MELVINS INTERVIEW (30th OF APRIL 2008, DONAUFESTIVAL, KREMS/AUSTRIA)

This was such a nice talk! King Buzzo laughed and laughed – please consider this while reading. He’s so comfortably normal, smart and down to earth you have to love him. And, of course, the Melvins are the bestest band in the universe!

Rokko: Ok, first question…
Buzz Osborne: First and only question! So make it a good one!
R: So you’ve really been friends with Kurt Cobain?
BO: Yes, we were. Now he’s dead – and we’re still alive, so we win!
R: Do you think you’re a good substitute for Cat Power?
BO: I’ve never heard Cat Power so I’d say yes, we’re a great substitute! Have you ever heard it? She’s a girl, right?
R: A cat, I think.
BO: “Cat” is the name of a tractor company in the US. That’s what it reminds me of: tractor power!
R: Is it a regular show tonight or are you working together with the visuals of Kenneth Anger?
BO: We’re doing a normal show. I didn’t know Kenneth Anger is here and shows his films until we got here. We just arranged that show last week.
R: When was the last Melvins-show?
BO: New Year’s Eve.
R: OK, and in the meantime you’ve worked on a lot of new material?
BO: Some new material, yeah. We recorded a new record since then: “Nude With Boots”. So we gotta play “Dog Island”, “Suicide In Progess”, “Billy Fish” and “Kicking Machine”.
R: What about the title of the new record?
BO: We think it’s great.
R: Are there gonna be photos of you, nude with boots?
BO: I hope not! Nobody needs to see that.
R: Do you know how it’s been leaked to the internet?
BO: Yes, from the reviewers. We sent out the promo CDs on Monday and it was on the internet by Tuesday night. By somebody who got it for free! We really appreciate that!
R: But honestly, do you think it’s good people can listen to it now?
BO: I don’t know. I never do it, because I always think the stuff on the internet sounds like crap. So I want to have the real deal, personally. But people like listening to crap, so... I appreciate that they are interested, so I don’t think it really makes much difference. One way or another, we like it!
R: How long have you been in the studio for “Nude With Boots”?
BO: 14 days. I think it came out better than the last one, personally.
R: Maybe because you gained some live experience in the meantime?
BO: Yeah, maybe. Or maybe just because I wrote better songs! I like “(A) Senile Animal” a lot, but I think this one’s a little weirder. But I don’t know what the next one’s gonna sound like, we’ll see. We’ll not wait too long, we never do!
R: Will it be still with the Big Business guys?
BO: Yeah, absolutely! I love playing with those guys. Once in a while we hear stuff from people who think some eras of the band are better than others and most of them haven’t seen any other eras of the band! I think we know what we’re doing. I’m really happy to play with these guys, they’re great. So far we haven’t had any problems we had with other bass players. Let’s hope we won’t! It’s always a problem about playing the bass – I don’t know what it is!
R: Drugs or alcohol?
BO: Or just insanity – one of the two!
R: Maybe you are the problem!
BO: Maybe. I drive people crazy.



R: After two years it’s like...
BO: It’s over! We have been playing with these guys for two years now. It’s gonna be soon to be over and then we get Bootsy Collins or Larry Graham on bass! Larry Graham is great. Is he still alive? He’s not dead, is he? He’s really good. I think Primus might have heard him a little bit.
R: I heard you are also playing with Mike Dillard again?
BO: Yeah, Dale plays bass. We’re doing all that stuff from 1983. It’s pretty good, it’s very primitve. We jammed with him already and it’s good, it’s fine. We try to do it not updated – we just played it the way that it was.
R: But Dale wasn’t playing bass in the original line-up in 1983?
BO: No, but we can’t play with the original bass player, no way! This is as close as it’s gonna get.
R: Can Mike Dillard keep up with you on the drums?
BO: Yeah, playing that stuff because he played that stuff!
R: But after 25 years?
BO: Yeah, we played with him actually, it works. It’s all primitive. At that time, when we recorded that stuff, I could play guitar for like...18 months. I didn’t play guitar until I was out of high school.
R: What did you do before playing guitar? Just going to school and...
BO: Set fires! Drinking whiskey! Drinking whiskey and setting fires – that’s it. Burning stuff.
R: Have you had bands before the Melvins?
BO: No, I started playing guitar and we started playing shows within two years. So I was writing songs almost immediately, just figured out how to do it and kept practicing. We didn’t make any money until the late 1980s. I could have been a lawyer! I could have gone to medical school that time! But naaah...
