Look, it's Buzz!
Mel, Smel, Shel, Wel, Bel
The Melvins. A name to be reckoned with. They began
about a million
years ago. They created the Seattle scene out of their
own belly button
lint and then moved on to more southerly regions.
They’ve just made
their third major label record, and it’s called
“Stag.” And it is quite
possibly their best effort so far. They’re doing the
tour thing right now,
so I interviewed singer and guitarist Buzz Osborne a
couple days before
their Detroit show. (The show was Friday the 13th of
interview was on the 11th). What follows is a
transcription of the
interview. After that is a brief review of the show.
Why did your press people do this to us?
B: It’s no big deal to me. I have to get up early
anyway, we have to
drive. Not for like an hour.
Why are there multiple versions of the art for the
different formats of
B: Why? ‘Cause we thought it’d look cooler than
cropping the CD artwork or
blowing it up.
So it wasn’t something coming from the record company
like “We have to
have different versions of the artwork so everyone has
to buy all of
B: Nonono, it came from us, and it wasn’t a monetary
thing. It was a n
Who did the art?
B: My wife did it actually.
What was the inspiration for it?
B: We were really inspired by this voodoo tapestry
artwork we saw at
this exhibition at UCLA. That’s all kind of lifted
from there, but she
redrew everything so it’s all original. She did our
last record cover,
Right, I’ve actually interviewed you before (and you
told me of this at
B: Oh really, when?
Sometime within a couple weeks before you came to
Detroit on the L7
B: Awhile ago. Cool.
It’s always neat.
B: It’s always neat.
Was it a conscious decision to make “Stag” full of so
many different kinds
B: It must’ve been. I dunno. We certainly wanted to do
was a lot different than our last record. We’re not
the Ramones. We
wanted to do something that was, covered a little more
rema[yawn]ined interesting to us. So it’s good. I
think it’s our best
record, I don’t know what everyone else thinks, but
I’m happy with it
definitely. Sonically, song wise, everything. It’s
just very different
from - well it’s not as different from “Prick” as it
is from “Stoner Witch.”
Sort of a mix between the two.
B: Yeah, I would say. Certainly. Some reviewers
accused us of growing up
on this record. What the fuck are you talking about?
There are so many
songs on there that are [grunt] completely fucked up,
I don’t know if
that can be considered growing up. Oh well. The
American press, the
bigger press like Alternative Press or Spin or any of
those things have
not gotten it at all, as opposed to the European
press. Over there they
call this biggest work of genius, and here they’re
sitting there and
it’s like they’re pissed off that we haven’t written
some head banging
album. I like elements of that stuff too, but they’re
missing the point,
they’re just totally fucking stupid, you know?
Isn’t this album more head banging than “Stoner
B: I don’t know, I never really think about things in
terms of that.
It’s just less sludgy in places.
B: I think it moves right along. I think it’s good. In
a world of bands
that I hate, I think this record is really interesting
and creative, and
if people fail to see that in it, it’s not my fault..
It doesn’t mean I
don’t think they’re fucking idiots. They can go listen
to their fucking
double compact disc of Smashing Pumpkins and get all
they need. What the fuck are they talking about. Oh
well. OH WELL.
You have the AmRep singles coming out sort of the same
time as this
B: Well, they’ve been coming out every month.
I’ve ordered them from AmRep so they come in these
huge bundles. Are
they being sent out every month to record stores?
B: Yeah, that’s what they’re doing. That’s a pretty
odd collection of
songs, don’t you think?
Yeah, it’s weird because I have a couple of the
things. A couple of the
tracks are Peel sessions aren’t they?
B: That’s a big secret.
There’s a real lack of liner notes on those.
B: There is. Like no liner notes.
Well it says what the songs are, which is better than
some things. And
it says who wrote them at least.
B: They get that right most of the time.
You just recorded a new song for those, right?
B: No we haven’t done that yet. Who told you that?
