An Interview with founding Melvin’s drummer Dale Crover
Interview by Dylan Conner
Dale Crover at The Showbox, Photo by Dylan Conner
I arrived in downtown Seattle during rush hour traffic on May Day, a massive line of fans already forming outside the Showbox. After dodging a riot (yeah, perfect timing I know), armed police officers and a lot of studded belts I finally made it inside. Dale Crover of the Melvins was recently named among the top 100 drummers of all time by Rolling Stone, so I was eager to finally get inside and talk to the legend himself. I sat down with Dale in a small room backstage and chatted with him about life, and the long awaited album titled “Three Men and a Baby.”
Sucker: So *loud guitar riff in the background* How’s it going?
Sucker: How’s the tour been treating you so far?
Dale: Great, it’s been really great. We’ve been out since March 18th, so it’s been a long one.
Sucker: Kinda ready to be done?
Dale: I mean yeah, we got a little bit of a break and then we’re doing one more.
Sucker: Well hey, a break is always nice! So, do you consider yourself to still be part of the local scene here in Seattle?
Dale: Well, we haven’t lived here since- well I haven’t lived here since the 80’s- so it’s kinda hard to say. But I mean, people still think we’re from here anyways. See… it’s weird, we have like 3 home towns. Here, San Francisco ‘cause we moved there when we left Washington, and then Los Angeles. So all these shows are kind of a pain in the ass cause all our friends and relatives are coming out.
Sucker: Ah yeah, the relatives.
Dale: I mean it’s fine! It’s just kinda stressful ‘cause it’s like “okay make sure everybody is cool” you know?
Sucker: Oh yeah for sure. Do you feel like anything since the 90’s has changed for the worse?
Dale: The worse? Gosh.. I don’t know. Good question!
Sucker: How about for the better?
Dale: I mean not really, maybe bands selling more records. But I mean, I don’t know. Things are great now.
Sucker: So do you think the booming music scene from the 90’s in Seattle would have had the same impact had it happened today?
Dale: Umm, hard to say. I mean probably considering the way that the music scene is today, certainly a band like Nirvana or Pearl Jam- any of those bands- wouldn’t sell as many records as they did. Because, people don’t buy records anymore. So it might not have, but it’s hard to tell because now- everything is so much more available, looking at that now it’s pretty phenomenal that that had happened at all.
Sucker: Yeah it’s pretty incredible. The new record, Three Men and a Baby has been a long time coming since 1999 correct?
Dale: That’s correct.
Sucker: Damn, what’s the story there?
Dale: So we started the record with Mike Kunka from this band called “godheadSilo,” he lived in Olympia for a while and they had a deal on Sub Pop Records. And the band kinda fell apart, I think Dan the drummer cut his hand really bad and he couldn’t play. Anyways yeah they had a contract with Sub Pop and Mike came up with this idea to do a record with us. We started it in 1999 and had it almost finished then he just kinda… lost interest or things happened and he, uh, didn’t finish it. Kinda went away for a while. *Laughs* Disappeared into the woods of the Olympic Peninsula someplace. Anyways, I got a message from him on Facebook a couple years ago and he was like “Hey! Wanna finish this record?” And I was like.. Yeah. I mean for that long we had just blown it off and it never happened. So, after all this time, we are finally on Sub Pop Records.
Sucker: Woah, that’s insane.
Dale: We have never been on Sub Pop. People don’t know that! They think that because we’re from Seattle then we must be on Sub Pop.
Sucker: Yeah there’s definitely a Seattle/Sub Pop association!
Dale: Yeah we’re latecomers. It took a loooong time.
*Cue a long pause… it was very loud in that tiny room, folks.*
Dale: (on the volume) yeah this might last for a while.
Sucker: I mean they sound great!
Dale Crover at The Showbox, Photo by Dylan Conner
Dale: You know these guys?
Sucker: I actually don’t, I gave them a listen while I was stuck in 2 hours worth of traffic on the way here though, not too bad at all. So… What was it like going back and revisiting an unfinished project from 17 years ago and finishing it now?
Dale: …. Strange. We hadn’t heard some of the songs in so long so we had forgotten about that record completely. So going back to it was strange but still cool to hear it you know? Actually, it wasn’t a bad recording. I mean all we really added to that record was vocals and some overdubs. Most of it was finished, and we finished it up completely in our recording studio. We have our own place and our own engineer and he finished it up.
Sucker: That is so awesome, wow. So do you think it would have sounded the same had you finished it back in 1999?
Dale: I don’t think so.
Sucker: Yeah that’s a lot of time. Especially with all the changes in the recording technology and equipment and what not.
Dale: Yeah and you know what’s interesting, the bass player at the time when we started that record had been kicked out of the band. He had his own personal problems and we really weren’t friends with him for a long time and then not too long before that he had kinda cleaned up his act and so we became friends with him again. So he was actually involved in the project so the whole thing came full circle. Very strange how that happens.
Sucker: Strange, but super cool I bet.
Dale: Definitely, so finishing that record was great. To be able to do that after that long.
Sucker: So in regards to content, is there anything you’re trying to get across with this record?
Dale: *laughs* I don’t know. Umm… each one of us wrote different lyrics for different songs, like Kevin the bass player, his are pretty creepy. He’s the creep. All those guys are creeps. *laughs* So there is no real message.
Sucker: So, you probably haven’t heard the end of it- but Rolling Stone named you one of the top 100 drummers of all time? That’s fucking incredible.
Dale: No, no, no. They named me the 69th best drummer of all time.
Sucker: Well that’s pretty good!
Dale: I kinda like the number. I had to laugh about that. Like alright 69 duuude. So… that’s better than being number 2 in my opinion.
Sucker: Literally nothing wrong with that.
Dale: Right! I mean 23 would have been cool, I’m a firm believer in the number 23.
Sucker: Also a good number, 22 is one of my lucky numbers! So any end goals when you got into music?
Sucker: No, no. End goal.
Dale: Damn I thought you said “angle” and I was gonna be like “oh yeah man to pick up chicks” or something haha. But uh… No I didn’t. And still don’t really, just wanted to do it.
Sucker: What would you tell yourself as a young punk kid from rural Washington about your future?
Dale: Get out faster.
Sucker: Would you make any changes to your career and how it happened?
Dale: Oh I’m sure I could have. But, don’t look back as Bob Dylan says.
Sucker: Hell yeah, I was named after him!
Dale: Oh really? Bob Dylan fans in the family?
Sucker: Yeah definitely. That’s a great mantra. So did you have any idols growing up?
Dale: Yeah you know I still listen to the same stuff I did when I was a kid. Funny enough, we were in Salt Lake, Utah the other day and we were listening to the Osmonds. Cause they are from Utah, and that was a band I liked as a kid cause they were on TV and they looked cool, at least to a little kid. But yeah we were driving through the mean streets of SLC, wondering what life would be like for a young Donny Osmond. But I guess they’re from Provo… but whatever.
Sucker: Well damn that’s cool. Anyways I won’t subject you to a long interview. Thank you so much man!
Dale: No worries at all. Enjoy the show!
And enjoy the show I did. The Melvins blew the roof off of the Showbox. Their record Three Men and a Baby was released on April 1st and can be found just about anywhere. I encourage you all to give it a listen because frankly, it fucking rules.