The Melvins have teamed with former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra for a collaborative album titled Never Breathe What You Can’t See, due in October through Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label.
Since breaking from the Dead Kennedys in 1986, Biafra has recorded seven spoken-word albums and collaborated with such artists as Ministry’s Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, Nomeansno and D.O.A., but he is not exactly a longtime Melvins fan.
“A few years ago Jello saw us play a cover of the Alice Cooper song ‘Halo of Flies’ and that was an awakening for him of what we were doing,” Melvins guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne says. “He finally got it . . . We went into this [project] with a mutual appreciation for Alice Cooper.”
Consummating this unlikely pairing took time: Between fighting a losing legal battle against his former bandmates and running his label, Biafra has had little time recently to devote to music. Meanwhile, the Melvins — Osborne, drummer Dale Crover and bassist Kevin Rutmanis — were busy working on their album Pigs of the Roman Empire, recorded with ambient-noise mastermind Lustmord. But when the four finally came together, they easily generated more than album’s worth of material.
“I had a few songs sitting around that I thought might be good for him,” Osborne says. “I wrote a bunch of the music and he wrote a bunch of the music and all the lyrics. Since he doesn’t play an instrument, a lot of people would believe that the music doesn’t come from him, but that’s absolutely not true.”
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Alternative Tentacles will release an EP in addition to the full-length Never Breathe What You Can’t See. The Melvins and Biafra are currently mixing and finalizing the track listings for both releases. They plan to tour together in the fall.
“We told him that we weren’t going to do shows with him unless he would allow us to do some Dead Kennedys songs with him,” Osborne says. “He reluctantly agreed, but it certainly wasn’t an easy battle.”