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The Melvins ’51 States in 51 Days’ Tour Diary, Days 39-41: What the Hell Is a Funkadelic

Photo courtesy of the Melvins

Sludge-metal pioneers the Melvins are attempting to break a world record: 51 shows in 51 states in 51 days. Join SPIN for their exclusive tour diary of this ridiculous and completely inadvisable endeavor! Catch up here.

October 13, 2012 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt
October 14, 2012 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottle Tree
October 15, 2012 – Pensacola, F L@ Vinyl Music Hall
41 down, 9 to go

The South is a strange place. It seems to me that it’s never quite recovered from the Civil War. The ghosts are still here and you can feel them. Sometimes you see them. The first time we came down here was a real eye opener. There was still a lot of racial tension, and there still is in some places. Not that there isn’t racism and discrimination everywhere else in the country, it’s just much more out in the open in certain areas down here. You can drive 30 miles outside of any major city in the U.S. and you’ll find rednecks and hicks. We get a lot of stares at gas stations and restaurants.

Of course Buzz gets it the worst. The other day in Alabama we were gassing up and the broad behind the counter said to him, “What’re trying to do, scare people? You can’t walk around here looking like that!” It’s amazing that some people have no fucking filter at all! Yeah, he looks weird, so what? Try taking a look at yourself in the mirror. It’s like what George Hanson says in Easy Rider about individual freedom. People think that they are free, but once they see someone who actually is a free individual it scares them. It doesn’t make them running scared though, it makes them dangerous!

I do like this part of the country though. And not everyone is a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan. I’ve met some of the nicest, most genuine people on the planet in the South. Like the folks at the 40 Watt in Athens, Georgia. We’ve been doing shows with them for 24 years, and it’s one of our favorite places to play. The first time we drew about 30 people. The sound man started singing while he was setting up. “Fucked your Mama on a sack of flour, she shit pancakes for half an hour!” WTF?!!? We laughed our heads off at that one! He had been in the military and that was one of the chants. The Bottle Tree in Birmingham, Alabama is another great place. Lots of kitschy art on the walls. The dressing rooms for the bands are two airstream trailers out back. And then there’s the food. Southerners invented fried chicken. Hats off to whoever came up with such a wonderful idea! There’s been a serious lack of BBQ on this tour though. We’re gonna have to take care of that real soon.

Photo courtesy of the Melvins

Someone told us that by playing Pensacola we weren’t really playing Florida. Really? So, we should drive down to the Keys for a gig I guess? Great idea! Most bands blow off playing Florida completely. The first time we went down to Florida we had to deal with Nazi skinheads. That was a real treat. They hated our band with a passion! Then again, so did pretty much everybody else. We were really good at clearing the room. The punks were in no way interested in our long-haired bullshit. When we finally came back three years later everyone had long hair and Sub Pop T-shirts. Go figure! The club in Pensacola was nice. The dressing room was bigger than some of the clubs we’ve played on this trip. Complete with a pool table, ping pong table, foosball and giant flat screen. Again, we got to watch baseball playoffs before the show.

On our way to Jackson, Mississippi, we stopped off for gas. As Buzz was walking into the gas station, this black lady was staring at him. She said to him, “Hey, what’s that on your shirt?”

“Funkadelic.” he replied. “Now what the Hay-ell is a Funkadelic?” She did have a point. What the hell is a Funkadelic? With this woman was a very openly gay black man. He was our hero of the day! A true, free individual that doesn’t give fuck what you think. Real redeem baby! To you sir, we salute you!

Photo courtesy of the MelvinsPhoto courtesy of the MelvinsPhoto courtesy of the Melvins

Photo courtesy of the MelvinsPhoto courtesy of the MelvinsPhoto courtesy of the MelvinsPhoto courtesy of the Melvins