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Melvins Biography

Home > Music > M > Melvins > Biography

Birth Place: Montesano, Washington, United States
Years Active: Early 1980s–present
Genres: Sludge Metal, Grunge, Experimental Rock, Stoner Rock

Melvins is an American band that formed in 1983. They usually perform as a trio, but in recent years have performed as a four piece with two drummers. Since 1984, singer and guitarist Buzz Osborne (also known as King Buzzo) and drummer Dale Crover have been the band's ongoing members. The band was named after a supervisor at a Thriftway in Montesano, Washington, where Osborne also worked as a clerk. “Melvin” was despised by other employees, and the band's members felt it to be an appropriately ridiculous name. Melvins' music often favors very slow tempos, and their sludgy sound was a strong influence on music, especially Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green River, and many other bands from Seattle. These bands, however, tended to use more conventional musical structures with this sound. Melvins have also influenced many bands outside the Seattle grunge scene, including Tool, Boris (who took their name from the title of a Melvins song), Mastodon, Neurosis, Eyehategod, and Isis.

In December 1986, they recorded their first full-length album, “Gluey Porch Treatments,” at Studio D in Sausalito, California. The album was released in 1987 on Alchemy Records. “Gluey Porch Treatments” was later coupled with their second album “Ozma” for the Boner Records release. It was expanded again for the 1999 rerelease on Ipecac Recordings with some garage demos. The band recorded “Ozma” in May 1989, and released it later that year. The album was produced by Mark Deutrom, who later joined the band on bass.

In 1990, the band recorded “Bullhead,” which marked a slower, more drone-oriented style for the band. The band then toured Europe in 1991 and when they returned to the U.S. they recorded the “Eggnog EP, “which was released the same year on Boner Records.

Melvins then released three “solo” EPs, following the concept and imitating the cover artwork inspired by the four KISS members' solo albums released in 1978. “King Buzzo,” “Dale Crover,” and “Joe Preston” were all released in 1992 on Boner Records. Later in 1992, they released the full-length album, “Lysol,” which had to be renamed “Melvins” because Lysol was a trademarked name.

When Nirvana's “Nevermind” became a massive, unexpected success, Melvins were one of many groups to benefit from Nirvana's support. They were signed by Atlantic Records, and their first major label release, 1993's “Houdini,” entered the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart at #29. Melvins released their second album for Atlantic in 1994, “Stoner Witch.” Due to its experimental nature, Melvins took their next album, “Prick,” to Amphetamine Reptile Records. Record label conflicts prevented the band from releasing any records under the name “Melvins,” so the album was released with the band name written in mirror. They returned to Atlantic one last time for 1996's “Stag,” which entered the Heatseekers chart at #33. The band was dropped by Atlantic Records in 1997 after three albums.

The band signed with Amphetamine Reptile Records and released their next full-length album, “Honky,” in 1997. They recorded an August 1997 concert in Richmond, Melbourne, Australia as “Alive at the F*ckerclub” in 1998. 1999 saw the beginning of a partnership with Mike Patton's Ipecac Recordings, which began remastering and reissuing much of the band's back catalog. The band also released three full-length albums dubbed (and later packaged together as) “The Trilogy: The Maggot, The Bootlicker, and The Crybaby.” The latter featured a number of guest vocalists and musicians. In 2001, the band returned to their experimental tendencies for “Colossus of Destiny,” a live set of synthesizer and sampler experiments presented as two tracks (one clocking in at 59:23 and the other at five seconds).

In 2003 Atlantic Records released “Melvinmania: The Best of the Atlantic Years 1993–1996,” a compilation of recycled tracks from the band's three major label releases. This release was not sanctioned by the band which had no input into the track selection or (occasionally inaccurate) liner notes.

In 2004 Melvins collaborated with ambient artist Lustmord for “Pigs of the Roman Empire” and with Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra for “Never Breathe What You Can't See” and “Sieg Howdy!” released in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

In early 2006, Crover confirmed rumors of the members of the band Big Business joining Melvins, adding a second drummer Coady Willis. The merged bands toured the U.S. in the fall of 2006 in support of their album, “(A) Senile Animal.” Two new songs entitled “Suicide in Progress” and “Billy Fish” were played during the 2007 tour, and appeared on their next album “Nude With Boots.”

The long rumored remix album, “Chicken Switch,” was released in 2009 via Ipecac Recordings. Melvins released their follow up to “Nude With Boots,” entitled “The Bride Screamed Murder,” in 2010.

Melvins also have a three-piece lineup called Melvins Lite (Buzz, Dale, and Trevor Dunn) that toured through parts of 2011. This line-up released an album entitled “Freak Puke” in 2012 on Ipecac Records. The four-piece lineup has stayed active as well, releasing a digital EP, “The Bulls and the Bees,” in early 2012 on Scion a/v.