BLURTING WITH… Buzz Osborne of Melvins

The punk icon holds
forth on fame, politics, the art of proper parenting, and why being the
Antichrist means never having to say you’re sorry.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

For nigh on three decades, Buzz Osborne and the Melvins
blurred the line between punk rock and heavy metal-but there is no ambiguity in
King Buzzo’s domain. Chatting with Blurt circa
the June release of the Melvins’ eighteenth studio album The Bride Screamed Murder (Ipecac), the King issued a string of
edicts and opinions in a regal yet earthy stream. What follows is simply a
sample of these.

 

Shock vs. Shlock: “I
was always a huge fan of Alice Cooper’s music. That’s the thing: A guy like him
made good music-plenty of it, and I’m a huge fan. Unlike Marilyn Manson, who has made no good music. To me, there’s a
big difference. It’s all show, no go. Even the show is boring, you know? If a
band has to rely on that much smoke and mirrors, they probably should just get
rid of all their stuff and go back and figure out what it was that made them a
band to begin with. If you can’t convince me in a small place with no tricks, then
you can’t convince me at all.”

 

The Ballad of Dwight
Why(e):
Regarding Marilyn Manson’s ostensible regret over tearing up a Book of Mormon onstage in Salt Lake
City, Utah after being forbidden to open for Nine Inch Nails, King Buzzo says,
“‘I’ll hope forever that [the video] never turns up.’ I wonder why? If he did
it onstage, what’s he worried about? I thought you were the Antichrist
Superstar? I don’t wanna hear an apology from the Antichrist Superstar. I’m not
gonna accept an apology from the
Antichrist Superstar. I figure he’s thrown down the gauntlet at that point, you
know?”

 

Writing One’s Own Ticket: “If the band was fabulously popular and sold millions of records? I would never play [arenas]. I would only play
at places I’d want to go to as a fan. The smaller venues, that’s what drove me
to punk rock in the first place. ‘I want that kind of experience and I want it now.’
I don’t want to be-a hundred yards off with literally the wind blowing the
sound around. No thanks.”

 

Diminishing Returns: “Bands
are only good for about half an hour… And then [you should] just leave. I play
so much live music myself that I don’t go to concerts.”

 

Yawn-aroo: “We’ll
do some festival-type situations because they pay pretty good and we need the
money, but by and large I don’t endorse them. I think it’s bad for music. It’s
good for some people’s pocketbooks, but generally speaking, those things are
all designed for one thing and that’s to make the artist as much money as
possible by doing as little work as possible. And that’s it.”

 

Fickleback: “We’ve had a few opening gigs where the
headliner’s audience didn’t dig us. That’s not so much embarrassing, opening up
for some other stupid band and their audience doesn’t dig you. That didn’t
embarrass or surprise me, I guess.”

 

Ode to Power A: “My guitar playing is aimed at coming up with
new material – always. And if I get
stymied, I just jam cover songs and it brings me out of it. Something about
playing riffs that inspire you, one way or another, inspires me to make music.”

 

Skilla Dilla: “People get so hung up on technical ability,
which has nothing to do with music. Usually.”

 

Should Rock Get
Political?:
“That’s why I always loved politically minded rock n’ rollers,”
says Osborne, a smidge sardonically. “It’s like, ‘Nah, I’m probably gonna look
to a higher source for my political beliefs than you guys.’ [laughs] But you’re
doing your best, beavering away, pretending like what you’re doing means
something… so go ahead.”

 

Father Knows Best?: On
tour in the mid -to-late 1980s, the Melvins got unsolicited career advice from
the father of, Buzz reckons but doesn’t exactly recall, the promoter. “He sat
me down and explained to me exactly why what we were doin’ was terrible-and
that I should quit music. He said we were just awful, and that I should just
really do some soul searching and come to the understanding that what I’m doing
is just no good and I’m no good. I
can’t play guitar, I can’t sing-[it was] just a heart-to-heart talk, like he’s
letting me in on a big secret.

            “I just
stared at him. I didn’t really argue. I was just like, ‘Thanks.’ And I thought,
You’re the adult here, talking to some
kid at a club. What are you doing that’s so great?

 

Repression Breeds
Breeding:
“The kids of the cops or the churchgoers are the wildest
hellraisers. Like man, if you were in high school and you could go out with a
Catholic girl? You had it made. You
know?”

 

Father Knows Best,
Redux:
In Osborne’s tenure as a rock n’ roller, he’s learning
that-generally speaking-some rock n’ rollers are “whoremongering drug addicts
and little more… If I was a parent, which I’ll never be, but if my kids were
into Korn and those types of bands, I’d know that basically they’re maybe one
minute away from huffing glue. You know? Couldn’t they find better bands to be
into? ‘Take it from your old man: Those guys are no good. Use your own best
judgment, but it’s a one-way ticket to nowhere. Some rock n’ roll music is
great, but generally speaking, using rock stars as a role model for anything
other than some of the music they play is a bad idea.'”

 

 

 

 

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