“In The Studio With The Melvins”
Written by Jason Reed
July 6, 2017
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Melvins perform live (see concert review from earlier in the year here) and even got to interview Buzz Osbourne next to the infamous (and unapologetically unhygienic) “Bubble Gum Alley” in San Luis Obispo (see here). Few bands can consistently command a comparable number of sold-out crowds while garnering the repeated critical acclaim (and ongoing street cred) that these guys do. Their momentum and power only seem to be growing (perhaps it has something to do with Buzz’s frequently worn mystical Gargamel-esque robe that might be imbuing them with some supernatural cosmic mojo?!). Whatever the pragmatic or metaphysical explanation, there’s no indication that the band’s creative energy has yet to reach its inevitable zenith.
2017 has been a big, big year for the band. February saw Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover riding the wave of critical acclaim for their work in the band Crystal Fairy. March saw the re-release of the Melvins’ 1992 solo albums while May and June saw Dale and Stephen touring extensively with Red Kross. Despite Buzz and Dale’s original intentions to tour with Crystal Fairy in Spring things didn’t quite pan out. But from this missed opportunity came something potentially more glorious: a new Melvins album and an extensive Summer tour! In fact, their new album (entitled “A Walk With Love and Death”) drops tomorrow and is historic in their discography for being the first ever double album they’ve released.
It was with these exciting and copious developments at hand that we had the chance to recently sit down with the band in their recording studio for an in-depth interview discussing, amongst other topics, their creative process, collaborations, golfing with Danger Ehren from Jackass, and Mackie Osborne‘s ongoing artistic contributions to the band.
After the interview I had the chance of hanging out in their studio and talking with their recording engineer Toshi Kasai, who debuted a couple impressive rough cuts for me off of their new album. Toshi shared insights into both digital and analog recording techniques he’s used with the band. As I gazed in wide-eyed amazement at a rack of various guitar pedals and synthesizers, I witnessed something unique that caught my eye: a modified Speak & Math (the bastard cousin of the widely popular Speak & Spell) that would have made even E.T. envious.
Toshi explained the unique modulated sound that can emanate from this archaic children’s toy and showed me some other fascinating tools in the Melvin’s equipment arsenal. If the Melvins ever plan on putting a Neil Diamond cover album, I can only hope that they can use this magical piece of 80’s technology on their hardcore yet heartfelt rendition of “Heartlight.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this band, it is that in the the surreal, far-out parallel dimension that they adeptly traverse, anything is possible. Never say never.
For more information about the new album and tour check out themelvins.net.