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By: Steve Fallows
When The Melvins played in Leeds a few weeks ago, Steve Fallows managed to have a little chat with frontman Buzz Osborne, in which he asks him about the new album, playing festivals and more.
(((o))): Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You played Hellfest on Friday night before coming over to the UK for these club shows. How does it compare playing such radically different venues in such a short space of time?
Buzz: We’ve been doing this for a long time now, so it’s not too big a deal, but we much prefer doing these shows. For one it gives us the chance to perform a full set, and also we are playing to our own fans, not just people who are waiting around for whoever might be on after us. If I was financially independent, I definitely wouldn’t do any of the major festivals. You see Black Sabbath playing all these huge festivals around Europe, why would they want to do that? They can play arenas and make millions from their own shows. I don’t see why anyone who had enough money would want get involved in that. I don’t understand that at all.
That said, Hellfest is a little different. They really have made that about the music and the bands. You get an hour between bands so that you have time to set up and get ready, other festivals it all seems rushed and it’s not about the shows at all, just a conveyer belt of people.
(((o))): You were booked to headline the Temples Festival before it was cancelled at short notice. How do these cancellations affect bands, especially when coming from overseas?
Buzz: It didn’t affect us too badly as we weren’t coming over just for that show. We knew a while back that something was wrong, but we only know what we have been told and maybe not what actually happened. It’s unfortunate that these things happen, but they happen. We heard from bands that hadn’t been paid from last year, and you tend to know when things don’t look good.
(((o))): With ATP collapsing as well recently, do you think think it’s reached saturation point with festivals, or are they specific examples of how not to run them?
Buzz: I don’t think it’s that, I think sometimes people don’t like to admit when they are beat. When we curated the festival (in 2008 alongside Mike Patton) everything worked out really well. It seemed like a really well put together event, I know they have had a lot of issues with shows recently, but I don’t know why that happened. They can’t all be related to ticket sales.
(((o))): Your endless residency shows saw the band cover a huge amount of material. Is that something you see happening again?
Buzz: Unless we can think of a different way of doing it then no, not really. We did eight albums over two shows, which was quite difficult to bring together. We are more about pursuing new ways of doing things then going back and doing the same things again. We like to keep things interesting for us as well as the audience.
(((o))): For a band as used to collaborations as yourselves, your new album Basses Loaded features six different guest bassists. Something you haven’t really done on this scale since 2000’s The Crybaby (I think). How difficult are these records to put together?
Buzz: We also did the covers album Everybody Loves Sausages a couple of years back. Because we’ve done it a few times now, it doesn’t seem like that big of a problem. We ask people if they would like to be involved and then send them what we have done to do whatever they want with it. We aren’t precious about our music or what we want some one else to do. If we’ve asked someone to work on something its because we like them and we trust them to do whatever it is they are going to do with it. When we did ‘Station To Station’ on Everybody Loves Sausages Jim Thirlwell really let loose on that track and that sounded great.
(((o))): Outside the different permutations of The Melvins, you have released a solo album and Dale has worked with the likes of Hew Time and Dumb Numbers amongst others. Do either of you ever take a break from music.
Buzz: I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t know what I would do. We have no manager, we have a booking agent that sorts out shows, but apart from that it’s just us, so maybe 70% of my waking time is taken up with The Melvins. I really don’t know what to do outside of all that. I don’t have time for anything else. What else could I do?
(((o))): Will there be another solo album?
Buzz: Yeah, definitely. It’s mostly written and it will be finished soon. I hope to do some more shows this time with it.
(((o))): You have been cited to countless bands from many different genres. You have been open in your love of KISS, but which bands now currently excite you?
Buzz: Les Butcherettes are a really good band. We’ve worked with them quite a lot recently and I really enjoy them. There are a lot of good bands out there, but they are really great.
(((o))): You are well known for your links to the Seattle explosion back in the late 80’s early 90’s. What was it about those bands that has seen them continue and thrive, even after the major labels moved on?
Buzz: Who’s still around? Mudhoney aren’t a full time band, they never have been, they all have day jobs. Soundgarden went away for like…ten years. I think that when a band goes away for that long it builds up a sense of loss so when they do come back it seems like they were bigger than they were.
This is all we do, so if we were to disappear for a while, maybe more people would want us to come back, but we have carried on doing our thing and not gone anywhere, which is maybe why we never reached those levels.
(((o))): Given the huge amount of material you have recorded over the last few years, is their any particular album or period that stands out to you above others?
Buzz: I don’t think of our music in that way. Once one album is done the work starts on the next one. It’s fun revisiting it occasionally, but I don’t rank it against anything else we have done. I try not to do that as it’s just music, it’s just entertainment, it’s not life or death or the end of the world. It can be important and a big part of your life, but it’s just entertainment at the end of the day.
(((o))): Given the prolific nature of the band, when can we expect another release? What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Buzz: We have the Third Man reissues of the Atlantic albums, and over the summer we will carry on playing shows and festivals. We just toured the US with Napalm Death and we really want to bring that over to Europe. Maybe that will happen towards the end of the year. They were great shows, and really great guys. We get on really well and have similar work ethics. The shows went down really well in the US, and I think they would work over here too. After that we’ll have to wait and see.