I was talking to Brent at AmRep, and he said you were
going to be doing
it 2 weeks after I talked to him.
B: Well, we haven’t done it yet. We need to do it. The
Actually, the last one, the b-side, is a cover of a
song called Zodiac
off our “Bullhead” record by this band Brutal Truth...
So it’s them doing a
cover of one of our songs.
So you’ll only have one song on the last one?
Is it gonna be a new one or...
B: We don’t have a clue. We don’t have a clue what
we’re going to do. It
could be anything. It could be a series of us farting
in the van.
You can use this interview tape.
B: I can use this. I’ve kinda thought anything goes on
Because I knew exactly what would happen [yawn]. I
knew people wouldn’t
just go “I like the 7th one so I’ll buy that one.” Or
“I like the third
one.” Everyone’s just gonna buy them all no matter
what ‘cause they’re in a
set, or they’re gonna buy as many as they can. It
doesn’t matter what we
put on them, it’s not even the point. ‘Cause I knew we
were gonna put some
stuff that some people would really want, and some
stuff that we’d like
and not as many people would want and some stuff that
is just totally
fucked up. We didn’t have any idea that we wouldn’t
have any trouble
getting rid of them, especially in editions of 800
every month. So I
thought now’s the chance yet again to do something
strange. I think it’s
worked out really good. It was a really good idea. I
really like it.
It’s sort of hard to figure out which is which just
from the front
B: You can’t. It’s damn near impossible.
There’s the colors.
B: That’s right, if you can memorize the color
coordinated chart that
Tom was supposed to send out. Hehheh.
They’re not going to be collected onto a CD, are they?
There was some talk of it, but then I heard that it
B: That could very well be true, but it’s not going to
happen in January
or anything. No plans for that to happen.
It’ll just happen on someone’s CD-R.
B: What’s that?
The recordable CD thing.
B: Oh yeah. Exactly. I don’t really think that needs
to happen, henhhenh,
that they all need to be on one CD. I don’t know.
Maybe. I’ll probably
change my mind.
I enjoy vinyl, but I know lots of people who don’t, so
I laugh at them.
B: Yeah well, I’ve never really worried about that. We
just wanted to do
something weird. A 7” every month for a whole year
uhenhhenh. I wish
more bands would do strange stuff like that. Make it a
I wish bands would release singles in the US.
B: I’m not really a vinyl lover or anything like that.
It’s just a
recording medium and it’s really cheap at the moment,
so it enables us
to do things, don’t cost a hell of a lot of money and
it’ll still get
out to a certain amount of people. Fun. I really like
the cover art.
It’s a nice little package.
What a nice unit.
B: It’s nice, it’s nice. I like it. That’s important.
How was your experience playing with KISS earlier this
B: It was real good. They were totally cool to us. We
had a lot of fun.
I was happy to be involved in that. We did five shows.
It was good, I
wish we could have done more.
Were they aware that you’d cover them?
B: Oh yeah, they’re real aware of all that kind of
stuff about them.
Gene and Paul are the main guys and their brains are
because neither of them ever did drugs or alcohol so
aware of anything to do with KISS especially. And I
have to hand it to
them, they could get straight cock rock bands to open
for them, and for
us to do any shows with them at all is kinda cool. I
can’t believe they
would do something like that. But oh well. It was fun.
I was glad to be
part of it.
You seem to have been doing a lot of opening in the
past couple years.
You haven’t headlined Detroit, well, since I’ve been
to one of your
B: We headlined there, when was it, a couple years
It was either right before or after you opened for
B: I think we played there with the Obsessed. Or
Godheadsilo. I don’t
The closest you came for “Stoner Witch” was Grand
Rapids. Have you just
been doing a lot of opening stuff, or is Detroit
B: No, we like Detroit. Sometimes scheduling doesn’t
permit it or we
just don’t have the time. We always like playing
Detroit. It’s fun. We
always have a good time there. This time we’re playing
never been. I don’t know what it’s called.
B: Have you ever been there?
