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Preview: Melvins

Noah Bonaparte Pais on the Washington band still sludging along in its third decade



Frances Bean Cobain turns 21 this month. Mudhoney made a quarter-century. And somewhere out there — probably still at the Thriftway on Pioneer Avenue in Montesano, Wash. — a grocery manager with a name tag that reads "Melvin" is heaping excrement onto a dead-eyed teenager, fertilizer for a future rebellion. This is how it all began: sneaking out sixers in the trash, running an extension cord from the park-and-ride out back, making the lot into an asphalt mosh pit. "Alcohol was really amazing," Roger "Buzz" Osborne says in Mark Yarm's 2011 tome Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. "In a hopeless situation, it makes you feel like you've got something to live for. If I'd have been left there and hadn't discovered music, I'd have blown my brains out." Osborne, aka King Buzzo, quit drinking in the mid-'80s ("I'd break out in felonies"), but by then he had the Melvins — the bone-bruised blackout between Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Black Flag and Nirvana — to save his soul, or at least to distract him from a living hell, that "horrible shit-burg in backwater Washington state." (His words, of course.) An unknowing donor to both stoner rock and sludge metal that would bury itself in willful prolificacy, the band's third act is shaping up to be as rib-jabbing as the first: bolstering its ranks by engulfing Seattle offspring Big Business; playing 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) in 51 days last year; covering Queen and Roxy Music (with guest Jello Biafra) on May piss-take Everybody Loves Sausages; and dialing up 1983 on the upcoming Tres Cabrones, with original drummer Mike Dillard keeping time — a lot of time. And that's the Melvins: "very pretentious but without any pretense" (Kurt Bloch). Honky opens. Tickets $20. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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