NOT YET DECIDED 1988 Interview with Brian Walsby
- By Brian Walsby
This interview was done on my very first visit to S.F. to hang out with these guys. They had just restarted the Melvins with Lori Black on bass, and it was literally ground zero for these guys, who were starting over in a new town. They had played just one show at this point. They were writing the material that ended up being on "Ozma". No one liked them or heard of them. I remember watching them practice and taking pictures and just being floored. I couldn't believe it! I have fond memories of that trip, and on the last night I interviewed them for NOT YET DECIDED. This actually has a lot of historical interest. You might like it.
Brian: Buzz, since you have been in the band all along, why don't you give us a very brief but uh...but..
Brian: Concise. Give us a concise history.
Buzz: I'm Buzz. I started the Melvins. (laughter) No, I helped. Me and two of my friends started the band about five years ago,probably...Me, Matt and Mike. We kicked out or we dumped Mike or he left or whatever..We got Dale, and me and Dale decided to move down here and start the band without Matt. And it seems to be a..a very mutual agreement.
Brian: You are cutting a very big chunk of history out of here.
Lori: You just skipped over a couple of years. Three years.
Brian: Didn't you exist as a band?
Buzz: Yeah, we existed as a band. We did a couple of records that so far have been really unsuccessful, did a couple of tours and stuff.
Brian: So you are pretty much a unsuccessful band.
Buzz: Yeah, we are the unwanted Melvins.
Brian: Until now.
Buzz: Yeah, we got record companies beating down our doors. "We want to sign you! Here is a whole bunch of money."
Dale: (singing) "We are the world's forgotten band.."
Buzz: "The one no one can understand"..
Brian: Why did the Melvins break up and then reform down here?
Buzz: Well, all it was was that I wanted to leave the place where I was living, come down here and start a new band or something. That was last October. I really hated it. I just wasn't happy and so I moved down here.
Dale: We wanted to move down here a long time ago.
Buzz: Yeah, we always talked about it.
Dale: Things were going slow in Aberdeen (Washington).
Buzz: We didn't like Aberdeen, had shitty jobs there.
Dale: He had the opportunity..
Buzz: ..so I moved down here.
Dale: Then I had the opportunity. So I did.
Buzz: We had to talk it over and it became more obvious after awhile that our bass player wasn't...it's just better this way because it is a mutual thing where I now understand a whole lot better that we shouldn't have been together in the first place, so you know..we just kind of grew apart. This is a lot better situation for everyone involved.
Brian: For diplomacy and trivia buffs, Matt is in a new band.
Buzz: Mudhoney, who we haven't heard.
Brian: And Lori is the new bass player. You used to be in the band Clown Alley. Care to comment?
Lori: It was a lot of fun.
Brian: Is that it?
Brian: Why did the band break up?
Buzz: No drummer.
Lori: We got sick of looking for drummers, and our guitarist decided to move back to England.
Dale: They were a good band.
Brian: Do you like being in the Melvins.
Lori: Oh yes.
Buzz: It's like, "The Melvins? I have heard of those guys but they have girls in their band and with a name like that? Ha ha ha ha.."
Brian: Alright, let's do a quick vinyl rundown. Your first stuff was on that "Deep Six" compilation that had no distribution. That was like 1985, right? You had like three or four songs on it?
Buzz: Yeah, it was alright. That was back when we were listening to a lot of Void and stuff like that.
Brian: A year later you put out that six song single, right?
Dale: My mom paid for it.
Dale: (in a deadpan voice) My mom paid for it.
Buzz: Yeah, Dale's mom put in some money. It's on C/Z records, too.
Brian: That is hard to get, right?
Buzz: I think..actually, I think that the guy has like seven hundred of them sitting in his house. For some reason he won't sale it to distributors.
Brian: And then the Alchemy Records deal for "Gluey Porch Treatments".
Buzz: They said they wanted to do a record with us. They put up the money to do the record and now..it's not in the stores! It's not getting distributed. Supposedly it is all over the world but we have gotten like two letters from people who said they got it. And we have heard from at least a number of people who have said that they would like to get the record but just can't find it anywhere. We're hoping to find a better label to..communicate with a lot better.
