June 10, 2010 / 12:01 AM / 9 years ago

Cult rock band Melvins hit pop charts after 26 years

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The music industry’s collapse is good news for the Melvins, the defiantly uncommercial “thud-rock” band that just cracked the U.S. pop album chart for the first time in its 26-year career.

The group, whose heavy guitar riffs and mumbled vocals paved the way for fellow Seattle-area bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden, grabbed the last spot on Billboard’s Top 200 chart published Wednesday.

It achieved this feat by selling just 2,809 copies of “The Bride Screamed Murder,” its 19th album. With another 2,000 units, they would have breached the top half of the chart.

Exactly five years ago, the threshold for inclusion in the Top 200 was about 5,000 copies. Since then, U.S. album sales have halved, and the industry last month suffered its slowest week since the early 1970s, according to a Billboard estimate.

While the Melvins’ debut chart ranking therefore comes with an asterisk of sorts, the milestone managed to stun its members. “Top 200 what?” singer/guitarist Roger “Buzz” Osborne said via email.

The band’s biggest release is 1993’s “Houdini,” which was partly produced by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, one of their biggest fans. It has sold just over 100,000 copies.

Osborne and drummer Dale Crover have gone through a multitude of bass players, including one of Shirley Temple’s daughters, since the band was formed in 1984. The lineup has stabilized in recent years after the Melvins expanded to a quartet by adding second drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren.

The band just began a month long North American club tour, with a date in New Orleans on Wednesday, and will also play the annual Bonnaroo rock festival in Tennessee this weekend.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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