5 QUESTIONS WITH KING BUZZO OF THE MELVINS

King Buzzo of the Melvins live at the Double Door

By Joshua Ford and Ryan Meehan (with all images by Josh Ford Photograpy)

King Buzzo is indeed alternative rock royalty.  As the founding member of the Melvins, he has influenced future generations of rock guitarists for years to come with his unique brand of sludge-based doom metal.  Originally based out of Washington State, the Melvins were a huge part of the underground scene going on in the Pacific Northwest in the late 80s and early 90 that spawned such bands as Mudhoney and Nirvana.

Ford’s Take:  MTV gave me Melvins.  I said it.  Thats right.  How do I feel about being spoon fed Melvins via Music Tele?  Just fine, here’s why: In the early 90’s, you had to dig wherever you could to find shit, kids.  Its not like now where you can pull up the entire discography of any band ever in 2 seconds, and then be on to the next passing trendy band in 2 minutes once you’ve skimmed their entire oeuvre on your fucking mobile.  We had to work for our shit.   Is MTV “working for your shit”, you ask?  I don’t know, but I sought out new artists through both major and local avenues in the 90’s.  There was a decent collection of mutant audio oddities broadcast weekly on Planet 93.5 FM.  I’d tape this radio show, “Off the Beaten Track” with DJ Roberto, every Sunday and write down the track list.  I’d also watch MTV’s Headbangers Ball (and 120 minutes) weekly on saturday nights, and it was the best hour of programming all week, natch.  So in 1993 Melvins release Houdini, and a video for “Honey Bucket”, a scorcher.  Look it up.  All I remember from this video was being leveled by a nassssssty riff, and a bunch of swine running around with giant balls like people hang from their trailer-hitch now swinging in front of the low angle cameras.  So MTV gave me Melvins, thanks MTV.  Houdini was their major label debut on Atlantic.  Amazing.  Cover to cover a great record, killer artwork from Frank Kozik.  A modern classic.  I don’t listen to many of the same bands I was into in the early 90’s, because 1) my tastes have changed and my palate developed, but more importantly 2) no bands from that era continue to thrive or remain relevant.  With one exception:  Melvins.  This far into a career, most bands are drooling into their Frosted Flakes record after record, after years of drug/road abuse.  Not the case with Buzzo/Dale – still relevant, and not burned out.  I’ll go ahead and say this too, without caution:  they’ve done some of their best work ever in the last 5 years.   “A Senile Animal” and “Nude With Boots” both have tracks that I’d call their best work to date, 30 years into their career. They’ve toured the shit out of these records too, and I’ve seen them 9 times in the last 5 years (with some partners in crime Gannon/Richards/Whitney).   If you haven’t checked these records out, and you like heavy music, run along, grab your mobile, and skim their recent catalog on your way to get Starbucks tomorrow morning.  Enjoy your latte, you got it easy now.

Later on in King Buzzo’s career, he teamed up with Faith No More frontman Mike Patton and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo to form Fantomas, and went on to release two other collaborative efforts with Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra.  Almost three decades of Melvins goodness later, King Buzzo finds himself as our guest this week in 5 Questions. 

FOH:  Next year will be the thirtieth anniversary of the formation of the Melvins.  Do you have anything special planned to mark the occasion?  I was going to suggest a King Buzzo commemorative bobblehead that blows fire – How stupid of an idea do you think that is on a scale of one to ten?

KB: You mean 10 being the stupidest? 10…. We have a few things planned but not much we can talk about now… Let’s just say we have “plans.”

FOH:  What is your take on how rock music has changed in the three decades that you’ve been doing this?   Are there any subgenres of music that have taken off during that period of time that you’ve heard and caught yourself saying “Why in the hell would anybody want to listen to _______?”

KB: I’m not a big rap fan… Most of that stuff I can’t believe people like… My kind of rap is either NWA style bullshit or bands who aren’t really rap bands like the Warlock Pinchers or Dalek…

Buzzo up close

FOH:  Melvins Lite (with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas) is gearing up for the 50 shows/states in 51 days “Record Breaker” tour.  Did the material you are playing with Melvins Lite (as opposed to the Melvins material with Jared/Coady) make it easier to take a stab at such a rigorous tour schedule?   Was this a logistical nightmare to book, and are you hitting some areas you’ve not played before?

KB: It’s less gear with the Melvins Lite so that was taken into consideration… Song wise no… Melvins Lite songs are different but not easier if that’s what you mean… It was tough to book for sure and I hope it all holds up for us… We will see….

