Interview

Melvins

Melvins

Monday 25th November, 2013 9:42AM

Seminal American experimental rock band the Melvins have spent the year of their thirtieth anniversary, 2013, writing and recording three full-length albums worth of material, including their recently-released Tres Cabrones, their covers album, Everybody Loves Sausages, and another LP of original material that is forthcoming. Considering Buzz Osborne's fervent dedication to living in the present and looking toward the future (rather than living in the past like a legacy act), this outpouring of new material is hardly surprising, and UTR caught up with Osbourne, ahead of their one-off New Zealand show on December 4th, to discuss the band's latest output in relation to their formidable back catalogue.

Hey Buzz, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?

I'm great thanks. I’m at home in Los Angeles.

Cool, are you on a break before you come to New Zealand?

Sort of - we’re in the middle of rehearsals, but it’s all good.

Because you’ve been on tour quite recently, right?

Yeah we went to Europe in the spring and we did a tour of the US this past summer.

Have your fans been responding well to the new material?

Oh yeah, they know what to expect from us and they love it.

What was the writing and recording process like for the latest album, Tres Cabrones?

Well, I had a bunch of ideas for a wide variety of songs, as I always do. Then I picked out the ones that thought would be good for this line up, which is what I do. It was great. We brought the drummer, Mike Dillard – who was our original drummer from a long time ago – down for a couple of weekend sessions and we had a really fun time.

Is that the way you normally work to write and record an album?

You know, we’ve done this for so long in such a wide variety of ways that there really isn’t one set way that we do anything. As time has gone on we’re much better at writing songs so it doesn’t take as long as it used to.

When you are putting together an album, do you shape it around any theme or idea?

Well for this one I needed songs for my drummer and bass player, who obviously weren’t Keith Moon and John Entwistle, so I had to write with that in mind. I think it worked out great under those circumstances. I feel like I could work with just about anybody and make something decent.

You’ve been a band for such a long time. Do you ever reflect on the enormity of doing the same project for the past three decades?

The thing that I think has made this band work is that we have always been about asking “what have we done lately?” I feel like we're a contemporary band rather than an oldies act and never feel like the best days are behind us. We’ve just gotten better as time has gone on, I think.

Do you note any significant changes, sonically or otherwise, that have happened over the course of your career?

It’s one of those things where you do something for so long that eventually you get better at it. I feel more comfortable doing all of it – I’ve never had writer’s block or anything like that so I have no idea what that would be like.

You have been able to tour, and have had an international fan base for so long now, which much make you feel quite privileged, right?

We like it. We do well in every major city in the whole world and we’re fine with that – we’re very happy about that.

The music industry has changed around you quite significantly. How have you guys adapted to these changes?

Well you know, I never felt like that. We always planted the flag where we've wanted to and declared a middle ground. I’ve never felt like I was keeping up with anything or anything was keeping up with me, you know.

Yep totally, but how has the advent of the internet changed the way you release music and the priorities of the band?

It does certainly make a difference because it definitely changes the way things are sold and all those kinds of things, but I’m not against technology. The same thing happened when CDs came around, you know. I honestly don’t care how people listen to our music – I’m not a person who is looking backwards toward the good old days like “back a long time ago when we started out things were a whole lot better”. I don’t think like that and I never have. We’re very progressive when it comes to that kind of thing – I want things to change, I want things to happen. Change is good, we do it all the time and we’re very excited by it.

Briefly touching on the past: when you started out thirty years ago in Washington State, did you feel like you were part of a subculture, or music movement?

I never felt like we were part of anything. A lot of stuff happened and we had little or nothing to do with it. The Seattle thing came and went, and there are still big bands there like Soundgarden who are starting to play again, and Pearl Jam who have never really stopped, but we didn’t really have anything in common with those bands. There was Nirvana who imploded relatively quickly, whereas we have survived for a long time. Those people don’t really have anything to do with me. If I sat around waiting for those people to do something for me I would still be sitting around doing nothing. When I left the Seattle area in 1987 or 1988 I left no-one and nothing behind, you know what I mean? I was happy to go and I don’t regret it one bit.

What was the impetus for forming the Melvins in the first place?

I thought it would be fun to play in a band and we forged expectations for what we wanted for the band relatively quickly. Firstly we thought it would be fun to play a show on a real stage, that was it. We didn’t have any lofty expectations by any means – I’m much more of a realist, much more of a “what have we done lately?” person. I had no false illusions that we were going to be superstars or multi-millionaries, but I thought it would be nice to play a show, and then later that it would be nice to play on a real stage and then later, that it would be nice to put out a record. That was it, and the rest of it’s gravy.

Speaking of things you have done lately: you’ve recorded a lot of material this year! Tell me about the covers album you have just released.

Yeah, we have just released an album called Everybody Loves Sausages which is a covers album that is an introduction for people to see what kinds of things we are influenced by that they might not have thought of, like Roxy Music and David Bowie - not the obvious things that we’re influenced by. First and foremost, we’re huge music fans and so this is to show people how it works for us, and what artists are important to us that they might not have thought of.

It must have been a fun process choosing the songs and putting them together on an album right?

It was great. It was great fun doing that. The record came out great and it’s the first of two full lengths this year and we’ll probably put out another one in the spring which means we will have released three full lengths in one year.

It’s a relentless amount of recording and releasing. So you’re working on another album of original material at the moment?

Yes it is. We’re not ready to go into the details of exactly what it is at the moment but it will be a surprise for everyone and I think people are really going to dig it.


related gigs
Melvins
Wed 4th Dec, The Powerstation, Auckland


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