The Melvins aren't exactly paragons of continuity. Over 30 years they've released 21-or-so albums and are constantly exploring the winding alleyways that go far beyond their trademark Beefheartian sludge — free-form noise, dark-ambient drone, hardcore punk, cartoon country, and moody jazz-rock for starters. So it's only fitting that their upcoming covers album, Everybody Loves Sausages (out April 30 on Ipecac), pairs acts like Throbbing Gristle and Venom with unlikely bedfellows like Queen and Roxy Music. Featuring a similarly incongruous collection of guest appearances (Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra, industrial pioneer J.G. Thirwell, Blondie drummer Clem Burke), Everybody Loves Sausages is a bit like a block party for frontman Buzz Osbourne and drummer Dale Crover to slam out the songs they grew up on their best buddies (to wit: at least three Melvins bassists — Jared Warren, Trevor Dunn, and Kevin Rutmanis — make an appearance). It's weird, fun, and everyone's invited, provided they can stomach it. Below, Osbourne explains what each of the album's 13 tracks mean to the Melvins. You can stream along, sing along, and then party along if they hit your town on their 30th Anniversary Tour, dates below!
"Warhead" by Venom (feat. Scott Kelly of Neurosis)
I think a bunch of people dismiss these guys because their records aren't perfect-sounding and the silly Satanic stuff, but I always thought that's what was good about them. I think it's possibly the best thing they ever did.
"[You're My] Best Friend" by Queen (feat. Caleb Benjamin of Tweak Bird)
Honestly, that would be in my top five songs of theirs. I am a huge pop music fan, but I don't like much pop music. And to me that song is a perfect pop song. They worked an amazing guitar solo into it. It's the kind of song that you're not gonna turn off if it comes on the radio. It's the perfect length. It's well-recorded. In that confined space that is the pop song, I don't know who could do it better.
"Black Betty," original artist unknown
That's the only track on here that we didn't record during this session. We actually recorded that for a contest to be in a Super Bowl commercial. The contest was by Volkswagen. They got a bunch of bands that they liked, and they said they would give us a little bit of money to go and record this song, and then we can do whatever we want with it, and it could be in the Super Bowl commercial. We did it really quickly, and it came out great. [Ed. note: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion won the contest.]
"Set It on Fire" by the Scientists (feat. Mark Arm of Mudhoney)
I like the evil era of the Scientists more than the pop era. All the bands from Australia have a very distinct Stooges/Stones influence. I thought that that captured it perfectly.
"Station to Station" by David Bowie (feat. J.G. Thirwell)
When I first started listening to music when I was about 12, which would have been about '76, the bands I was into were like Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. The logical step up from there was Bowie, because Bowie was in Creem magazine. From that, it was a springboard into everything else. By the end of the '70s, I was greatly into all kinds of punk rock. But that's where it started. And I've always thought that the way Station to Station started was great, with that song. That was a really gutsy move in the middle of an era where no one did that kind of thing: super long, definitely not in the normal pop structure.
"Attitude" by the Kinks (feat. Clem Burke of Blondie)
The Kinks did a live album around then, One for the Road, and they do an exceptionally hot version of that song on there. I saw them around then, and they fucking killed it. The Kinks were really good, especially in the late '70s, early '80s. They were at the top of their game. Having seen them live, it left a massive impression. I always loved that song. "It's not your makeup or the way that you look, it's your attitude" — he's kinda writing it about the punk rock movement. And he's right. "You wanna drink champagne but look like a bum." He gets it.
"Female Trouble" by Divine
That's the opening song from the John Waters movie Female Trouble. John Waters has always been a big influence on us, and Female Trouble is my favorite movie of his… I'll always remember doing the vocals for "Female Trouble" on Christmas Day, 2011. You could tell that there was nobody else around. So what we did was, we opened the door of the studio and got a really nice ambient mic outside and were able to record it. Certainly no noise complaints. It was great. We were able to do a lot of stuff that you aren't able to do normally. And then I went home and me and my wife went to the movies. Merry Christmas.
