The Melvins’ Big Break
Barring an act of God or thrown rod, the Melvins will make their mark.
This was clear when the band played at the Showbox at the Market on Sept. 6, sparing no energy for its eager fans, despite the fact that it was at the outset of the most epic and potentially exhausting journey of its 30-year existence.
At the end of that journey lies infamy in the form of a Guinness World Record. If all goes as planned the band will cap its current tour on Oct. 26 with a show at the Republik in Honolulu, securing its place in history as the first band to play a show in each of the 50 United States, and Washington, D.C., in 51 days. What could stop them?
“Aneurism, angina, I don’t know,” says leader Buzz Osborne. “Getting arrested. Breakdowns of one form or another.”
The Melvins have been at it for long enough that the band—heavy-duty rockers now of Los Angeles, but born in Montesano, Wash., and raised in the grunge-era Northwest—has likely been witness to many of those unexpected obstacles firsthand. But they have persevered and are now touring in support of their 18th record, Freak Puke, with an unapologetic marketing ploy.
“It’s not that I really want to play 51 shows in a row,” Buzz says. “The point of this whole thing is going out and playing the record. Doing something big to attract attention is always good. I just want to do something big and stupid. That’s the main motivator. It’s what we do.”
The album is good enough to warrant the effort. The Melvins are normally a four-piece featuring long-time members Osborne and drummer Dale Crover joined by Jared Warren and Coady Willis, both of whom play in Big Business. But for Freak Puke, Osbourne and Crover put together an alternate lineup Osborne calls Melvins Lite, featuring Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn laying down sonorous bass parts that the other Melvins riff off and chew up with pleasant aplomb.
It’s the light load of a trio that gave Osborne the inspiration to take on the world record, a feat that has been in his sights since 1980 when, as a young rock fan, he heard about George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ failed attempt to do the same. Osborne is determined to ensure Thorogood’s fate will not be his own.
“It’s not that we can’t physically do it,” Osborne says. “It’s not like we will pull up to the club and I’ll fall out onto the ground and say, ‘I…can’t…do…another…show.’ That’s not going to happen. I mean, with a broken leg, I could still play. But I don’t know if I could have it set and make it to the next show in time. That might be hard.”