I was there last night seeing Jonothon Fire*Eater.
I’ve been there before, I’ve seen the Cows there. It’s
kind of a weird
place, but it’s atmospheric.
B: Do you think we’ll like it?
You might like it.
B: Is it a filthy hell hole?
It’s not too filthy. You’ve been to St. Andrews, I
know, I’ve seen you
there. It’s in the basement of that.
B: Oh, it’s there. Gotcha.
So you can go get some Greek food if you need to over
B: I like Greektown. Greektown’s good. You don’t like
It’s OK. My girlfriend and I were there last night
trying to figure out
what we wanted to eat, and we didn’t want to eat Greek
food so we were
shit out of luck.
B: Not much else around there.
There’s actually a nice Mexican place.
B: Really. That’s interesting. I’ll have to head over
It’s in the block right next to St. Andrews.
B: We’ll be there the day after tomorrow.
Yep, I have to write this tonight.
B: You better get on it. We’re looking forward to
headlining in Detroit.
It’ll be fun. We just played Toronto last night. Day
Gonna go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
B: You know what? I was thinking about that and I
realized I don’t have
much interest in going.
Don’t want to see if you’re there?
B: Why on earth would we be there?
L7 is in it. Why wouldn’t you be? Not in the hall of
fame itself, but
like in the hall of mannequins or whatever.
B: They have the L7 band in it?
Apparently. I interviewed Jennifer Finch on the Warped
tour and she said
they were in it and there are mannequins of them in
B: Really? Very weird.
Not audioanimatronic. Just mannequins.
B: Do they have them going “Hello, hello” at the
entrance? And people
going “Who’s that?” No, I just don’t have much
What else are you going to do?
B: Sit, go to the movies. Fun things of that nature.
Play a show.
Soundcheck for a show. We’re doing three sets you
Tell me about that.
B: Well, the first set is kind of an anything goes
thing where I play
bass and Mark plays guitar. And it’s rather strange.
Well, we start off
with this new song in the first set.
Like a new new song?
B: Brand new. Instrumental that’ll have vocals added
to it later. Right
now we’re just playing it live as the opener. And then
we play this
strange synthesizer thing. Dale plays the synthesizer,
me and Mark make
a series of clicks on the guitar and bass. Then we
play the intro to “Eye
Flys” off our first album. I play that bass line over
and over and over
and those guys do some experimental nonsense on both
guitar and drums.
And then we don’t ever finish a song, we just go right
to where the
vocals start and then we switch to a song off “Stoner
“Lacrimosa” that Mark sings, then we play the
instrumental “June Bug” off
“Stoner Witch” [yawn] then we wind up that nearly half
an hour set with “Sky
Pup” off of Houdini. And then we take a litttle short
10 minute break or
so, and then I play guitar lead, and we have our
instruments at about
half volume and we play “At the Stake” off the “Stoner
Witch” record, then
we play “Cow” off of the “Bullhead” record, then we go
into a song called
“Tipping the Lion” off “Stoner Witch,” I mean off the
“Stag” record. Then
“Skinhorse” off “Stag.” Let me think, and then “Goose
Freight Train” off the
“Stoner Witch,” uh, record. And then “Captain Pungent”
and “Bertha” off of
“Stag.” Then Dale plays “Cottonmouth” off “Stag,” the
last track, and that’s
the end of the second set. Take a short break. Then we
come back and
play “Revolve” with our instruments on full tilt, we
play “Revolve,” “Sweet
Willy Roll Bar,” “Roadbull,” “Buckle,” and “the Bloat,
“the Bit,” “Night
Goat,” a new song called “Specimen,” and then a cover
of a Fleetwood Mac song
called “Green Manalishi,” but we do it in a real Peter
Green kind of style as
opposed to a Judas Priest style, then “Queen” off the
“Stoner Witch” record,
then “Antitoxidote” off the “Eggnog” record, and then
“Sacrifice” off the
“Lysol” record and that’s it. And don’t you think
How long do the sets go, together.
