Buzz Osbourne on 20 Years of the Melvins

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Scenes and sounds come and go, and in a world of businessmen masquerading as rock stars and a seemingly endless tidal wave of whiny Pearl Jam clones (this year's guilty party: Switchfoot), it's no small achievement that the trio led by Buzz Osborne and his inimitable frizzy mane is still going strong with their willfully oddball idea of what rock should be. And with not one, but two new albums on the horizon: Pigs Of The Roman Empire - a collaboration with noise/ambient maestro Lustmord, and a new album of songs sung by Jello Biafra. The Melvins also recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary as a band with a lavish collection of surreal artwork and anecdotal nonsense compiled in the hardcover Neither Here Nor There. Ever on guard for Buzz's reputation as the cantankerous old man living on the most outlandish corner of Rock Street, Daniel Lukes picked up the phone to LA for a chinwag.

  • WYWS: Hi, is it Buzz Osborne?
  • Buzz Osborne: Yeah, can you hold on? Just one second. Hello? I was on the phone with the tax collector.
  • WYWS: Do you owe him money?
  • BO: Well he was just checking to make sure.
  • WYWS: Do you regularly pay your taxes?
  • BO: I like to stay out of jail.
  • WYWS: Have you ever been in jail?
  • BO: As far as you know I haven't. (Laughter.)
  • WYWS: Ok, so how are you today?
  • BO: Good, how are you?
  • WYWS: I'm alright.
  • BO: How is it there?
  • WYWS: Rainy. I'm in London right now.
  • BO: What time?
  • WYWS: Six p.m. here. So I imagine it's 10 a.m. there. Are you generally an early morning person?
  • BO: Yes, I get up very early. I get up 6:30/7. Too high-strung to sleep in.
  • WYWS: What time do you go to sleep then?
  • BO: Er, midnight. I can very easily on five or six hours of sleep.
  • WYWS: Do you find that as you get older you need less sleep?
  • BO: I've never really slept that much. Generally speaking, when I was a "sleep until noon" kind of person, it was because I didn't go to bed until four o'clock in the morning. Even when I was in school, I survived pretty much on five or six hours of sleep at the most.
  • WYWS: How many months in the year are you at home rather than on tour?
  • BO: I'd say I'm tour anywhere from five to eight months a year.
  • WYWS: So when you're home what do you generally do?
  • BO: Well, when you're home, and in you're in a band, that's when you have to put your brain to work figuring out what your next move is, as far as records or any of those types of things go. All that stuff takes time. Right now, I got home from the Fantômas tour at the beginning of June, and I've spent the entire time working on the tour I'm going to be doing with the Melvins, starting at the end of August. It's not like I'm cooling it in the Caribbean or something.
  • WYWS: So you live in LA?
  • BO: Ya.
  • WYWS: Where abouts?
  • BO: I live in Hollywood.
  • WYWS: Near Sunset?
  • BO: Ya, near there. Yeah.
  • WYWS: I've been there, but what's it like to live there?
  • BO: I love it. I wouldn't live anywhere else.
  • WYWS: Do you go to all the sleazy clubs and stuff?
  • BO: Nah, I don't go to bars. I don't drink. So bars to me…drunks are only fun if you're drunk.
  • WYWS: What about shows?
  • BO: Sure, I'll go to see bands. I don't go a whole lot because I spend a lot of my time in places of that nature every year, so the idea of spending my off time there… My off time: basically I'm perfectly happy to sit at home, and in the evenings and play with my dogs and watch a movie.
  • WYWS: How many dogs do you have?
  • BO: Three.
  • WYWS: What kind are they?
  • BO: I have a Jack Russell Terrier, I have a Pit Bull mix and we have an American Bulldog, a Mastiff. It's 100 pounds.
  • WYWS: Are they nice or aggressive?
  • BO: The Pit Bull can be aggressive if he doesn't know you. It's always good to be on your guard with dogs of that nature. He's definitely a guard dog. He will eat your ass off.
  • WYWS: Have you always liked dogs?
  • BO: Yeah, dogs are great. Me and my wife didn't get a dog 'til we moved into this place eight years ago. We lived in a tiny apartment before that and didn't have the room. Now we have a little bigger place. Three dogs is a lot, even for any size home.
  • WYWS: Do they make a lot of noise?
  • BO: No, they're relatively well-behaved. My wife takes really good care of them. She loves them and they love her, so they want to do what she says.
  • WYWS: Do you ever get any musical ideas or inspiration from your dogs?
  • BO: I heard somebody say that dogs are the closest you'll ever get to standing next to God. I'd have to approve of that.
  • WYWS: Wasn't it Werner Herzog who said: "Stupidity is the devil. Look in the eye of a chicken and you'll know"?
  • BO: Yeah. I would imagine that the chickens we know of today are brainless morons compared to their ancestors.
  • WYWS: Because they're kept cooped up in cages?
  • BO: Well, you know, it's farming. It's the way it works. Talk to any farmers and they don't have the same Greenpeace attitudes that most people do.
  • WYWS: What kind of attitude do you have towards the whole mass-farmed chicken thing?