FOH:  A few years back you scored some films for the visual artist Cameron Jamie.  How did the collaboration with Jamie come about?   Is film work something you’d like to do more of, or can you get those demons out through other projects like Fantomas?  Also, while on the subject of film can you throw out a few favorite films/directors?

KB: Cameron was a big fan of our stuff… That’s how it worked… We liked him and they were by no means conventional films… We liked that… I have little to no interest in doing soundtrack work… The very idea of working with 99% of the Hollywood movie industry turns my stomach… If it was the right project I’d be interested but that remains to be seen and I have no energy to try to look for it… We have recorded hundreds of songs in all kinds of different styles and no one seems to even notice… So be it… Hell, they didn’t even want us on the sound track for Juno!  What does that tell you?  I get zero demons out working with Fantomas… that’s fine though because it’s not my music… I love movies…. My favorite all time director is John Huston with David Lean taking a distant second… I also REALLY love Werner Hertzog and Rainer Werner Fassbinder…. Some of my favorite films NOT by these directors are: Inside Daisy Clover, On The Water Front, The King of Comedy, Network, The Thing, The Boys in the Band, Short Cuts, The Fugitive, The Fugitive Kind, The Illustrated Man, The New Centurions, The Grifters, Midnight Cowboy, Naked Lunch, Paper Moon, Planet of the Vampires, Ravenous, Zero Effect, Wild At Heart, Titus, The Matrix, Seven, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Team America, The Proposition, The Apartment, Valdez is Coming, The Hospital, All That Jazz, Vertigo, A Serious Man, Revolutionary Road, A.I., Bar Fly, China Town, American Graffiti, LA Confidential, 300, Little Big Man, Jaws, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The French Connection, Female Trouble, Dune, Deliverance, Albino Alligator, Baby Doll, East of Eden, The Emperor of the North Pole, Forbidden Planet and……. Caddy Shack….

The King in Black and White

FOH:  Is everybody and their fucking brother playing the Electrical Guitar brand now because of you?   How does it feel to be a trendsetter?  Can you talk about what you prefer about these to say, a Les Paul Custom?

KB: Is EVERYBODY playing them? Does Guitar Center have them? It’s a trend when you see them in BIG music shops… Now, they are simply the best guitars out there… I hope Kevin takes this guitar company as far as he wishes to… I love playing them… Les Pauls are great guitars but these are better…

FOH:  What’s next for you in the twelve months that follow, both for the Melvins and for any additional side projects that you’re working on at the moment?

KB: I don’t have time for side projects really…. Maybe I should make some time….. Yeah… A SIDE project might be just the thing….

If you’re on the West Coast in mid-July, you can see Melvins Lite at The Hawthorne Theatre in Portland on the 18th, or catch them just two nights later at Slim’s in San Francisco.  Check out the links below to find out more about King Buzzo and the Melvins.

To see it live is to believe it coming to life

The Official Melvins fanpage:  http://themelvins.net/

Discography:  http://www.themelvins.net/wiki/index.php?title=Melvins_Discography

Interview with Buzz and Dale on “Blow the Scene”:  http://blowthescene.com/news/melvins-interview-w-buzz-dale-exclusive.html

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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7 thoughts on “5 QUESTIONS WITH KING BUZZO OF THE MELVINS

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  2. I’ll go one better.

    Fox News gave me Melvins. And I was deep in the punk/alt/hardcore subculture back in the 80’s; My War/Slip It In got me through high school. By the 90’s many of my favorite bands were breaking up or ‘selling out’ and I could no longer explore music because I had accidentally started a family. I was limited to MTV and Rolling Stone/Spin. ‘Grunge’ bored the hell out of me and I easily dismissed any band associated with that term. Fast forward to 2008 and a Buzz appearance on Red Eye. During Gutfeld’s intros I was wondering, “WTF is up with this Side Show dude?” By the end of the show I was racing to the local record store praying they had (A) Senile Animal. They didn’t. But they did have Houdini, Stag, and the Maggot, all used and very cheap. I’ve been hooked like a crack addict ever since.

    I love, live, and breathe music, and there are three monumental moments in my life where music blew my mind, where my paradigm was shattered, where new possibilities were revealed to me: 1977 when my parents bought me Sgt. Pepper for my 11th birthday (I had wanted the soundtrack, they bought me the original instead); 1983 when I heard Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat (Yes! Punk does not have to be boring); 2009 when I saw Melvins in B’ham at the Bottle Tree (the dream WAS possible). Will be seeing them for the third time in October. I can’t wait. It’s like an early Christmas.

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