Five Legged Dog

Melvins

Five Legged Dog

After nearly 40 years of eccentric innovations, unexpected collaborations, and intentional (and unintentional) lineup shifts, it should be no surprise that the Melvins have sprouted a new branch from their crooked tree of strange heavy metal. Five Legged Dog sees the ingenious trio doing acoustic renditions of favorites from their vast back catalog—that routine is nothing new, but they’re doing it in the practically-unheard-of quadruple album format. That’s 36 songs and about two-and-a-half hours of music, if you’re keeping track—including some previously unrecorded covers of low-key gems by Brainiac, Fred Neil, and The Rolling Stones. “When we started doing it, one record seemed like not enough,” Melvins guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne tells Apple Music. “Double album? Everybody does those. And if you’re going to do three, you might as well do four.” Below, he discusses some key tracks from this monster release.
“Edgar the Elephant” “This is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. There’s a lot going on in it, and when we did the acoustic version, I kind of knew it would work for some reason. I write a lot of the stuff not necessarily on acoustic, but I’ll write it acoustically on the electric guitar and then translate it to electric without too much trouble, so I kind of know it’s already going to work this way. This is a weird song with a strange vibe, strange arrangement, and strange vocals. I think it came out as one of the best on this record, so that’s why it’s first.”
“Billy Fish” “‘Billy Fish’ has backwards chording, and the drums start the song but they’re actually playing the guitar riff before it comes in. It’s a very simple song, but no one will ever be able to figure out what the chords are because it’s backwards and weird. If you want to do it right, I would have to show you because it’s not actual chords—it’s just weird finger positions. But when you put it all together, it sounds good. ‘Edgar the Elephant’ is a similar thing.”
“Charlie” “This is a Redd Kross cover off their Born Innocent record. They’re icons of the LA punk scene, and they started when they were just little kids. Weirdly, decades before there was even the idea of [Redd Kross bassist] Steven [McDonald] playing with us, I thought this would be a good song for the Melvins to cover. When we got Steven in the band, I was like, ‘Let’s do “Charlie”!’ It’s not a hit by any means, but I always loved that song. It’s basically The Velvet Underground crossed with the New York Dolls, with lyrics about Manson. If that’s hair metal, then I like hair metal.”
“Eye Flys / Woman” “I wrote ‘Eye Flys’ right after our very first tour in 1986, which was a complete failure. We vowed never to tour again, and my eye was on writing music that was the exact opposite of what I’d heard on the road, because I hated the stuff that happened to us out there. I wanted this to be a combination of The Stooges’ ‘We Will Fall’ and ‘The End’ by The Doors, maybe mixed with a bit of Swans. Less than four years later, all those same skinheads who hated us on that tour had long hair and loved The Stooges. ‘Woman’ is a song by Free that has a really great riff. I think they were amazing and relatively underappreciated compared to the singer’s next band, Bad Company.”
“Pitfalls in Serving Warrants” “I actually wrote this when we were doing Stoner Witch, but we put it on Honky. I really like that weird intro riff at the beginning that we don’t go back to. That happens a lot in our stuff. I really like what Steven did on the bass at the end of this version, too. The version on Honky was good, but I think this might even be better. It sounds like Captain Beefheart playing pop music, and we’re kind of Captain Beefheart playing heavy metal, as we’ve said before, so it fits right in.”
“The Bloated Pope” “We originally did this on Pigs of the Roman Empire. I had written the riff for this song the night before we went into the studio, and I had the whole idea for the song in my head. [Drummer] Dale [Crover] was there and I go, ‘I’ve got this idea for a new song.’ We’d never rehearsed it or anything, and within an hour and 45 minutes the whole thing was done—tracked and everything in not even two hours. Sometimes that happens. It’s got two really great riffs that I love—simple and sort of like ZZ Top crossed with Jimi Hendrix.”
“Halo of Flies” “That was the most challenging song we did on the whole record. It’s hard to play anyway, let alone on a fucking acoustic. There are so many different parts that we had to figure out how we were going to construct it and make it work. We worked really hard on the vocals, too. But Alice Cooper is one of the best. That’s some of my favorite stuff ever. That’s the kind of hippies we like—ugly degenerates playing really aggressive sounding, weird music. Just being able to do an Alice Cooper song and have it come out really well makes me happy.”
“Sway” “We’re huge Stones fans, which is hard for people to comprehend. I don’t know why. Sticky Fingers, in particular, would probably be in my top five rock ’n’ roll records ever. It covers a lot of ground, from almost country stuff to super-slow blues stuff that’s really weird, and then some of their more rocking stuff. ‘Sway’ is just not a song anyone would ever associate with us, ever, but it was really fun to do. We had been playing it live for a long time, and you see all these confused kids who obviously don’t know what it is, thinking, ‘Why are they playing a Black Crowes cover?’”
“Night Goat” “I remember the minute I wrote that riff. I was in San Francisco in my bedroom when I came up with that, and I just knew the second I wrote that it was going to be a good song. It’s exactly what I wanted to do, and I think that song, like ‘Eye Flys,’ kind of carved out our little niche. It’s as big a hit as we could probably have—this and ‘Honey Bucket.’ For this record, I wanted to do a little bit of a different take on the original, so I came up with that weird guitar intro. We might start playing it that way live, but with electric guitars.”
“Revolve” “I remember the minute I wrote this song, too. It was also in San Francisco, but in a hotel room out by the beach. I was playing my electric guitar acoustically and I came up with that opening riff. It’s another odd-chording thing. Once I had that, the rest of it was pretty easy to write. I think our old bass player Mark [Deutrom] added a little bit at the very end, so he gets partial songwriting credit. On the Stoner Witch version, I wish we’d played it a little faster, but that’s in hindsight. I thought we gave Atlantic a really good song they could work with, and they did nothing with it. So be it.”

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