Maybe in my 50s I’ll go back to school.
R: Dale is like five years younger than you.
BO: Four.
R: Where did you meet him?
BO: We met him in Aberdeen when we were looking for a different drummer. He was a young kid who played in heavy metal-cover-bands.
R: Even on the “Six Songs”-record, he already had his style.
BO: Yeah, he was really good from the time he was young. He’s a really good drummer. A combination of Iron Maiden-type mixed in with Rush, sort of. I wanted a Heavy Metal drummer, I had always admired Heavy Metal drummers, I always thought they were really good. Except for now, with these Death Metal bands whose drummers are all terrible! They can’t play drums. But the drummer of Iron Maiden or they guy of the Judas Priest live record, his name is Les Binks – he’s an unbelievable drummer.The record is called “Unleashed in the East” and it’s amazing – I recommend it. Sort of Heavy Metal pop songs from the late 1970s. Weird, you have to listen to it with that in mind that it’s from 1979.
And we wanted a drummer that could play that kind of things.
R: Did you tell Dale at the beginning of the Melvins a lot about how he should play what?
BO: I still do! I always have a lot of ideas. Fortunately, Dale and Coady can do anything wacky I could think of. I feel like I play with the best drummers in the Melvins and Fantômas. Dave Lombardo, Terry Bozzio, Dale and Coady – I mean, who else could you play with?! To me, a band is always as good as their drummer: if the drummer sucks, the band sucks. Except for the Cramps! Drummers are very important. That has something to do with us being neanderthals, you know: *bang, bang, bang, bang*!
R: Do you have another drummer you’d like to work with?
BO: No, not contemporary. I like a lot of Jazz drummers, but they don’t know anything about Heavy Metal – that’s the problem. I admire what they do, but they don’t admire any of that stuff.
R: You are in contact with Mike Dillard – do you have contact to any other former band members?
BO: No. Kevin a little bit, but Mark no, Joe no, Lori no.
R: Kenneth Anger went to school with Shirley Temple.
BO: Did he? I think she’s in her 80s now. Is she here?
R: No, I don’t think so.
BO: Fantomâs did a live soundtrack to some of Anger’s movies once, in 2001 I think. It was on Halloween in New York. He was there, what a weirdo. We played to like ten movies, “Scorpio Rising”, everything. And one that hasn’t come out that is about Aleister Crowley. A lot of our music was improvised – which means it was a big mess!
R: I just read today that you played with Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono.
BO: Yeah, that was a while ago, in the 1990s. Sean Lennon was a big fan of our band so he called us up when Yoko Ono was touring and asked us if we would come down and play a couple of songs with them – at the Roxy! We always said that’s as close as we can get to jamming with the Beatles! She’s a real weirdo, believe it or not. Real weirdo! Waaaaay out there, wacked out of her mind.
R: I’m just thinking about writing my diploma thesis about the Melvins. What do you think of that idea?
BO: Your what?
R: My diploma thesis, for finishing university.
BO: You’ll fail. No, it sounds great. Do it, do it, do it!
R: I just need a good headline so I can justify it for my professor.
BO: “The End Of The World” – how is that? No...ahm.... “Smoke Pot And Kill Your Parents”!
R: I don’t know if that works. I have to justify that for a professor who probably doesn’t even know the Melvins.
BO: “So that’s why it’s justified: ‘cause you don’t know them! And it proves that you don’t know everything.”
What are you doing tomorrow?
R: Hmmm....do you need a guide for Vienna?
BO: That would be great!
R: Yeah?
BO: Yeah, that would be really good.
R: I can do that.
BO: Give us your phone number. You live in Vienna, right?
R: Yeah.
BO: We will be here tomorrow and the next day, hanging out in Vienna. My mom’s here too. She’s backstage somewhere, walking around. She’s never been to Europe before.
We’re going to Vienna tomorrow and come back here because I guess it’s some kind of holiday tomorrow?
R: Yeah, 1st of May, it’s the working day – so you don’t have to work.
BO: That’s everday in Europe, isn’t it? Give me your number, we’ll call you tomorrow. We’re trying to get in there about 11 or 12.
R: What about the release with Zu?
BO: I don’t know when it’s coming out. Is it out?
R: I don’t think so.
BO: I don’t know when it’s gonna be out. We recorded one song with them in LA and then I never heard another thing about it. But we like those guys a lot. Fantômas did a bunch of touring with them. They’re really nice guys and we like what they’re doing a lot so we are happy to do it. Sure, why not?
