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An Interview with Buzz Osborne of the Melvins

At this point, (the) Melvins are an American institution, and even 30+ years into their highly influential career they’re showing no signs of slowing down. In anticipation of their gig on August 19 at The Vogue, frontman Buzz Osborne was good enough to take a few minutes to answer our questions.

Indy Metal Shows: First off, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I’ve been a fan for quite a while. Before we get into talking about music, I know you’re a big baseball fan. With the trade deadline coming up in just a few days,how do you feel about your Dodgers? Are you worried about the Kershaw situation? Do you think there’s really a chance they’ll trade Yasiel Puig?

Buzz Osborne: Puig will go to AAA and try to figure some things out. I hope they don’t trade him. I like Puig. Kershaw will probably be OK, I’m not too worried. As for the season, well, anything can happen.

Melvins Indy Metal ShowsIMS: So you guys have been at this Melvins thing for a long time and you’re showing no signs of slowing down, either in terms of releasing new music or being out on the road. What keeps you going? How do you maintain that creative spark?

BO: It’s never easy but it ends up being worth it. I like what I’m doing, so why quit? It’s a weird world we live in and sometimes I just buckle myself in.

IMS: It’s been a little while since you’ve done consecutive records with the same lineup. Starting with Freak Puke, it’s been something different each time out. With Basses Loaded, you’re working with five different (+ Dale) bass players. Do you see yourselves having a permanent bass player again?

BO: Not really. I don’t have much interest in doing or even thinking in terms of permanent, but you never know. We did that for a long time and it always crashed and burned, so I can’t imagine jumping right back into a nightmare like that again.

IMS: With as deep and varied as your catalog is at this point, I’m curious as to what the process of selecting the setlist for a tour is like. How do you decide what you’re going to play? How much of it depends on who’s on bass for that tour?

BO: We have too many albums to be able to do something off of each one, so we simply try to put together a set list that makes sense. The bass players we use can pretty much play whatever we throw at them so that’s not a consideration. We try to have fun with it.

Melvins Indy Metal ShowsIMS: I want to ask about your guitar setup. What does your live rig look like these days? And I’m curious about why you switched from playing a Les Paul to the aluminum guitars you’ve been using the last few years. They sound great, but there’s something about the idea of a metal neck that I can’t quite get my head around.

BO: You have too many hang ups. Why would you be opposed to something just because you don’t like the idea of it? Have you ever tried an aluminum neck? Contempt prior to investigation is no way to go through life, besides, everyone plays Les Pauls. That’s not much of a stretch. I like the idea of doing things left of center guitar wise.

IMS: I’ve been reading good things about the recent screenings of The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale. You seem like pretty low-key guys, so I was actually kind of surprised when I heard there was a documentary in the works. What was that whole process like? What do you think of the finished film? Do you know if there’s
going to be a wider release of the film, either in theaters or DVD/Blu-ray?

BO: We didn’t make the documentary so all we had to do was sit for interviews, which was no big deal. Bob and Ryan had our blessing and they did a great job. I liked it and it should be interesting to anyone who has an interest in us at all. I think there will be a DVD at some point.

IMS: I really dug your solo acoustic record, This Machine Kills Artists. Any plans to do another one, or another acoustic tour?

BO: Of course I will! Hopefully soon.

IMS: So after this run of dates ends, what’s next? Any splits or 7″ singles on the horizon?

BO: We never wait too long for these things so no worries. We are working on a Christmas song though.

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