King Buzzo’s been confounding expectations for decades now. It’s been a pretty remarkable journey since the Melvins‘ mid-80’s debut slowed heavy music way the fuck down, and they’ve continuously re-invented their sound, their approach, and the members of the band not named Dale or Buzz. This year, Osborne put out his first solo record, and an acoustic-based one at that. We caught a few minutes of his time before the show in Boston.
So how was your day in Boston?
No time to catch a Sox game?
Is it over?
I don’t know actually. I don’t know if they are doing a day game or a night game or what.
Well it’s Thursday, they might be going.
They have been in an absolute tail spin. They have lost the last 7 out 8 at home.
They are in last place.
But they are only ten games out. Things can happen.
They are not out completely. Anything is possible.
Certainly not a season like last year.
Winning, you mean? Winning the last game of the year?
Winning the last game of the year is a good way to go out, right?
The last time I talked to you was right in the middle of the 50 state 50 day mania.
Yes, 51 shows in 51 days, every state plus DC.
51, that’s right. So did Guinness ever formally recognize that record?
Yeah, if we pay them.
Oh you have to pay for entry?
Oh yeah, you have to pay them.
So those idiots who jump rope for 80 straight hours have to pay to get in?
Yeah basically. I mean it’s the Guinness beer company, that’s what it is.
So they are looking for extra revenue?
I don’t really know how it works, but we submitted it all and then you wait, unless you want to pay them, and then you can get in right away. Ultimately I don’t really care but we know we did it and so that’s all that matters.
Any lessons you learned from that tour?
If I was going to do it again I would start in Hawaii and have the second show be in Alaska and the third show be Seattle. That’s what I would do differently. Then you are driving the rest of them. I wouldn’t end in Hawaii. Because if you get the first two done and something happens, then you only have to do two shows, as opposed to flying there at the end. And then you are just driving the rest of them. Big deal, you know.
So what was the impetus to go acoustic on this record?
Well, you know I have done a lot of things in the past. I am certainly not afraid to do weird things. I had never done it. We have a new album coming out in the Fall anyway. I had a new album come out last November. So it’s just between those nothing more than business as usual.
Has there ever been an acoustic guitar on a Melvins record?
There might have been at some point, I don’t know.
Maybe as an overdub or something?
Maybe, I am sure at some point. Yeah, has to be, you know? Somewhere. I mean I have always played the acoustic guitar. I always knew I could do something like this in the back of my mind but I just didn’t know when.
Do you approach playing any different from plugged in?
Well sure, you have to fill up a lot more space, and that’s ok. It’s weird because some people have had the complaint that it’s too much like the Melvins, but I write all the Melvins music so what do they think its going to sound like? Queen?
They are really hoping for Gordon Lightfoot.
Haha I am sure they are. Makes no sense. You can’t win no matter what you do, so…
Did you have any Melvins songs that you were trying to adapt over to the solo acoustic that didn’t really work?
I do about half and half live but I write all that stuff anyway. All the songs work fine on acoustic. Maybe not all of them would but certainly the ones I am doing work great.
I hear you are doing “Boris,” is that right?
Yes, that’s a surprise for everybody. You know we’ll see what the future will hold. I don’t know that you can’t do both of these. I am doing a huge tour so I don’t know when I will do it again. You never know.
It must be a lot easier traveling with one guitar and no band.
It’s a dream come true. Honestly, it’s like a break, a total break.
What are Coady and Jared up to? I see Dale is going to be drumming with some OFF! dates.
Coady and Jared have their own thing going on with their band [Big Business]. And they got a lot on their plate. They have done a lot of touring this year and that’s part of the deal. They keep their thing going and it’s all good.
So do you guys kind of figure out where there are gaps in the schedule to do the band thing and then just do other things?
Well, you know, I set up my schedule and they can either work around it or not, you know? There is some leeway but I can’t worry about that too much. They do what they do, we do what we do, and sometimes it comes together. It’s all good.
You mentioned a new Melvins record out in the Fall.
Are you guys going to be touring in support of that?
Yeah, we are going to do some shows. I am not exactly sure what but some now, more later. I am done with this on the 21st of September. Bristol, England is the last show of this trip. 40 some shows from now (laughs).
How many European dates are you doing?
Twenty or so, 18-20. Something like that. And ten in Australia.
Have you ever played South America?
Yes I have been down there once with Fantomas and once with the Melvins, twice with the Melvins, no let me think. Once or twice with Fantomas, once I think, and once with the Melvins and that’s it.
How about Africa?
No, never. Africa and Antarctica are the only two continents I have never been to. I don’t know when I will. I am not in any big hurry to race over there, believe me (laughs). And Antarctica I really couldn’t care less.
A big sheet of ice and blowing wind.
Yeah, I just don’t care. Don’t care at all, not in the least. I am not that adventurous.
Would you rather be at home?
Home is a vacation. Sleeping in your own bed, taking a dump in your own toilet. Those are the things you dream about.
Does your wife stay busy when you are on the road?
Thank god yeah, our marriage works because we don’t live in each other’s pockets. That’s the key I think, but I don’t know. Don’t ask me.
I heard a rumor that the trilogy (The Bootlicker, The Maggot and The Crybaby) were all references to prior Melvins bass players.
No, no that’s not true.
Ok, all right. We can clear that up then.
The one thing that nobody knows about that, well some people might know, about The Maggot, The Bootlicker and The Crybaby is that The Crybaby was supposed to be Colossus Of Destiny. That was supposed to be the last one. So it’s actually four records, you know?
How come that didn’t get into the set?
We got the idea of doing guest stars and we thought that was a better idea, and then we put out Colossus Of Destiny right after that. They are all completely different.
Did you ask any guest that couldn’t do it?
Beck. He agreed and we sent him the tapes and we are still waiting. We even formatted them to what he wanted he just never did anything with them. He is busy I guess.
He is a very busy guy.
There are lots of people who, not necessarily for that project, shall remain nameless that just have no interest in working with us. That’s the way it works. Lots of people say no.
You ever do anything with any of the Sonic Youth guys, Thurston or Lee?
No I never have. Oh Lee did a remix of one of our songs for a record once, other than that I haven’t done anything. With them. Haven’t been asked, you know?
Guess they are busy guys too.
I don’t know, I couldn’t say, I don’t know what goes on in their world. I have no idea.
I suppose they have a little more free time now that Sonic Youth is done.
Yeah, you think? Who knows? It’s anybody’s guess as to how that shit works. I can’t keep track of any of it. I just do what I am doing. I got my hands full, you know. I do a lot of work all the time.
So what is your average day like on the road?
I try to stay focused on why I am here so it all centers around the gig. And when you don’t have a gig then you are cleaning up the stuff you need to do between the gig, whatever that may be. Or traveling or what ever. It’s not a vacation. It’s not fun, as far as “I get to go to Boston,” that’s great. I don’t care about any of that. I am here to do a job, that’s it. I approach it with that exact attitude, you know. That’s after a long time. I have been to Boston a bunch of times, done all the touristy things a long time ago. And at this point I just don’t care about any of that, none of it, you know. Driving around and things like that are fine, I love to drive, but as far as going out and doing something, no way. If I can get a meal before I play and a nice bed to sleep in at a hotel then I am good.
How did the dates with Mary Halvorson get set up? Did the booker put that together or did you ask her if she could play?
No, I am friends with her. The only one the booking agent thought of was Adam Faucett and that was about a third of the way through and he did about 8 shows, but I approved it. I can do whatever I want. No one gives me orders about anything, you know? My wife maybe, but even that. I am very much of the idea that I didn’t even know I didn’t want to do it until you told me you wanted me to (laughs).