  • BO: I could care less. What we need to do is feed people. Now it's really easy for people to bitch and complain about the way animals are treated as long as their belly's full. Let them and their family be hungry and then let's see exactly what they think about the whole farming issue.
  • WYWS: I'm sure that most of the people who do campaign for that kind of thing are the middle class people who can afford to eat tofu and the like….
  • BO: They can just walk down to the store any time they like. You know. Go somewhere where people are hungry and ask them what they think about farming techniques in the world. I think you'll find a far different answer. Only if you and people in your family are hungry can you bitch and complain about how things are done in global farming. The wide variety of people in this world spend the vast majority of their day just looking for food. The idea that we would bitch and complain about what types of food we eat would be absurd to them. It's pompous and the kind of arrogance I can't stand.
  • WYWS: There's a theory that humanity is unhappy these days because he has too much free time because he doesn't have to spend it looking for food.
  • BO: Yeah, well, there you go. You've got to remember, though, that the best and brightest in the world, all the way back through history, were the ones who had the most food. We were able to figure out things like civilization, building things… We didn't have to sit there and worry. Eskimos didn't build a lot of stuff because most of their time was spent just in the pursuit of keeping their bellies full.
  • WYWS: So what food do you like?
  • BO: I'm an omnivore.
  • WYWS: Do you cook much at home or do you eat out?
  • BO: The last few years I've eaten a lot more at home. My wife's a really good cook which is good.
  • WYWS: What's your favorite thing that she makes?
  • BO: Oh, my favorite food that she cooks? She makes these soups that are amazing. Sometimes they're vegetarian, sometimes they have meat in them, and they're really great. And she makes large amounts and saves them and you can keep them in the refrigerator for a long time, and they can keep for a week or so. We're on the go a lot so it's great to have these things waiting for you. It's a luxury. It's amazing.
  • WYWS: Does she come out on tour with you much?
  • BO: She does a little bit, but she has her own things going on, her own life. She doesn't always have the time for that sort of thing, which I think is fortunate and attractive. To have somebody who has their independence is something I admire and strive to copy. I don't want her hanging on my every move.
  • WYWS: When you work together do you actually work together? [Mackie Osborne has done the covers for many a Melvin album.]
  • BO: A lot of times, for instance, last year we did this big Melvins book, which is almost 300 pages, this art book, and she basically put together the whole thing. And so, I came up with the idea that I wanted to do a book. And then we discussed things all the time. We had discussions about every single thing we wanted to have in it, how it all should work, and then a lot of times, like with most artists and musicians, I like to give them the freedom to do what they do, so I'll go, "I was thinking about something along these lines," and instead of me dictating exactly what I wanted her to do, I'll lots of times like to let them do their thing and then be totally surprised at something I hadn't thought of. And I feel the same way about music: Why on earth would I want to hire a musician and then make them play something that they wouldn't normally do?
  • WYWS: I got the impression that in the Melvins you were something of a dictator: Is that not correct?
  • BO: I write the majority of the music but I don't pretend to be a composer. I like to let the band breathe on its own. I'm not stupid enough to deny something that I come up with that might be good: if I come up with a bassline and if I think it's good, we generally speaking all think it's good. There's a lot of things where I'll go "I don't really know what you should play on this, I have no idea. So do what you want and we'll see what happens." Kevin, our new bass player, when we got him in the band.
  • WYWS: He's not that new.
  • BO: Well, our latest bass player. He's been in the band over five years. But when he joined the band and we were working on our old songs to play live, me and Dale intentionally didn't show him what they were. I didn't go, "Here is the bass part." I was like, "See what you can come up with, or play other things," and sometimes he would come up with something that wasn't exactly right, he'd go, "I know this isn't right, but it's what I've come up with," and, we'd go, "Ah, it sounds great." He'd want us to show him the right way and we'd refuse. And we were like "No, if you want to play it you can play it that way, we want you to own it more." So I like musicians to own things, even if I've written them, because then it becomes something I hadn't thought of, because I always believe I haven't thought of everything. What if there's something I hadn't thought of?
  • WYWS: Does it ever happen that you bring something to the band and they go 'Sorry Buzz, we think this is shit'?
  • BO: It never happens. Never happens. Because, generally speaking, before it evens gets to the band I think there's something to it that can be figured out. Now maybe it starts off as being shit, but generally I've thought it about long enough so it can materialize into something that we like. There's plenty of times I've brought things thinking it's going to be one way and it ends up better as something else.
  • WYWS: Well, one of the things I like is that you have courage to try things out that might not work.
  • BO: And I'm sure we've suffered as a result of that, but we've also benefited as a result of that, it's wiped the playing field for us. A lot of people have a problem with that. A lot of people don't like a lot of things we do, and they don't realize that if we'd stuck to the same thing the entire time they would hate us as well.
