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15 Aug 2013

Not 'Too Metal': Underground Legends The Melvins Plan Their First Trip to Pioneertown

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Not 'Too Metal': Underground Legends The Melvins Plan Their First Trip to Pioneertown Mackie Osborne

The Melvins don’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re currently celebrating 30 years together while touring behind Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that includes a version of Queen’s “Best Friend.”

They’re also making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Melvins were formed in Montesano, Wash., in 1983 by Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar). The original lineup also included Matt Lukin (bass) and Mike Dillard (drums). Eventually, Dillard left the band and was replaced by Dale Crover; Lukin also left the band, and The Melvins have gone through several bass players since.

The band’s unique cross between hardcore punk and doom metal has been linked to the grunge bands of the Northwest, largely due to the fact that Osborne was a high school classmate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Cobain supported of The Melvins while Nirvana was going on to become a mainstream success.

The Melvins, meanwhile, have not been such a mainstream success; however, they remain legends of the underground and an extraordinary live band—and they actually look like they enjoy being in a band together.

“We really have nothing to live up to; that’s a plus,” Osborne said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I still like doing what I’m doing; I would probably be doing it to some degree in some fashion, whether I was playing sports arenas or not.

“I’m definitely a workaholic. When you stand up next to certain arena-rock people, you think those people would have more time on their hands and certainly more money to do whatever they want to, and they seem for some reason to work less. I’ve never understood that, and it’s very strange to me.”

When it comes to The Melvins’ connection to grunge and the fact that they’re categorized into the same scene as Pearl Jam, Osborne said the connection never boosted their image.

“We certainly sound more like Mudhoney than we do Pearl Jam,” Osborne said. “In a similar position … Pearl Jam’s audience would have no concept or have any interest in either us or Mudhoney. Pearl Jam has sold millions of records, and they’re like U2, which means they’re untouchable. They don’t care. Why should they?”

Beyond their faithful core audience, The Melvins haven’t been opposed to playing to new and mainstream audiences. However, The Melvins list Lollapalooza ’96 and Ozzfest ’98 as their least-favorite experiences. They ended up getting invited to Lollapalooza during the era when grunge was already dead, and the nu-metal bands were dominating the market.

“The interesting thing about Lollapalooza is they never had any interest in us when Perry Farrell was at the helm,” Osborne said. “Perry always thought we were ‘too metal’ for his liking and his festival. They would openly say, ‘Perry doesn’t like your band. We would like you guys to come, but Perry said no.’ … The second Perry wasn’t involved, we were in there. We played the second stage; we played to a lot of people every day, and it was great. But it was hard to be there when people had no interest.”

Osborne has an amusing story about how the band found themselves in Ozzfest in 1998.

“Ozzfest flatly said they didn’t want us to do it. When I say that, I mean they openly said they did not want us to do it. The only reason we did it is because Tool was co-headlining, and they said, ‘We want one band on this tour we can like, so we won’t do it unless The Melvins play.’”

In hindsight, there’s no love lost between The Melvins and the figureheads of those festivals.

“I’ve always said this stuff about Perry and especially Ozzy being drugged-out morons, but when Ozzy’s wife came out and said, ‘I had no idea he was on prescription drugs,’ I mean, I knew he was on prescription drugs! How the fuck could she not had known? She’s just bullshitting us!”

As Everybody Loves Sausages hits the shelves, Osborne said those covers were recorded among a lot of other material.  The band wanted to give fans an inside look at the songs that inspired them. Osborne noted that the cover of Iron Head’s “Black Betty” was not planned for the album, but rather for a commercial contest.

“We did that for a Super Bowl commercial-making contest,” said Osborne. “This company had all these bands record versions of that song, and the winner would get to have their version in a Super Bowl commercial. We didn’t win. They gave us some money to make it, and we could do whatever we wanted with the song, and we didn’t have any problem with that.”

As for what is bringing The Melvins to Pappy and Harriet’s, Osborne explained that the band is booked at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, and contractual agreements with promoter Goldenvoice prevent them from playing within a certain radius of Los Angeles.

Osborne also said bassist Jared Wallen will miss the show due to “paternity leave” and said that Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers will be filling in.

“We’ve never played there before, so it should be good,” Osborne said. “We looked for a venue that was somewhere around the Los Angeles area, and we couldn’t play Orange County, so we just figured it made sense to play Pappy and Harriet’s.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Honky at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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