BUZZ OSBORNE: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW (PART TWO)
If you haven’t read Part One of my interview with Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne, you might want to check it out before you go any further. In this second and final installment of that conversation, King Buzzo pulls no punches. See below to learn his thoughts on grunge, crabcore, and why he’d rather open for Madonna than ever play Ozzfest again.
I did an interview with Jello Biafra a couple of months ago and he had mentioned to me how there are all these live recordings of Jello Biafra with The Melvins that he’s got. Any desire on your part to see those released?
I would release ‘em. We release everything we ever do. I don’t know what he’s waiting for.
I don’t know. I think he said it was on you so…
If it’s on me, that fucker’s coming out right away then. I loved playing with Biafra. It’s fun. He’s got his own band now which is great. We all live in L.A. and he lives in San Francisco so that always made it a little hard. My big reasons for wanting to play with him was that I think the music industry owes him a huge debt, just for the PMRC battles he had. Everybody seems to forget that, that the PMRC was basically the biggest opponent of free speech in the last 50 years. What they wanted to do was throw him in jail. If they’d had their way, they would be stickering albums and you wouldn’t be able to buy it unless you [were] 18 years old if it had any kind of cursing on it… Most people don’t remember any of that stuff. His battles with that kind of set a precedent. And I think that was our way of saying thank you, essentially. I don’t know what the future holds along those lines but I feel very strongly about all that stuff. Whether I go along with his political views or not, I mean that’s part of his deal. I mean you can’t really have Jello Biafra without his politics, which I’m fine with. That’s not what steered me towards wanting to do that. I knew it was something that we wouldn’t normally have done and Biafra is a real eccentric cat. And you interviewed him, [so] you know.
Yeah, we had a good conversation.
I always learn something from weirdos like that. Always, ya know? Some angle on something I hadn’t though of, ya know? But he’s a weirdo. No question about it. As am I.
[laughs] You’re a little weird, I guess. Maybe just a little.
Me? You don’t know the half of it.
I’ve seen some of your appearances on Greg Gutfeld’s Red Eye show. Sometimes you’re on that and you’re pretty much doing a good interview and other times you’ll say some quirky things.
I don’t know which things you’re talking about in particular but… Greg Gutfeld is a great guy. If it wasn’t for him, I certainly wouldn’t be on national television. He’s a huge music fan. I’m gonna be on there again I think in May. Any chance I get to have my ugly face on TV you better believe I’m gonna do it.
[laughs] So are you gonna become one of those Fox News commentators now?
Do you think Fox is gonna hire me to do anything?
I don’t know. You could go on Sarah Palin’s new show.
Yeah, well I won’t hold my breath. I would go on any show. I would do any kind of TV. You better believe it. You know I’ve always considered myself one part Howard Beale, one part Rupert Pupkin and one part Larry David. And I’ve taken some heat for going on that show from people. I’m just like look, if you have some show you think is cool that I should go on, call ‘em up cuz they’re not fucking asking me. You think I’m gonna turn it down? No! Fuck that. If they want me to go on this show and make wiseacre comments about whatever and promote my records? You better believe I’m gonna do it. What the fuck is wrong with anybody who won’t? We are entertainers. That’s what we do for a living. That is what we do for a living. I think our records should sell millions and millions and millions of copies. It should, but the world is full of things that should happen. Since we don’t, I have to take it from there. That’s okay. Not the end of the world. I don’t expect it to. I just think it should. [laughs]
You know you guys could always follow the Gene Simmons route and do a bunch of Melvins branded merchandise.
Well you gotta remember though, Gene’s only capable of doing that because he’s already sold millions of records. That’s the difference. We’re not there. We’re not anywhere near that. That’ll never happen. Certainly at this point too old and too ugly to appeal to that crowd. And Gene Simmons needed a face full of Kabuki makeup to have it work. That’s what we’ve always laughed about. You know why those guys wore makeup? Cuz they needed it.
We saw them in the 80’s when they stopped wearing the makeup.
Once again they had already sold millions of records. We did some shows with Kiss when they first put their makeup back on, for the reunion tour and they were super nice to us. They were totally cool. Really nice, really nice guys… The other two guys are pretty much drug casualties. That’s well known. I don’t think anyone is trying to hide that, that’s for sure. If they are, they’re… complete idiocy. Gene and Paul [Stanley] were really, really nice to us. Really cool. I don’t have anything bad to say about them, whether I go along with all of their music or not.? That was a lot of fun. Once again, something that was really weird that I would’ve done for the weirdness factor alone, opening for KISS. Are you kidding? I’d open for fucking Madonna but she’s not asking. Why not? Five shows with [her]? I’d do it.
