Buzz Osborne Explains Why It’s ‘Nice’ That Melvins Never Had a Hit Album
Melvins guitarist and singer Buzz 'King Buzzo' Osborne was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. It's been an awfully productive year for the group, who already released one full length record, Working With God, and will soon released Five Legged Dog, a 36-track, career-spanning compilation of originals and cover songs, redone as acoustic tracks.
The band's history is loaded with oddities and Five legged Dog is the latest offering that brings their quirky sensibilities to the forefront. Nearly 40 years after their formation, Melvins remain uncompromising in their approach to what Buzz described as "weirdo" music, which, early on, had a tremendous impact on what would become the Seattle grunge scene.
Despite their major influence, their popularity is still quite underground and Buzz said it's "been nice" not ever having one big hit record.
Read the full interview below.
What does an acoustic format demonstrate about your music that otherwise isn't so apparent?
Well, it's pretty clear when you hear it that the songs are good, no matter how we did them. The guys I play with — Dale [Crover, drums] and Steven [McDonald, bass] are really good players and they're good singers and we were able to turn it into something. I think that's going to surprise a lot of people.
In terms of technique, playing acoustic instruments can be much different than electric ones. What was different, maybe even challenging about the way you played on Five Legged Dog?
Well, you've got to translate the material that was conceived on electric guitars into acoustic, but the power of the songs are there regardless. So, it wasn't too hard along those lines. The hardest part was figuring out ones that would really work well in this scenario and we had to come up with 36 of them. It's about two-and-a-half hours of music. So we figured more is more [laughs].
Melvins, "Night Goat" (Acoustic)
The Melvins 1983 lineup revisits the early days of the band, which includes Mike Dillard. Why is that music with those particular players pivotal to your forward trajectory as a musician?
What was fun about that is that we get to go back and play with our original drummer and with Dale, who is our normal drummer, playing bass. We get to write new songs with him with Mike in mind and Mike is not a full-time musician the way Dale and I are, so it's a really special thing to be able to do. I'm glad we were able to do it. It's as close to the original Melvins as we're willing to get.
Your formative musical roots are incredibly varied. What did such a broad spectrum of influences allow you to do once you started making music yourself?
Well, once I realized that that's what I wanted to do, then I tried to go in a direction that wasn't too heavily traveled. I was trying to figure out music that maybe made sense that hadn't quite been done like that before. Our influences are certainly varied — everything from The Rolling Stones to Throbbing Gristle and everything in between. We've never tried to hide that ever, so that's been a big deal for us. We're huge fans of music, as long as it's good.
Melvins, "Sway" (Acoustic, Rolling Stones Cover)
Melvins have been significantly influential yet still beneath the mainstream radar. Why has that been advantageous for you as both a musician and a person?
We've had a long career probably because we've never had any hit records — nothing to live up to, as far as that's concerned. That's been nice.
We've gotten a lot further than I ever thought we would playing the kind of weirdo music that we do. A lot of our contemporaries who were aren't as weird as we are sold a ton of records and were being influenced by what we did, which I always thought was very cool. What it showed me was how little that those bands' fans actually understood where those bands were coming from.
Thanks to Buzz Osborne for the interview. Get your copy of 'Five Legged Dog' here and pick up 'Working With God,' the band's latest original full length (released earlier in 2021), here. Follow Melvins on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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