Dale Crover Premieres Latest Percussive Masterpiece, “I’ll Never Say”

Dale Crover is nothing, if not absolute personality and vibe. His role as the Melvins’ drummer surely had some sway in that. But his solo material is even more a cut of his personality and ambient style.

Since the Melvins, the drummer has been engaged in several other projects and solo releases, including 2017’s The Fickle Finger of Fate and has now completed his most recent album, Rat-A-Tat-Tat, due out January 15. Crover is premiering one of the album’s tracks, “I’ll Never Say”— which follows his previous single, “Tougher”—with American Songwriter. The new song is some of his best work yet, pouring out ambient essence and meditative notes, drawing the dichotomy between beauty, ugliness, and truth.

“It’s dark but pretty sounding,” Crover told American Songwriter about “I’ll Never Say.” “It’s about someone dying. It’s also telling someone that they’re full of shit.”

The song at its foundation is simple, built up from baseline chord progressions created on both six and twelve-string acoustics, that build and peak like a coastline road.  Crover wrote the basic verse lines, that the whole song is centered around, quite some time ago. And he had just one idea in mind—to write something akin to “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie. The rest was left up in the air, and Crover’s dear friend, Steven McDonald, filled in the gaps as the bass player.   

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“I had the song done except for lyrics before I recorded it,” Crover said. “I did guitar and drums first, then handed it over to Steven McDonald to play bass and I never tell Steven what to do, I just let him work his magic. My only request was he play his Hofner hollow body bass. We did vocals next, then added keyboards. Sort of the same process with Toshi (Kasai). We’ll look for a sound that fits the mood, then I’ll let him come up with a part. I maybe have a little input here or there. Pretty simple instrumentation on this song.”

As for the lyrics, which serve as a drone overtop of the riff lines, Crover doesn’t even remember where they came from. But they certainly had something to say with lines like, ‘It seemed a lot better than telling the truth/I said I would never tell/I’ll never tell/ You had me believing that you were ok/I figured that you would pull through/go on, go on, go on, go on.’

“It’s funny, because I don’t remember writing them,” Crover said about the lyrics. “Usually, the way I write is I’ll come up with a few lines I really like and write around them. I’ll also edit or change words as I’m recording the vocal if I don’t think a line or phrase is working. Even if I start with an idea of what I want to write about, it almost always turns into something else that wasn’t intended originally.”

What started as a simple guitar-based chord progression, bloomed into an ambient and telling song about harsh realities, ignited by sounds from mystical, psychedelic keyboards and flutes, joined together by trashy toned, snare hits. As an avid percussive mind, Crover just hopes it resonates with listeners on every level, as much as it does with him.

“It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written and I’m happy with the way it turned out! Hopefully, the listeners will dig it,” he said.  

You can check out the rest of the tracklist, including the single “Tougher” and pre-save Rat-A-Tat-Tat here, which includes a funky purple vinyl issue ahead of its release next week.

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