Just after 2014 became 2015, the Melvins' drummer Dale Crover experienced one of his proudest moments in the band. Though their New Year's show was canceled, he and Buzz Osborne, the band's co-founders, decided to play an acoustic set at Permanent Records in Los Angeles. The duo were expecting a crowd and a nice showing; they didn't expect to have to play two packed shows in order to meet the demands of a line of rabid fans who circled an entire block to see the short set.
Despite being one of the more underrated bands to come out of the '80s, the band's idiosyncratic nature has spoken to their legacy more than album sales or radio play ever could. Over the years, their brand of sludge metal-meets-hardcore punk has endeared them to contemporaries. Various bands ranging from Nirvana (Crover played drums for them on a few tracks), Soundgarden and Tool to Japanese experimental rockers Boris and a slew of others count the Melvins as a major influence. But that never translated to mainstream success. For the veteran rockers, recording and performing live is akin to having a job, albeit a fun one.
"We've never been in a position where we can take a lot of time off," Crover explains. "We don't sell millions of records, and it's how we make a living, and we have to work almost every day. We spend three months a year touring, and the rest of the year, we're either recording or doing other stuff. If it wasn't fun, we wouldn't do it."
In the past half-decade, they've released four albums; Crover says they're not planning on stopping any time soon.
"We're planning on doing a bunch of recordings in February and see what we come up with," Crover says. "There are various different projects we're working on, including something we started 15 years ago that we never finished. But I want to make sure that it happens before I start talking about it."
Their latest album and 24th overall, Hold It In, was released in October and featured Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus of Butthole Surfers. Osborne and Crover have been friends with Pinkus for years, so when the opportunity for them to jam presented itself, the duo wrote a few songs together. Originally intended as an EP, those songs quickly numbered 12. Hold It In is the first time the Melvins have recorded as a quartet since 2010's The Bride Screams Murder. While the project quickly came together, it's also a continuation of their experimental sound.
More than 30 years into their career, as the longest tenured members of the Melvins, Osborne and Crover get along as well as they did when they were wide-eyed twentysomethings. Attributing their relationship to "not being able to go completely crazy," the duo have always been realistic and grounded about their expectations for the band. They've managed to remain relevant when many of their contemporaries have slipped over the years and have no intention of hanging up their instruments any time soon.
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"No one has a big ego that will get in the way of things," he explains. "We've never broken up, so we're not a nostalgia act."
The Melvins perform at the Indigo Festival with Deerhoof, Blonde Redhead, Deafheaven and many more at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Sat. Visit website for show times. $35. All ages.