Legendary grunge act still makes waves its own way 

King Buzzo speaks a truth that's self-evident.

"I'm always interested in doing something weird, whatever it may be," said the singer/guitarist for musical iconoclasts the Melvins.


From Roger "Buzz" Osborne's wild, unwieldy hair to offbeat merchandise and numerous, indescribable studio albums written throughout the band's quarter-century together, the Melvins defy almost every easy categorization.

Although the act is often noted for its chunky drone " a malevolent snail-speed roar that quakes like Black Sabbath on Quaaludes " the group has never really had a singular sound.

"People have had this conception that we only do slow material for a long time," Osborne said. "None of our records are only slow. Even back to our early stuff. We've tried to do a wide variety of music as long as we've been a band. When you get a Melvins record, there's not one thing you can think it's going to sound like. Fortunately, we left that door wide-open."

Osborne started the band while living in Washington State, and its earliest incarnation featured future Mudhoney bassist Matt Lukin and current drummer Dale Crover, who joined shortly thereafter. The members developed a friendship with Kurt Cobain, whose championing of the band in the wake of Nirvana's success likely prompted Atlantic Records' interest for 1993's "Houdini," but it's hard to imagine an act more unconventional or less radio-ready than the Melvins, set to perform 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Diamond Ballroom.

"You have to remember, at the time we got signed, they were signing anybody and everybody " a lot worse bands than us. We're one of the only ones left that's still standing," Osborne said.

The Melvins have gone through a handful of members over the years, but may have found a couple of keepers when it recruited the rhythm section from Seattle sludgers Big Business and brought aboard drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren. Osborne said the problem's never been so much music as personalities.

"The most creative musical people are always the craziest people," he said. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to throw away everything I've worked for. I'm just going to get somebody new."

Warren and Willis have re-energized the group and helped the Melvins produce two of its best albums this decade, 2006's "(A) Senile Animal" and last year's "Nude with Boots." The dual drummers' signature helps instill an ever more powerful undercurrent, adding renewed propulsion to the dark guitar howl, and aided in dialing back the experimentation in favor of jugular-grabbing grooves.

"Nude with Boots" is even better than its predecessor, as it brings out more of the boogie that cakes the bottom of the Melvins' sound like a bluesy bong resin.

"There's things I know are good that I just can't finish, and they sit there for a long time," Osborne said. "Like the song 'Suicide in Progress.' That sat around for 10 years probably before I could figure out how to finish it. It took me a long time, but I love that song. It's one of the all-time favorites we've ever done. Extremely difficult to play."

Osborne's always writing, and has developed such a backlog of material that he suspects he could not record anything new for a couple years and still have plenty of songs to keep occupied. But he constantly writes because he's compelled to, and the Melvins have already started working on material for their next album, which the singer described only as "a departure." Osborne could care less about the band's past, or even how others perceive the music. His only concern is the now, and making music to fill it.

"I want to be as timeless as we can, and also as current as possible," he said. "That's all I'm interested in. I have no interest in being an oldies act or reliving some good ol' days kind of thing. We are about moving forward. And the day I stop moving forward musically is the day I quit. Evolve or die like the dinosaur." "Chris Parker

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