Thursday, May 21st, 2009 | interviewZ, musiX, pdX
… not the kind I used to get from seniors in gym class … an actual Melvin. Buzz Osborne has fronted the Melvins for the past 25 years, bashing it out heavy and weird while influencing floods of bands over the years of the stoner metal ilk. Without the Melvins, there’d be no Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age.
The band has not-so-quietly recorded 20-some albums with core members King Buzzo and drummer Dale Crover, who had a brief stint as skinsman for Nirvana during the Bleach years. Not much has changed, save for the fact that they finally added some consistent members a few years back in Big Business’ Coady Willis and Jared Warren.
The Melvins were one of Kurt Cobain‘s favorites (Cobain had actually tried out for bass in the early days), which no doubt helped get the band signed to Atlantic Records in the early ’90s. In 1993 the Melvins released their Atlantic debut Houdini, a classic among the band’s followers that brought the slow and weird meat-and-potatoes sludge of songs like “Hooch” and, my personal favorite, “Teet” to a wider audience.
Almost a decade later, the Melvins were asked to play the album in its entirety at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England. They obliged, and continue to play it today. But it’s not a case of a band resting on its laurels—the Melvins released Nude With Boots last year and, according to the outspoken Osborne, have no plans of stopping. Why should they?
The Melvins are playing a string of shows this month, including in Portland at the Roseland Theater on May 24—expect Houdini in its entirety as well as a few surprises. King Buzzo obliged to answer a few questions in his lovable, curt way—which I liken to a wedgie with words.
TDoL: You’ve been playing Houdini live since performing it at All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2004. Wasn’t the album requested by someone at that festival?
Buzz Osborne: Yes this is true. They requested we play the Houdini record all the way through.
Is there an album of yours that you’d rather play live?
Not really, I guess. It’s a pretty good record for us to play all in one go. Lots of variety.
Someone else’s album you’d like to play in its entirety?
Tommy by the Who.
What do you think it is about Houdini that makes people return to it?
Do people return to it? I know we have but that’s because we know it now. Lots of our records have songs we had no intention of playing live.
Why did you choose to cover KISS’ “Going Blind” of all songs?
It’s a good song. I’ve always thought KISS had some good songs and some that were less than good. “Going Blind” is one of the really good ones.
I agree. What are you listening to these days?
Bobby Darin and Lou Reed.
I’ve read that you collect toys, but not records, which I found interesting. What’s your most prized possession?
Why is that interesting? Should I collect records? I have a ton of music and I listen to a ton of music all the time … just not on record. I don’t care what format music is on. No one should. My most prized possession would be my dogs.
Do you find that some people concentrate on the Melvins’ place in a certain time in music rather than the fact that you’re still making relevant, creative music today?
Actually, I find most people are interested in our new stuff as well as our old. I suppose some people only recognize the older elements of what we have done, but they are usually not fans of our band … so who cares what they think? I couldn’t be bothered worrying about things of no consequence.
Twenty-five years playing music … great? Surreal? Just what you do?
Of course it’s great. Doing anything for 25 years is a little surreal. What do I do? I go go go until it’s gone gone gone.
“Teet” – Melvins (Houdini)
“Going Blind” – Melvins (Houdini)
“The Kicking Machine” – Melvins (Nude With Boots)
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