The Melvins' Buzz Osborne: No one's dead, no one's in jail, and everyone's still on heroin
Photo by Mackie Osborne
The legendary sludge-punk metal band the Melvins return to Grumpy's Downtown Minneapolis, making their 15th stop in as many days! They'll perform in the lot out behind the establishment, as the Minnesota stop on a 50 states (plus Washington D.C.) in 51 days tour. If completed, it would put the band in the Guinness Book of World Records. The tour features the Melvins Lite line-up of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Trevor Dunn.
This intense tour -- on the heels of their excellent Freak Puke, released in June -- is exemplary of the Melvins' relentless work for a nearly 30-year career. Gimme Noise caught Buzz on the road between Columbia, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska, where they'll team up with other members of their various configurations, Big Business.
Gimme Noise: How's the tour going?
Buzz Osborne: Its going good! No one is dead, no one is in jail, and everyone is still on heroin.
GN: Whose idea was it to do the 51-city tour?
BO: I just thought it would be a big stupid thing for us to do and we're perfect for that, big and stupid.
GN: How will you get through it?
BO: Well, we're going to take a lot of vitamins, and we're going to do our best, and do good shows in every city. But god knows what will happen!
GN: What do you do on your breaks?
BO: We don't take breaks. No days off. We drive, and we eat. Then we get to the show and play. Then we go to the hotel room and sleep. That's our day -- that's it. We're professionals, you know. Nose to the grindstone. One hand in the air, and holding on to the brass ring.
GN: Any crazy incidents so far on your shows or during tour?
BO: We had a guy gushing blood out of his face in Denver -- through no fault of our own. He was so oblivious and drunk; he acted as though he had no problem at all, or really knows about it. I had to calm him down from the stage, so that was weird. We walked him through it, and hopefully he was arrested.
GN: How has the reception differed from city to city?
BO: We get about the same reaction everywhere. It doesn't matter if I'm playing Cheyenne, Wyoming or New York City. I play the same shows in every city. The show tonight we play in Omaha will be the same as in Chicago. Every show is important. No question
GN: How do you feel about playing Minneapolis?
Update: Review of the Grumpy's show and photos are here.
BO: We like Minneapolis. We love Grumpy's. Grumpy's is a great place to play. Tom [Hazelmyer] is a great guy -- he puts out a lot of our releases [via
Photo by Dan Raymond
GN: How would you describe the artistic progression of Minneapolis compared to Seattle?
BO: What happened was, people in Seattle started wearing flannel. As they did in Minneapolis. When that all happened, that's when I decided I was going to start wearing a dress. And the only thing I could do to worsen that was wear a flannel dress. Then I'd be accepted in Minneapolis and Seattle. I figure there are just as many heroin addicts in Minneapolis as Seattle. If not more. I think that actually improves most of those boring bastards there. You wanna improve something, develop a monstrous heroin habit. That's the way to do it.
GN: I just saw your buddies Seawhores at the Hexagon. You did a split 7" and two shows with them -- one in New York, and one in L.A.
BO: We like those guys! They have the ability to make a wild and crazy noise, and we like wild and crazy noises -- though it's not that noisy. We like melodies, screaming, singing. We like blood, we like drinking -- all of those things go together!
GN: You definitely have plenty of co-conspirators. What was working with Fantomas like?
BO: Fantomas was a nightmare cooking somewhere back in my intense brain, along with a bunch of other nightmares that are cooking back there. I don't know, we went to a whole lot of trouble to do it, and then hardly play shows or record! I can't explain it. I certainly couldn't explain what goes through the mind of Mr. Mike Patton. However, having said that, its weird enough, so I'm very interested in it. And I can say, "We can do whatever we want," because we don't really do much at all. Not like it's a big deal.
GN: Having been at it so long now, how do you explain your longevity? How do you keep motivated?
BO: First of all, I like to do it. If the day comes when I'm playing on stage and thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner, then I'm probably not going to be interested in continuing to do it. That hasn't happened yet. If it does, then I'll find something else to do, or how to do it to keep it interesting, do a new thing. For better or worse, I've liked everything we've ever done. I don't listen to it, you know!
GN: At this stage in the Melvins' development, who are your biggest influences on your guitar technique and songwriting?
BO: At the moment, my biggest influences are: Captain Beefheart, Lenny Bruce, Howard Beale, Rupert Pumpkin, Larry David, Funkadelic. Those are my biggest influences today, no question.
GN: You like Debbie Harry a lot too, though?
BO: We love Blondie. She's an amazing singer. There's a book the Rise of Blondie that's a great book, filled with his photography and pictures of her. It's really great. Blondie's always been a really good pop band, one of my favorite pop bands. We did a Kinks song with Clem Burke, the drummer, that hasn't come out yet.
GN: What do you think about when you write these days?
BO: Basically I sit in my room and stare at the wall. That's it. I let things come to me. Some bands take acid, smoke a joint or have a couple beers . . . I don't do any of that. I just stare at a wall and see what comes to me. Some of its pretty crazy. The more insane the better. I'm not writing for Iggy Pop, so anything goes.
GN: I absolutely love Freak Puke, by the way.
BO: I love it too! It was a great thing to do. Well, we actually have people care about what we do now. So that's a big change. It's nice. I'm happy about that, I'm happy about everything. I'm not an unhappy guy. I'm happy all the time. Happy All the Time is going to be the name of our new record. How about this? Happy, or Else. That's the name of our new album. We're also going to do a political album, Peace, Or Else [laughs]. That's our philosophy.
GN: What are you planning on doing after the 51-city tour?
BO: I'm gonna kill myself [laughs].
The Melvins Lite. With Tweak Bird. $20 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 19 at Grumpy's Downtown, 1111 Washington Ave., Minneapolis.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.