Friday night, the infamous Melvins play the Theater of Living Arts at 9:00 p.m. in support of two new albums, Electroretard and The Colossus of Destiny. After 17 years, 15 full lengths and more than 6 bass players, the Melvins are still going strong and show no signs of slowing down.
The Melvins formed in 1984 in Aberdeen, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Initially playing 200-mph punk rock, Melvins front man and founder Buzz Osborne radically changed the band’s style. Their debut album, Gluey Porch Treatments, virtually changed the face of music in 1987. Instead of the rocket-speed riffs they had been playing, the Melvins slowed their de-tuned guitars down to a snail’s pace.
Gaining their “sludge-rock” influences from Black Sabbath and punkers Flipper, the Melvins single handedly created the emerging Pacific Northwest music style known as “grunge.” Soundgarden and Mudhoney are just a few of the bands that have listed the Melvins as their biggest influences. In some respects, Nirvana may not have even happened if it wasn’t for Buzz Osborne and company.
The story goes like this: Osborne and Kurt Cobain were friends in high school and Cobain eventually began hanging around the Melvins’ practice space. Cobain hadn’t heard much punk and Osborne gave Cobain a mix tape with bands like Flipper and Black Flag. It’s also speculated that Osborne taught Cobain how to play guitar.
Since then, the Melvins have evolved throughout each album and expanding their sound. Today, they might have moved beyond the speed of molasses moving down a sidewalk, but the heaviness is greater than ever.
In 2000, the Melvins released three LPs showing each side of the band’s current style. Instead of releasing one mix-matched album, the band decided to spread out the songs on three full-length albums. The first album, The Maggot, showcases the band at its most brutal, with intense riffs and some of the heaviest songs ever recorded.
The Bootlicker, released a few months later, shows the band’s softer, more psychedelic side. No distortion was used on the album, and Osborne penned some dark, yet funky grooves.
The third album, The Crybaby, explores the bands more experimental side. Guest spots by Mike Patton, Tool, Brutal Truth and even Leif Garret reflect the Melvins’ weirdness.
The Folk Implosion opens for the Melvins. The lo-fi, indie rock duo is comprised of Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh) and fellow singer/songwriter, John Davis. They formed in 1993 after Davis sent Barlow a homemade tape of songs in the vein of Sebadoh, and their biggest hit is “Natural One,” from the KIDS soundtrack.
The Melvins w/ The Folk Implosion, Friday, April 27, 2001, 9 p.m., TLA, 334 South St., $12.50