Fuck yeah, it’d be hilarious. I’d be all over it. You bet. How much do we get paid? I’ll do it for probably nothing. Fortunately we’ve been able to do enough of that type of weird stuff, it’s kinda gotten it out of my system. Go out and play with perversely strange bands. We don’t do a whole lot of that kind of stuff. We did a tour last year with Down, but that’s a rarity. That’s certainly the exception, not the rule. We had already done a tour with Nude With Boots, a headlining tour, and we were kinda looking for something a little different for this follow up. We had to do two full U.S. tours per record. I feel like that’s what needs to be done for an album, you know? Then some kind of touring outside the U.S., but the U.S. is really where we enjoy playing the most. I don’t know why that is, but certainly it’s true. We try to do as many shows we can per year and make it realistic, but that’s how it works.
So what other metal do you think sucks, other than black metal? Which, once again, is like shooting fish in a barrel.
We have different writers for the site and I’m… my tastes are like among the weirder ones. So like, I mean a lot of what some of the other writers like, I’m not a big fan of, so… For me anything that can fall under the noise rock or sludge or anything that’s weird, I’m definitely down for it. I’m definitely not freaking out over what Megadeth is doing these days.
Well isn’t what they’re doing these days the same as what they were doing in the old days?
That’s a bingo.
Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of that either. We did Ozzfest [in ’98]. Talk about metal that sucks. Not cuz Ozzfest wanted us, because Tool wanted us. And I quote, they told us that they will not do it unless we do it, because [Tool] wanted at least one band on the tour that they liked. So they took us with them on the tour. Ozzfest people were adamantly opposed to us playing. Every single band on that Ozzfest tour were bar none Korn-cloned horseshit. Which I absolutely don’t get, because is there anything worse than hip-hop oriented heavy metal?
Um, I would say no because… I would say no.
I was thinking about it for a moment.
I’ll take black metal over that shit.
You’ll take black metal over that?
Oh yeah. Korn? Now, Motorhead was on there but Lemmy was kind of a dick, so…
Really? What was he being a dick about?
Oh, he’s just a grumpy bastard, pretty much. The other two guys in the band were pretty nice. The drummer had a Guitar Center haircut though. That was pretty funny.
What’s a Guitar Center haircut?
Mega mullet style, poofy dew, a la Nikki Sixx, 1984 era, you know? But he always wore this shirt that I thought was pretty funny that said, “I’m here about the blowjob.”
Was it like the same shirt or did he have multiple versions of it?
I’m not sure but he had it on a number of days in a row. That was fun, having them on the tour, but the rest of the stuff was just garbage. Utter garbage. I don’t see any reason why I should feel like I need to give props to bands along those lines. Whether they were Incubus–that was when they were first starting. I don’t like any of that stuff. Most people, weirdly enough, wanted nothing to do with us. [laughs] It was hilarious. Every single day. We were mostly playing the second stage which was a bunch of bands like that. I mean any of the bands that end up sounding like Korn, or Limp Bizkit and all that stuff, just not my cup of tea. It’s not my thing. What we realized on the tour, Dale [Crover] pointed out to me, was it was clearly obvious once he put it out to me, he goes, these bands are all just ripping off Helmet. And I was like, oh my God, you’re right. That’s all it is. Korn, all they sound like is Helmet.
Yeah, but Helmet’s good.
But you know what I mean though?
No, I know exactly what you mean. They’re ruining it with the voice.
Right. Well we then have a hybrid of Helmet, which are Korn-oriented, and the hybrids are all the people that don’t realize that Korn’s just ripping off Helmet. So then we have this big joke with me and Mike Patton and Page Hamilton where I was like, I’ll take grunge [but] you guys gonna have the hip hop oriented heavy metal. [laughs] I’ll take the blame for grunge. Faith No More and Helmet can take the blame for the rest of this shit, you know? What do you want? Nirvana and Soundgarden, or Limp Bizkit on tour? You be the judge.
That’s like the opposite of a Sophie’s Choice.
But when you say it to those guys they just sit and stare at you and go, “I know, I know.” You need to reap the seeds of what you guys have sewn. [laughs] They have a good sense of humor about all that stuff though… Once again, a big mainstream level music follows lines I just don’t agree with. Once in a while, I agree with the mainstream, but certainly not always. It happens. Like Queen were a really popular band, I like them. The public likes bad stuff–me too. Pink Floyd, they had a lot of good stuff. They sold many records. Led Zeppelin, I liked a lot of that stuff. Me and the millions of fans that bought all that stuff up, I don’t agree with all that. Any band that is on Ozzfest, as far as I’m concerned, is suspect. Or with the Warped Tour for that matter.
