Buzz Osbourne

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King Buzzo

King Buzzo

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

For more than 30 years Buzz Osborne has been the King of everything weird, heavy and sludgy with his highly influential band the Melvins.

Now, King Buzzo is looking toward another outlet as he’s releasing an acoustic solo album titled This Machine Kills Artists set for a June 3 release via Ipecac Recordings.

To the casual fan, this raw, bare bones record may seem strange. But to any hardcore Melvanite, this will come as no surprise.

“Nothing we do is universally accepted, to be honest sometimes I think we drive away as many people as we bring in with every new album,” said Osbourne. “We’re not a band that sells millions of records, I would find it hard pressed to find someone who’s three favorite bands were Nirvana, Green Day and the Melvins, you know?”

Osborne admitted he knows the Melvins aren’t the type of band you would hear played at the prom.

“I can’t imagine any of our songs have ever been played at a prom or anything, but I bet they have proms themed around Green Day or bands like that. I don’t know though because I didn’t go to my prom, I hated teenagers then and I still do now,” said Osbourne.

Osborne’s hatred of some critics also strikes hard within him, as one writer recently bashed his guitar skills by saying, “he needs to listen to Jimmy Page.”

“I thought that was really funny, I mean really, does he think I have never listened to Led Zeppelin?” laughed Osbourne.

On This Machine Kills Artists, the singer shows his knack to make any guitar, acoustic or electric, sound heavy and sludgy. And Buzz’s distinct booming voice sounds heavier than ever overtop of the acoustics. This is something Osborne was aiming for and he nailed it, especially on songs such as “Drunken Baby” and “Instrument of God.”

Folk rock has never sounded so good.

“It certainly works well and I’m happy with how it turned out,” Osbourne said. “Some people have told me how it sounds like the Melvins, well I’m in the Melvins so what the fuck did you expect? (Laughs) But there will always be people bashing my music and bashing music in general, no one is ever 100 percent happy.”

Though undoubtedly countless musicians have influenced King Buzzo, he said that he really can’t pinpoint just a few. He certainly found some inspiration from Woody Guthrie, whom he gave a nod to with the album title, as well as everyday life.

Some things stranger than others.

“I can’t really say I have any particular influence, really anything can influence a person, from a barking dog to a bowl of cereal, I just try to do something different every time I make a record,” said the 50-year-old.

One glaring difference on his upcoming tour will be the fact that Buzz will be up on stage alone, without his drummer and close friend, Dale Crover, or anyone else for that matter.

But when Osborne got into the music business a little over 30 years ago, he knew that sometimes he would have to go on stage prepared to make a complete idiot out of himself.

“If you’re scared to go on stage and look like a complete moron, then you shouldn’t be in this business. I’m up for the challenge and I always look like an idiot on stage anyway,” Osbourne said.

Buzzo will have plenty of opportunities to embarrass himself as he will be playing nearly 70 shows across the US, Europe and Australia.

Touring almost stopped completely for Buzz and side kick Dale 28 years ago after a tour in 1986 took them through the south.

States like Texas and Florida weren’t very accepting of the band, as insults such as “Faggots!” were hurled at the band.

After being roughed up by some skin heads, Buzz and Dale decided not to do a full tour of the states again for a while, it wasn’t until around 1989 that they hit the road on a full out tour again.

While on tour, Buzz unwinds by watching and listening to baseball games. Anyone who follows Buzz knows of his love for the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball in general. Early on in our conversation Osborne went on about how much he loves the game.

“Baseball is really the only sport I can watch, I mostly enjoy watching it in person. As much as I love the Dodgers I have to say I just enjoy watching the sport no matter who is playing, especially National League ball,” he said.

He even shared a Cleveland Indians story as well.

“Back in the 90’s when Cleveland was a powerhouse we were in town and wanted to see them play, but they were always sold out. So we had the opportunity to buy really shitty tickets for like $60 a piece and at the last minute we decided not to pay that much. But I would love to go to the stadium sometime and see them play,” Osborne said.

Despite the extensive touring behind his new disk, Melvins fans need not worry that their front man is going to focus solely on solo material.

The band will be releasing an album sometime in October (Their fourth in under two years) and are planning a tour and some other surprises.

Stay tuned, as the Raw Alternative will be sure to talk to King Buzzo this fall.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz "King Buzzo" Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

By Rick Pollo (Editor-in-Chief)

In the early 1980s, not many could have predicted that Seattle would be Generation X’s Liverpool in terms of a rock and roll renaissance. Sure, groups like the late-60s garage rockers The Sonics and 70s arena champions Heart call the city home, but a collective scene was yet to put Seattle on the rock and roll map.

