Meanstreet.com 2004 Buzz interview
- by Jeff Hancock
Two decades of survival in the music industry isn’t easy, but leave it up to the Melvins to do just that — and much more. The band — Buzz Osbourne (vocalist/guitarist), Dale Crover (vocalist/drummer) and Kevin Rutmanis (bass) — has recently kept themselves busy through a string of releases on Ipecac, churning out plenty of material to keep their collector fans busy and happy. Mean Street recently caught up with Buzz about two of the band’s most recent works, a book titled “Neither Here Nor There” and the band’s latest disc, a collaboration with electronic whiz Lustmord titled Pigs Of The Roman Empire.
J-Congratulations on 20 years, that’s awesome.
B-Oh yeah, thanks
J-You guys played a show in Oylmpia w/ Mudhoney on the anniversary right?
J-How’d that go?
B-It was great,It was a really great thing to do.It was really really good.There was a lot of people there, we did three different shows with them and they were all a big success.Real fun.
J-That’s really cool, did you guys play any special song that night?
B-Well, we like to think all of our songs are more special than the next.
J.I mean you guys don’t always play like the older stuff so…
B-Yeah we did a song off of our first seven inch.But,it’s like you know I don’t mind doing things of that nature but whenever we do things like that too much it feels like we’re playing cover songs.Which is fine, we like playing cover songs but it’s almost like it’s a different band you know?
J- “Neither Here nor There” is a great looking book.
B-Oh thank you, yeah that was a lot of fun to do, it was a big major milestone for us.
J- I’ve actually never seen anything like it,it’s very nice.
B.Well there you go..
J.How long did it take?
B.Year and a half
B.A year and a half of solid work.My wife’s a graphic designer so that was a big help.She does all our album covers in the first place, but it was still a real challenge.You know when I decided we we’re gonna do a book, it was like ‘how do you make a book work’?I hate rock biography books,I think they’re absolute garbage.So I certainly didn’t want to do anything of that nature.It was a …a challenge!So once I thought of that,I realized what we really wanted to make with it was an extension of a CD package, and with CD artwork you don’t have to sit there and explain why you’re doing it, so you know, we just took it from there.
J.Well it was worth it, it looks great
J. And the new album, “Pigs of the Roman Empire”…
J.Who’s Lustmord and why did you guys decide to work together?
B.He was friends with the guitar player from Tool, and we’ve known him for quite a few years and it just kind of seemed like the right thing to do.I’ve been a big fan of his music for a long time and I knew we would end up with something that we hadn’t ever done before.We’re all really happy with it you know?
J.Yeah you should be!,I mean I thought it was gonna be like electronica or something, but it’s actually just pretty much atmospheric.
B.Yeah!, somebody described it as listening to a rock n roll version of the soundtrack to Jurassic Park, which that’s fine to me.
J.Actually, it’s got some really tense moments.Like some of the scariest I’ve ever heard on a Melvins record.
B.Well thank you, I guess that’s an accomplishment.I’m really happy with it.I mean it’s like all these things you know.I mean people bitch and complain about every single record we’ve ever done in one way or another.Which doesn’t really bother me.I’m always quite interested in those sorts of things, as far as like how that works after as long as we’ve been doing this you’d like to think that people would give us the benefit of the doubt you know?But it rarely ever happens.
J-Even the fans are like.”We’’ what’s this and this and..”
B-Always,always.What a lot of them don’t really realize is “classic” Melvins wasn’t’ welcomed with open arms by any means.So you know it’s like we struggled every inch of the way for all the fans hat we have.It hasn’t ever been some massive thing.You know when we put out our first record nobody gave a shit!Nobody cared at all, so that kind of thing is where all this stuff comes from.We spent well over the first half of our career without much interest in our band in he least so none of that surprises me. Like I talk to younger bands and their like “how long did it take for you guys to start doing better”?and it’s like “Oh, I don’t know..TEN YEARS! (laughter)
J.And their going like “Yeah six months for us..”
B- and they just freak out.
J-When what you guys are doing is so much more artistic ..
B.Well we’d like to think.I’d like to think anyway, that’s what you strive for.There’s enough band out there doing it the way it’s done.I don’t think people should look to us for that kind of thing.They should look to us for something different from what they’re normally used to.That’s what they’re gonna get whether hey like it or not. One of the reasons we put this section in our book was the “Critics Agree” section which is critics just ripping us!
J-Oh I know, I love that part!
