Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Melvins are one of those cool bands whose coolness lies, at least in part, in the fact that they've influenced countless other bands without becoming major mainstream stars themselves.
“We like doing weird things,” says Dale Crover, left, a member of The Melvins, on the band’s attempt to snag the Guinness World Record for fastest U.S. tour by a group.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Asylum, 121 Center St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $15 in advance; $18 day of show
INFO: 772-8274; portlandasylum.com
So why would musicians who can count members of Nirvana and Soundgarden among their ardent fans need to feel like they have to set a world record for most concerts in the fewest days?
When The Melvins play Portland's Asylum on Sunday, they'll be in the middle of a tour in which they're trying to set the Guinness World Record for fastest U.S. tour by a group -- 51 shows in 51 days.
"Well, it's good PR for us, and it's just something we thought we could do," said Dale Crover, 44, the band's drummer and a founding member. "We like doing weird stuff. Whatever we do, it beats flipping burgers. I joined this band at 16, so up to this point, I've avoided that."
Crover says The Melvins don't take a lot of time off between shows on their normal tours, so this world record try isn't a huge stretch. The biggest challenges include the long overnight drives and playing places they've never played before, because they don't know what to expect.
"We played Cheyenne, Wyo., and thought maybe we'd get 10 cowboys if we were lucky," said Crover. "But we had fans there."
The tour started in Anchorage, Alaska, on Sept. 5. After that, the band flew to its old stomping grounds of Seattle (where it formed in the early '80s) and from there boarded a bus to crisscross the U.S. The general route followed a path west across northern and Midwestern states before hitting the Atlantic here in Portland.
After the Asylum show, The Melvins will get on the bus and head south down the East Coast, then across the country again. After playing Los Angeles, they'll board only their second flight of the tour for the scheduled final, record-breaking show in Honolulu.
The band is making this tour under the billing "Melvins Lite" because it's performing as a three-piece outfit, when normally there are more bodies on stage.
The tour has 51 stops because it includes all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. The record, Crover said, would be for fastest tour by a group. The Guinness record for fastest tour by a solo performer was set in 2003 when "anti-folk" singer Adam Brodsky did 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days.
How much of this tour The Melvins will remember is hard to say. But Crover usually remembers shows pretty well. For instance, he remembers playing a club in Portland in 1994, the day after Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain died after committing suicide.
The Melvins knew Cobain well, given that they were all from Seattle. In fact, Crover played on some early Nirvana demos (you can hear him on the album "Bleach" and on several compilations), and was a fill-in member when the band was in between drummers (which was a lot).
So when The Melvins found themselves in Portland a day after Cobain's death, they knew what they had to do.
"Some people thought we should cancel the show, but we knew Kurt would want people to keep playing," said Crover.
Crover remembers another Portland show, after which he was walking past a downtown music shop and saw a gong. So he bought it. "That was my first gong, and I got it in Portland," he said.
The Melvins became known in the late '80s and early '90s for a "sludgy" sound that mixed punk and metal. That sound was seen as a very heavy influence on the grunge explosion of the early '90s, which included everyone from Nirvana and Soundgarden to Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
Partly due to Nirvana's success, The Melvins were signed to a major label, Atlantic, and their first release for the label, "Houdini," made the Billboard charts. But the band never had the commercial success or name recognition of some of the bands it influenced.
Yet The Melvins continue to tour and record. Their latest album, the elegantly titled "Freak Puke," came out in June. In is review of the record, Spin magazine said, "one of the loudest bands on earth has perfectly siphoned their gloomy energy into evil cocktail jazz."
"It's nice the people have been influenced by us and all," said Crover. "But we've been doing this so long, we just keep doing it because we don't know anything else."
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: