Artist Spotlight: Melvins (or; How To Leave Town Before the Gold Rush) [Part 9 of 11]

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8.

Bulls & Bees EP (2012)

For some reason, the Scion brand of Toyota decided to market their brand to a young audience by getting involved in music and films. Scion AV ran a series of streaming radio channels on their website from 2003 to 2016. They also put out some releases by over 1500 artists including ASAP Rocky, Chromeo, Meshuggah, and guess who else?

Initially, it was released as a promo only CD, but released on 10” vinyl. It was then released on a limited CD of only 150 copies. Eventually, it was reissued on Ipecac with Electror*tard in 2015.

This would almost be the end of the run of the Big Business/Melvins partnership, but Big Business did tour with Melvins Lite in 2013 and Melvins (Regular) in 2015.

Freak Puke (2012)

“We really like playing with these guys and by all means we’re going to keep doing it. We always wanted them to continue Big Business even when they joined the band we decided that whenever they’re busy doing something that we would probably do something,” Crover said. “We like to work and we need to. Everybody’s got a mortgage to pay.”

While second drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren were working on Battlefields Forever, guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover made the decision to record an album with Mr. Bungle/Fantomas bassist Trevor Dunn playing stand-up bass. “He was somebody we liked playing with and Buzz had seen him play with this guitar player Nels Cline playing stand-up bass. Trevor comes from the jazz world. So, Buzz saw him doing all this crazy stuff with an upright bass, we were like ‘God, we got to do something with him. Do a record with him and his stand-up bass’,” Crover said. “We figured since we had the smaller gear, it wasn’t the big band and he was playing stand-up bass that’s what we would bill it as Melvins Lite.”

It’s interesting, and guess what? It’s weird. It’s not my favorite, however. They do a Paul McCartney cover, so that’s something.

After the release of Freak Puke, Melvins Lite embarked on a record-breaking tour, 51 shows in 51 days, hitting every state and District of Columbia. “The people always say George Thorogood did it. But if George Thorogood did it, why isn’t he in the record book? You know why he’s not in the record book? He didn’t do it!” Osborne declared.

Tres Cabrones (2013)

In 2008, 2009, and 2011, Osborne reunited with original Melvins drummer Mike Dillard for some shows. “We do this thing where the Melvins 1983 opened for the Melvins,” Osborne said. “So, when we were practicing for that on this run of shows – seven shows or something like that in the US – right after that we said, ‘We should do a record like this.’ So, it grew out of that. Dillard’s got his hands full with three kids and he’s a union machinist. It’s difficult for him to get the time off. The rest of us are losers. So, we can take all the time off we need.”

“I get to play bass. I get to play the part of Matt Lukin,” Crover said. “We just recorded some new stuff with him too that will eventually be out. We just did four songs so it’ll just be an EP.” The EP, released only as a 10” record, was appropriately titled 1983.

“I wrote songs with just those guys playing those instruments in mind,” Osborne said. “My wife says it’s her favorite record of ours because it’s simpler. That’s what she thinks. I don’t know if she’s a good judge.”

After releasing 1983 in 2012, this lineup reconvened to record enough stuff to fill out an album.  Tres Cabrones included the 10” EP, and “Dogs and Cattle Prods” which was the B-Side to the split series from Sugar Daddy Live. While the bulk of the album is pretty good, there is a lot of filler. Adapting traditional songs “99 Bottles of Beer”, “You’re In the Army Now”, and “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”… they just aren’t good. But the cover of The Lewd’s “Walter’s Lips” (originally covered on Mangled Demos From 1983 in an instrumental form) is a highlight.

Everybody Loves Sausages (2013)

“We’ve been doing a ton of recording of various things, doing lots of covers. We’re going to be doing a lot of splits with people. We’re going to be doing some singles where we play with other people as well,” Crover told MetalSucks. “We’ve recorded some Venom songs, with Scott Kelly from Neurosis singing and playing guitar. We’ve recorded a Roxy Music song with Jello Biafra with our old bass player Kevin [Rutmanis] playing. We just recorded some Queen songs with a friend of ours Caleb who’s in a band called Tweak Bird. We have a bunch of things planned along those lines. Some are not done yet, I won’t jinx it. We’re doing lots of things like that, lots of releases coming in the next few years.”

The Melvins released their first covers album, Everbody Loves Sausages, on April 30, 2013. Osborne said in the liner notes, “This record will give people a peek into the kind of things that influence us musically. We REALLY like all of these songs along with the bands who actually wrote this stuff because first and foremost, we are HUGE music fans.”

While Big Business is on almost half of the album, the big story is the reunion with former bassist Kevin Rutmanis. When asked about the possibility of working with Rutmanis again, Osborne replied, “No. That’s a one-off… We have no plans to do that. None at all. To even venture that that may happen is really putting the cart before the horse.”

The song with Rutmanis and Jello Biafra is a cover of Roxy Music’s “In Every Dreamhome a Heartache”. It’s one of my favorites on the album, despite not being written by Osborne, the performance encapsulates a lot of what the Melvins are.

Another highlight is the David Bowie cover of “Station to Station” (with Osborne playing bass and guitar) featuring Jim Thirlwell (Foetus) on vocals. It’s a perfect cover, and Thirlwell does an excellent job doing his Bowie impression (skip to 2:14 to get to the meat and potatoes).

Other friends helping out include Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Trevor Dunn, Caleb Bird (Tweak Bird), and Elvis Ramone (aka Clem Burke of Blondie). Other covers include songs from Queen, The Jam, Venom, The Kinks, and more.

“Black Betty” had already been released on a split with John Spencer Blues Explosion, and “Carpe Diem” and “Female Trouble” had already been released on a split with Redd Kross. The rest of the songs were released as individual singles, with additional unreleased covers by the same artist on the B-Side. The collection was called Nine Clowns of the Apocalypse, and they were subtitled Volume __ : A Tribute To ______ . I can’t wait until they are finally released in a digital format collection in 2028.

Mark Deutrom – Brief Sensuality & Western Violence (2013)

So, there isn’t much out there about former bassist Mark Deutrom’s solo album Brief Sensuality & Western Violence. Deutrom worked with future Bellringers (more on that later) drummer Aron Lack for nine-months before recording the album in Austin. That’s it.

I suspect that because of how much material he had left off his prior solo album, that a lot of this is reworked and recycled. I can’t imagine why a person would have a 20-minute song called “Dick Cheney” in 2013. The song has some funeral organ at the beginning, but nothing really happens in it until about 8 minutes in. It’s definitely an exercise in patience.

The album, while it seems to have been received pretty well, is a lot of the same-y stuff. The majority of it sounds like shoegaze after several bottles of cough syrup.  However, “Miniskirt” was a lead single that is pretty upbeat, but not at all representative of the album, while “Shaky Rabbit” sounds like a Stag B-Side (there’s that album again). But my favorite is “Temple Smasher” which is a quick stomp that makes your head bob.

To be continued…