The Melvins Are Alone

The<b> Melvins</b> Are Alone
"We’re the last band standing. I’ve always thought I was a stronger person than all those people. Only the strong survive, and they don’t have a gut.” So proclaims the Melvins’ singer/guitarist, big hair and bigger mouth main-man Buzz "King Buzzo” Osborne on outlasting bands, trends and musical zeitgeists in the ever-tumultuous landscape of the music industry. With the Melvins just a hair shy of their 25th year of upsetting musical order, their list of accomplishments is beyond reproach. From inspiring the world’s biggest bands (Nirvana) to laying the framework for musical movements (sludge, grunge) to creating one of the most compelling and varied bodies of work, the Melvins have done it all.

Yet after nearly a quarter-century of innovation, most bands are but pale imitations of their once-youthful and creative selves — if they haven’t broken up and reformed at least a couple of times. Not the Melvins. Their latest release, Nude with Boots (on Ipecac), is at once vintage Melvins, harkening back to classics such as Stoner Witch and Houdini, while continuing the progression of not just their sound and recent records but the band.

"My biggest accomplishment is surviving this long without turning into a novelty act,” Buzz reflects. "We’re not like Sha Na Na at Woodstock.” It’s a progression that’s been aided not just by an additional member but the absorption of an entire band. Long renowned for running through bassists almost as quickly as labels, for 2006’s (A) Senile Animal, the Melvins added the gut-punching duo of drummer Coady Williams and bassist/vocalist Jared Warren of Big Business, turning the Melvins into a two drummer, multiple singer, unstoppable monstrosity.

"I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what we’re capable of doing,” declares Buzz confidently. "As much as I liked (A) Senile Animal — and I think it’s one of our best records — I think Nude is a little better, it’s a little weirder. These guys are really good players. Essentially there are two lead singers, plus Dale [Crover, drums], who’s like a junior lead singer, and Coady, who’s learning how to sing, and two drummers that are as good as anyone in the business. And with me and Jared, I don’t think there’s very much we couldn’t do.”

There’s very little the Melvins can’t do, or haven’t done, but being recognised and rewarded for their achievements remains on the to-do list. "All of the accolades, none of the cash,” Buzz laments. "Classic example is Juno. Academy Award-winning, 100-million-dollar making movie, mentioning us in very high regard. Not on the soundtrack, which sells a million copies. That’s happened time and again. Get massive accolades from a band like Nirvana, band finished after Cobain is dead, never talk to those guys again. Why? That’s just how it works.”

The Melvins will forever be entwined with the purveyors of teen spirit, which is unavoidable when you’re cited as a main influence on one of the biggest bands ever. But despite all the fame and fortune, Buzz wouldn’t trade places with his former roadie for anything. "People say that to me about Cobain: ‘Does it bug you that he made all the money?’ No, it doesn’t because he’s dead. I’m still making records. How fucked up is that? But people are weird. You can’t win. People are weird and nobody will believe the truth, so what do you do? I just keep moving my feet. I can’t be concerned with that. What would I know? I was only there. And I survived it. So who wins?”