The Melvins The Bride Screamed Murder
Published May 23, 2010Strange and unpredictable, the Melvins are scary. However, when the experimental sludge metal gods go so far beyond their own weirdness that they seem incapable of returning to our plane of existence, it's excitingly horrific. Such is the case on The Bride Screamed Murder, one of their most angular and jarring, albeit enthralling, efforts to date. Kicking off with military march/call-and-response track "The Water Glass," which grows progressively stranger and almost anti-rhythmic while still revelling in syncopation (a natural by-product of having two drummers), the album immediately rams into traditional Melvins-ish half-time guttural grind on "Evil New War God," a slow-burning, yet decimating, tune that rumbles with the invincibility of a tank crushing ants. Undaunted, The Bride continually shifts between screwball time signatures and unnervingly oppressive, indelibly appealing girth for seven more bouts, offsetting straightforward riffs with explosive drum fills, gang vocals and staccato passages that threaten to induce cardiac arrest. At that, while The Bride Screamed Murder is endlessly compelling and innately complex, it does prove a bit obtuse for the uninitiated to fully comprehend, and even long-time fans might take a while to warm up to its creative cacophony. When the moment of realization strikes, however, watch out. Epic, operatic and erratic, The Bride Screamed Murder goes for the jugular, by way of the dark side of the moon, mind you.
This a pretty overwhelming album.
Buzz "King Buzzo" Osborne: I'm happy with it. At this point in our long career, we made a record I can consider to be one of our best ones, oddly. Usually bands put out one or two albums that are good and that's it. The rest of the time everyone says, "What happened?"
Do you see the oddity here, even for the Melvins?
Not really, simply because we're so close to it. It's too much of a long process to be massively surprised by anything. You see it coming and once you realize what the potential is you do your best to utilize that as much as possible. I see what we could do with something and hope we can get to that point. It isn't always easy. You think about how you fucked something up or it isn't how you intended.
Well, I'm sure you'll get both adulation and confusion.
Yeah, but I hope people like it 'cause I do. It came out great. I'm happy with all the songs. It's a nice little ride; I love the dynamics. We live for that. That's what I like when I hear bands.
Ebb and flow?
Yup. The stuff I like always has a certain strange quality to it.
Preparing to tour must be quite involved because this album is pretty dense.
Believe it or not, for every day of touring it takes that many days of preparation at least. You have to practice the songs, as unfortunate as that might sound. You have to rehearse this stuff because we're not one of those bands that play along to a tape. We actually have to recreate the music in a live setting.
What a strange concept.
Yes, but as odd as it seems, at this point in the music industry you have to give props to bands that do that because there are so many bands that don't do that.
It's sad that things have evolved so.
It certainly is. Milli Vanilli were ahead of their time.
What's worse is that the music today is so simple it shouldn't be difficult to recreate live, while what you've got going on with The Bride Screamed Murder is incredibly complex.
That's because they're horrible, stupid or just not very talented, I'd imagine. They're up there to provide pretty, not talent, and pretty is as pretty does, which is debatable. Pretty compared to what?
You generally seem to have escaped that though.
We've beavered away at making it work; we don't stagnate. It wasn't a simple process with this album. I'd say it was really easy if we take away all the hard work; it happened overnight if you take off the months of rehearsal and endless hours of songwriting. An overnight success if you forget the first 25 years. I take great pride in what we're doing and we work very hard on it. That's the truth.
"The Water Glass" must have taken forever to get the way you wanted.
The hardest part was dreaming up how were going to make it work. Once we had that down ― doing a heavy metal drum choir military cadence song and make it work, well, that's not something that just magically appears before you. First off, most bands wouldn't even try that. They couldn't be bothered.
Where the hell did you come up with that idea anyway?
You know what, I don't really remember. I came up with the idea to do military cadence stuff a long time ago. I was interested in it and did ten minutes worth of research, finding out no other band had done it. Then I knew we had to.
Forced you to?
Yeah. We weren't afraid. I knew we'd do something good with it, then we had to dream up how it was going to work. That was another story. It's like, "Yeah, I want to climb Mount Everest! That sounds like a good idea!" Now, how am I going do it? That's when the hard part starts. You actually have to make it work as a song.
Was the rest of the album just as difficult to realize?
Nothing's ever easy. Coady [Willis, drums, the band being completed by drummer Dale Crover and bassist Jared Warren] said that if we do something right, nobody will notice you've done anything at all. He's right; we hammer away at shit and nobody notices. We do though. That's enough. Mission accomplished. I've said it before and I firmly believe it: I've always thought I have good taste, therefore the music I write, if I have that in mind, other people will find it interesting. That's it. I go with my instincts not "What will our fans be able to handle?" I don't care about that, nor do I care about being perverse ― doing things to be weird. No, I have to like it or I couldn't be bothered. I'm not doing stuff to screw with people. However, the stuff we like to do does screw with people. That's coincidental.
I've always seen it as you're interested in challenging yourselves to match what's in your head.
Yes. That is it. That is it in as simple terms as you can possibly put it. I think that's what people miss; I don't even like to educate people about it. If they're on their own little journey, that's fine. I don't have the patience or time to worry about wondering what they think. I'm always amused at how far off-base people are with a lot of stuff, but it doesn't surprise me. Nothing's changed.
You've got enough experience to know it's not worth bothering trying to correct or understand others.
No, you just stare at 'em in weird wonderment going, "Huh? Alright... whatever you think is fine. It's certainly not what I'm thinking, but..." I always love it when people ask me what I'm listening to: "what influenced the Melvins?" Then I tell them and they don't believe it. "Oh, I listened to that and I didn't like it." Oh, then why do they ask me? If they've already made up their minds about what they think I like, why bother? I'm only going to give you the wrong answer. We got a lot of that opening for other bands, which is interesting in and of itself, to some degree. What happens is that a band pick you to play with them: Tool or Nine Inch Nails. You're in a situation where the fans are so far removed from their heroes that they've paid ― thousands of people have paid to come see this band, so they have something invested in it. They like the band, think they have some sort of connection on some level with Trent Reznor or whoever, yet they never seem to put two and two together. If they don't like the opening band, this is somebody the artist themselves picked. It shows how little of an intimate understanding they really have of these people they're making multi-millionaires. Very strange to me. Never understood it. You'd think out of pure respect you'd have a little more tolerance for what your heroes are into. Not only do they not have that, but they tend to have a massive arrogance about it, which I find to be pretty amusing as well. "Oh, I don't have to like it." Well, you don't have to do anything..."
It's sad but kind of funny that people claim to love a band but eschew their influences.
Nothing new either. I'm certainly not saying anything surprising. That's the case, but whatever. I'm not bitching and complaining. Usually when we go into that situation, we realize it's the case. We took a lot of heavy shit opening for bands like Nine Inch Nails. A long time ago, I realized we don't have mass appeal. I'm not the guy for that. That's not me.
You do have lifelong fans though, not fleeting.
I certainly understand that. They're who I make my music for. I meet people all the time who love our band, are really nice and inspire me. They understand and they're not the ones I'm talking about. It's the masses in general. That's when you run into trouble. The more people you get into one space, the lower the I.Q. It doesn't take a genius level of intelligence to understand what we do. It just takes an open mind, to some degree. Even some of our fans question that, which has never not been the case. It's always been like that in every situation of every year of our band. It's a feeling I'm relatively used to. Whatever. I can't worry about that. We move forward, keep our music interesting to us and hope that 'cause we like it others will. That's all I ask for. (Ipecac)