  • WYWS: You have a core following these days that will buy anything you put out…
  • BO: Yeah yeah yeah. There's people out there that appreciate what we do and like to let us do the driving. There's also a lot of people who like to think they know what's best FOR US. We make records that we like as fans. We do things that we think are good, and I think we have good enough taste that if we think it's good, then everybody should think it's good. If they don't, they're missing something. I mean it's like hiring a painter: why would I want to hire a painter and tell them what to do? Do you know what I mean? People should buy our records and know that we're not kidding. We're not fucking around. We've thought about this a lot more than THEY have and they should give us the benefit of the doubt.
  • WYWS: You may not be kidding but you have a sense of humor, a lot of the time…
  • BO: Absolutely. But there's something very serious about a sense of humor as well. We've taken a lot of shit for the record Colossus Of Destiny [a live noise album] but I can't stress enough how important that record is in the grand scheme of things. We needed and need to have a record like that. Every band does.
  • WYWS: Every band?
  • BO: Absolutely.
  • WYWS: Even Kiss?
  • BO: Sure. They've been spinning their wheels for over twenty years.
  • WYWS: Have you heard Gene Simmons' solo album?
  • BO: No, no. I can't imagine.
  • WYWS: He's done a cover of The Prodigy's "Firestarter."
  • BO: Oh. Hmm. Gene's got a lot of money and he's constantly working for something that's going to sell.
  • WYWS: Do you have a lot of money?
  • BO: Me? Compared to him? No.
  • WYWS: Is money important to you?
  • BO: I have enough so that I can pay my bills. But I don't have enough money to retire on, if that's what you mean. I cannot work between tours, (laughter), but I work a lot. I'm by no means financially secure: I've got a lot of work ahead of me. I'm not bitching, don't get me wrong, I make my living playing music and I feel very fortunate about that, and I work pretty hard at it, too.


  • WYWS: Yes, you've done a lot of stuff lately, even for your usual standards…
  • BO: The last five years have been the most productive years of my musical existence.
  • WYWS: How do you stop running out of ideas?
  • BO: If the music goes, there's no reason why you can't do what you want. Hey, have you heard our new record?
  • WYWS: Not yet. That's the one with Lustmord right?
  • BO: Are you aware of Lustmord?
  • WYWS: Yes. I like his stuff.
  • BO: Oh yeah?
  • WYWS: How did you connect with him for this record?
  • BO: We have a mutual friend in Adam Jones, the guitar player for Tool, and I'm very good friends with Adam, and through him we came up with the idea that we wanted to do a record, and collaborating with people is nothing new to us: we did a whole album called The Crybaby with guest stars and we've done a variety of different things with different musicians, playing live onstage, Adam has done stuff with us, a guy named Dave Stone has done a lot of playing with us live, and so the collaborating idea wasn't too outlandish for us, and then we sent him some stuff about a year ago to see how he would do, and it came back great. We thought it was such a great idea because it was something we wouldn't normally have thought of on our own, but it definitely had our thumb print on it. We started recording things for this record probably about January. I had a lot of things I had to do prior to going out on the big Fantômas tour which started in late March. We had to finish recording a record with Jello Biafra, which is being mixed at the moment. We had to finish tracking all of that stuff, and finish the stuff I was going to do with Lustmord before getting the hell out on tour with Fantômas. So I had my hands full. We did all of our stuff with Lustmord and a lot of it is true collaboration. We did a song called "Pigs Of The Roman Empire" which is also the name of the record. It's only the second time we have ever called a record by a track on the album: that's a 22-minute instrumental right in the middle of the album: it's classic Melvins/Lustmord. There's vocals and instrumental stuff, it's all over the place. I mean, if you're a Melvins fan there'll be some things you might not like, but I think you should like them, it's a really great record, it's like nothing we've ever done. We treated him like a fourth member of the band, so it was really great.
  • WYWS: And how did it work out with Jello Biafra?
  • BO: It's a strange situation. We met him a few years ago, and he was kind of a latecomer to becoming a fan of our band. It happened through a mutual admiration of Alice Cooper: he heard us playing this Alice Cooper song and it turned out he's a very very big fan of Alice Cooper's early albums, certainly the first five or six records. Through that we started talking to him at a show. He said, "I really loved that, I think I'm really starting to understand your band and blah blah blah stuff like that." "Oh, that's great, nice to meet you," and things of that nature. We're all fans of the Dead Kennedys, it goes way back and I've seen them a number of times back when they still meant it, and then it was the time when his ex-bandmates had sued him and had taken away the records and were then heading out on tour as the Dead Kennedys except without Jello Biafra, so I said to him half-heartedly, "We should just do some songs with you, go out and do a Dead Kennedys tour with you, we'll be your band." He said, "Ah, I have no interest in doing anything of that nature. I have no interest in saying 'fuck you' to those guys, I think what they've done is horrible but that's not what I do. I'm not going to do a retro-punk thing. But what I would do is do an album of new material."

So that's kind of how it got going. I wrote the music for half of the record, he wrote the other half and all of the lyrics. We'd get together every so often between tours, and his spoken word things, which is basically how he earns his money now that they've taken the records away from him. He's not making anywhere near as much as he did when he was the guy in charge. Now those records aren't on Alternative Tentacles anymore, they're on a subsidiary of a major label, which is absolutely his nightmare. The idea that the Dead Kennedys are somehow affiliated with a major label is an absurdity in itself, but, anyway, he would have to go out and do his thing and we had a lot of things on ourselves. So it took a long time to get the whole thing done. A couple of years of getting together for five or six days at a time and jamming though ideas, and then being apart for a couple of months and getting back together. So the recording was kind of like that too.

