In theory, the Melvins should be en vogue with various segments of fans, including stoner rockers, punks and even Goths. Founding member Buzz Osborne and longtime drummer Dale Crover have earned some hard-fought credibility over the last two decades.
Instead, the Washington state outfit continues to find itself on the outside looking in. This leads us to the important question: Is the band, which fuses a punk mindset with a Black Sabbath influence, underrated?
"I suppose, but I don't know," says Osborne, during a phone call from Los Angeles. "I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I guess it would depend on if you were interested in whatever the newest type of heavy metal is, or music in general. ...
"I'm always surprised at the people who like our band. And then I'm not surprised at the people who don't. We did Ozzfest in 1998, and I wasn't surprised that the wide majority of those people who were interested in watching Limp Bizkit weren't interested in what we were doing. "Wow, who would have thought?'"
If the Melvins were going to make that leap into commerciality, it would have happened in the early "90s, when Kurt Cobain's grunge turned the attention of the record industry to the Pacific Northwest. Included in the frenzy of band signings was the Osborne-led group, which released three albums 1993's Houdini, 1994's Stoner Witch and 1996's Stag for Atlantic Records.
The pragmatic Osborne never expected platinum results from a major label stint, which ended in '96.
"We're weirdo, ugly-looking people," Osborne says. "All of those bands that sell millions of records have a much cuter wounded-junkie look than we do. Like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, those bands had that thing going for them, especially the frontman. If Kurt Cobain looked like Fat Albert, nobody would have bought his records. I firmly believe that."
Perhaps deep down Osborne feels like Fat Albert, but even the round mound of "Hey, hey, hey" had a core group of friends that remained loyal. Which is why excitement abounds in the Melvins' world as the band prepares to release their latest effort, (a) Senile Animal, on Oct. 10.
The album marks a new beginning for the Melvins, who have added Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren (bass). The two newcomers are members of Big Business, which will be opening for the Melvins in Colorado.
The notion of having two drummers means unlimited jamming opportunities for this improvisational, friendly outfit on new standout tracks "The Talking Horse" and "Civilized Worm."
It's fitting that while some bands explore new guitar sounds or technology for creative inspiration, the Melvins choose the less-traveled route an additional drummer to trip out their fans.
"I think if you believe in what you're doing, it rubs off," Osborne says. "People understand that. I think we're obviously providing as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not sure it's obvious something that isn't readily available to everyone else out there. I think our fans understand that. But as far as educating the vast masses, I wouldn't even know where to begin."
The Melvins, with Big Business
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood
Wednesday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15, 16-plus; visit nipp.com.