"Carpe Diem" by the Fugs
I always thought they had an amazing sense of humor. That was one of the things I loved about them the most. I thought they wrote really smart and poignant lyrics that were hilarious. They were like this joke that, unless you got it, you weren't in on it. The name's even weird: The Fugs.
"Timothy Leary Lives" by Pop-O-Pies
Pop-O-Pies were a band that I saw in the early '80s. They have an EP called The White EP that I honestly believe is one of the best punk rock records to come out. That has been a huge influence on us. It's all over the map, musically. It's very well-recorded. It's got a great sense of humor. It's similar to the Fugs, but it's certainly not hippie-ish.
"In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music (feat. Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys and Kevin Rutmanis)
That's my favorite song of theirs. I think it's a fuckin' totally insane song. "Living with a blow-up doll." In the early '70s? Yeah, I think it's pretty out there… We were working with Jello Biafra in the early 2000's somewhere, getting ready to record or practicing or something at our rehearsal place. And Biafra's singing, and it occurred to us: he's just ripping off Brian Ferry [of Roxy Music]. That's how he sings. And so we go, "Biafra, you're just ripping off Brian Ferry." Nobody ever realizes that. And it's so obvious. How he sings, it's just like Brian Ferry. It's not that he's ripping him off, that's not fair. But he's clearly a huge fan of that. And do you think anybody that buys Dead Kennedy records knows that?
"Romance" by Tales of Terror
I saw Tales of Terror a bunch of times in the early '80s, before they had actually put out that album [1984's Tales of Terror]. So I was a converted fan before they recorded anything. And once I got that record, I just thought it was great. As it turns out, they only printed 5000 LP's. It's never come out on fuckin' CD. That's insane. To me, that's one of the best records to ever come out of California. It's fucking amazing. And nobody cares. Unbelievable. Their whole thing is completely tragic. The band ended because one of the guitar players got beaten to death in Sacramento. And then the bass player, years later, overdosed on methadone, I think. And I think the singer was so messed up on drugs that now he has to live in an assisted living place. That's rock and roll. That's it, right in a nutshell. "Played with needles just a little too much." There it is. For one shining moment, these guys had it together, and they did it, and it's amazing.
"Art School" by the Jam (feat. Tom Hazelmyer of Halo of Flies)
The Jam were one of the first punk rock bands I heard. That power pop stuff they do right that a lot of bands don't do right. Those first two records of theirs are just unbeatable. I don't know how familiar you are with the Jam, but basically they sound like what Green Day thinks they sound like. The first four albums should be in every record collection.
"Heathen Earth" by Throbbing Gristle
Well "Heathen Earth" isn't a song; it's my favorite album of theirs. The whole thing is just me. And I had no idea, when I was doing it, what I was gonna do with it. So we said, "This is Throbbing Gristle's Heathen Earth in the style of what Throbbing Gristle would do." They would think that was funny. At least I think. Some of them are dead. I don't know what Genesis P-Orridge thinks about anything, at this point.
Melvins 30th Anniversary Tour
July 12 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
July 13 - Albuquerque, NM @ The Launchpad
July 15 - Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall
July 17 - Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
July 18 - Rock Island, IL @ Rock Island Brewing Company
July 20 - Minneapolis, MN @ Grumpy’s
July 21 - Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
July 22 - Chicago, IL @ Double Door
July 23 - St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird
July 25 - Cleveland, OH @ The Grog Shop
July 26 - Detroit, MI @ Small’s
July 27 - Syracuse, NY @ The Westcott Theater
July 29 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
July 30 - Hartford, CT @ Arch Street Tavern
July 31 - Brooklyn, NY @ TBA
August 1 - Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
August 2 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
August 3 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
August 4 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
August 5 - Atlanta, GA @ The Loft at Center Stage Atlanta
August 7 - New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s
August 8 - Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
August 9 - Austin, TX @ Mohawk
August 10 - Dallas, TX @ Trees
August 13 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
August 14 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux
August 16 - Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
August 19 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
August 20 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
August 22 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s