The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale is an entertaining documentary that spans the 33 year journey of the rule-breaking, highly influential band
“Melvins… Do they have a peer? Who’s their peer? Kinda don’t have one.”
– Josh Homme
Beloved merch man Bob Hannam produced and directed the explosively entertaining Melvins documentary: The Colossus Of Destiny – A Melvins Tale. Guitarist/ vocalist co-fronter Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover are the dynamic duo of the group, adding in additional members for different albums.
Various musicians interviewed in the film all agree that the Melvins don’t conform to anyone’s rules. They’ve always done what they want, even though they realize that some people, especially the mainstream, aren’t going to get it. The name Melvins came from a local Thriftway employee in their hometown named Melvin who always nagged them as kids. What a novel idea, naming your band after one of your enemies! In a way, it’s a very appropriate title for a band that doesn’t do anything they are supposed to do. They don’t look cool, they gave themselves a stupid name, and if you don’t like their heavy sound, you can fuck off.
“The Melvins are the Andy Kaufman of heavy music.”
– Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
The band was started in 1983 by Buzz Osborne, Matt Lukin and Mike Dillard, who went to school together in Montesano, Washington. Not long after, Dale Crover replaced Mike Dillard on drums, and they rehearsed in Crover’s parents’ house in Aberdeen, Washington. Resident Taco Bell employee Krist Novoselic, later to become the bassist of Nirvana, had brought them over to Crover’s house because they were looking for a metal drummer. Old footage of teenage-era gigs provides highlights throughout the film. Although the band bemoans their early sound as amateurish, it’s not apparent in the videos, where they appear ahead of their time. As a teen, Buzz was in Kurt Cobain’s first band, Fecal Matter. Dale Crover was originally Nirvana’s drummer but made the permanent move to being a Melvin when he followed Buzz to San Francisco in 1987.
Nirvana was heavily influenced by the Melvins in the beginning, which is evident on Nirvana’s first album from 1989, Bleach. Tracks like “Floyd The Barber,” “Negative Creep,” and “Scoff” present a heavier version of the band. Chad Channing was the drummer on most of that album but Dale Crover did end up playing on “Floyd The Barber,” “Paper Cuts” and “Downer.”
Mackie Osborne, Buzz’s wife, creates most of the band’s brilliant album cover art. She is possibly best well known for creating the Social Distortion skeleton holding the martini glass, and she has also created artwork for Circle Jerks, Oingo Boingo, Mr. Bungle, Tool, The Vandals, Bad Religion, and other bands. They own their own printing press and love to create limited edition posters for their fans. They release records in a DIY way.
In the ‘90s the phrase “sell outs” was thrown around, Green Day becoming hardest hit with that slur. Even though The Melvins were signed for a two album deal by the heavy-hitting major label Atlantic in 1993, with Houdini (produced by Kurt Cobain) and Stoner Witch, they stayed true to their beliefs. Which is also probably the reason they haven’t been back on a major label since. Even if you have never listened to the Melvins, I believe you’ll find this movie highly entertaining. Cameos by Gene Simmons, Clem Burke, Jello Biafra, Josh Homme, and musicians from Butthole Surfers and Mastadon add spice to the film. Check it out in the trailer below.