  • WYWS: So he's singing on the record?
  • BO: He's singing and I'm doing back-up vocals on some stuff, not everything.
  • WYWS: Are you going to go out on tour with him then?
  • BO: We're definitely going to play shows with Jello, but we basically had to beg him to do any Dead Kennedy songs. I think it's stupid not to play at least a couple of Dead Kennedys songs. He was adamantly opposed to it. He said, "I'm not interested in doing some singalong Shanana punk rock like a bunch of these other punk rock things have started to do now," like Black Flag or any of these other ones which are out there. What irritates him is when it's a nostalgia thing to cash in on whatever it may be, which is what the Dead Kennedys are doing. They put the band back together with a new singer and then they go out and play material which is more than fifteen years old. He's like "I have no interest in that," and the only way we could convince him to do some Dead Kennedys stuff is the fact that we've done a whole new album with him. So we'll be playing new music as well as some of the old stuff, just not a lot of it. We recorded enough stuff to do an album and an EP. As it turns out, we have two things with him which will be coming out soon.
  • WYWS: And you have Venomous Concept too…
  • BO: Yeah, that was really amazing. A collaboration with two of the guys from Napalm Death and one from Brutal Truth.
  • WYWS: That struck me as a somewhat unlikely pairing…
  • BO: Which is what attracted me to it.
  • WYWS: Brutal Truth you have already collaborated with on the 1-12 Amphetamine Reptile collection…what about Napalm Death?
  • BO: I was a long-term fan of that stuff. I've been friends with Kevin Sharp for a long time. Napalm Death, they wrote the book for that kind of stuff. We've played a few shows here and there with Napalm Death. I was hoping we could do a tour with those guys for a long time, because they're really getting sick of going out with the same old Cannibal Corpse-type bands, they want to do something else. My dream would be a Napalm Death/Melvins/Sonic Youth-type tour, you know.
  • WYWS: There is a connection?
  • BO: There is an absolute connection. It's three bands that have survived a long time and have their own audiences and can survive on their own. It makes perfect sense. But that's just me. I don't want to go out on package tours where all the bands sound like us.
  • WYWS: Do bands sound like you?
  • BO: What do you think? Hahaha. You tell me.
  • WYWS: Not really.
  • BO: Well, you know what I mean. I don't want to go out with heavy rock genre bands, whoever they may be. Granted, we stand on our own, but I don't want to go out with Soundgarden-ish bands at this point. I have no interest in that.
  • WYWS: What's your take on the younger generation of bands?
  • BO: Like what? Which bands?
  • WYWS: Is there anything new that you like?
  • BO: Oh, certainly. I'm a really big fan of this band called Melt Banana.
  • WYWS: They're not new…
  • BO: Well what do you mean by new?
  • WYWS: I'm thinking bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan or The Mars Volta.
  • BO: Mars Volta I'm sure mean well, but if I'd never heard King Crimson I'd be more into it. I've never really heard their records, but the thing about that kind of stuff is that I think they're far more career-motivated than they are really worrying about their own music. Yeah, I think so, generally speaking.
  • WYWS: I got the impression from their record that they're doing something very different from what's around now.
  • BO: I don't know. I heard it once and it's just not my thing. Maybe they're great, maybe they're great people. Maybe I'm the one that has contempt prior to investigation.
  • WYWS: Well, that's part of my question. Do you have contempt for younger bands prior to listening to them?
  • BO: No, not at all. I try not to. I'm still a big fan of music. I want bands to come out and blow me away. I want to be completely excited.
  • WYWS: What is the last thing that did blow you away, then?
  • BO: This isn't a new band, but the last thing that I thought was completely amazing was that last Killing Joke record. I thought that was fucking great. This is a band that's been around for a long time and they put out this album that is as vibrant as anything they've ever done. I thought it was AMAZING. That record should have been all over the radio.
  • WYWS: And it has your old friend Dave Grohl on it as well.
  • BO: You know I haven't talked to Dave in years. I have no idea. I've been off the A-List in that department. I have no idea what Dave is doing.
  • WYWS: Have you heard Probot?
  • BO: No, I haven't heard that yet: what do you think?
  • WYWS: I was underwhelmed by it. To me is sounded like a fan's tribute to that 80s stuff. The Max Cavalera song sounds like Sepultura, the Lemmy song sounds like Motörhead, etc.
  • BO: Well, more power to him. I'm proud he's doing something that's left of center. That's good to see that he puts his time and energy to something that's not exactly pop rock-type crap that nobody will ever need more of. That's refreshing, but as for the rest of it, I wouldn't know. I have no idea what motivates Dave at this point. I haven't had any contact with him or the surviving other member of Nirvana for quite a bit of time. They have no time for me for whatever reason. It could be bad. I wouldn't be opposed to having a relationship with them but it just ain't going to happen.
