If you know much about The Melvins, you know that it is your average rock band. The Melvins are a band which has: a) been around a long time b) influenced a ton of other bands c) been integral to the creation of a numerous amount of rock sub-genres and d) a very loyal following.
After forming in the state of Washington in 1983, the band has charted its own territory, stuck to its own trajectory and done things exactly its own way; one of the major reasons why The Melvins's rabid fan base has stuck with the band for so long.Led by original founder Buzz Osbourne, the group has steadily brewed its own concoction of punk rock/metal/sludge for more than three decades now and it still seems to be covering new ground and remaining a steady source of music, art and innovation.
On its newest release, the ambitious A Walk with Love & Death, the band has created the first double-album of its enormous catalog. Divided in two halves, the Death portion of the album makes up the band’s new 9-song album and the Love portion is the basis of a film score the band has written to accompany an as-of-yet unreleased short film created by director Jesse Nieminen. It’s the first time the veteran band has undertaken this type of project and the results are pretty phenomenal.
While in Texas and in the midst of a twelve-week tour to promote this stunning piece of work, Melvins singer, guitarist and founder Buzz Osbourne took a few minutes out of a long travel day to speak to me about this venture and discuss the phenomenon of the impending hurricane that passed over Tampa Bay just days before it struck.
Read our Q&A below, and get more information on the show via local.cltampa.com. Listen to the whole of A Walk with Love and Death at the bottom of the
Tell me a bit about the new record, the first ever double record The Melvins have done. Tell me how it came together and what the inspiration for it was.
Well, we wanted to do something big that was the main inspiration so that’s number one…it’s a big project. Number two I wanted to do a double album that wasn’t just a normal, everyday double album. I wanted to do one that was diametrically opposed to the other one and that worked out really good. The overall consensus is that it’s a massive success…it’s a high benchmark for us in that it was a lot of work and we were able to pull it off. We got to play with some super-talented musicians who make my job easy.
What was working on the film score like? Was that different than your normal process?
It was 100 percent different. (The albums) sound 100 percent different, and working on them was 100 percent different. It was really fun. It took us longer, regardless of what people might think, the film score took us a hell of a lot longer to record than the other one did. It’s a lot more involved. Some people don’t hear it that way but, you know, it’s their loss.
Is that something you’d venture to do again?
Yeah, I would love to but, you know, we’ll see…I’m not gonna hold my breath.
Tell me a little about the film. I’ve been reading about it lately.
Well, we haven’t finished it yet. We and Jesse Nieminen are doing it so when he gets more time it should be finished by the end of the year.
It’s a short film, right?
Yes, 33-minutes so not too short, not too long. Just enough time for you to get sick of it.
Going back a bit, you all have been around for quite a while and all kinds of accolades have been thrown your way and you’ve been called pioneers by so many people. What is that like for you? Is that meaningful?
That’s not massively meaningful. I’m happy that people enjoy it. I’m happy that they’ve found something that they like but beyond that, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I’m glad I wasn’t wrong about what I was doing in the past. I’m glad I stuck to my guns…you know, we’re a hard sell. We’re not an easy band to like for the vast majority of the billions of people on the planet. I understand that. I understand that completely. We don’t sound like anyone who’s sold millions of records. I’m not against selling tons of records but I just don’t think it’s gonna happen. I’m not trying to not be that but it’s also not my goal.
It seems like your fan base is really loyal though.
Well, you know, it changes but we’ll see…I’m not afraid of it.
You’ve done plenty of work for indie labels and you’ve worked for major labels. Is there any difference in what you do in those cases as far as how that affects your work and how you do your work?
The major labels give you a lot more money to do what you’re doing. We do our records for very little money, we do most of them ourselves. But the major labels never told me what to do and that’s a plus. I think people have the wrong idea about that; I didn’t have that experience with major labels.
Seems like you always hear the opposite of that.
Yeah, but those days are over. The music industry isn’t like that anymore.
You know, 40 years of music experience..that’s the main thing. He’s a good egg. We like Steve a great deal. He’s a really good player, he’s got a good sense of humor, he puts up with us, he laughs at our jokes.
[Buzz and I speak about the unpredictable trajectory of Hurricane Irma and he seems genuinely concerned for our local area and for the whole state of Florida before closing with these further observations.]
We have five shows planned for Florida, and we want to come and play but we’ll wish for the best but we’re not gonna drive into a hurricane. One thing I know is that, if I lived there, I would not ride it out. I would get the fuck out of there! Just hope it doesn’t hurt anyone. I never like to see natural disasters.
The Melvins and Spotlights play Orpheum (1915 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City) on September 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-$50, and more info is avilable via local.cltampa.com.