B-Oh it’s great!I mean you read through it and it’s like the last quote is “This is the worst song I’ve ever heard”..”By far the most irritating song ‘ve ever heard”..It’s like I can’t even think what the most irritating I’ve ever heard would be!That’s quite an accomplishment!To be THE most irritating song ever..Wow!I mean I’m impressed with that, that’s a very, very strong response.
J-I mean someone that would say something like that, I’d love to know what they’re favorite song is you know what I mean,It would be hilarious.
B-Well when you read the reviews generally speaking all you have to do is scan through the rest of the review section and see what else they like and then it all comes clear.You know talking about whatever “new metal record” is and it’s “Well they don’t like us, what a surprise”And they’re giving props to the new Metallica album or something, you know, whatever…which by the way I thought the new Metallica movie was an absolute classic!
B-Have you seen it?
J-No I haven’t seen it yet.
B-It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.By far one of the stupidest moments I’ve ever witnessed.(laughter all around)
J-I can’t believe you went to it!
B-Oh of course!I’m a big movie fan, so how could you not go to it?Watch the kings of heavy metal as one of them struggles through rehab..It sounds amazing to me..And the singer, or the drummer,one of the members..I’ll say one of the members looks basically “coked” to the eyeballs through the whole thing while he’s talking about somebody else going to rehab.
J-Gee I wonder who that is..
B-I don’t know, you be the judge.It’s great, I highly recommend it.You can’t script something that hilarious.Can’t!, it’s not possible.Spinal Tap tried but they’re not even close.
J-Well I’ll wait for the rental on that one.
B-It’s great,I highly recommend it.It’s really good.I’m not a big Metallica fan,I liked them a long time ago to a certain degree, but this has to be seen to be believed.I laughed out loud at least 20 times..there you go, what else can you ask for in a movie?It’s pure entertainment.
J-Well that’s good then !
B-Yeah!That’s the deal, that’s the thing, that’s the whole magic of the cinema.
B-It’s good,ridiculous,crazy,gory,anything you can get out of it as long as you get the point to a certain degree of something.What better people to laugh at than Metallica?And if they feel bad than they can just go buy a new car or something than they can feel better.I mean cry me a river.Oh well..St. Anger!
J- H.A.T. was recorded in about two weeks, how long did this one take?
B- Um, this was a stranger type of recording situation for us, we’ve done some collaboration like with the Crybaby people, but we’ve never done anything quite like this.Crybaby was more we do our thing , turn it over to you, whatever you come up with goes on the record regardless.We didn’t make any edit.You know we let people do their job.This one was much more of a collaboration.
J- Was he(Lustmord) in the studio with you while you guys were doing the take?
B-He would come down to the studio but he never really messed with what we were doing..then we would turn things over to him and then he would work his magic on it.And some of the stuff we did ourselves without any help from him and vice versa.But I won’t separate out which is which.I prefer to let people decide that for themselves.Like Adam Jones helped by playing a little guitar, but he didn’t write any songs or anything.But I refuse to say where..
J- where exactly..It’s beter that way.You guys usually leave it pretty open like that.
B- yeah, yeah, I like to anyway.And our friend Dave Stone helped out with certain things here and there.I’m really happy with this record.It came out great and it’s certainly nothing we’ve ever done, and you know it’s been a really good year for us.You know we’ve really accomplished a lot of things, especially after 20 years.I mean the book and this record and we got the record coming out with Biafra in October.I mean things are working great.Very interesting projects that are polar opposites of ourselves and there you go!
J- The album with Jello, are you going to sing too or just him?
B-I did some backup vocals but Jello’s the singer.I wrote about half the music and he wrote about half the music.Contrary to popular belief of what previous band members have led people to believe that he had nothing to do with the creative process.I whole heartedly disagree with that.I mean I’ve seen it with my own eyes and if anyone thinks that he had nothing to do with that music is just completely crazy.Out to lunch and crazy.I mean it’s not true.
J- Well I think you can tell, he’s so into what he does.
B- Well the proof will be if those guys ever put out a record, which they haven’t been able to do.PUT OUT AN ALBUM.And hen prove to us that the Dead Kennedys had nothing to do with Jello Biafra.
J- It’s not gonna happen.
B-It’s never gonna happen, because they can’t do it.You know that story is one of the worst rock n roll stories I have ever heard, you know when you get down to what the real story is about the whole thing, I mean you star pointing the finger at people like Biafra you have to be completely out of your mind.He’s the one guy that follows his own shit.Doesn’t treat everything he does like it’s some way to promote his own career.Especially in the rock world with politics.Some people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about .He’d actually be able to talk to you about things.And he’s eccentric but not dumb.All the stuff that’s happened to him has been completely unwarranted.I think the rock n roll community owes that guy a lot and very few people are stepping up to bat for him.