  • WYWS: Are you generally seen in the industry as being a cantankerous old git?
  • BO: I think so, yeah.
  • WYWS: Do you cultivate this reputation?
  • BO: Well, I don't think I've ever been anything other than that. I don't remember a time when I had a bright and breezy opinion of everything that's going on in the music industry. A lot of people have a problem with that. I don't know why, because as a result of all those kinds of things I've actually been very positive. Very supportive. I'm not sitting at home brooding. I always say that when I see people bitch and complain, what they do on their own just amounts to nothing. OK great, you have decent points, what are you going to do about it?
  • WYWS: And you've also been a band that has inspired a lot of other bands who have ripped off ideas from the Melvins…
  • BO: Sure.
  • WYWS: Are you philosophical about that these days? I mean, do you ever listen to Queens Of Stone Age and get pissed off at the fact they are selling so many copies?
  • BO: No, not at all. If I was going to do that I would have quit a long time ago. I think that we're a much different animal than what they are. They are a far more streamlined commercial vehicle than we are…ever have been. So it doesn't surprise me. I was never surprised when bands like Nirvana or Soundgarden or those guys made hit records. They're not really doing anything that's too left of center. They're basically utilizing the same songwriting techniques that Chuck Berry wrote with his big hits. Not a whole lot different.
  • WYWS: Yet you still have faith in rock music as a medium that can branch out in lots of new and different ways…
  • BO: Sure. They just need to do it. A real eye-opener for me was when I was on Atlantic. That was a real eye-opener because I really saw how bands think, and what they think, by watching them on that label. You realize how all this stuff about major labels making you do one thing or another is bullshit. They're not making you do anything. The bands are ready to do it. They want to sell out more than anybody else. I never saw a band that was accused of selling out that wasn't ready to do it. They want to be big stars and they're ready to do whatever it takes to have that happen. Labels rarely have to do anything other than just have the bands come to them and ask, "What do we have to do?" The bands want it to happen, the managers want it to happen, they want it to happen, the bands are looking for some pie in the sky thing and if it doesn't happen, they're the ones that become cynical and weird. I'm at least still doing something about it.
  • WYWS: Yes, but many rock fans just want a song they can sing along to, something catchy, and that's it.
  • BO: Most people that buy rock music are a bunch of dumbasses, generally speaking. The people that make bands of that nature aren't people that would like us in the first place. It's not going to happen. We're not going to have any kind of mass appeal along those lines because it's not thick enough.
  • WYWS: So your view on humanity has not really improved over the years?
  • BO: What would improve it?
  • WYWS: Well, you meet a lot of people in your line of work, and surely not all of them as bad, once you've actually met them.
  • BO: I don't mean to say that all people are bad. There is a very, very small amount of people in the rock-buying community that would be interested in a band like us. Very, very few compared to what makes someone sell a million records. Those people obviously understand what we're doing. They're not the majority. My people are not the people that are out there buying Incubus or Janet Jackson records. That's just not happening.
  • WYWS: Some of them might be.
  • BO: No, no. Very few.
  • WYWS: I like Christina Aguilera.
  • BO: Ah, well, good luck. I've been on the tours, I've opened for bands on plenty of tours where the so-called rock audiences wasn't having it with us, whether it was Nine Inch Nails or Nirvana or Soundgarden or White Zombie, or whoever. There are plenty of people out there who are interested in those bands who want nothing to do with us.
  • WYWS: I was pretty surprised when Tomahawk went out with Tool and got booed and bottled, and they're not even that weird.
  • BO: Well there you have it. That's what I mean. What do you think they imagine about us? We've done shows with Tool: same exact thing. Fantômas has done shows with Tool and the audience couldn't handle it. Couldn't stand it.
  • WYWS: I read about you supporting Korn in Iceland with Fantômas…
  • BO: That is true.
  • WYWS: How did that end up?
  • BO: Well, the way it ended up is that there's really only one promoter in Iceland that we know of, and he was the guy who was doing the Korn show at the exact same time we would have been there. He offered us more money than we would have made on our own to open for Korn. I had absolutely no interest in opening for Korn, but I had a big interest in playing in Iceland. So we got the chance to go to Iceland, play two shows, do better than we would have on our own, and play to a lot of people.
  • WYWS: How did it go?
  • BO: Well, the first night it was mostly really young kids who, for the most part, didn't really give a shit about Fantômas, they were only interested in hearing Korn. I can't even begin to tell you how underwhelmed I was by that whole thing. I'd never seen Korn, I'd only ever heard some songs on the radio, but that stuff was a bunch of crap. I could not believe how horrible that was. It was even worse than I would have imagined. Stupid. Stupid. If people are interested in a band like that they're never going to like the Melvins, they're never going to like Fantômas. It's never going to happen.
