By TRAVIS BRAASCH
While many tours feature lineups of musicians playing within the same genre, Napalm Death and the Melvins have decided to challenge each other’s fan bases by touring together around the world.
“We have all been friends for a long time,” Melvins’ drummer Dale Crover said. “We are fans of each other’s music and decided, why not tour together?”
Band members not only are fans of each other’s music but have collaborated on recordings in the past.
“After doing this for over 25 years, it’s very stimulating to play with bands that don’t play the same genre of music as you,” Napalm Death singer Barney Greenway said. “It’s a very privileged position to be in. We are lucky to be able to do it.”
The Melvins have been an underground heavy rock staple since forming in 1983 in Washington state, influencing many of the up-and-coming bands of the time like Nirvana.
While never reaching the same feverish popularity as other grunge bands in the ‘90s, the Melvins have maintained a healthy fan base throughout their life as a band.
“Things are better than ever for us right now” Crover said. “We seem to have an audience that stays about the same age. We keep getting new fans every year.”
The Melvins will release their newest recording, “Basses Loaded,” on June 3. It will feature a handful of different bass players playing on various songs throughout the album.
Among the bass players featured will be ex-Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic and Jeff Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers.
“We are very encouraging people to play with,” Crover said. “We let other musicians be themselves and add their own style to the music. We aren’t super control freaks or anything.”
Napalm Death formed in 1981 in Meiden, England. While none of the founding members remain in the group, the band has held a consistent lineup since 1989.
“Like most groups of people, we can have some heavy disagreements over different things,” Greenway said. “The difference is, we get over it quickly and work together to find a solution.”
Napalm Death is known as one of the most extreme bands in the world of heavy metal, playing a style referred to as grindcore that contains elements of crust punk and death metal.
Early releases typically contained songs lasting less than a minute and Napalm Death holds the Guinness Books of World Records designation for shortest recorded song, “You Suffer,” from their debut album “Scum.” It clocked in at just 1.36 seconds.
While some may just hear short blasts of noise coming from their speakers, Napalm Death members are socially conscious and often speak out against injustice and tragic world events.
“To be honest, people talk about being socially conscious or activists but it’s not like that for me,” Greenway said. “It’s a very simple thing. It’s about understanding what humanity actually is because I’m certain that some people have forgotten what that is or they never had it in the first place.”
Greenway found no shortage of inspiration in the world around him for the cutting lyrics on their 15th album, “Aphex Predator.”
The structural collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013 that claimed the lives of 1,130 people greatly disturbed Greenway. He addresses it frequently throughout the album.
“For this album, the catalyst has always been the collapse of the Rana Plaza,” he said. “For me, it compounded why we cannot accept in a civilized world that those who make the very things we consume in the West are somehow expendable. Their working and living conditions are absolutely horrendous.
“Exploitation of other human beings happens all around us,” Greenway added. “If people would come together and just talk, these things could be worked out. If we can get people to think about these things they normally would not think about, then that’s a great accomplishment for us.”
Napalm Death and the Melvins will be on tour together this year, spreading their unique styles of heavy metal around the world.
For more information, visit napalmdeathorg or themelvins.net.
Photo by Mackie Osborne
Photo by Kevin Estrada