J- was he familiar with your work?
B- He’s only been a fan of our band for the past couple years.Maybe 3 and a half years.He heard our cover of Alice Cooper’s “Halo of Flies”, which we ended up recording with him but it’s not gonna be on this record, it’ll probably be on a future one.We started talking through a mutual admiration of Alice Cooper.
J- Is he going to tour with you?
B- We’re gonna end up doing something.I think we’re gonna play a show on their 25th anniversary around Halloween.But probably not before next year.We don’t like touring in the winter, it gets a little “dicey”We’re ending our tour in the States about the middle of October.We star on he 28th then head across the middle of the U.S..The tour encompasses everywhere but the Northwest which we just played twice in the past six months.
J- I was looking at your tour dates and you are playing places like Omaha,NE, what are the crowds like over there?
B-We get a couple hundred enthusiastic people.It’s great!In LA we can do 700 or 800 people without any problem.
J- so 200 over there’s pretty good!
B- Well if your taking your music to the hinterlands you have to figure that’s what you’re gonna get.As far as I’m concerned sometimes those are the best shows.You play in New York,LA, San Fransisco,Chicago…those people have seen it all.So you plat a show in Ft. Collins, there’s not that many people but it’s gonna be something different.I want things to be weird.We came up through our career playing strange ,weird places, it’s business as usual for us.I think bands should be able to go out and do a huge amount of touring in the U.S., tons of shows in a row without any problem at all.I can’t just sit back at let the royalties roll in, I have to go out and make this happen myself.And the way that works is by playing live.And playing live is the one thing the internet can’t download.You’re never gonna be able to get the live experience on a computer.So if we don’t do this it’s never gonna happen.
J- Whatever happened to “Mike and the Melvins”?
B-It’ll come out eventually.It’s one of those things where ther’s a wide variety of things that have been sitting on the shelf for a while and we’re 80 percent done with that.
J-That’s Mike from godhead Silo?
B-Yeah, we’re not afraid to put out records.
J-I can’t believe how consistently you guys put stuff out!
B-Oh, well I appreciate that.
J- I don’t understand why other bands don’t do that.I mean you guys put a 7” out for every song on the last album…
B-Yeah with an alternate take.
J- is Ipecac prepared to put out anything you think of?
B-Well, we’ve never put out records that lost money, that’s one big help in that department.They didn’t shell out tons of bread and then have us lose money, I’m sure it would have come to a screeching halt.
J-I would expect anything from you guys.If you said we’re gonna put out a ….box set with 25 seven inches in it, would they put it out?
B- They did the book.They had no problem with that.They’ll pretty much do whatever we want.I mean within reason.The book was a huge undertaking that none of us had ever done.That was amazing.And we’re thankful for that.
J-Thank god you guys have n outlet for that.
B-Yeah, I’m sure we would have figured it out one way or another.I mean I fell fortunate for the fact that we finally, well we’ve never really had a problem with labels .I mean we’ve had problems getting PAID by labels.All of us at Ipecac have been through the major labels and we just want to put out stuff under the radar.It’s a really good situation to be in and hopefully it’ll last for a really, really long time.
J- I read somewhere, you said “Only someone like Prince listens to their own music”Don’t you ever listen to the Melvins?
B-When we make a record I’ll listen to it.But there comes a point in a musicians life when you just have to put that stuff on the shelf and walk away from it.
J- well you’re making the music you want to hear, I would think you would throw on….Eggnog once in a while.
B- Only if we’re gonna figure out how to play something again.When you’re in it you are far too close to it.It’d be like writing a story and then saying “I want to read something good”I mean I see things that you don’t see and it’s not fun for me.Prince probably thins he’s pretty fuckin cool.I’ve never quite understood the fascination with that guy.
J-Well what’s your favorite Melvins album?
B-Oh god I don’t know…I could tell you the few that I like.I was really proud of the “Stag” record when it came out.I like “Hostile Ambient Takeover” a lot.The whole concept of the Trilogy was a big accomplishment. And I really like the new one.But I also really like “Colossus of Destiny” too.That’s one that took a lot of heat.
J-Adam Jones helped you on that too right?
B- Yeah he played on the whole thing.I think that record’s really great.It gets no recognition at all which I think is a shame.I wonder where people get these uppity views.I mean come on guys, what the hell are you listening to? What people don’t realize is that we put out records for a reason.You know we’re not just fucking around.I guess people look at it some other way, I don’t know.But fuck them,if they don’t like it then fuck them.They should love it, if they don’t love it then fuck them.Go listen to something else.
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