Maybe the most misunderstood band still out slogging it out on tour today. Maybe (definitely) brilliant, maybe mad, always noisily rocking out some of the best heavy sludge you'll ever hear, Buzz Osborne (guitar and vocals) and Dale Crover (drums) have been the core of the band which has had many member over the years, both pre- and post-grunge. In fact, the Melvins are one of the only bands who is still intact after both helping to create a genre (and maybe a couple of lesser known genres as well), watching said genre die, and then completely transcending any expectation of what a survivor might be like.
Hopefully that wasn't a spoiler. Grunge is dead, kids, but the Melvins continue to create fantastic new and mega-heavy (and often noisy) riffage despite being non-genre specific and unafraid to take whatever chances may come their way. On their newest record, Osborne and Crover teamed up with some Butthole Surfers, bass player Jeff (JD) Pinkus and guitar player Paul Leary. The result, as you may imagine if you are familiar with either of these bands catalogues, is noisy and weird and heavy. The most beautiful thing of all, though, is this record, while drenched with the Surfers requisite uber-weirdness, this is still a Melvins record, through and through.
We caught up with Paul Leary, who sadly won't be appearing with the Melvins when they stop in Phoenix on October 25 at Crescent Ballroom, but was kind enough to share some information about how the record came about, what he's been up to lately, and what's been going on with the Butthole Surfers.
How did your collaboration with Dale and Buzz come about?
Paul Leary: I got a call from (bassist Jeff) Pinkus asking if I was interested. They had brought Pinkus on board after Krist Novocelic [Nirvana] backed out.
What is your favorite Melvins record?
Paul Leary: I am embarrassed to say that I had not listened to the Melvins before. Still haven't. I don't listen to anything unless I'm working on it. It's sort of been that way since the 1980s, when I lost my album collection.
Did you have interest in possibly touring with them and Pinkus?
I think my wife would like that. I hate touring. I like being at home with my wife and my cool yard and my bicycle and my studio and Judge Judy in the afternoons.
What is it with Judge Judy? We understand the cool yard, wife, and studio...
Judge Judy is my favorite TV shows, along with The Simpsons. She is the Joan Rivers of the judicial system. Something about Judge Judy makes me happy, and so I watch her every day from 4 to 5. Don't call me at that time, I won't answer the phone.
You haven't done a lot of two-guitar stuff, have you? What was it like for you to collaborate with another guitar player?
Hmmm... I never thought of that. It really isn't much different than when I play with myself on a recording. It was really cool to have Buzz playing solos on songs I wrote; he did a lot better job than I would have done. Dale also kicks my ass on guitar. I play solos on other people's stuff from time to time. I think I am both the greatest guitar player ever and the worst guitar player ever.
We have an album called guitarrorists, [a 1991 compilation album]. Do you recall doing the song you did for that? How does it feel when people say how great you are on guitar and you think you're the "worst guitar player" ever?
I also think I'm the best guitar player. I'm the best and the worst all rolled up into one. I do remember "Fillipé Mepelpeepe" (or whatever that song was called). If someone tells me how great I am, I assume they are lying to make me feel better.
What is happening with Carny (Leary's long time hinted at side project)?
That project is nearing completion, I hope to have all of the mixing done by the end of October. It has been many years in the making. I think we still need a better band name. Carny is out. We may end up being The Cocky Bitches.
How is life as a recording guy?
Pretty fun, I rarely have to leave my house any more. I do lots of mixing as well as recording.
Anything new coming from the Butthole Surfers any time soon?
I don't know about soon, but I hope it can still happen.
What is your favorite Surfers myth?
Most of the myths are actually true, I think. My least-favorite myth would be that we are kitten killers. Back in the early '80s, someone let us use their house to practice in. After practice, we all sat on the sofa. We didn't know that there were kittens under the cushions. I still feel bad about that to this day.
Never heard the kitten story. Do you recall the night in Phoenix in 1989 when the power went out and Gibby was playing with his magician's alcohol? People were throwing fireworks up on stage. We remember you yelling pretty vociferously at people after that.
Nope, have no recollection of that night.
A friend of ours told us last night at a Replacements gig here in Phoenix that he saw an old Surfers shirt that went for $650 on ebay. What do you think about that?
Did it actually sell? Maybe I need to dig through my old T-shirts.
We don't know if the Surfers shirt sold for that much or not, but we did see the Pee Pee the Sailor shirt with the dick on the front for $350. We still have our copy of that. We might have to sell it and buy a ticket to come see the Cocky Bitches.
Pee Pee is my special little guy. I wrote a song about him years back, covered by the Meat Puppets and Bad Livers. I'm recording my own version of it now (finally), in its intended style. It is going to be even more of a rip-off of the old "Davy Crocket" song from the 1960s TV show.
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