  • WYWS: Why not? I can hear a Melvins influence in Korn…
  • BO: If you watered us down and put a disco beat to it. Then, maybe. But they utilize the exact same song techniques as Chuck Berry or any of those other people. They would never do something like we do. Never. They don't understand it. They would never put out a record like The Bootlicker or Colossus Of Destiny or Hostile Ambient Takeover because they're too concerned about what's going to sell. They are a POP BAND. Popular. They play POP MUSIC in 4/4 tempo with horrible disco drumming and that standard rock guitar stuff in the lower tuning register. No ideas, no concept of anything musical at all. Pop, hip-hop-oriented metal garbage. If that is heavy metal, then what the fuck are we? We have literally signed a deal with the Devil and I am speaking in tongues: If Korn is heavy metal, then we are something far eviler than that, that in their wildest dreams they will never be able to conjure up.
  • WYWS: Okay. Have you heard Sunn O)))?
  • BO: Yes.
  • WYWS: What do you think?
  • BO: I think they're giving it a good go. I don't know that much about them so I really can't say.
  • WYWS: I like them, I think they're pretty good. Have you heard Thrones, the [ex-Melvins bassist] Joe Preston stuff?
  • BO: I've heard a little bit of it, yeah.
  • WYWS: I think it's pretty good.
  • BO: Yeah. If I hadn't have known Joe personally I probably would have a higher opinion of it. I didn't kick him out of the band because I thought he was such a great guy.
  • WYWS: A lot of it sounds very Melvins-esque.
  • BO: Well, there you have it. A lot of people have this opinion that he had something to do with the way we sounded when he was in the band but that is absolute nonsense, because I wrote all that stuff. I even wrote his basslines, so you can think that, but it's just not true.
  • WYWS: Well, how does that phrase go? "Mimicry is the surest sign of flattery."
  • BO: Or "imitation is the sincerest form of television." I think Joe has problems and his own demons he needs to battle, whatever they may be. It was a very long time ago and I can't foresee us every having a relationship again.
  • WYWS: Going back to the new CD: the title is Pigs Of The Roman Empire. Is there a political connotation to that?
  • BO: You mean does it have anything politically to do with now?
  • WYWS: Yeah.
  • BO: Nah, I'd say no, we just liked the title.
  • WYWS: Because to me it looks like Bush being in power has given rock music a political edge it didn't have several years ago: the punkvoter.org thing, Ministry and Green Day's new records etc…
  • BO: What they need to do is do a little more of their own history: have history lessons to figure this out. Bush is no more evil than any other president we've ever had.
  • WYWS: Do you really believe that?
  • BO: Absolutely.
  • WYWS: Will you be voting in November?
  • BO: I always vote.
  • WYWS: Who will you be voting for?
  • BO: It won't be a Republican or a Democrat or the Green Party. There you have it.
  • WYWS: So who's left?
  • BO: That's up to me.
  • WYWS: You don't believe in the concept of the lesser evil then? Like, this website called www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com?
  • BO: Well, then they're giving up. That goes against every idea of democracy I've ever had.
  • WYWS: But the president is going to be one or the other, that's a reality.
  • BO: But I don't care. I'm not voting for either one of those fucking scumbags. No way. Anybody who's going to vote for John Kerry has got their head up their ass. They get exactly what they deserve. It's the corporate military. That's it. He voted for the war in Iraq, same with his running mate Edwards, they both voted for it. Fuck those guys. Not saying that I'm against the war in Iraq, but don't vote for somebody because you think they're better than each other. They're not: all those politicians come from the same mold and anyone who thinks otherwise is living in a world of make believe. Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same.
  • WYWS: People do say that if Gore had got in, we might not have had the war on Iraq.
  • BO: Do you believe that?
  • WYWS: I'd like to entertain the possibility.
  • BO: Really? Honestly? Ok, remember the Democrats were the ones in office during the Vietnam War, not the Republicans. They were the ones that reinstated the draft. Gore's wife, Tipper Gore, is the biggest opponent of free speech in the United States in the last fifty years. The PRMC and all of her battles - trying to throw Jello Biafra in jail for pandering to the youth of America - and she was almost the First Lady. I'm sorry, that is not something I want to be involved in. That's crazy talk. They're nuts. Totally fucking crazy. The "lesser evil" is absurd. It's like saying I'd rather have smallpox than dysentery. I don't believe that. I don't think that Kerry is any less evil than George Bush. It's crazy. I think they're exactly the same. How do they know things wouldn't be worse? They don't know that. Joe Lieberman, who was running with Gore, is a hardcore Jewish fundamentalist. I'm sorry. A hardcore religious guy in the White House? How do we know that wouldn't have made the Middle East even more pissed off? We don't know that. If you want to pretend that John Kerry will make everything great in America, we'll see what happens. Everyone forgets that Clinton bombed the shit out of Iraq, bombed the fucking shit out of it.
  • WYWS: What is wrong with America, then, at the moment?
  • BO: There is nothing inherently wrong with it, compared to anywhere else. Everywhere else has its problems, nowhere's perfect. What irritates me is how people can be pissed off about the US when you have countries like Switzerland who stood by and allowed any scumbag to plant their money there from Idi Amin to Hitler. They sit there and have this pompous attitude of neutrality? Fuck them.
  • WYWS: You have these strong opinions: how come you don't use your lyrics to express them?
