Writer’s Note: My name is Bill Roseberry, better known as Billdo to thatmetalstation.com listeners, a recurring cohost on the Metal Mike Show. I’m a 43-year-old professional journalist in southern Illinois, right outside of St. Louis, Mo. and two of my passions besides writing are music and craft beer. My love of music can date back to my dad playing Queen, Beatles and Rolling Stones albums when I could barely walk and me dancing to the beat. I still vividly remember buying my Van Halen “1984” cassette tape with my allowance when it released and wearing it out. My love of music has grown exponentially since then. My love for creative and unique brews came much later, but hopefully this column shows me as an aficionado for both — this is beer & metal.
My latest beer comes from Wisconsin and is only available there, too.
On a recent trip to Milwaukee with some buddies, I had to grab some of the indigenous brew from the Badger State — Spotted Cow by New Glarus Brewing Co. The can itself advertises many of the aspects of Spotted Cow that makes it so coveted. It reads “drink indigenous,” “only in Wisconsin” and “employee owned.” This beer was created in 1997 at New Glarus, which began as a brewery in ‘93.
Spotted Cow is a farmhouse ale that goes down smooth at only 4.8 percent alcohol by volume. It’s mildly flavored, with no lingering aftertaste. It’s an all-day drink in my opinion; something to take on the lake or hammer down at a barbecue.
It was a little bit of a head scratcher finding the song to pair it with this time. This will be my oddest pairing to date by far. As I’m writing this I’m preparing to see the band I chose live for the first time in about a week — Melvins. The song I chose is “Cow,” the eighth and final track on their 1991 release “Bullhead.” The name of the song is fitting, of course.
Melvins are considered the father of grunge and a giant influence on sludge metal. Their influences can be heard all over, from bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney, to Tool, Crowbar and Red Fang. They are highly influential, highly experimental and extremely weird.
“Cow,” for example, heads into a two-and-a-half-minute drum solo to close out the song after a pretty heavy start. This song is meh to me, but that’s the beauty of Melvins: they are so abstract in their music and tracks are rarely similar.
Getting their start in 1983 in Montesano, Wash., Melvins began playing super heavy, but slowing everything down, something that was totally different from the thrash movement that was percolating at the same time.
There have been several versions of Melvins over the years, but the constant has been lead guitarist and vocalist Buzz Osborne. He’s totally identifiable by his crazy hair cut, which looks like he stuck his finger in a light socket the way it frizzes out everywhere.
Melvins have teetered between a three-piece and four-piece band over the years. On “Bullhead” they featured three members, Osborne, drummer Dale Crover — who has been in the band since ‘84 — and bassist Lori Black, who happens to be the daughter of Shirley Temple.
Crover is highly featured on “Cow” with his extensive drum solo.
Where I think the connection between Melvins and New Glarus Brewing comes in, is on their underground, cult followings. Spotted Cow in particular is a coveted beer by travelers to Wisconsin that would probably lose its luster if it was ever distributed outside of the state.
Melvins never really went mainstream, but instead stuck to their experimental ways and have never — quote-unquote — sold out. They are highly respected by their peers and remain a cherished band by many metalheads of their time today.
I would say Melvins are to Washington music what Spotted Cow is to Wisconsin beer drinkers — it’s all theirs.