‘Winnipeggers must be tough motherfuckers’

Buzz Osborne talks new Melvins album, the band’s tour plans, Neil Young and why he avoids Canada in the winter

Melvins singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne. “Could you imagine going to Edmonton in January? Not going to happen. I’m not doing that.”

Buzz Osborne is excited to return to Canada with his band, legendary sludge-metal weirdos the Melvins.

“We don’t come up (to Canada) very often. Most of that has to do with the hassle at the border,” the 48-year-old says by phone from Los Angeles. “I apologize to our Canadian fans. If we didn’t have that worry (at the border), we’d add at least 10 (Canadian) shows to every tour we do.”

Osborne will perform at the West End Cultural Centre tonight (Monday, July 9) with the latest incarnation of the ever-evolving Melvins.

In recent years, the band’s line-up has typically included bassist Jared Warren and drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis.

The Melvins Lite version of the band features Osborne, Crover and upright bass player Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle fame. The trio released an album, Freak Puke, at the beginning of June.

I think at our age, it’s a good idea to do things as weird and stupid as you can. I think there’s something healthy about a massive amount of stupidity.

Buzz Osborne

“The Melvins have a long history of mixing up our line-ups and I think that’s what has kept us relevant for so long,” Osborne has been quoted as saying. “Consider the Freak Puke record the fifth side of the four-sided Melvins triangle.”

Melvins fans are sure to enjoy Freak Puke, and people who have never given the Melvins a chance before ought to do so. They are truly one of a kind.

Here are some excerpts from The Uniter’s interview with Osborne.

On what he likes about performing with different Melvins line-ups for different albums:

“I think it keeps things interesting. Ultimately for me, and I’ve said this a lot of times but it really holds true, is I make music that I would like as a fan, and I make decisions band-wise that I would like as a fan. I do things the way I wish other bands would do it, essentially. That’s it. I like a wide variety of music. I’m not particularly married to (one style), so if you tell me, ‘Let’s do Throbbing Gristle crossed with the Velvet Underground meets Venom,’ then we can come up with something.”

On the band’s career and approach to making music:

“We’re a weird, eclectic band. There’s no two ways around that. I understand that. I’m not trying to write bright and breezy pop tunes - never have. I think our fans can expect a lot of weird stuff from us. … There’s nothing I would change (about our career), really. I mean, I’d love to sell millions of records, but that’s not going to happen. We make weird music. Millions of people won’t like it. I understand this completely. I’m not under any misconceptions. That’s OK with me. My target audience is very small. They understand and like what we do. So be it.”

On the trio’s plan to play 51 shows in 51 days, with each show taking place in a different state and one in Washington, D.C., starting Sept. 5:

“That was my idea. I thought with this line-up, it’s less gear than normal - it’s only three people - so I thought we might be able to pull it off. I think at our age, it’s a good idea to do things as weird and stupid as you can. I think there’s something healthy about a massive amount of stupidity. To some degree, anyway.”

On Neil Young (the Melvins recently recorded a cover of Young’s song Drive Back with members of Dinosaur Jr.):

“I really haven’t had much interest in (Neil Young’s output over the past) 20 years. I do like a lot of his older records. Zuma and On the Beach, I think, are my two favourite ones. Those are great records. (I like) a little bit of the Buffalo Springfield stuff, but by and large, I thought that stuff was a little overproduced for me. But it’s OK. I think he’s a pretty good guitar player. I like the way that he doesn’t play super fast. I like his voice, and his songs sound like once he gets a good idea, he gets them done relatively quickly, so I really like that.”

On playing Winnipeg for the first time:

“The first time was in ‘85. I think we played (now defunct Albert Street punk club) Wellington’s, which at the time, the locals called Smellington’s. It was relatively obvious why, too.”

On how touring through Canada is more pleasant in the summer than in the winter because of the weather:

“I won’t even tour in the U.S. in the winter (never mind Canada). Could you imagine going to Edmonton in January? Not going to happen. I’m not doing that. Winnipeg’s worse than Minneapolis, and Minneapolis is horrible. You guys get hammered. I don’t know how you deal with it. You guys must be tough motherfuckers, that’s all there is to it.”

Visit www.themelvins.net.