  • BO: Ah, because I think people should look higher than musicians for their political beliefs.
  • WYWS: Often they don't. They mistrust the mainstream media and expect musicians to have a more insightful view. What do you think about that?
  • BO: I think it's crazy. Musicians don't have any more an insightful view than going out and finding things out on your own. The media's never going to tell you anything. Even the smartest person will tell you that you can only believe 2% of what you see on television. If that's as far as you take your political beliefs, then you deserve whoever's in office.
  • WYWS: A lot bands, like Tool, for example, base their reputation on having some kind of insight which the man in the street might not possess.
  • BO: Well maybe they do. But I don't think there's one single rock band that I would want to be the end all about anything. I'd like to think that what they're really doing is opening the doors and allowing people to go in and figure it out on their own. The liberals here are just as much to blame for anything as anybody else. They're just as stupid and bullheaded and dumb as the others. You've got people at Greenpeace campaigning against genetically modified foods even though that would save millions of people's lives.
  • WYWS: But that's because it hasn't been clinically proven that GM foods are safe…
  • BO: Bullshit. That's total bullshit. Look at the facts. Look at it. The genetically modified foods are the most tested foods in America. They're the ones that have been tested the most. That's propaganda put across by people whose agenda is anti-civilization and, once again, the people who are fighting against this stuff are well-fed people. Only when they are hungry and their families are hungry can they bitch and complain to me about what sort of foods you can eat.
  • WYWS: One thing I have often noticed about your interviews is that you are very good when it comes to ranting about things that anger you, but you rarely get as excited about things you like or that you are enthusiastic about.
  • BO: It depends on what it is. I hate hypocrisy, generally speaking.
  • WYWS: What recently has given you a good feeling, in general, in life?
  • BO: Well, there's a million things. I lead a relatively simple life, which is good. I pour most of my insanity into my music, which I think is important, but I also get very excited about a lot of things. For instance, that movie… City Of God. That was amazing, I thought that was great. I give a lot of attention to movies, great movies are the ultimate art form.
  • WYWS: I found that movie quite disturbing and violent.
  • BO: Doesn't bother me. It's a movie. The one thing that I can really narrow it down to is that I love the idea of portraying street crime in a way that's much more realistic to me than it's portrayed normally. This stuff is out there being done by kids and kids are the victims of it as well, and they didn't try to sugar coat it. It's not some 'Boyz'n'the Hood' type of thing. This is more real to me. These are people that I can understand because I can see a lot of my own upbringing in them as far of their innocence as a child in this world of insanity. Hollywood being the liberal place that it is rarely portrays things of that nature: that movie would have never been made in mainstream Hollywood. It's far too politically incorrect.
  • WYWS: It didn't really depict much hope, as far as humanity goes.
  • BO: Who says that movie makers have to make movies about hope?
  • WYWS: Do you have hope that there is such a thing as progress, and that humanity will get better?
  • BO: Humanity has gotten better. Life is better now than it was a hundred years ago: there's more to eat, people live longer. Humanity's always gotten better. What's going to get worse? People live way longer in the world than they ever have. There's more people who have a better chance living well than they did a hundred years ago, everywhere.
  • WYWS: Do you think people are happier?
  • BO: I'm much happier. I've never been happier, in my own personal life. When I sit down at the end of the day I'm a very happy individual. I make noise for a living. It's an amazing accomplishment. The place I live is full of things that I love: books, and all sorts of things of that nature. I have three amazing dogs and I'm married and I have everything I want to: nothing could be better than that.
  • WYWS: Do you have any plans to have kids?
  • BO: Never. Never want kids. I just think some people shouldn't have kids.
  • WYWS: Do you not think you would be a good dad?
  • BO: I'd probably be a very good dad but I have no interest in being a parent. I don't mind other people's children, but I have no interest in doing it for myself. I think a lot of other people should have that opinion. I have no interest and neither does my wife.
  • WYWS: What's up with melvins.com?
  • BO: What do you mean?
  • WYWS: It seems to be a running joke.
  • BO: That's Ok. I have absolutely no interest in having a website dedicated to selling t-shirts. Not at all. None.
  • WYWS: There's a lot of archival stuff that could be on there.
  • BO: I suppose, but that seems very boring to me. I mean I think that there's plenty of fan sites and things of that nature where people are welcome to that sort of thing. I don't want to do it, I don't want it to be the end all of anything. I want people to be as confused about us after looking at an official anything of ours than they would be otherwise.
  • WYWS: I for one really liked the book.
  • BO: Thank you, that's very nice of you.
  • WYWS: Because I thought it was exactly what a Melvins's biography should be: it wasn't some boring story of the band…
  • BO: I appreciate that, because that is exactly what I was trying to do.
  • WYWS: Were you familiar with the artists in there like Camille Rose Garcia and Dave Cooper?
