Tonight, Melvins Lite, Big Business, and Federation X will blow up the Showbox at the Market with drums and guitars and amplifiers and howling vocal chords. The combination of Northwest heavy-rock history comprising these bands boggles the mind almost as much as the it was boggled at the announcement that Big Business were joining Melvins. Also, tonight is the second night on Melvins Lite's 51-show/51-day tour, which takes them to one show in every state in the Union. We had planned a feature article, but since I am not a highly-efficient transcribing machine, I was unable to transcribe the interviews in time for the print edition of the paper. Now, since I just realized that the show is tonight, and not tomorrow night, as I had envisioned in the convoluted and jumbled inner workings of my mind, I have moved all other obligations out of the way and will be transcribing the interviews right here in this post as the day progresses, updating it as I go. But first, lunch! Read along starting in about 30 minutes if you want to see how incredibly slow I am at transcribing!*
UPDATE: 2:27 pm
How did the idea for this tour come about?
Well, we were doing a tour last year with Trevor as a three-piece, kind of testing out the whole Melvins Lite thing, and we were trying to come up with something that would work just after we put the album out. I think it as Buzz's idea—"Let's do all 50 states in 50 days—no, no, let's throw in Washington D.C., and then it will be 51 shows in 51 days!" So of those two stupid ideas—which, we usually come up with plenty of stupid ideas, then we just make them real; we are the dreamers of dreams.
So that's really all it was. The combination of two stupid ideas that we made real. We told are booking agent and he was like "You guys are out of your fucking minds; you can't do that." And then he was like "Oh, yeah, you can do that." He also realized "I gotta start booking this thing now, before promoters realize they have us over a barrel. Then they could totally low-ball us on the guarantee.
You made him earn his paycheck with this one.
Yeah, it's been booked for over a year. We had to, otherwise we'd be screwed. We could have a show in, say, Albuquerque on a certain night, they'd say "Well, we'll pay you guys fifty bucks. How about that?"
How do you approach drumming differently when Coady's not playing with Melvins, and do you approach it differently with Melvins Lite?
Well, usually I approach the drums from behind the kit. WHA-WHA. I pretty much play the same when I play with Coady, maybe a little different. When we play some of the songs with those guys, I kind of have to cover a couple little things. Nothing's set in stone, really, so… With Lite, I have a brand-new Melvins Lite special drum kit. It's smaller than what I usually use, but mostly the same drums. I just wanted something smaller because it's easier to carry around. I have all the drums I normally use, but it's just a miniature version. Miniature to me is like a normal-style drum kit—22"-13"-16". Basically it's like a jazz kit, which is kind of like what I recorded the record with, too. I've got this old Gretsch kit from the '40s that I use for recording, and I was gonna take it with me, but I decided if anything happened to it on the road I'd be kind of bummed out. It's not really something I could go out and find again.
How many people have asked you if you're from Seattle, approximately?
Fuck, I don't know. Having lived down in [Los Angeles] since 1988, people are still like "Yeah—you guys are from Seattle, you're on Sub Pop?" We were never on Sub Pop, but we were from Seattle. Actually, we weren't from Seattle, we were from Aberdeen. Actually I'm the only one from Aberdeen. Buzz is from Montesano.
Okay, I had that wrong, then too, because I thought you were both from Montesano.
Actually, I'm even wrong too, because Buzz is from Morton, Washington. Look that one up on the map.
I had just looked up Montesano.
It's the middle of no where. I went there once and it was pretty weird. I think Buzz still has family there.
So, Coady guessed, yesterday when I talked to him, that you were BBQing and watching baseball. Was he correct?
That's pretty good. But I wasn't doing that. [pause] I don't know what the hell I was doing… I was doing music. But I do love both BBQ and baseball very much. In fact, you know what I'm gonna do tonight? I'm gonna BBQ. Then I'm gonna watch baseball.
So he was sort of right; he was just 24 hours off.
Actually, it's funny. I texted him to see if he wanted to go to the movies. I was gonna go to happy hour and then I was gonna go to the movies, and he never texted me back—that fucker.
What a jerk. He was stuck in traffic, is what he told me.
Oh. If you're stuck in traffic, you can still text back.
Well, he talked to me on the phone while in traffic. I would call him out on that one. Do you have a pre-tour ritual.