By 1984, hardcore punk outfit Black Flag released there slowed down, Black Sabbath-inspired album, My War. The same year, bands like Swans and Flipper began to emerge, also introducing a slower and chunkier approach to aggressive angst-ridden punk rock. This sound was clearly ahead of its time, but left a considerable impression on the likes of Seattle outfits Green River, Soundgarden and the Melvins.

Originally formed as a hardcore punk band, the Melvins quickly emerged as one of Seattle’s most influential and ambitious acts by the mid 80s. Their unique blend of punk rock ethos, sludging heavy riffs and experimental tendencies helped spark a musical movement that would come to be known as “grunge.” Lead singer and guitarist Buzz Osbourne once stated that the band’s sound was “Black Sabbath-meets-Captain Beefheart.” Undoubtedly a perfect summation of Seattle’s perhaps most unsung and influential grunge act.

By the late 80s, the Melvins’ influence among the Seattle scene was blatantly obvious. Groups like Tad, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone and Nirvana all were experimenting with drop tuning and searching for the heaviest and muddiest guitar tones they could find. For a moment, Seattle provided a renaissance in rock and roll, and the paradigm shifted. Over produced balladry was out, and noisy, angry punk and alternative was in. With the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind and several of the Seattle bands finding major label deals and mainstream success, the Melvins were at an epicenter of a movement. However, there break wasn’t easy.

As Seattle bands were getting signed left and right, the Melvins further pursued their musical ambition, shifting deeper into left field and away from what grunge had came to be known as, in the mainstream at least. They went heavier and sludgier, proving to have more in common with doom metal than Lollapalooza. Still, predecessors like Kurt Cobain continued to site their influence and eventually, the mainstream took notice. By 1993, at the height of the grunge scene, the Melvins signed their first major label record deal with Atlantic Records, and recorded their masterpiece, Houdini.

Houdini was unique in several ways. Much to the band’s dismay, it will probably always serve as the go-to starting point for the band. Sure, earlier albums like Bullhead and Lysol are classics in their own right. But Houdini is the first creative peak in an ever-climbing career of innovation.

Originally set to be produced by Kurt Cobain, Houdini is one of the most primal and raw, sophisticated and heavy and underrated alternative releases of the 90’s. Kicking off with droning doom riff of “Hooch,” it is immediately evident that the Melvins were not going for the sounds of Nevermind or Ten, but something more along the lines of the first records from Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Signature sludge tracks like “Night Goat,” “Lizzy” and “Honey Bucket” serve as templates for nearly every doom, sludge and stoner rock act that followed, making even Kyuss sound like The Spin Doctors.

Houdini also has it’s share of quark. An unlikely cover of Kiss’ “Goin’ Blind” sounds nothing like the original, yet ultimately caught the eye of Gene Simmons, who often performed the track with the band during the time of its release. Tracks like “Sky Pup,” “Hag Me” and “Copache” are well representations of the band’s experimental side, an aspect of their sound they would also later explore and expand upon.

Commercially, the Melvins were never quite able to top the success of Houdini. Artistically, it was only a launching pad.

As fellow Seattle acts spend the later half of the 90’s and early 00’s dominating rock radio, the Melvins dug deeper into the underground, earning a very loyal following. Despite their lack of commercial exposure, critically acclaimed records like Stoner Witch and Honky resonating hard with their dedicated fan base.

By the late-90’s they were dropped from Atlantic Records but eventually signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. From there, a golden age of experimentation ensued. In 2003, they collaborated with ambient artist Lustmord for the Pigs of the Roman Empire LP and in 2004-05, they collaborated with Dead Kenndys frontman Jello Biafra and Tool guitarist Adam Jones for the LPs Never Breathe What You Can’t See and Seig Howdy! After a successful period of collaboration, they returned to their roots for the sludgy and trippy Senile Animal in 2007.

This year, the Melvins celebrate two milestones: The 20th anniversary of their landmark Houdini and 30th anniversary together. They chose to celebrate in true Melvins fashion by releasing two artistic achievements within the same year. Earlier this year, they dropped a collection of covers titled Everybody Loves Sausages featuring reworkings of tracks by artists as diverse as Queen, Venom, Throbbing Gristle, The Kinks, David Bowie and Lead Belly. Their latest jaw-dropper, Tres Cabrones, was released in October.

As the Melvins enter their fourth decade, they show no signs of slowing their innovative sound. That innovation has proven very influential, with sound that is impossible to properly categorize. Not only has Kurt Cobain and members of Tool announced their love for the trio, but contemporary players like Mastodon, Crowbar, EYEHATEGOD and The Dillienger Escape Plan have all sworn by the Melvins.

As trends came and went, artists risen and fallen, they continue forward, in a linear but upward direction, blowing minds and provoking thoughts at every peak.