(The) Melvins, embarking on a 30th-anniversary tour (in both standard and Melvins Lite variations, depending on date) on July 12 alongside Honky, is releasing a covers record April 30. Entitled Everybody Loves Sausages, the album showcases the band’s many talents by covering artists as diverse as David Bowie, Queen, The Jam, and Venom. It also features myriad guest stars, including JG Thirlwell, Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Jello Biafra, and more.
This interview appears in ALARM #40. Subscribe here to get your copy!
If you think of dudes and disco music when you think of roller skates, think again. Tough chicks are sweeping the nation with roller derby, a contact sport on skates that is more gladiator than glamorous — and they like it that way. We caught up with Chicago’s Alisa “Sargentina” DePedro, Windy City Rollers all-star. The hard-hitter took off her helmet and pads for ALARM to talk about hangover scrimmages and thigh circumference.
Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.
Melvins: “The Water Glass”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/melvins_thewaterglass.mp3|titles=Melvins: “The Water Glass”]
Last year, sludge-rock band the Melvins released its 20th album (and third since linking up with Big Business members Jared Warren and Coady Willis). That album, entitled The Bride Screamed Murder, is emblematic of what the band has done its whole career: tweak its signature sound — part anthemic classic rock, part avant-garde heaviness — to present something entirely new yet quintessentially Melvins. That willingness to shake things up has been a major factor in the band’s longevity.
After last year’s release, the band undertook a tour in early 2011, playing a different album from its back catalog each night. As the saying goes, you get what you give, and in this case, the Melvins’ 30-year history of experimentation has continually rewarded the band with new experiences. Dale Crover, drummer and founding member, recounts the band’s some of the most memorable recent experiences below.
Endless Residency Tour
by Dale Crover
The Melvins did a residency every Friday night last January in Los Angeles. To make each show unique, we decided to play a different record from our ever-growing catalog of releases. It seemed to go over really well, and since we took the time to learn all these records, we decided to take it on the road. Here are some highlights from the “Endless Residency” tour.
Austin Texas: Austin shows are always great, except for the heat. It’s 100 degrees out, and of course we’re playing outside! The show goes well, but by the end, the “costume” that I’m wearing feels like a soaking-wet sleeping bag. The next day we meet up with our friends from the band Honky to get lunch. Everyone I know that lives in Austin says that the BBQ downtown is average, and they know where the best is. We drive miles out of town to a place in Spicewood, Texas, called Opie’s BBQ. We’re greeted by a guy who opens a large trough with 10 different kinds of smoked meat. We let the Honky boys order for us, then sit down to stuff our faces. It was certainly worth the trip, and I highly recommend the spicy corn! After the feast, we stop by Willie Nelson‘s recording studio. Honky just recorded there. No Willie, but we got the full tour, including seeing the tape vault with Red Headed Stranger master tapes! I was also highly impressed by the nine-hole golf course next door. Maybe we’ll do our next record there!
Viva Voce: “Analog Woodland Song”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Viva-Voce-Analog-Woodland-Song.mp3|titles=Viva Voce: “Analog Woodland Song”]
Kevin and Anita Robinson comprise Portland, Oregon-based rock-n-roll band Viva Voce. The married couple has released six full-length albums since the late ’90s, the latest of which is called The Future Will Destroy You. With Kevin hammering the drums with machine-like precision and Anita producing catchy hooks and riffs with classic-rock cool, it’s a surprisingly lighthearted sound for such a foreboding title. The band’s sticking by its claim, though, and recently compiled this apocalyptic playlist for ALARM.
1. The Stooges: “Search & Destroy”
I’m a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm. ‘Nuff said.
Colin Stetson: “Judges”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-Judges.mp3|titles=Colin Stetson: “Judges”]
Powerful, otherworldly, and beautiful, wind player Colin Stetson‘s upcoming record, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, commands attention from start to finish. Largely recorded live without overdubs, Stetson exploits techniques that yield dense layers of multiphonic sound that seem impossible to have come from a single instrument. Here sounding deep and sonorous as a foghorn, there alternating between percussive popping and plaintive moans, while elsewhere emitting swirling, cyclical lines that could nearly pass for strings, Stetson pushes his horns through every timbral possibility.
With such formidable instrumental prowess, one might expect a display of flashy improvisations, yet Stetson uses his command of his instruments in service of intricate compositions, rich in atmosphere and mood, and unmoored from any genre. Moreover, the pieces function together to create a coherent whole, emotionally resonant and deeply affecting. A record that will sound arresting and fresh to even the most adventurous listeners, New History Warfare Vol. 2 (out on Feb. 22) is an early bright light among this new year’s releases and likely to resurface on many year-end lists.
Adept at bass sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, french horn, and cornet, Stetson studied music at the University of Michigan. From there, stints on both coasts resulted in work with a wide range of music luminaries, including Tom Waits, Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. More recently, Stetson has startled unsuspecting rock audiences as an opener for stadium indie acts such as Arcade Fire and The National. Here he explains how this integration of influences creates his own musical worlds.
When I’ve played your music for people, the unanimous reaction has been “that’s a sax?”, which is all the more impressive given that much of it was recorded without overdubbing. Can you explain how you’re able to create such a rich and diverse range of sounds, both in terms of technique and production?
Technically, regarding the instrument, I’m just employing a lot of extended techniques that improvisers have been using for decades. The basis for most of my pieces is in circular breathing; by breathing in through the nose and continuing to breath out of the mouth, you can create these longer, uninterrupted pieces of music. After that, it’s a lot of “voicing,” or using mouth and throat placement to form chords instead of single notes, specific arpeggiated lines to move those chords into individual and distinct melodies/harmonies, and also quite a bit of actual singing through the instrument.
Having been working this out for many years, when it came time to start recording this music, I knew that a straight-up stereo recording would only take a snapshot of what was happening, and would ultimately flatten the experience. There’s no way to capture the essence of live performance in this manner, not if the idea is to recreate the same image through recording. So what I try to do is to capture every distinct and separate element I can, individually with separate and different microphones, so that this information can then be reorganized in the mixing process, and, rather than an attempt at recreating the live experience, we create an alternate version of that experience, something that is specific to the process of recording. In simpler terms, I wanted to make a record like a Haruki Murakami novel or a Terrence Malick film.