Not really. This time I've been kind of stressed out because I feel like I have to deal with a million things before I go: "I gotta take the trash out. I gotta fix the bathroom sink—stuff like that. I don't know, I guess I just kind of do it to myself. But we've done it so many times now, it's pretty easy; I can pack and be ready to go in 20 minutes, really. Same with this tour. I'm not really doing anything different, even though it's 51 shows.
Yeah, that's truly impressive.
UPDATE: 2:45 pm
We'll see if we can make it.
I believe you will.
I think so, as long as nothing bad happens—knock on wood. It's not that it's that long, you know, we've had longer tours. It's just that it's a show a day. Usually when we tour, we only have a day off when it's some sort of massive drive, so it's not really a day off. And then when you get there, you go "Well, I could be playing today." I was looking at the whole thing yesterday to see what the drives were like. There are a few that are pretty long, but I was kind of surprised. I was like "Well, that one's not that far, and that one's not that far…" He did really good as far as booking the whole thing. It's not a whole bunch of criss-crossing and stuff like that.
I'll be interested to hear about how it all goes down.
Yeah, well, we're heavily documenting the whole thing ourselves.
Well, Spin, on their web site, they're letting us do this kind of blog, a tour diary. We just did one in Canada; we just did a tour in Canada, all the way across. […] Monica [Seide, PR agent] approached them about doing it, and they were like "Yeah, I don't know, bands usually flake on it, and they're often not all that exciting." And she was like "Well, read these." And it was just a bunch of stuff that we basically made up. You can find it online if you just search "Melvins Canadian tour diary" or something.
UPDATE: 3:12 pm
Do you want to talk about the recording of the Melvins Lite record?
We recorded it at the same time we just did the EP for Scion that we did with the Big Business guys. We spent pretty much the end of December and all of January and the beginning of February recording as much stuff as we could. We basically recorded both of those records at the same time. We recorded everything there and called it our own studio. We called it Sound of Siren studio, because we practice downtown and we just like the sound of it. We didn't want to tell anybody that we recorded it in our practice space because we didn't want people to be like "Oh, it sound crappy because they didn't go to a professional studio." We've done so many records now—and [TK], our engineer, who's been along side for like, the last 500 or so records we've done, he's really good, and he's collected a whole bunch of recording gear that he can take anywhere, which is good. He works with a whole lot of bands that don't have a big budget, so he could just come in one day and, say, record the drums or whatever. We had tried out the stuff about a year before in the studio and were like "It sounds great!" Why don't we, next time we do a record, just set up and do it here. That way, the clock's not really ticking, and you're much more comfortable that way. And also you're in the place that you practice and write music, so it's much more comfortable. With this record all the songs are really new. Some of them we just wrote them on the spot, worked on them for like and hour, and then recorded. We did a bunch of it with just Buzz and myself. We had so many ideas we wanted to do that at one point we were just like "We better just quit before [Trevor] gets here." We wanted to record the stuff with him in the room, and we figured he would probably have ideas for the songs too. Hold on one sec… [steps away from the phone for a moment] Sorry.
That's all right.
Little kids, they always do stuff you don't want 'em to.
UPDATE: 3:20 pm
I've been watching my niece and nephews lately, so I feel your pain.
So, where was I... Oh yeah, a lot of the stuff was just first take, after the drum tracks, which doesn't happen that often. Another thing when you're recording, then tape is rolling, so you kind of freak out and mess up, and part of it was that the songs were so new that I didn't have more that a rough idea of what I wanted to d, but the songs hadn't been rehearsed to death so that I had all the drum fills and stuff I knew I wanted to do and stuff like that. And then some of the songs we'd already been playing live, I messed them up.
That sounds like every song I ever play.
Actually, there's pretty much mistakes on, I would say, every song.
UPDATE: 3:33 pm
Yeah, like "Oh, I didn't mean to do that; and I didn't mean to do that. But now I don't even really know where they are anymore. Or, sometimes you'll make a mistake and it will turn out really cool, so then you'll have to learn to play it that way. That's always fun. I like those kind of accidents in recording.
Yeah, my gay photography professor in college called them "happy accidents." Want to talk about how the Melvins Lite idea came about?
