Interview: Melvins Drummer Dale Crover Talks About The Band's Last 30 Years

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 19, 2013 6:00PM

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Melvins

Melvins will be returning to Chicago for a show at the Double Door Monday night as part of the band's 30th anniversary tour. We caught up with drummer Dale Crover to talk about the new tour, being a part of Melvins for most of its run, the immediate future of the band and trying to become published in the Guiness Book of World Records.

"This is our 30th anniversry tour and I can't believe it," he said. "Although it seems like 29 years to me."

Crover joined the band in 1984, making 2013 his 29th year playing alongside frontman Buzz Osborne and a long list of bass players. He said the band intends to play a lot of different songs on this tour, displaying a wide cross section of its career.

Coady Willis will be along for the tour, drumming right next to Crover. Willis has been a consistent contributor to Melvins for the past six or seven years, and Crover said it's been fun to play alongside him.

"He's a great drummer and it's been comfortable playing with him," he said. "I wouldn't say I do anything less with a second drummer in the band. It's just more bombastic. It's really cool. There are plenty of dual drum parts, which really isn't too much different than having two guitar parts."

Crover explained the fruition of a dual-drummer concept was a long process. Melvins was a supporting act on Nirvana's final tour, and Crover said Dave Grohl would come out on stage during Melvins's set and play along with Crover on a few tunes.

"When Nirvana fell apart, we asked Dave if he wanted to join us," Crover said. "He seemed to be into the idea at first. He even drew up plans for this monster drum kit that we would both play at the same time. But he decided to go ahead with his Foo Fighters thing... He doesn't really need us anymore."
Willis's Big Business partner Jared Warren will sit out this tour, as he and his fiancee are expecting their first child around the time the tour ends. Crover said Warren was pretty torn about hitting the road with the guys, or staying home.

Instead, Jeff Pinkus, of Butthole Surfers fame, will take on bass duties. Pinkus's other project, Honky, is the supporting act on the tour.

"We jammed for fun in the past - he, Buzz and I," Crover said concerning Pinkus. "He picked up our material so easily. Buzz and I even talked about it saying, 'You know, if we ever need somebody in an emergency, we should give him a call.'"

"It will be be a little bit different," Crover said of Pinkus's addition. "I think audiences are going to like it, plus Jeff has fans of his own. It's going to be fun."

The last time Melvins came to town, the band was storming all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in 51 consecutive nights in an attempt to put the act in the Guiness Book of World Records as completing the fastest U.S. tour by a rock band. A few solo acts had done it in the past, and one by George Thorogood and the Destroyers was publicly disputed by Melvins. Osborne was quoted in an Anchorage, Alaska newspaper article saying the Thorogood tour in 1981 didn't accomplish the task. Crover said this was based on information received by friends who attended a radio station event where news spread one show on the Thorogood tour was cancelled.

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Dale Crover
"(Thorogood's) manager caught wind of this and he was mad at us," Crover said. "He insisted they did finish the tour. All I know is that they weren't published in the Guiness Book of World Records."
That lineup - which featured Osborne, Crover and Trevor Dunn on the double bass - was dubbed Melvins Lite. The trio released Freak Puke in June 2012. The tour was a promotional stunt for the album, Crover said, and it got the band a lot of publicity.

"It sounds impressive on paper," he said. "Turns out, it wasn't that big of a deal. I like playing every day. I'd rather get it done and go home. I think it's better that way."

Crover said the only thing that nearly derailed the success of tour was two flat tires on the way to one of the shows.

"We almost didn't make it to that one," he said. "It would have been a shame if we didn't make it.
"Now I laugh when I hear a band has to cancel a show because of 'exhaustion,'" he continued. "If you don't do drugs or drink too much, it's pretty easy."

Of course, being a veteran of the road, Crover has learned plenty of lessons on how to survive a tour. Hitting the road has been a staple since the early days of the band.

Crover reminisced about the time Osborne and Matt Lukin, the first of many bass players for Melvins, arrived at his house in August 1984 to recruit him.

"It's funny, because earlier that same day my mom told me, 'If you're going to make this drum thing work, you've got to find some guys who are going to do something,'" he recalled. "That day, Buzz and Matt came to my house and I agreed to play with them. My mom said, 'I didn't mean you had to do it today.'"

He said he was attracted to the project as Melvins stood out as a band making original music in a landscape of cover bands.

"I was sitting in Aberdeen, Wash., and these guys were playing shows in the big city of Olympia," Crover said with a chuckle. "At the time it was kind of big deal."

Crover said Melvins will continue to work at the conclusion of the tour, releasing recordings done with Pinkus on bass, as well as an EP with Krist Novoselic. Crover said more recordings with with "different people" are planned for a series of EP releases.

"I'm not going to say who exactly," he said. "I think some of the names will surprise a lot of people."

In short, after 30 years there are no plans of slowing down.

"Buzz is a great songwriter and I'm lucky to have played with him for so long," Crover said. "We can still do things outside of the band, like go to the movies and things like that. A lot of people in marriages can't say that.

"We're going to run it until the wheels fall off," he said. "I'm glad we're still doing it. We're fortunate to be able to do it and make a living at it."

Melvins play July 22 at Double Door, 1572 N Milwaukee, 8 p.m., $25, 21+

By: Casey Moffitt