Oh! I remember what I was gonna say. Dave Mustaine. I was talking about the whole Ozzfest thing. Dave Mustaine. So he’s on that tour and with literally like the same guitars and the same clothes that he was wearing there in the mid 80s. He comes up to me and Adam [Jones], the guitar player from Tool, he goes, “oh, my manager told me that I should talk to you two guys. You influenced Nirvana and Tool’s a really popular band and that I should come talk to you, cuz you guys are doing stuff that’s newer, you know, blah blah blah. Melvins, do you guys have any records out now?” And I go, I think at that time we had like 13 albums. “13 albums? Where the hell have I been?” And I just stared at him and said, I don’t know. [laughs] That was it, he just turned around and walked off. How about that? That’s hilarious. “My manager told me.” Are you fucking kidding? I don’t need a “Mandler” to tell me what music to like. Apparently he does. And the other big joke on that tour was “Peace sells, but who’s buying”. We were always just, peace sells, peace shells down by the peace shore. [laughs] But anyway, hatin’ all that stuff is like shootin’ fish in a barrel. It’s easy.
That why we do it.
The hard part about it would be trying to find something I like. I mean, I guess maybe I like the burn-everything-to-the-ground aspect of it, but I would never listen to that stuff. Kinda funny that, at least there have been semi-rebel music, which I kinda like, but that’s added to music. That’s really stretching for me to find something that’s admirable about it, you know? [laughs]
But fortunately you don’t have to. No one’s forcing you to.
I’ve got a gun to my head; someone’s forcing me to find one thing about it I like. I guess I would have to go that route. But that’s it. The rest of it’s musical sewage to me. I don’t have time for that crap. Now what? What do metal people like now?
High on Fire is big and Mastodon’s really big.
Yeah, yeah. Those guys are good.
Mastodon, I think, started out really good and now sound a lot like Yes. They’ve really gone towards prog rock, where they’ve lost me entirely. But people still dig ‘em.
Thin Lizzy. I guess it’s a nice hybrid. I like those guys. They’re a nice bunch of guys, you know?
Well, you should. I mean, Mastodon’s early stuff definitely has a Melvins’ influence.
Sure, but aside from that they’re nice guys too. That’s always a plus. They’ve never been shy about our influence on them. They’ve been very appreciative of all that stuff. And I think they cover one of our songs–“The Bit.”
Yes they do. I’ve seen them do it.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. That’s really nice of them. And we did that ATP and they came and played it and it was great. We had a great time with them. We actually played “The Bit” with them. It was really fun. R A really nice time that happened. But other than that, what’s the new metal, the shtick? In the late 90s, it was hip hop oriented heavy metal that sounded like Korn. What’s the shtick now for heavy metal? What would the Ozzfest crew be listening to now?
Well, now you’ve got this hybrid of death metal and hardcore called deathcore and there’s all these bands that have absolutely no melody whatsoever in what they’re doing and it’s all just breakdowns. That’s like the thing that kids like these days. But I’m not a kid.
What are some of the bands?
There’s bands like Despised Icon and Whitechapel and Oceano. What’s interesting about that–and you were talking about hip hop–[is that] in some of those bands the fashion sense veers towards this kinda quasi hip hop stuff.
And there have been names given to the genre like, and one of them has been wigger slam. I didn’t coin that term but I’m just sharing it with you.
There’s another one I can’t remember. The guys in my band were telling me about it… Crabcore! Once I finally heard that was like, oh well, it’s just all about dancing. [laughs] It’s like the James Fonda workout of pseudo heavy metal.
[laughs] Well you know, anything that gets the kids off the couch.
Yeah, well when you’re 16 you just wanna be away from your parents, you know?
When I was 16 I wanted to go to hardcore shows.
Exactly. You wanna be away from your parents. I mean when you’re [in your] mid-teens, going to Ozzfest might be… I would do it. What the hell, you know? A whole day to run wild? Fuck yeah, I’d do it.
You never know, you might end up finding The Melvins.
You never know. I mean, just going out and raising hell. That’s when it’s the funnest. The more hell you raise when you’re a teenager, the sweeter the memories. It’s fun. I could see why a 16 year old would do it. But me going to Ozzfest at this point, you would literally have to be handing me a new hundred dollar bill every 20 minutes, ya know? 300 bucks an hour to go to one of those festivals. [laughs]
Someone might actually take you up on that.
Fine. I’ll go to Ozzfest if someone gets to hand me a $100 bill every 20 minutes. [laughs] Wouldn’t you?
Absolutely. It’d be a profitable day.
I’d stay the whole fuckin’ day. Fuck yeah. Where do we go now and where do we go next?
It’s like; let’s go get something to eat. [laughs]
Let’s go get something to eat, I’ll buy.
I hope they take hundreds.
Yeah, exactly. I’d put it on my card. [laughs] That’s like me borrowing 200 bucks from you and then taking you out to lunch. That’d be really good.
The Melvins’ new album The Bride Screamed Murder will be out June 1 on Ipecac Records.