Pretty much, Buzz played with them in Fantomos, from playing with them way back in Mr. Bungle in the past. We had this gig come up where we were going to go to London and do the whole Houdini record. I think we'd even already talked to Jared and Coady about joining the band, so this came up and we were like "We can get Trevor to do this. He learns really quick. He plays tons of things with tons of people. He does a lot of like improv jazz stuff—he's just a really good player. So we knew it would work with him. And with the Big Business guys, it was always understood—and we encouraged that—they would continue with their other band, you know, they were already a band before we got them into our band, so we always encouraged them to keep it going, and do whatever they wanted to do. Hold on one sec [steps away from the phone again, kids yelling in background.]
Damn, she just spilled a bunch of watermelon.
UPDATE: 3:50 pm
So we always had this idea that we would do something else, and it became thing with Trevor, where he would play standup bass. We heard this thing with Nils Kline, where he was doing all this weird stuff with the standup bass, so we wanted to try to do something like that. So, we'll continue playing with the Big Business guys as long as they want to keep playing with us, and we'll keep doing Melvins Lite for as long as we can too, because we really like doing both of them. There's also a version of the band called The 1983 Melvins, which has an EP that we recorded that will be on sale at the shows. That's with the old drummer, the very first drummer for the Melvins, who still lives in Montesano. But it's minus Matt Lukin. So I play bass.
How is that for you?
[Steps away from the phone again, more kid noises.] Sorry, I'm watching the kids at the same time as talking to you.
UPDATE: 4.02 pm
No problem. What is Buzz doing right now?
He's been working on some hand-cut packaging for the 1983 Melvins EP, and just getting stuff ready for the tour. We've been doing a ton of hand-cut packaging for releases lately; it's fun. He's a baseball fan, too, though. Are you a baseball fan?
I am, but we have the Mariners, so It's kind of unfortunate for me.
Ah—Felix Hernandez! I watched that last couple innings of that game—really cool! He's a great pitcher. Some day, some day. Actually, I've only met one major leaguer, and he was a Seattle Mariner for a time.
Who was that?
The Big Unit.
Yep. The Big Unit came to our show a couple years ago. The Soundgarden guys brought him there. I guess they've been friends with him for a long time. It was in his last year, and he was playing for the Giants, but still, he came back to Seattle and got a big standing ovation. And then he came to our show. [laughs] That was pretty cool, and he was super nice, and he's also a drummer.
Really. Does he do anything with drumming?
I don't know. [laughs] I didn't even really even realize it at the time until he was already gone. But if I had, I would have asked him to play on the last song on the Houdini record—the big drum jam. If I'd know he was a drummer I would have insisted.
Well, I thank you for your time.
Yeah, you're welcome. We're looking forward to Seattle, as always. I think it will be fun. I don't know what people are expecting, you know. It's called Melvins Lite, but it's not really easy listening. It's still got balls.
That it does.
UPDATE: 4:04 pm: Running to convenience store for supplies.
UPDATE: 4:28 pm.
Hi, is this Coady?
Hi Coady, this is Grant from the Stranger. So, I'm just going to ask some random questions, starting with this one. What are you doing right now?
Um, I am coming back from a trip to the beach that I took with my lady, and we had an awesome day in Santa Monica, and now I'm on Pico, because the 10, coming back into L.A., is a standstill, so we're taking surface streets and it's taking forever. And I'm gonna go get our three dogs. Jared is watching one of our dogs, Scott is watching another, and then a friend of ours is watching the third, so, that's pretty much it.
UPDATE: 4:40 pm.
So everyone complains about traffic in Seattle, but what's the real breakdown—is it worse down there?
It can be. I usually have the luxury of not having a 9-to-five job, so I can drive around when everybody else can't, so it's fine. And where I live is pretty close to downtown L.A. and our practice space and anywhere I need to go, so it's not that bad. It's funny, within a couple of months of living here—you know Leslie Miller, the anchor person from King-5 news or whatever? She had kind of the hair, well she moved to L.A., and she was doing sort of Man on the Street interviews, and she came up to me, and was like "What do you think of traffic in L.A. The condition on the roads are terrible." And I was like "I don't know. The traffic in Seattle is pretty bad. You know that." She said "You're from Seattle? You don't think traffic is worse down here?" I said "Not really." [laughs] It's kind of irrelevant. At least down here you have the option of taking side road, where as in Seattle I feel like you're just stuck. So, I don't know. There's the illusion of options here. [laughs] But it seems like you're faster.
Okay, to totally switch gears [har!], now you're going on this tour as Big Business. What's going on there? Newness.
