Interview: The Melvins on getting freaky-pukey with Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn

This interview appears in ALARM #40. Subscribe here to get your copy!

(The) Melvins: Freak Puke (Ipecac, 6/5/12)

Twenty-one studio full-lengths could spell one thing: redundancy. But the Melvins, whose back catalog reads like the Library of Congress, has recognized and conquered this plague with two tools in hand: reinvention and unpredictable match-ups.

As if writing with Lustmord and Jello Biafra wasn’t enough, Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover recently joined forces with famed Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn to form “Melvins Lite.” The trio’s first effort, Freak Puke, has it all: bowed and plucked upright bass, metal riffs, classic-rock flourishes, pick harmonics, punishing drums, and Osborne’s distinct vocal delivery. And to bring it to the masses, the band undertook an ambitious fall tour of the 50 United States plus Washington, DC, in 51 days. We chatted with King Buzzo about the band’s (latest) new direction.

What spurred the collaboration with Trevor Dunn?

We felt sorry for Trevor — that was the main thing. [Laughs] No, I thought it would be a good idea to do something with a standup bass player; we’ve never done anything like that before. We really did it traditionally. It’s straight mic-ed standup bass. And he’s such a great player that I knew we could do something cool.

How does the dynamic compare to working with the guys in Big Business?

It’s a completely different animal. We managed to make it work in the confines of what we’re doing. It still sounds like us, but it’s totally different. The Melvins would sound like the Melvins even if we were playing ukulele.

Do you think there will be future Melvins Lite albums?

I hope so. I want to do as much as we can — whatever makes sense. I’d love to do a combo of both bands at once: Melvins Heavyweight.

Did you and Dale go into this session with specific ideas in mind? Or was it just jamming with Trevor?

I wanted to make sure we focused really heavily on how it sounded. I wanted to make sure the standup bass stood out a tremendous amount. That’s pretty much what our focus was, to utilize that instrument as much as possible. It’s the first thing you hear on the record.

Was it hard to put together in the studio?

The guy we record with (engineer Toshi Kasai) is a genius. He thought about it a lot before we did it, and he put together some great mic-ed bass. Part of this was working with great people. If you play with good players, you’re halfway there.

How does the support of your record label, Ipecac, play a role in this?

They trust us, and they were extremely excited about this new album. I don’t think they were surprised that it’s good, but I think they’re surprised that it is as good as it is. They knew it would be cool. I’m really happy with it.

Do you have any more writing planned for this year?

We have a lot of work planned for this year. And we have a lot of things that we’ve recorded that are going to come out that no one knows about yet. So it’s going to be a good year — before the world ends at the end of the year.

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