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07 Aug 2015

The Return of the Melvins: Buzz and Co. Make Another Date at Pappy and Harriet's

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The Melvins. The Melvins. Kevin Willis

While most bands rest on occasion, the Melvins keep on going.

The band released a new album in 2013, and then another one in 2014. They’ll be back at Pappy and Harriet’s on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Buzz Osborne discussed that 2014 album, Hold It In, and how it came to feature not only Jeff Pinkus, the bassist for Butthole Surfers, but also Paul Leary, the guitarist for Butthole Surfers. Hold It In is a fantastic album that combines the Melvins’ traditional sound with some oddities—in a good way.

“I always wanted to do a record with those guys,” Osborne said. “I’ve always loved the Butthole Surfers, so it seemed easy to do. We ran it by Pinkus, and it just seemed like it was going to be a good thing. When we got Pinkus, we were just going to do a fun EP, but it just kind of grew into a full-on album. I thought, ‘Let’s get Paul (Leary) on board.’”

However, getting Leary on board wasn’t easy. “Paul thought it was a great idea, but he was hesitant about it at first, because he didn’t know us, but it didn’t take him too long once he got into it. It’s a really great record, and I’m hoping we can do some more with Paul. That would be great.”

Leary not only played on the album; he also took part, with the whole band, in producing it.

“It was a dream come true,” Osborne said. “He’s always been one of my favorite guitar-players, and he doesn’t really have an interest in what we’re doing, but I don’t really care about that. It’s one of those things where you don’t ask, ‘What do you think of my stuff?’ I don’t make that mistake, not ever. We wanted it to be different, and that was the point.”

During the past few years, the Melvins have often used Jeff Pinkus on bass, because bassist Jared Warren was taking what the band has called “paternity leave.” Osborne explained that while the band’s work ethic is strong, the members have an attitude that if a member wants time off, everybody else is fine with it. Warren has since returned to the band and is currently touring with them.

“By the time we did that tour in 2013, his kid was just about to be born,” Osborne said about Warren. “He didn’t want to have to blow the tour and have to go to home. We thought it was right to let him take some time off and (for us to) do the tour with somebody else, and the whole thing grew from that. We’re in the position now where we can do what we want, and no one cares.”

Osborne said fans can expect more Melvins records soon.

“We have two albums in the can at the moment that we did recently,” he said. “One is an album that was shelved about 14 years ago, and the other one is newer stuff. I’m not too sure when they’ll come out, but that’s what we’re doing.”

The Melvins are known for shelving material and revisiting it, and for playing songs Osborne wrote but never recorded.

“That’s always been the case,” Osborne explained. “There hasn’t been a time where we’re not doing songs that are older. It’s just kind of how it works, given you don’t finish everything at once. Sometimes, when you write stuff for an album, you don’t always finish it.”

Recording albums on a regular basis can be an obstacle when it comes to budgets, but Osborne said the Melvins have never spent large sums of money on recording.

“Spending a lot of money on albums depends on what you believe is a lot of money,” he said. When I mentioned the budget for a Metallica album as an example, Osborne responded: “Fuck no! Are you kidding me? You can buy several houses with that, or record 20 fucking albums with the money they spend on one album. That’s a joke. A total joke.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Big Business at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $18. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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