Well, we just started our own record label, and we're releasing the second release for the label—last year we did a four-song EP called Quadruple Single, and that was our first release on our label, and we have a new seven-inch out, and that's what we're touring on. Uhhhhhhhh, we're writing a bunch of new songs and recording early on in the new year. Hopefully, that record will be out next summer or early next fall. We're really just doing our best and have fun and not take ourselves too seriously. But at the same time, taking ourselves very seriously. It's a slippery slope, a fine line. [laughs]
Our new guitar player, Scott [Martin, of 400 Blows], is a really great addition. He's also in this heavy metal band called Crom, and all of their material is based on Conan the Barbarian. All their imagery, everything, it's all somehow based on the mythology.
Only in L.A.
I guess they have something like four albums now. I had no idea, but they have have this rich history. The joke gets just insanely deep.
UPDATE: 4:50 pm.
Do you remember when you first met Dale and Buzzo, and the same with the guys in Federation X?
Well, with the Fed X guys, I met them first when I was still in the Murder City Devils. We played a show in Bellingham, where they're from, and I ended up wrestling Beau, the drummer, in a drunken, beer-fueled wrestling match in the middle of his house.
That guy wrestles everybody.
About six or seven years ago we played in Missoula, for Total Fest, and he's there, and I haven't seen him in a couple years, and we're going down to the river, and he's ripped, and he takes his shirt off, and he looks like Groundskeeper Willie, except the Ultimate Fighting version or something.
He totally looks like Groundskeeper Willie!
Yeah, so I decided right there: "I'm nor wrestling him anymore." It's just too dangerous now. Anyway, those guys—Bill did that KARP documentary, so I've been seeing a lot more of him lately. We hung out with him for the last week of our tour in Glasgow for a few days, which is kind of the idea for this tour came about. Federation X is kind of on an on-again, off-again status. I guess they've been writing new songs that they're really excited about.
UPDATE: 4:59 pm.
And then, with the guys in the Melvins. Jared has known Dale for a really long time, and he's friends with Dale's wife, who used to work at Jabberjaw in L.A., and I think that's how they first met when they were touring in KARP. I think I met Dale at the Cha Cha Lounge, the first time.
Seattle or L.A.?
Seattle. Kevin Willis, the manager at the time had known Dale and those guys forever. After the Murder City Devils broke up, I was in a band with Spencer [Moody] and [TK] from GodHeadSilo, called Dead Low Tide, and we did a West Coast Tour opening for the Melvins, and that's actually how we got to know those guys. It was kind of a big deal for me. I remember being like 15 or 16 going to see Nirvana and the Breeders and the Melvins, and it was the first time I saw Dale play live, and it was kind of like life-changing. I mean, it really was. The dude totally changed my mind about how I wanted to play drums. How you should play drums, in my mind. So it was great getting to know them, and we were really surprised when they asked us to be in their band.
As luck would have it, I'm interviewing Dale directly after this. What do you think he's doing right now?
If there's a baseball game on, he's probably watching baseball. Or I would guess that he's hanging out with his kids because tour is coming up. But I would guess that he's probably BBQing and watching baseball at his house.
UPDATE: 5:18 pm.
What do you think Jared is doing right now?
I know exactly what Jared is doing right now. He's having a hockey puck padlock put on the back of our van. I hate saying stuff like this out loud, but we've been pretty lucky, as far as that kind of stuff goes, but there's been a rash of robberies where people wait for bands after their shows and then follow them to their hotel, wait until they go inside, and then do like a smash and grab of all their stuff. We're pretty paranoid about that stuff actually, because we're pretty attached to our gear, and we've been pretty lucky. And with Melvins shows we usually don't stay near the venue. We usually drive and then stay pretty far out of town. But in Dallas, we got ripped of in the middle of the night. It was like a smash and grab kind of thing, like they just smashed out the driver's side window and grabbed what they could. So they couldn't get to any of the cabinets and amps and really expensive stuff, but they did get a couple guitars and snare drums and stuff like that. So we're making some reinforcements to the van, now we've got a steel cage for—maybe we shouldn't print this.
Yeah, I was gonna say "You now have two doberman pincers and a homeless maniac who camp out in the van at night and watch your gear."
Yeah, so we're just getting the van tiptop for the tour, and everybody's hanging out with their respective families before we take off in a few days.
Well, I think I've got enough. Good luck on tour, and I look forward to the show.
Thanks! Take care.
*If I finish by 5:18 pm you are legally obligated to go to the show.
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