B: We play a little over 2 hours total. So it’s
So what kind of tapes should I bring?
B: A couple 60s should just about cover it without any
trouble. But it’s
been going good. We started doing it in Portland, er,
we played the CMJ
in NY and it was a bummer. But I mean, the show was
good but I just
don’t like those kind of things. Then we did a show in
New London, Conn.
where we played the three set thing for the first time
and it went good.
Then we played Boston, same thing. Then we played
Portland, Montreal and
Toronto. By the time we get to Detroit we should have
it down pretty
Are you guys playing by yourselves?
B: Yeah, no opening bands. An evening with...
You’ll be playing against someone in St. Andrews when
you’re in the
B: Really? [shocked] That’s really weird.
I don’t even know if Tesco’s in it anymore.
B: They’re from there, right?
That’s what I’ve heard. Touch and Go, too.
B: I wonder how well they’ll draw.
I don’t know. I’ve seen that they were playing bars
around New Year’s.
B: Very strange. I’ve never seen the Meatmen.
Neither have I, but I’m young.
B: How young.
Not that young. 22. Old enough to need to get a job
B: You’re young. I’m 32. Tesco’s older than me though.
But you have a job. And he still can’t get it up.
B: Could he ever?
That was the point of most of their songs, wasn’t it?
At least in their
cartoons, it was always like “unnnn, I’ve got no
B: I wonder if they’re any good?
I don’t know. You know those bands 10 years after
they’ve broken up.
B: We never broke up. That’s why we’re still legit.
‘Cause we’ve never
broken up. Take it from there.
And you’ve had the same bassist for?
B: Over three years. It’s a new record. He’s been on
Stoner Witch, Prick
and Stag. And a couple of things. And he produced our
first two albums.
It’s a plus having someone like that in the band it
[yawn] helps out
quite a bit, actually. It’s good. We have a good time.
It’s my new
Why not “have a gay old time?”
B: That doesn’t sound as good as we had a good time or
we have a good
time. Henhhenh. Strange, huh?
Not that strange. OK, I have an especially arcane
question. On the stuff
for the solo album with you, there’s a Foo Fighter
demo thing with
“Skeeter” on it, does that have you on it?
B: No it doesn’t really have me on it.
It just sounds like the same exactly as “Skeeter.” So
you’re not on that.
B: That’s right, it’s a big secret.
You’re not involved at all?
B: Not in the least. Well, it was a whole project
Do the other songs have you on them?
B: Oh yeah, totally. It was good. Happy to have it
out. Good. Strange.
Weird. Dave and I had a good time doing it.
Did he do drums on the other tracks, then?
Sorry, it’s just one of those things I didn’t
B: Yeah, he played drums and did a few other things.
Guitar a little
bit. Whatnot. It was fun. Did it very quickly, like
two days. It was a
good experience. I like the record. It was fun it was
I enjoyed it. It was the first thing by you guys I
...[this bit was missing]...
B: ...they seem like kind of a rip-off of the 7
dwarves. So, I don’t know
shit about it. Nothing. Kinda goofy. I don’t know. I
don’t even know
enough about em to hate em.
It’s my traditional closing question.
B: Sounds good then. I look forward to seeing the
You can always check it online.
B: I never go online.
Well then, I guess you can’t.
B: My wife works on computers but not me. She can’t
handle doing that
American online thing. ‘Cause (nutbe) fun to her. OK,
well maybe I’ll see
you in Detroit. Thanks man.
Thanks for your time.
Well, they only played two sets, and they didn’t play
enough off of
their brilliant new album. The Shelter was annoying
because there were
so many people in it talking that it was hard to hear
the show, even a
thunder clapping kind like the Melvins play. Did I
mention that doors
were at 6:30 and the show was over a little after 9?
On a Friday? That’s
a little something the people at the venue like,
ironically, to call “3
Floors of Fun,” where they play prerecorded music so
that real bands
have to play extremely short sets
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