Melvins Launch 70-Date Summer Tour To Back Trilogy of Releases

Sludge rockers' two-and-a-half-month outing kicks off at Slim's in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO -- His wild, white-man's afro flailing, his body twisting and thrashing, Melvins guitarist/frontman King Buzzo lurched toward the mic onstage at Slim's. His monstrous voice roared through the packed, darkened club.

That cathartic moment Thursday night marked the launch of the sludge-rock pioneers' most extensive U.S. tour in the 15-year history of the band. For the near-capacity audience -- roughly 350 predominantly leather-clad male rockers -- it was primal-scream therapy at its most informal.

The catharsis will be coming to a club near you this summer. The Melvins are embarking on a 70-date, two-and-a-half month U.S. tour to support their latest album, Maggot, as well as to preview songs from Bootlicker, the second installment in the release of three new CDs this summer.

The distorted sounds of Buzzo's power chords could be felt as well as heard during the band's 70-minute set at Slim's, and the crowd pulsated with the energy given off by the veteran Aberdeen, Wash.-spawned rockers. Almost every head in the place was banging in time with the powerful beats.

But to hear him tell it, Buzzo couldn't care less.

"I care even less about what people think these days," Buzzo (born Buzz Osborne) said, reclining on a ratty brown sofa backstage before the show. "If you're too stupid to see the talent in this band, it's not my job to help you; go ahead and listen to Bush."

Most of today's heavy rock bands owe as much to the Melvins as they do to '70s power-chord rockers Black Sabbath. King Buzzo introduced grunge rock to Seattle; Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was once their roadie. With more than 15 CDs under its belt, the prolific band, which includes drummer Dale Crover and current bassist Kevin Rutmanis, has toured with everybody from '70s glam-superstars Kiss to the ultra-metal Ozzfest.

After 15 years of playing with the Melvins, you'd think dishing out their signature brand of heavy sludge rock would become almost routine for the frontman/guitarist. But it's not.

"There's nothing routine about being in a band. At least not this one," Buzzo said. That's because the Melvins don't go out and play the same songs over and over again. Since the 1992 release of the bandmembers' four solo CDs -- which paid homage to Kiss' 1978 quadruple solo releases -- their albums have become increasingly iconoclastic. They've also branched out beyond sludge rock, with forays into feedback-drenched noise and lighter, more melodic tunes.

For Buzzo, the band's prolific output is its antidote to boredom. "What else would I do? I'm not going to live in some house somewhere selling canoes," he said. "We take ourselves very seriously -- we even take making fun of ourselves very seriously."

At Slim's the band played two songs from the yet-to-be-released Bootlicker, which Buzzo called a "shift in gears" for the band. The album is said to feature some of the Melvins' lighter material. "Let It All Be," one of the new songs the band played Thursday night, featured brooding but undistorted guitar, Buzzo's characteristically spastic vocal ramblings and Crover's Mack truck-sized drum riffs. The song was only slightly mellower than the pummeling rock turned out at almost every other turn by the band.

The Melvins also sprinkled their set with older material, including songs from 1991's Eggnog and 1993's Houdini, as well as songs from their latest Ipecac release, Maggot, including "Amazon."

After rocking hard for about an hour, the Melvins unstrapped their guitars and began to head offstage. But the roar of the crowd convinced them to play one more song. "This is a song from our first album," Buzzo told the crowd. "I wrote it in 1986 and it's still one of my favorites."

There was a momentary pause while Crover showed the relatively new

bassist which notes to play. Soon enough, Rutmanis began to churn out

the achingly slow and dirge-like bassline to the song "Eye Flys," from the band's first album, 1986's Gluey Porch Treatments. The Melvins left the stage after delivering the final blow, leaving only drummer Crover pounding out a slow series of tremendous thumps on his bass drum before getting up and exiting.

The Melvins Tour Dates

June 19; San Jose, Calif; Cactus Club

June 20; Reno, Nev.; Delmar

June 22; Eugene, Ore.; Wow Hall

June 24; Portland, Ore.; Berbatis Pan

June 25-26; Seattle, Wash.; Velvet Elvis, Breakroom

June 27; Olympia, Wash.; Liquid

June 29; Bellingham, Wash.; 38 Tavern

June 30; Spokane, Wash.; Ichabod's

July 1; Missoula, Mont.; Cowboy Bar

July 2; Boise, Idaho; Neurolux

July 3; Pocatello, Idaho; The Roache Motel

July 5; Salt Lake City, Utah; Holy Cow

July 7; Boulder, Colo.; Fox Theatre

July 8; Vail, Colo.; Garions

July 9; Ft. Collins, Colo.; Starlight

July 10; Denver, Colo.; Bluebird

July 12; Lawrence, Kan.; The Bottleneck

July 13; Omaha, Neb.; Ranch Bowl

July 14; Minneapolis, Minn.; 7th St. Entry

July 15; Milwaukee, Wis.; The Rave

July 16; Chicago, Ill.; Double Door

July 17; Chicago, Ill.; Fireside Bowl

July 19; Detroit, Mich.; Shelter

July 20; Cincinnati, Ohio; Sudsy Malones

July 21; Cleveland, Ohio; Euclid Tavern

July 22; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Club Laga

July 24; Cambridge, Mass.; Middle East

July 26; Providence, R.I.; Living Room

July 27; Portland, Maine; Asylum

July 28; New London, Conn.; El N' Gee Club

July 29; New York, N.Y.; Knitting Factory

July 30; New York, N.Y.; Knitting Factory

July 31; Philadelphia, Pa.; TLA

Aug. 1; Washington, D.C.; Black Cat

Aug. 3; Carrboro, N.C.; Cat's Cradle

Aug. 4; Spartanburg, N.C.; Ground Zero

Aug. 5; Birmingham, Ala.; The Nick

Aug. 6; Nashville, Tenn.; Exit Inn

Aug. 7; Athens, Ga.; 40 Watt

Aug. 9; Atlanta, Ga.; Cotton Club

Aug. 10; Jacksonville, Fla.; Jack Rabbit's

Aug. 11; Orlando, Fla.; Sapphire Supper Club

Aug. 12; St. Petersburg, Fla.; State Theatre

Aug. 13; Tallahassee, Fla.; Cow Haus

Aug. 14; Pensacola, Fla.; Sluggo's

Aug. 16; New Orleans, La.; House of Blues

Aug. 17; Houston, Texas; Numbers

Aug. 18; San Antonio, Texas; White Rabbit

Aug. 19; Austin, Texas; Emo's

Aug. 20; Dallas, Texas; Tree's

Aug. 21; Tulsa, Okla.; Hercules Motor Co.

Aug. 22; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Will Rogers Theatre

Aug. 23; Albuquerque, N.M.; Launch Pad

Aug. 25; Tucson, Ariz.; The Rock

Aug. 26; Phoenix, Ariz.; Mason Jar

Aug. 27; San Diego, Calif.; The Casbah

Aug. 28; Los Angeles, Calif.; Troubadour

Aug. 29; Santa Ana, Calif.; Galaxy