The word “legend” , much like the word “great”, is thrown around far too frequently in our society. To be legendary in my book you have to not only kick some serious ass, but you have to do it for a seriously long time. In addition, you have to influence others who then go on to kick ass themselves.
The Melvins are a legendary band in every sense of the word.
The Melvins have been making their particular brand of music since the Reagan administration and have released over 30 albums and EPs. Formed in Washington state in 1983 and named after an unpopular co-worker, they play an eclectic blend of punk rock and heavy metal styles with a dash of the absurd thrown in for fun. Founding member Buzz Osborne, AKA King Buzzo, described their sound as “Captain Beefheart playing heavy metal” in a nod to one of their primary influences. Some of the other bands Osborne credited with influencing him musically were The Who, The MC5, Flipper, and the seminal New York underground band The Fugs.
“Be as peculiar as possible, that’s my motto” said Osborne with an impish smile.
The Melvins released their first EP, “Six Songs”, in 1985 and have been steadily rocking ever since. Along the way they have influenced generations of musicians, particularly the Seattle grunge scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The Melvins consist of Osborne on lead vocals and guitar, longtime member Dale Crover on vocals and drums, and a rotating cast of bass players. They are currently in the midst of a 49-date US tour featuring former Butthole Surfers bass player Jeff Pinkus. They are touring to support their most recent album “Hold It In” as well as “Chaos As Usual”, an EP they collaborated on with Le Butcherettes, their supporting act on the tour. The tour began in Tucson, Arizona on June 6 with a frenetic and fantastic show, the Melvins delivering the goods to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience at the historic Club Congress. It will finish up in San Francisco September 9. After that The Melvins will head to Europe for a brief tour.
While in Tucson Buzz Osborne sat down with myself and IPO Radio personality DJ Trouble for a brief conversation. He had some interesting things to say. Here are some excerpts.
“When you don’t have lofty ideals or lofty goals it’s a lot harder to become dissatisfied with what you’re doing.”
“We’ve never been massively successful, that’s the key, not a very long fall to the ground.”
Buzz on the music industry post-Napster.
“I don’t know, there’s nothing you can do about it now, so if people hated the industry before, you know, be careful what you wish for. Maybe it will work out. It forces bands to play a lot more live shows, which I think is kind of cool.”
Buzz on his favorite musical era.
“Music has never had a ‘golden era’ as far as I’m concerned. There’s just as many shitty bands now as there’s ever been.”
Buzz on another artist they’re similar to.
Buzz on American politics.
“I honestly believe it’s a good idea to look to higher sources than entertainers for your political beliefs. I think that most entertainers, if not all of them that spout off about that stuff are little more than jackasses.”
Buzz’s advice for aspiring bands.
“The harder I work, the luckier I get. You can’t get lucky sitting on your ass on your couch at home, it’s not possible.”