Play nice


The sad truth of being grunge legends: Everyone looks down on the Melvins. photo by Kevin Willis

When asked if touring in support of his 28th (or 32nd or 33rd, depending on how you’re counting) album, (A) Senile Animal, was where he pictured himself at this point in his career, Melvins’ front man Buzz Osborne retorts, “Actually I pictured myself getting a blow job from Raquel Welch but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”

Raquel is, no doubt, totally bummed.

Osborne — born Roger but known as ‘King Buzzo’– started the Melvins during the early 1980s in Aberdeen, Wash. The group was known for post-punk played slow and heavy.

In retrospect, they’re also known for a connection to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana that served to boost the Melvins to a major label deal with Atlantic on the heels of Nevermind‘s overwhelming success. And now that grunge is retro, the Melvins are in line for some long-overdue wanton adoration, if not personal attention, from Ms. Welch.

Wearing his (black, shriveled) heart on his sleeve

“Oh yeah, it’s a big time cash in for us but it’s more of a smash and grab really,” the guitarist tells Xpress by e-mail. “All those ex-grungers like Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell, and Chris Novoselic have a sh•t load of bread so we’ve been breaking into their houses and ripping them off blind. Anyone want to buy a used big screen TV or a never-used $7,000 Wolf stove?”

Osborne, it’s worth noting, has a reputation for taking an Asperger’s Syndrome-type approach to being interviewed. “It was easier hiring them than trying to find a new bass player,” he recently informed The Stranger about bringing drummer Cody Willis and bassist Jared Warren (both of Big Business) on board for the Melvin’s current tour. “I’m probably getting ready to kick them out — I might just kick them out after we play Seattle.”

Or (to Lambgoat), “Aside from having to deal with his money-grubbing hag wife and those god-awful spoiled brat kids, I can’t imagine Ozzy [Osbourne; the Melvins played Ozzfest in ’98] has much time for anything other than getting getting loaded — and who can blame him?”

But there’s an underlying seriousness to the musician’s flippant attitude. After all, even if the Melvins never made it big like Nirvana, Soundgarden and countless other bands who sprang from the grunge sound the Melvins helped to create, they’re still making albums. And they’ve still got fans.

“Our audience is the same age it always was,” Osborne points out. “Once people hit 35 they stop going to see bands like us anyway. They have ‘kids’ or something else just as boring.”

He adds, “I don’t like going to live shows either, so it’s not like I blame them.”

So, if the Melvins aren’t capitalizing on the resurgence of grunge (designer Marc Jacobs marched flannel dresses and black boots down the runways this year, so surely someone out there is buying the soundtrack), does the group resent never having garnered as much attention as the bands they helped to put on the map?

“Yeah man, I’m all hacked off about it,” Osborne sniffs. “I’m also all hacked off about me not being dead like Kurt Cobain or that dead dude from Alice in Chains. It’s a drag and I’ll never get over it. At this point the only thing that could make me feel better is climbing a high tower on a college campus and shooting people with a deer rifle until the cops blow my brains out.”

Money, that’s what he wants

Here’s how the story goes: Cobain used to carry the Melvins’ equipment to shows, and even auditioned as the band’s guitarist, though he didn’t make it. And later, it was Nirvana’s singer who helped produce Houdini, the Melvins’ Atlantic debut.

“You have to understand, I never thought it would work ‘gold-album-wise’ from the get-go,” Osborne explained to Lambgoat. “Dale [Crover, the Melvins former drummer] and I are weird-looking, ugly creeps while all the front guys for those bands had a cute wounded “junkie” look that we could never have pulled off … I honestly believe if Cobain, Cornell, and what’s his face from Alice in Chains had looked like Fat Albert they wouldn’t have sold any records.”

The Melvins have survived and moved albums and attention-grabbing merch including two-headed dolls, 8-tracks, and a plastic fetus in a jar. (Their bassists, however, haven’t shared in the longevity: The group has worked with a half-dozen, including Shirley Temple’s daughter Lori Black.) As for fame, Osborne rants, “Will this album make me famous? … F••k fame. I’ll take half of that in cash. I’m famous enough already, so will someone please give me money?”

As for influencing a new generation of musicians, the guitarist seems equally disinterested. “I don’t think I can answer [that question] so I’ll just say the same thing most interviewers say, which is, we are influenced by Black Sabbath.”

He rants, parenthetically, “This is total, total bullsh•t. We do not, and have not, ever sounded like Black Sabbath. Now, there are a ton of bands out there that do and they all f••king suck. We, however, are not one of them. Saying we sound like Black Sabbath is just stupid. Where do people get this sh•t? Do they not listen to our records? Do they not listen to Black Sabbath records? Maybe they don’t and maybe they should. It might wake some of these dipsh•ts up.”

So who, besides misled interviewers, should listen to (A) Senile Animal? Critical acclaim (and the Melvins have had plenty) be damned, Osborne suggests, “Super rich drunks who buy, buy, buy and re-buy all of our albums and tee-shirts, and maybe just send us raw cash in the mail.”

The Melvins with Big Business play The Orange Peel on Thursday, Oct. 26. 9 p.m. $13/advance, $15/door. 225-5851.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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