Melvins drummer Dale Crover
After nearly 30 years of activity, grunge pioneers The Melvins have become an institution in heavy music, influencing everyone from Nirvana and Soundgarden to many of the hard rock and metal acts of the day. After years of playing as a trio, the band welcomed bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis of Seattle’s Big Business to the lineup in 2006. They are currently amidst a 21-date tour with noise rock outfit Unsane.
ThirdCoast Digest caught up with drummer Dale Crover, where we discussed their upcoming Turner Hall show, their new album and some of their other plans for 2012.
Dale Crover: It’s been really good. For the most part we’ve had mostly sold out shows, minus a few here and there, but yeah, it’s been good. We’ve got Unsane with us, and they’re a great band and nice guys to tour with.
TCD: When the show was announced and I saw that Unsane was on the bill with you guys, it just seemed like such a great pairing.
Crover: Yeah, I know. Finally! In 1994, we had to choose between going on tour with them or The Obsessed. Both were two really good bands that we wanted to tour with, so we flipped a coin, and the Obsessed won (laughs). But yeah, now we finally get to tour together, and we’re even playing in the band. Coady and I are actually filling in for their drummer Vinny. He had this weird infection in his leg that he didn’t know about, and then the day before they were going to fly out for the tour, he couldn’t get out of bed and had to go to the hospital. He’s still in the hospital, I believe, but he’s on the mend and out of danger.
TCD: That’s good to hear. So are you and Coady just alternating who plays for Unsane each night?
Crover: I learned one half of the set and Coady learned the other, so we’re splitting it, but we play the last couple of songs together.
TCD: That should be fun to see. So you’ll be in Milwaukee on Tuesday. It’s been a while since you’ve played here.
Crover: Yeah, in fact I think it’s been about…five or six years since our last time through.
TCD: What can we expect at the show? I know you guys just put out The Bulls and The Bees EP in March.
Crover: Yeah, we’ll be playing the whole new EP, but we’re going to try and mix it up a bit, too. We always try to play a wide cross section of our back catalog, you know?
TCD: Yeah, I bet. How has having Jared and Coady in the band changed the way you approach the older material?
Crover: Well, with having two drummers the possibilities are endless, and it makes it twice as brutal (laughs). And Jared is the lead singer of his band as well, which is great. We just let them do their thing. There’s some people that will hire someone and tell them what to play exactly, but we just kind of tell them to play the songs the way that they would play them rather than the way they might sound on the record. There’s a reason why we got those guys in the band in the first place, we liked what they were doing.
TCD: Yeah, that makes it more interesting. What do you guys have planned for later in the year? I understand you’ve got a new full length coming out this summer?
Crover: Yeah. We made that record with this guy Jared who plays standup bass. Buzz [Osborne] had seen him play this jazz show with (Wilco guitarist) Nels Cline and thought it was really cool. We’ve played with Trevor in the past, and it’s always been the understanding that if the Big Business guys were busy with something-and we’ve certainly always wanted them to continue playing in their own band-that we might do something else. So while those guys were on tour last summer we booked a small tour with Trevor playing standup to see how it worked. We all thought it was really great and decided that we’d do a record. So we’ll be doing a bunch of touring for that later on this year.
TCD: I also hear you’ll be playing in Europe next month with Slayer?
Crover: We are! We’ll be playing with them in London as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival. We actually got to curate it a few years back. It was really great to play with a bunch of bands we liked. We got The Damned, The Meat Puppets and The Butthole Surfers. It was the coolest festival I’ve ever been to. This time around we’ll be playing with Sleep and Slayer, so it should be interesting. We were on a festival with those guys last year in Australia, so we got to see them multiple times. They’re great.
The Melvins will be performing at Turner Hall Ballroom this Tuesday, May 1, with tourmates Unsane. Tickets can be purchased here. Watch the video below of The Melvins’ new single, “The War on Wisdom.”