& r & Back in the heyday of flannels and Doc Martens, the Melvins were pioneers of Seattle's legendary (I promised myself I wouldn't use this term) grunge movement. In the past 20 years, they've done something remarkable, building a loyal cult following, releasing 30 some-odd albums, touring extensively, and embarking on successful and fecund side projects. Yet they've done so without managing to make even a blip on the mainstream radar.
& r & The Melvins' original lineup included bassist Matt Lukin, who would later go on to form Mudhoney. In the mid-'80s, friend and roadie Kurt Cobain -- who idolized the Melvins -- auditioned on guitar but didn't get the gig. (Impressive, considering the music he'd go on to make.) Yet Cobain remained close to the Melvins, helping produce their major-label debut, Houdini. In 1988, the Melvins' longtime drummer, Dale Crover, recorded some demos with Cobain and Krist Novoselic in a band that would later become Nirvana. In 1990, while Nirvana was without a drummer, the Melvins' lead singer and guitarist, King Buzzo, introduced Novoselic to Scream drummer Dave Grohl, who would later go on to ... well, you get the picture.
& r & The point is that the Melvins were there through it all. Their two ever-present members, Buzz Osbourne (aka King Buzzo) and Dale Crover have been unceasingly productive since Day One. Their catalog of music and past partnerships is nothing short of amazing. And the most remarkable part, perhaps, is their ability to come off as so damn unremarkable. The mainstream doesn't hail them as anything great or sacred, and the average person couldn't pick them out of lineup. In fact, they've spent their entire career dancing on the brink of the limelight. Their productivity hasn't translated into arena-packing tours, but the low profile they maintain is completely purposeful. Their juvenile nonchalance and off-color sense of humor is what makes them adored by fans but distanced from mainstream notoriety.
& r & The Melvins aren't concerned with their legacy as a band, which lies in their ability to withstand the passage of time without ever growing up or slowing down. King Buzzo himself can attest to that. "I've either been doing strange music or listening to strange music for well over 20 years," he says. "My sense of normalcy is much different than the rest of the world." & r &
The Melvins at the Big Easy Concert House on Friday, Sept. 15, at 8 pm. Tickets: $15. Call 244-3279.