Phil Spector look-alike Buzz Osborne.
Twenty years as a leading figure in the heavy-rock underground have made Buzz Osborne a contentious character, and the last two years of Phil Spector jokes have him REALLY on edge.
Osborne founded the Melvins in the late 80s, embracing metal when the rest of the bands from Seattle’s suburbs were rejecting it, then taking his deep tunes down to sub-Sabbath speeds.
Osborne has captained the Melvins through countless lineups. On the side, he makes art-metal with Fantomas, an all-star crew featuring prolific former Faith No More frontman Mike Patton and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Some people think it’s slavishly overrated and unlistenable, and that it can’t hold a flame to the stoner-rock avant garde of bands like High on Fire and Sun O))))). But plenty of people with trustworthy taste think it’s good, so who’s to say?
The Melvins are currently touring with Big Business, a Hydra Head sludge band also originally from the Seattle area. Last year, the Melvins absorbed several of the BB members into the lineup, making their wall of noise twice as thick. The bands are preceded by A Purge of Dissidents
, some weird-assed film by fine-artist Dalek and musician Haze XXL, which apparently is about “knives, space monkeys and noise.” ...
We thought it would be fun to ask Osborne about his past and future. He answered the questions, but apparently he didn’t think it was fun. Here’s one thing about e-mail interviews: You can’t establish a real rapport, so you have to throw a few questions up against the virtual wall and see what sticks. Here’s another thing about e-nterviews: Sometimes, tone and vibe dissipate when just have the words to go by, with no kind of tone or context. So while I think he’s kidding with a couple of the answers, I’m pretty sure he was serious about me being a douchebag.
Do you feel like there's an upsurge in the whole "stoner-metal" thing, or are the bands that do it just getting more attention?
Upsurge? I have no idea. I've never felt a part of any of that crap, so I wouldn't know. Is it getting more attention? Let's hope not.
I loved [underrecognized crossover standouts] Clown Alley back in the day, and I didn't know for years that half that band were future Melvins. Who are a couple of your favorite ex-Melvins?
First off, after we fire someone I don't really want much to do with them, believe it or not. I liked all of the bass players we've ever had, and it was a drag to have to can any of them, but that's how it works sometimes. I liked Clown Alley a great deal as well, and that was a reason we thought of having both of them in the band in the first place. Too bad it didn't work out twice. Oh well, I guess.
What's the lineup for this current tour - still the Frankenstein band?
Oh yeah, and let's hope it stays that way.
What's the future of Fantomas?
Who knows? We haven't been in the studio since 2003, so god knows. It's up to Patton, and so far no plans at all for the future.
Why take the movie on tour with you? That's a cool punk-rock throwback to the days before there was a really codified notion of what a show should be, thing you get at DIY venues.
The Purge movie is a great idea for the tour, and I'm glad it's here. So far it's been really fun and a nice change from what we normally do.
Why take Big Business out?
Big Business played on our last album and will be playing on future albums as well, so it made perfect sense to bring them on tour. Besides, they are MEMBERS of the band, so... There it is.
Any new projects coming up?
We always have new stuff coming out and coming up, so no one has to wait for long. On this trip we have a split double single with Halo Of Flies and another 7-inch called Smash the State. All of this is available on a CD we threw into each single.
Anything else you want to add?
Stop doing anything ever.
The Melvins, with Big Business and A Purge of Dissidents (film). 7 p.m. Saturday, September 29, at Peabody’s (2083 E. 21st St) http://www.peabodys.com. Tickets are $15; call 216-776-9999. - D.X. Ferris