There was a screening of the film ‘The Colossus Of Destiny – A Melvins Tale’ last night at the Regent during the Don’t Knock the Rock festival, and it was followed by a Q&A, preceded by another movie and a mini concert, so that the whole thing did last 5 hours. 5 hours? And I am not even a Melvins fan, I was going there by pure curiosity and eager to learn about a legendary band, but I ended up sitting through a Melvins marathon. the movie may be named after a reference in a John Fante book, but colossal was certainly the right word, and I may have skipped a few things during this long night if I have had the choice, but I sat through the whole event.
First, we saw a short movie filmed by the band members on their iPhones, ‘documenting’ the Melvins’ tour in 51 states in 51 days. Needless to say it was shaky and sloppy, a sort of rushed tour journal with plenty of ADD and saucy humor, a bit funny but not bringing much to my understanding of the Melvins, beside the fact they are grownup kids.
Then, band members King Buzzo and Dale Crover with Stephen McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!) on bass, gave us a short and intimate concert under a bloody red light. Even though the metal-punk-grunge band was playing an acoustic set, it was loud, deep and heavy, with sophisticated jazzy moments, sludgy metal parts, and certainly a lot of action blending into a lot of surprising and electrifying bits. The very busy McDonald is part of the band now and has even recorded a few songs with them.
Then we finally got to see ‘The Colossus Of Destiny – A Melvins Tale’, a film by Bob Hannam & Ryan Sutherby, and if you are like me – not a die-hard fan just someone with a moderate interest in the Melvins – you will probably think there are too many talking heads in this 2-hour long documentary. The Melvins are famous and not really famous, but they have had a huge influence on bands like Nirvana, without ever reached a third of their level of celebrity. Nevertheless, they have successfully managed to make a living, while making music and playing it for over 33 years. And that’s an accomplishment.
‘I always thought it was strange that people didn’t know more about The Melvins and I felt their story needed to be told. The band members had told me that a few people had talked the talk but had never followed up on their threats to make a film about them, so a little over two years ago things really fell into place and now the end product is finished for all to see,’ explained Director and Producer Bob Hannam in an interview. ‘It has been a long labor of love for the both of us and we are excited for people to see the film and understand the workings of a truly great band.’
The film tells the Melvins story from the early days in Montesano high school, to their relative success and their first major label release on Atlantic Records in 1993. We follow the story through a series of interviews featuring King Buzzo and Dale Crover, as well as band mates, label heads, and artists influenced by their work, such as Mike Dillard, Jeff Pinkus, Mike Patton, Chris Cornell, Jello Biafra, Gene Simmons, Krist Novoselic, Mark Arm, J. Mascis, Josh Homme, David Yow and many more. It’s a direct and linear story, but there is no real story actually, it’s not DIG! or some kind of Behind the Music documentary, theres on rivalry, no death, no drug rehab, just a series of praises and anecdotes and not a single bad word said about the band! Although I have to mention that a few characters and past members (Lori Black and Joe Preston) have declined to be interviewed for the film.
The Melvins are an impressively prolific band with a catalogue larger than those of the Rolling Stones or U2, and they are forever loyal to their art: They don’t care for a minute about what people may think about them. Buzz Osborne says at one point he is well aware millions of people don’t like what they do, and so what? There’s nothing he can do about this, he admits with the most designated attitude, he is doing his work the best he can while being true to what he thinks from the beginning. It’s difficult to not be appreciative of such an incorruptible attitude, the Melvins have never sold out and they have succeeded their own way. The story is told through this series of interviews alternating with a few live footage, plus quick moments between band members that you will probably appreciate even more if you are a fan. The Melvins’ world is a world of pure freedom, these people ‘do whatever they fuck they want’, but they work very hard nevertheless. And the fact they are still working speaks volume about their fans’ appreciation.
Despite their influence on Nirvana, don’t expect more than Krist Novoselic praising the band (no Dave Grohl at all, may be because ‘he’s busy playing songs at the Oscars and shit’) and a few seconds of grainy footage of Cobain: the focus is on the Melvins 100% of the time. As for the interesting things I have learnt? Their moniker is a rip off of the Ramones, the name of a common man (Mr. Melvin owned a store) turned punk band moniker. Mackie Osborne’ artistic work is also very interesting, she has made the Melvins album covers and artwork since the 90’s, working in the shadow of her husband Buzz.
At the end, this is the story of passionate men, with a real creative fire burning inside them, and refusing any compromise. They have always believed in their art, always worked hard while having a lot of fun on tour and on stage. What else can you hope for? meanwhile, their frontman, the slightly intimidating and intense Buzz and his palm-tree frizzy grey hair, is probably one of the most recognizable characters in the music business.
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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 11-25-22 – 12-1-22, Jimi Hendrix And Zayn’s “Angel” Reviewed
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Thank you readers, thank you Alanis, thank you, thank you, karma.
a weekend of stardust-spangled grandeur
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – September 1980 (Volume 12, Number 4)
excellent work by future editor John Kordosh
let’s share the music, laughter and love of this past year
an explosion of sounds, images, colors, confetti, and bright lights