Buzz Osborne is the frontman for the Melvins, the West Coast sludge-rock forbearers who inspired many a band to pick up a guitar and make dark, angry music. He's releasing his first acoustic album ever in June on Ipecac Recordings, but will preview it with a 10-inch record entitled This Machine Kills Artists
. That piece of vinyl will be available on King Buzzo's inaugural solo acoustic tour, which stops at the Riot Room this Saturday, March 8. We spoke with Osborne by phone about the recordings, the perception of the Melvins, and interpreting one's music.
The Pitch: Is the record done?
Yes. And we're releasing a 10-inch for this tour. The 10-inch has got four songs that will be on the CD. It's sort of like in the old days, when they used to release a single prior to the record. It's not even really a release. It's a release, but not like a regular release. There's 500 of 'em, none of 'em go to stores, and the only way you can buy it is either online through us or from me at a show. That's it. So, to call it a release, it's like, "Well, kinda ... "
We've done this in the past, and then we've had people go, "This stuff was already put out." I'm like, "Well, I don't consider 500 of them being put out a fair representation of it being released!"
Not a lot of people put out 10-inches anymore.
Well, the reason was because we couldn't fit all the songs onto a 7-inch. We could put it on a 12-inch, but it would be a fast-spinning 12-inch, plus I think 10-inches are kinda cool. This one has really crazy vinyl. I think the ones we'll have will be red, white and blue vinyl - striped, like my guitar - and then, a hand silk-screened cover.
How representative is "Dark Brown Teeth" of the entire CD that will be coming out in June?
Well, you know ... it's me with an acoustic guitar, so you really have to dig to get a wide variety out of it, and I think I did it. I guess it's as normal as any record we've ever put out. I don't know what you'd consider us: ambient, noisy, loud, calm? I think Kevin Rutmanis put it best when we released that one record: Hostile. Ambient. Takeover. That pretty much explains it.
Since you're touring solo, are you going to be playing exclusively from the upcoming solo record or will you be digging into the Melvins' back catalog as well?
I'm going to do a combination of both. I wrote all of the material so, y'know ... My wife says the acoustic stuff sounds like the Melvins. I mean, any of the songs I do on acoustic on this record, we could easily translate into the full band, y'know?
Is it easy to translate everything from the full band back into acoustic?
Yeah, relatively. I mean, some songs won't work, like "The Waterglass," off of our Bride Screamed Murder album, which is mostly drumming. That'd be hard for me to replicate, you know? But I could probably do some version of it. Some songs work better than others, but it's not like I can't do it. I can certainly do it.
Are there any songs you're finding challenging to interpret acoustically or did most of these songs start out that way?
Some of them started out acoustically, to begin with, then went to the full band. I mean, I've always played an acoustic guitar - it's nothing new. I started out on acoustic guitar when I first started playin'. The first time I ever did anything acoustic was, I think, on the Bootlicker record, a little bit.
But it's not like I never have, so it's not a massive challenge. Not at all. I'll figure out a way. I'm not too precious with the way things are on records, so if we're having trouble playing it that way live, we'll just change it. Nobody cares. I don't care, y'know? I like it when bands do that kind of stuff - it still sounds good. A live experience is different from the record. It should be.
Most songs are written to be played onstage. Some are written and we just never played them onstage. I don't know why. We've played whole albums - it's not hard. If you can't play it the way it was on the record, you figure out a way to make it work.
At times, you've been kind of a polarizing figure.
I'm sure that, just walking down the street, there are people who wonder why I'm not in jail. I've said some things that people find to be so offensive that they wish the absolute wost thing that could possibly happen to me, and all I've ever talked about is music. That's weird.
It seems that it's almost taboo for musicians to talk about other musicians in any way other than vague hypotheticals.
Yeah, but you know - if a band like the Stones can't handle it, then fuck them. Give your money back. Jesus Christ, go buy a new car and make yourself fucking feel better. I always say the same thing: "Why do you care what I think?"
Don't listen to me if you don't like my opinions. There's plenty of people out there who you'll agree with. I'm not fooled by it, and I'm not going to be a part of it. That's it, you know what I mean?
It seems fairly rational to me.
Well, I did this article recently ["Melvins' Buzz Osborne picks songs by 'bands that were good, but blew it
'"] that caused a lot of "fervor," where I said, "Bands that blew it," and I specifically said at the beginning of it that these are bands that I like. That I think are good, y'know? But at some point in their career, they blew it for one reason or another. Like, Jimi Hendrix blew it by dying by overdosing on drugs.
Metallica? I like their first album a great deal. But I don't like what they are doing now. All that shit, on and on, and people just lose their minds: "How dare you?!"
How dare I what? What are you fucking talking about? Like, the Replacements. I talked about how great I thought one of their records was, but I didn't like what they did after that. That's just taboo! Whatever. Metallica has sold millions and millions of records, and there's nothing I can do to reverse that, and there's nothing I can do to hurt them. Nothing!
They don't care what I think, and if they do, I'd like to think that they have more on their mind.
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins plays a solo acoustic show at the Riot Room on Saturday, March 8. Details are here.