Dale did some other stuff with them too. I would tour with them again, that’s great and they are nice guys too.
R: What about the box-set coming out this year?
BO: We’re doing a box-set, limited to 500, with everything we’ve done on Ipecac with new packaging. And then, another CD that’s gonna iclude a whole bunch of other stuff!
R: But why? All the records are still available.
BO: Why?
R: Yeah.
BO: Because it will be completely different packaging, probably done with my wife’s photopress. It’s a very weird thing. I think the focus needs to be more on things people can’t download. It’s an odd thing to have, only 500 for the whole world. I’m a collector by nature, I collect all kind of stuff. We’re not gonna make a bunch of money on it. It’s the same like with the book: We put songs on th CD and there’s nothing new about those songs but it was a really good thing to do. We just want to do it.
R: What about your other plans? Two 12”s coming out?
BO: Yeah, one is gonna be a...ahm....no, I can’t tell ya. But it’s pretty funny. They might both be on AmRep, but I’m not sure. They’ll be really limited, like 500. Then we’re also doing “(A) Senile Animal” on vinyl, a huge four-gatefold package, single-sided 12”s with edgings on one side. My wife redesigned everything.
But again: I just like to do that kind of stuff. We don’t make a tremendous amount of money out of it.



R: You should make it possible that people can subscribe to “Melvins”.
BO: Yeah, we might maybe. The hardcover books are all sold, we might make another 1000 with a different color. It costs really a lot of money. I think that book costed us 25.000 dollars.
R: But it’s so beautiful, with the hole on the cover...
BO: Yeah, in order to do all that kind of things you should have money!
R: What do you think of the idea of making a solo record again?
BO: Maybe. But I’m out of time with doing all the other stuff. And writing songs between all that kind of stuff...it’s really hard to write songs when you’re on the road. But I’m not complaining! Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine!
R: You’re always recording your ideas at home?
BO: Yeah, with a little four-track, it’s really just the ideas. I have a lot of ideas and I just have to figure out what I can do with them. Like there’s a song on our new record, “Suicide in Progress”, that we recorded for our last record, but it didn’t fit in. But I had it written when Kevin was still in the band! We just never worked it out into a song. Whatever.
But I’m always amused at how off base lots of people are about what we’re doing, what our motivations are, why we’re doing it, how it works. We have a realisitc attitude towards what we’re doing, we still like what we’re doing – that’s fine. I love playing music.
R: Is there a Europe-tour in September or October?
BO: We’re coming back here in the fall for touring Europe. We start touring the States on 15th of July. First thing what we’re doing is an instore in “Amoeba”, a record store in Los Angeles. Have you ever been there?
R: No, never.
BO: LA is great. Amoeba has used and new stuff, both, it’s as big as a hall. And we’re playing there. It’s the best record store I’ve ever been in. They also have a stage for live instores. I think Paul McCartney played there, all kinds of people. Then we do four or five shows in California, then go to the Northwest and then cross the US. It’s such a weird country. Every corner of it is different and it is so big. If you drive around, you see every kind of environment you can think of: deserts, rain forests, tropical – it’s crazy.
R: And also all the different mentalities.
BO: Imagine if Europe was one big country. You can come and go as you please, move wherever you want. It’s easy to get around – wonderful.
R: I go to New York in July. Do you have any recommendations?
BO: I don’t know what you want to do?
R: Buying records...
BO: No idea, I don’t collect records. I collect music, but not records.
R: How do you collect music?
BO: CDs mostly. Dale might know. But do all the tourist stuff, that’s fun stuff: the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty. New York’s probably the most European-like city. Boston, too. The further you move to the West the weirder it gets. LA is the weirdest place, totally weird, I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve been living there for 15 years and I wouldn’t like to live anywhere else, no way, I love it there. Werner Herzog talks about how much he likes LA. Since he likes it, it’s gotta be great!
R: I planned to make the Westcoast, going from Seattle down to LA. But then I didn’t have the money for renting a car, sleeping at a motel everynight,...
BO: When are you going NY?
R: In July.
BO: Ah, go to a baseball game!
R: I’m not into baseball.
BO: But go! That’s America, that’s the true America. I love baseball, it’s totally weird, the weirdest sport in the world.
R: I heard you tried to kill Kurt Cobain?
BO: Well, I didn’t try, I killed him!
R: So Courtney Love is right?
BO: Courtney Love is totally right and amazingly beautiful! And she’s a mother, that’s great. Great, great, great!
R: Ok, thank you...
BO: I’ll call you tomorrow!