Brian: Out of all of the stuff that you have done so far, what are you the most happy with?
Buzz: I like the album the best..even though if I had to do it over again now I would do them differently. There are some things there that I am not happy with, but that is how it basically is with any band, you know? They are not happy with everything. (sarcastically) No, our record is the best, you know?
Dale: We just recorded it and never listened to it. It's..
Buzz: I never listen to it. In fact, I don't even remember a lot of the songs on it. I don't even know the order of the songs. I just don't listen to our stuff, you know?
Brian: The few people I know that like you guys all say the same thing.."I can't make out a word that guy is saying." Is that done on purpose?
Buzz: Uh no...that is just the way that I sing.
Brian: And it almost seems like that you have an aversion to people understanding what you are saying. Is that why there is no lyric sheet in the record?
Buzz: We never had any plans for a lyric sheet. Had a lot of plans for this record that we wanted to do but it never happened, you know? Not because of us, but because of communication with the record company. Things just didn't work out. Anyways, lyric wise I am more concerned with how the whole band sounds as a whole, the voice along with the instruments.
Brian: So it is like the voice to you is like a whole other instrument?
Buzz: Yeah, it is. The lyrics..I feel..if I put down the lyrics I feel they could really easily be misinterpreted as something that they are not, and I am not going to be there in someones living room to be able to describe to them what I was talking about. It is like if you put a lyric sheet in there you think it's clear enough that people will understand them.
Brian: You like the idea of people trying to figure it out for themselves?
Buzz: Well yeah, that is okay..if there is a lyric sheet in a record I will read them but its like..lots of the albums that I like had no lyric sheets in them and it didn't stop me from liking them, you know?
Lori: I could understand a lot of the Melvins lyrics before I knew them.
Buzz: I have a hard time writing lyrics. You read our lyrics. What did you think of them?
Brian: They were pretty good. I really liked the ones about Ronald Reagan and nuclear war.
Buzz: Yeah, the anti-war song.
Brian: So you guys just played your first show down here at the famous Maximum Rock And Roll club, huh? How did it go?
Buzz: The mighty MRR? (Laughter)
Dale: It went alright. We got paid.
Buzz: They paid us well. They paid us as much as we ever got living where we used to live.
Dale: They asked us back so I guess that they liked us.
Buzz: (sarcastically) We are playing there again with the world famous Vandals, who we played with before, and who love us..loved us to death, and we love them. They are hot...they are really good.
Brian: Yeah I bet. Well, since we are on the subject of other bands, let's hear that Die Kreuzen story!
Buzz: This was way before Lori was in the band, she was in Clown Alley and they came up to Seattle to play a show, and Die Kreuzen were on the same bill. And before the show, I was walking around and I went up to their singer and I was talking to him and I said, "yeah I like your seven inch and I like your new album". What is it, "October Files"? is that it? I kinda didn't like the middle one and I said something to that effect. I was basically giving the guy a compliment, you know? I thought that his records were good and he basically blew me off and made me feel real stupid for having an opinion about that record. He treated me like a jerk and I was real pissed off. So for the rest of the night, Me and Matt were just walking around bugging the shit out of them. We'd go up to them and say (in a really redneck hick accent) "Hey, I got a fanzine! I was wondering when we can do a really long interview?" and we'd just say it to them over and over. Then we switched to a Texas accent and say stuff like, "Are you guys in Diiiiie Kruezen?!" (laughter) They were trying to move their gear and we kept getting in their way like we were trying to help them, just doing it a million times.
Lori: Getting in their way, saying this stuff over and over..they never cracked a smile.
Buzz: They were just stone face, staring at us, you know? We are just bugging them and this went on for at least an hour. We ended up chasing after them in their van as they were trying to drive away from the club. (stupid accent again) "Wait! Wait! We really want to do this interview!! It was really funny, you would have had to been there.
Brian: No, it sounds great. How about the Seven Seconds story?