  • BO: Oh yeah. We hand-picked all that stuff. We're very, very interested in that. I got the idea to do the book, which was a collaboration between me and my wife, who does graphic design by nature and for a living. We got that idea to do that book when I realized I wanted to do something which wasn't like most rock books. So I went to do a whole lot of looking at rock books. I went to bookstores and the rock section and looked at it and just realized how horribly boring all of that stuff is, and I wanted nothing to do with any of that stuff. So then we started thinking, "What can we do to make this work and still have it be art?" And then I realized it should be like a really expensive CD package. With a CD package you don't have to explain anything. I don't sit there and explain the artwork on the CD: nobody ever does. So then I was like, "We'll throw a lot a whole lot of things in here that people will like, because we like it and think it will be interesting." But if somebody's looking for "This band started in blah blah blah" it ain't going to happen. We wanted to provide people with something that's far more interesting than a bunch of bullshit. So I think it worked. To me it's a benchmark thing. And I'm glad to be able to do it on the twenty-year anniversary of our band. I really think it's an amazing accomplishment for us and a crowning moment.
  • WYWS: How did you feel on the twentieth anniversary? It is a long time for any rock band.
  • BO: Oh yeah. For anybody, longer than most marriages, that's for sure. I felt really great about it. I think it's amazing. We're at our most creative point that we've ever been. We've done more things now than I ever dreamed possible, far more than I ever thought we'd do as a band. I see us as a perfect example: everybody, if they just used their heads, they can survive and do things that are really interesting for as long as they want.
  • WYWS: What would you say to someone who's never heard the Melvins to get them interested?
  • BO: I don't know. I don't know what I would tell them. I'd say, "Well, you know, good luck." I think the CD off the book: We wanted to put one song off of all of our records, and we intentionally made it not necessarily "Greatest Hits" but - if I was going to play one album for somebody that explained it as best I could - that would be it. That was the point of the CD. If somebody was buying the book, it would be a good introduction. If you put on that CD, it's not in chronological order, it's in an order that we thought sounded good for the record.
  • WYWS: I think it's much better than the 'Melvinsmania' collection.
  • BO: That's Atlantic Europe that put that out. That never came out here. I think that's one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. I never had anything to do with that record. I haven't seen one dollar from that. Zero. They never talked to me, they never even sent me a copy of it. Nothing. The thing's that really hilarious about that, is that if they had just called me, I would have helped them make a really amazing record. If they had just talked to me, I'd have happily helped them out with artwork, pictures, and much better things that they'd never released in the past, and all sorts of things. I would have happily allowed them to do it, but they refused, or they didn't even acknowledge me at all on this thing, so you tell me, I mean, that's just fucking ridiculous. I've put that out of my mind. I don't think people that are interested in our band…that record came and went. Nobody cares about because it sucks. They care about what we're really doing. Our CD in the book is complete. It has things off of everything. We were able to use things off the Atlantic records because we asked them and they were very cool about it. The people over there didn't have any idea who did that or what the story was. It's absurd. They didn't call me, but I'm not hard to get a hold of. You were able to get a hold of me. If they'd have wanted to, they could have got a hold of me within of two days. It's just ridiculous. They were trying to cash in, but I can't imagine our fans are that dumb. Some of them might have bought it, but it's a joke. Why would you buy that if you already have the three albums? Those albums are everywhere, it's not like they're out of print. As long as we keep putting out records, there isn't any of our stuff out of print. It's catalogue items that still sell. The American end of the label, when we were talking about using some of the Atlantic stuff on our CD, they couldn't have been nicer.
  • WYWS: The Melvins, despite what you say, do have a good reputation. You have become some kind of institution in the rock world by now.
  • BO: I would agree, yes. What do you mean 'Despite all the things you say'?
  • WYWS: The stuff you say about people not understanding the band.
  • BO: Let me make it clear: I'm talking about the mainstream public. I'm talking out of the million people that might buy a Korn album, there's very few that would actually get or understand or like our band.
  • WYWS: Did you meet the Korn guys in Iceland?
  • BO: Oh, God no. They had nothing to do with us. Do you understand what I mean, though?
  • WYWS: Yes. It's difficult to put myself in that position because I've been into the Melvins for ten years now.
  • BO: You're not the general public.
    • WYWS: I am too. I listen to lots of stuff that you might shudder at.
  • BO: I'm not saying that you shouldn't do that, I'm just saying that there's not very many people like you, not in the grand scheme of things. There's plenty of people out there that love our stuff and I'm very appreciative of all that, and I don't mean to say that there's nobody that likes us. I mean to say that if there's 100,000 people out of ten million, it's not that many.
  • WYWS: It's still not bad though.
  • BO: It's great, I'm just saying, in the grand scheme of things, of the AOR radio type of bands, there's not that many fans that would be interested in a band like us. I'm not dusting off platinum albums.
  • WYWS: Is there anything else I've missed?
  • BO: I can't think of anything. I think it was good and I appreciate your questions and interest. I think that the Pigs Of The Roman Empire is a record you will appreciate. If you like the Lustmord stuff and our stuff I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this. It doesn't sound like a Melvins with Lustmord thing; it's more of a beast of its own nature, sort of. I'm really really happy with, it's unlike anything we've ever done.
  • WYWS: So do you want to say anything else?
  • BO: I can't think of anything. I've talked for a long time. Take it easy.



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