Photo by Nina Corcoran
Thirty years ago, three high schoolers in Montesano, WA started a band, playing Hendrix and Cream covers before moving onto writing their own punk songs. Guitarist Buzz Osborne, bassist Matt Lukin, and drummer Mike Dillard were the first Melvins. A lot has changed in that camp in those 30 years; Dillard left less than a year in, and Lukin would move on to a job with Mudhoney (to be replaced by a series of bassists). Osborne, though, later that year would team up with Dale Crover, and the two would go on to a career spanning three decades, handfuls of lineup reconfigurations, 19 studio LPs, and a place in music history that many consider to be the root of grunge and the inspiration for countless sludge metal, stoner rock, and generally adventurous bands.
The latest record to add to their massive catalog is Tres Cabrones, in which Osborne and Crover bring Dillard back into the fold, the founding drummer taking over the sticks, Crover handling the bass. Described as “the closest we’ll get to the original Melvins lineup,” the record manages to be a reunion of sorts without the stale air that comes with that territory. That would seem to be largely due to the fact that Osborne and Crover work too damn hard to spend much time waxing nostalgic, a nature evidenced by the phone conversations CoS had with the two permanent Melvins, dipping in and out of their long career, Tres Cabrones, golf, collaborations, and KISS. And, it wouldn’t be the Melvins without a few candid statements about the rest of the musical landscape, including choice words for music critics, the Smashing Pumpkins, Kurt Cobain, and Courtney Love, as well as compliments for Tom Petty.