Buzz: (maliciously) Seven Seconds. That is one band that..I dunno, I am just not into it. We played a show with him and all of the rest of them were nice except for the singer. I don't know..he never said anything to us, which is fine with me. So we just stood by the side of the stage while they were playing and screamed at them throughout their entire set. (laughter) We were screaming at them about stuff like trying to sell them acid and pot and stuff like that. And we also screamed at them to play "Freebird" and "God of Thunder" over and over. Between songs, you'd hear us going, "PLAY FREEBIRD, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!! PLAY IT, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!" And he was getting really pissed off and it was really funny.
Brian: Alright, well back to the band. It seems like your popularity is based on word of mouth or something.
Buzz: No, our popularity comes from all of the massive advertising that Alchemy did for the record. I think a lot of bands, not to name any names, but a lot of bands on these major independent record labels. If they weren't on these labels..the only reason that people like these bands is because they are on these labels. if they weren't on these labels no one would give a shit.
Brian: Lori, do you get any shit for being a woman in a band?
Lori: Not actually, no. Not when we played. A lot of people like to perpetuate the myth of the female musician. It lives on.
Brian: My prediction for you guys is that some of the very same people that didn't like your band will be coming around to you in a few years.
Buzz: Well, I think that those people that might end up liking us now aren't even going to remember seeing us when we played. We played shows with bands like Beyond Possession and RKL on the tours that we did and both of those bands play a lot faster kind of music then we do, and are a lot more accessible to these kids that want to skank or whatever, you know. When we played, it was a lot easier for them to go "they suck", and then wait for the good band to play. I wouldn't think that they bothered to remember. But our music is a little bit different now. I think if we keep practicing and playing..it'll be alright.
Brian: You seem to practice a lot and are pretty tight at this point.
Buzz: Well, that depends on what night you see us practice! I don't want to get too big headed about things, like thinking (in an obnoxious voice) "Yeah yeah we are cool..yeah we are really good!" You know, it will just fall apart, I know it. I always try to write new songs and I am always looking ahead on things to do. I don't want to put out the same record over and over. I just think that there are too many bands milking these trends. There have been a lot of bands that I once thought were really great a couple of years ago and they have really disappointed me. I don't want to be one of those bands. I don't want to name names.
Brian: Like maybe Black Sabbath?
Buzz: Those guys suck! (laughter)
Dale: They suuuuuck!
Buzz: We don't like Black Sabbath at all!
Brian: Yeah, I could tell. Did you guys ever dress up as members of Kiss for Halloween?
Dale: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Buzz: Dale's mom has pictures of him dressed up as one of the members.
Dale: I was Paul Stanley.
Buzz: Lori, what about you? You gotta have some bass playing influences, right?
Buzz: What bass players do you like? Mike from NO-FX? (laughter)
Lori: Yeah..Mike form NO-FX, Malcolm from Christ on Parade..
Buzz: The new bass player from RKL!! (laughter)
Brian: It is funny that you said Mike from NO-FX. I can see it!
Lori: Well, not just as a bassist, but as a person, too.
Brian: ..spiritual guidance.
Lori: Yeah..he really holds the lantern for me..John Entwistle..
(the phone rings. It is for me.)
(I leave to answer it.)
Buzz: (to Dale) I'll ask you a question..what do you think about that slut Walsby?
Dale: Aw, the band slut? He's just over here like, "the band the band" and all of that stuff..
Buzz: He just chats those bands up!
Dale: He's going to get all kinds of diseases!
Buzz: Every band that comes to town, he is all over them, just to be cool..here Dale, finish up the interview. (Buzz and Lori assists the band slut with directions over the phone.)
Dale: Okay. So what do you have to say about all of the new bands that are starting out, Dale? "well, first..you gotta have a formula, you know? Play fast. Nobody plays fast anymore. You can pick up a guitar and learn a few chords and then play really fast. But first you need a real slow part. I can demonstrate. (starts to make guitar noises slowly) DAH.. DAH...DAH... DAH..DAH......1234! (speeds up superfast) DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH..
(tape runs out. The End!)