LOS ANGELES - The L.A. rock band the Melvins has been one of the hardest-working acts in show business for going on three decades now, and for at least the last two they've been on the road almost annually, touring the U.S. and the world.
In fact, during a world tour last year, they lived through two massive earthquakes in two different countries - New Zealand and Japan - one of the more impressive feats for a band whose durable but constantly evolving take on hard rock has earned them a devoted cult following and critical acclaim.
It turns out they were just in training mode for this year's tour, during which the band will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the fastest tour of the United States. Starting at the Bear Tooth Theatre and Pub in Anchorage, Alaska, on Sept. 5, the Melvins will attempt to perform in all 50 states in 51 days. The tour is to conclude on Oct. 25 in Honolulu, a day after they perform outdoors at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
The band's new album was put out under the moniker Melvins Lite - a three-piece, rather than four, featuring longtime members Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, with Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn in place of the duo known as Big Business - and is a departure. Though it has its moments of heaviness, it shows a more experimental, and at times even ethereal, side of the band.
Looking at the itinerary, the Herculean journey before them is rife with perils. After Alaska, the group is to perform the next night in Seattle, then move south to Oregon before heading east through the Plains states, across the Kansas prairie and through the heartland of Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. An early winter storm or a fall tornado - or an earthquake - could derail them at any moment.
They're then to head north all the way up to Fargo, N.D., and travel through the Midwest until the end of Sept.. Then it's on to the Northeast, followed by a drive down the Atlantic Coast to Athens, Ga., through the South (with a stop at Knoxville's Square Room on Oct. 11!) and then westward through Texas and the Southwest.
Variables and potential pitfalls abound: What about bus breakdowns? One failed alternator can do some serious damage to the band's chances. Also, although Osborne and Crover are seasoned travelers, what of Dunn, whose touring stamina is relatively untested? What if he starts to get on the other two dudes' nerves or has a mental collapse?
Luckily, the band strategically plans to start winding up its tour at Hollywood Forever, where, if they're on death's door and can't muster the strength to board the plane to the last stop in Hawaii, they can finally, after such an amazing journey, rest in peace.