Introducing the Melvins’ Grand New Evolution

King Buzzo and Dale Crover are joined by Butthole Surfers alumni Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus to present a great new kind of weirdness.

Buzz Osborne is excited. Actually, just saying that the Melvins singer/guitarist is excited undercuts the tone in his voice. He is buzzing with energy and anticipation because, with the release of Hold It In, he is getting to realize two impressive events at the same time: he has recorded an album with guitarist Paul Leary and bassist Jeff Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers, and that album is (by Osborne’s count) the twentieth full length Melvins release.

“Getting to make this record was a dream come true for me,” beams Osborne. “I’m a big fan of Paul and Jeff and the music they’ve made with the Butthole Surfers and Honky and Carny. We did some shows with Jeff playing and his band Honky last year and, while we were on that tour, I mentioned to him that I had always thought it would be great to do something with Paul, and I asked Pinkus what he thought. He thought it was a good idea, so he called Paul. We moved along slowly making the music, but everything fell together pretty easily.

“We started working on the whole thing all together last October,” continues the guitarist. “Me, Dale and Pinkus had some stuff done together before that and we were just going to put out a three-song EP, but then it just ballooned into this full-length album; Paul had a couple of songs written that I really liked for the album and Pinkus wrote some songs and we collectively wrote a few things. Between all that, we had enough material for a full album, and Paul added a lot of stuff to some of the songs we already had which added a little more to it and made it great.”

621px-Melvins-HolditinListening to Hold It In shows just how great a gift for understatement Osborne has. From the moment “Bride of Crankenstein” opens the album, fans will recognize exactly what they’re hearing, and it is good. Leary’s trademark brand of turgid, Stratocaster-styled mayhem, flanked by Crover’s simple but propulsive drumming, Pinkus’s thick bass tone, and a terrifying, loud and gnarly guitar sound from Osborne hits listeners and levels them like the wall of pigfuck it is.

There is no easy way to hyperbolically qualify the sound any better than that—it is huge, dangerous and awesome. That twisted and dark but perversely anthemic sound continues through songs like “Brass Cupcake,” “Eyes On You,” “Sesame Street Meat” and “Nine Yards” (with weird left-field detours through the electronic buzz of “You Can Make Me Wait” and the countrified swing of “I Get Along”) giving listeners a sound balanced between Melvins darkness and Butthole Surfers delirium, which proves to be absolutely satisfying. It’s weird and perfectly out-of-place, and those are just some of the reasons to love it.

“I’m really happy with how the record turned out, and I think a lot of that had to do with how much trust was involved in the making of it,” offers Osborne as he considers the sounds and personalities on the album, and how well they fit together. “When you work with people that you have respect for artistically, you just let the process happen, I think; let them breathe.

“I respect Paul and Jeff, so I didn’t tell them what to play exactly; I just let them do it. Part of that was out of necessity because we weren’t always in the same place while we were making the album. Paul did a lot of stuff on his own, we did a lot of stuff on our own, I did a lot of stuff on my own, and Dale did some stuff by himself, mostly mixing and things of that nature in Dale’s case. We got together to do some stuff, and we emailed other parts to each other. We were all there together when the bass and drums were recorded.”

With Hold It In out now, Osborne is happy to outline the plans that the band has made for touring to promote it. However, it won’t exactly be what fans expect, at least at first. “For the first leg of the tour—I think it’s eighteen shows—we’re only taking Pinkus along with us,” says Osborne. “Paul has a couple of things he has to do and so can’t go out right away, but we wanted to make sure we got out on the road before the end of the year so that Dale could get some more work in after the tough year he’s had [earlier this year, Crover’s wife became ill and concerns of her well-being caused a few timetables for both tours and releases to shift –ed], but next year, we’ve got this idea that we’d like to do some touring with both Paul and Jeff.

“I’m really, really excited at having the chance to do that. Getting to make this record was a dream come true for me. I’m a big fan of Paul and Jeff and the music they’ve made with the Butthole Surfers and Carny. I think the album turned out fantastic, and I hope to do more work with these guys in the future. I would love to—I think it would be great. I think Paul and Jeff are under-appreciated as musicians, and I’m more than happy to adopt them into this band and be as enthusiastic about them as I can.”


Further Reading:

Ground Control Magazine—The Rest Of The Story… with Paul Leary [Column]

Ground Control Magazine—The Rest Of The Story… with Buzz Osborne [Column]

Ground Control Magazine—(The) Melvins—Hold It In [CD review]


The Melvins are on tour supporting Hold It In now. For an updated list of shows, click here.

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.