A conversation with Buzz Osborne of the Melvins

By Alison Tracy 

August 30, 2016

Kicking butt since 1983, The Melvins; currently consisting of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover, and Steven Shane Mcdonald have quietly shaped rock collaborating with heavy hitters such as Jello Biafra, Nirvana, Mike Patton, Adam Jones, and Big Business. Buzz Osborne also pieced together the supergroups Fantomas (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, Dave Lombardo) and Venomous Concept (Shane Embury, Dan Herrera, John Cooke, Kevin Sharpe). The Melvins have steadily churned out some of the best rock music over several decades, outlasting the MTV generation and gracefully transitioning into our current days of Spotify, YouTube, and obnoxiously loud radio ads on Pandora. They were the first band to tour all 50 states in 51 days, and they continue to tour pretty regularly.

We had a chance to talk to King Buzzo about their current tour. Buzz started the conversation with his signature “is he kidding or not” sense of humor, and I started by asking about the exhaustion that may set in being on the road. Looking at their tour schedule for the past year was a little daunting, but he kind of verbally shrugged at the question. It’s something he’s been doing for years, so at this point the man has no complaints. We covered some ground between any new Fantomas offerings (not for the foreseeable future), what he thinks about the progression of experimental music (everyone go listen to Mars Volta right now, please) and even touched on some music and movie suggestions; Buzz has apparently heard great things about Charlotte native Andy the Doorbum and his Neo-tribal ghost chants. I couldn’t resist asking him about Mike Patton. His stories about Mike Patton are comedic gold, and I couldn’t resist asking if he had any gems. He responded by telling me a story about a time Mike Patton defecated on a plate and stuck it in the microwave. Well, did he microwave it? Yes. Yes, he microwaved it and assumedly left it for some unsuspecting soul to find.

Photo courtesy of the Melvins

We followed up with a few more questions. Osborne has never been know to be anything less than opinionated, which is endearing in a time where some musicians never really explore outside the ego of their own bands in interviews.

CLTure: Do you have any favorite venues or cities to play?

Buzz Osborne: Not really. When I’m onstage I rarely think about what town I’m actually in. It’s not like I’m up there thinking “Here I am in Louisville!” while I’m beavering away with my guitar playing songs.

CLTure: Can you describe one of your worst show experiences/best show experiences?

Buzz Osborne: We’ve been piled with heaps of disrespect on tons of big wheel hipster tours AND we’ve been treated very nicely by both band and crew on tours with people like Kiss. These things are hard to judge.

CLTure: Have you found that your musical influences or tastes have changed over the years, and what bands are you currently listening to?

Buzz Osborne: I have no idea what bands motivated me over 30 years ago. I could guess, so if I had to guess I’d say…… ELO? Currently I love a band called Le Butcherettes.

CLTure: What bands can you never stop listening to?

Buzz Osborne: The Who, The Birthday Party, The Fugs, The Cars, The Gun Club, The Rolling Stones, The Cream, The Blue Cheer, The Velvet Underground, The David Bowie, The Clash and The Modern Lovers.

CLTure: Have you seen Tom Waits as the Cookie Monster?

Buzz Osborne: Nope.

CLTure: Do you think that the homogenization of mainstream music has had any impact on the political climate in America?

Buzz Osborne: Was there a time when mainstream music wasn’t homogenized? As for the political climate in America…. It’s lose lose either way so buckle up and buy a gun and have an abortion before one of them becomes illegal!

Interviewing this legend was indeed a treat, he’s definitely a unique individual that pours as much of himself as he can into his music. The legendary Melvins will be playing Amos’ Southend on 9/6/16 show is certainly a can’t miss. It’s most likely the last time you’ll see The Melvins at Amos’, who will be closing its doors forever in March.

Catch the Melvins with Helms Alee on September 6 at Amos’ South End 

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