tired." We don't plan on having any big blowout parties which I bet was the cause of those guys' problems.
The 51 states in 51days tour is with Melvins Lite, correct?
Melvins Lite, just to make it different. So, we did this record, Freak Puke with Trevor Dunn, who Buzz has played with in the past. He was in Fantomas and Mr. Bungle. He's kind of a well known jazzbo in the jazz community.
I can hear that. To me, Freak Puke does sound very much like a jazz record. Though really, I only have three jazz albums, so I guess I only qualify as a "semi-expert" in jazz.
I only have a few jazz records myself… well, I have a bunch of Miles Davis records. But you know, I guess just a part of it was because we wanted to play with Trevor where he plays stand-up acoustic bass- more weird noises. He doesn't play it traditionally. I guess that's where the jazz part of it comes in.
He's not playing like you play with an orchestra. So anyway, we thought it would be a good addition to the band. It's all standup bass. Live, and on record, it will be all standup bass going through an amp, something different for sure. We've already done a tour to see if would work where we played songs from our catalogue and it worked. It will be easier to tour just having stand up bass. Everything can fit into a van.
How did you adjust your playing to fit with the acoustic bass?
I think it was pretty natural. It was quieter songs. Since we were playing with Trevor, I wanted to try doing some stuff with brushes. I actually have an old be-bop kit from the late 40’s. I actually recorded with that quite a bit on the record.
That's one of my favorite things about The Melvins. You never know what you are going to get on record, or live.
We're certainly a weird band. It's not stuff that you are going to hear on the radio. It's not your average commercial faire.
Do you think most people appreciate all the hard work that goes into your rapid evolutions?
Yes and no. It seems like people always complain about one thing or another. A lot of people complain that it's always different, but a lot like it, too. What can you do?
Do you think that the Melvins model of performing is how bands will make money in the future?
That may be true. We like to work compared to most bands. At show we make money. We can't afford to sit around for a year or two. I don't think we would even if we could. We like working. I don't like sitting around. Buzz certainly doesn't like sitting around.
This last winter… we usually don't tour in the winter because of the winter ice… we recorded a bunch of stuff. So, we did this record with Trevor and a bunch more stuff. We've got a bunch of stuff lined up where we did songs with guest stars. We did Venom songs with Scott Kelly [of Neurosis]. After this will be an EP of the original version of the band which we've been calling Melvins 1983. The only difference is that I'm on bass and Mike Dillard, the original drummer, is on drums. It is kind of funny that we have three versions of the band. One thing people don't realize is that we did all of that stuff back to back.
Dale, you seem like a pretty nice guy to me. You know, Damian Abraham of Fucked Up said that you "turned out to be the nicest human being ever." Do you feel that you are nice?
Of course! Certainly, you won't find nicer guys than the ones you find in our band.
Do you think being nice is one of the reasons that The Melvins have managed to last almost thirty years so far?
Well, it goes a long way. It doesn't pay to be a dick… especially to people that you work with. I've always felt that we've been nice guys, don't you think? Think about people that you like. If they're mean to you then you'll always remember that. It just goes better if you're nice.
Certainly, that's true. But how come you and Buzz Osborne have been able to work together for so long?
He's just as weird as me, too. I'd say we're pretty much freaks.
So, if you are such a nice guy, how can you make such nasty sounding music?
Umm, I guess that's a whole different thing. Maybe the reason that I am such a nice guy is because I get all the aggression out on my drums. Otherwise, I may be a mean bastard. Say, do you know why Hitler stopped drinking tequila?
Because it made him a mean bastard!
Dale, truly, you are the limit! But, speaking of mean bastards, how come you and Buzz have managed to work together for so long while so many other people have filtered through the band? At my count, the band has had eight different bass players.
Most of the people have had their own personal problems for one reason or another- Drugs or other things that people have gone through in their lives, things that are going on in their lives. Being in a band is not for everyone. It drives people insane. That's really all there is.
Buzz and I always have had a great relationship. We don't get in big fights like The Kinks. But you know, a lot of people just lose their minds. We're trying to lose our minds and that's why we’re doing a 51 day tour. We're really trying to crack ourselves. That's what this is all about. We're trying to push ourselves to the limits of insanity.