We Asked Buzz Osborne of the Melvins What He Thinks of Drake, Miley Cyrus, and Mumford & Sons
Plus, stream a brand new song from The Melvins.
Buzz Osborne finds the title of his new album hilarious. And why not? After all, he did name it. Tres Cabrones, or “Three Dumbasses,” is something like the 21st or 22nd album from the Melvins. But who’s counting? Buzz certainly isn’t. Tres Cabrones marks a shift in the Melvins’ lineup, with the band’s original drummer, Mike Dillard, returning for the first time since 1983 and Dale Crover, the band’s drummer of almost three decades moving over to bass. So those are the three dumbasses, for the time being, anyway.
We talked to King Buzzo about the lineup changes, what he’s been listening to (or actively not listening to), and why Tres Cabrones is so damned funny. Tres Cabrones is out November 5 from Ipecac. Stream the album’s opener, “Dr. Mule” below.
Is your voicemail the Alfred Hitchcock theme song?
Yeah, that’s my house phone. We’ve had the same answering machine message for 20 years. I think it’s really funny. And my wife sounds like she’s 4 years old.
She does. I was curious as to whether or not you had a daughter. Has that ever led to any confusion?
No. We’re not big socialites, so...
OK, so explain the new lineup on this album.
It’s actually not a new lineup, it’s more of an extension of the Melvins. Pretty much at this point, anything we do Melvins-wise is a Melvins record. But this was the Melvins in 1983—as close as we’ll get to that line up, which is our original drummer, Mike Dillard playing drums and Dale Crover playing bass. That’s what it is. So I wrote songs with just those guys playing those instruments in mind. My wife says it’s her favorite record of ours because it’s simpler. That’s what she thinks. I dont know if she’s a good judge.
Buzz Osborne, Mike Dillard, Dale Crover. Three dumbasses.
It’s a cool album and there are two songs that are just wonderfully bizarre on it—”Tie My Pecker to a Tree” and your version of “99 Bottles of Beer.”
Ah, I’m glad you liked those.
Where did those come from and why did you decide to put them on the album?
I’ve always loved stuff like that. The song “Black Bock” off our Stag record is a good example of that. We think all that kind of stuff is hilarious but we always thought our album covers were hilarious. Ozma, Houdini, no one thinks that stuff’s funnier than us. Especially this album, Tres Cabrones, which means “Three Dumbasses.” It’s a takeoff of Tres Hombres. Three Dumbshits.
Who named the album?
Me. I’ve been wanting to use Tres Cabrones for a long time. I thought it was a great name. And iTunes censored it. They won’t put “cabrones.” They put “Tres dot dot dot” or something.
Oh well. I guess it’s a curse word in Spanish. But they probably wouldn’t have censored Three Dumbasses though.
Yeah, it feels like blink-182’s been doing that for the last 15 years.
Yeah, I suppose so. Whatever.
You’ve been around the block a few times. I believe Tres Cabrones is your millionth album.
Who’s counting? I don’t even know how many songs I’ve written. I don’t know what songs are on what records, I don’t know what order the records are in. I have no idea.
So you’ve been around for a while, what’s the biggest change in the music industry that’s impacted you as a band?
Nothing’s changed, really. Honestly, I don’t think there’s really any golden era of music. I like about as much new music now as I ever did, which isn’t much.
What new bands are you a fan of now?
One band I’m a huge fan of is this band Tweak Bird. I really like them, they’re from LA. They did 45 shows on our 51 day tour.
Did you not have them on those 6 extra shows because they then would’ve tied your world record?
No, it’s fun to say that but in actuality, the reason is that the first shows were in Alaska and Hawaii. We couldn’t afford to fly them there, you know?
Are you planning on any wacky world record tours for this album?
Nothing I can think of unless you can come up with a good angle. I’m super glad we were able to do this record, that’s almost like a world record right there. Mike Dillard’s never been on a real album and had a real release so that’s really great.
Last year, while you were working on breaking that record, the Flaming Lips broke a record. I think they performed the most cities in a 24-period, with something like 12. Maybe you guys could break that.
Eh, that doesn’t sound like very much fun to me. It’s over in one day. I wanna do something bigger. I want it to be six months.
How many shows do you think you guys could do in six months?
Six month tour? We could do every night. If we could do 51 in a row without falling off the face of the Earth, we could do 151, no problem.
You were talking about new music earlier. At Noisey, we’re constantly dominated by news of Drake and Miley Cyrus. Curious if you had opinions on either.
Well, I don’t know who Drake is, first off.
So Miley Cyrus, me and my wife watched that on YouTube after all this hub bub and I thought I was watching the wrong thing because it didn’t look offensive to me. Maybe I’m just some jaded dumbass but I thought that she was talentless and didn’t really sound any different than Madonna or any of those other Barbie doll-type women singers. Britney Spears-types seem pretty interchangeable to me. And as far as it being outrageous, I’ve seen more outrageous stuff than that on Bourbon Street on a Tuesday during the day. Also, you live in New York, you see weirder shit than that every day in New York. I lived in San Francisco, I lived in Hollywood. Are you kidding? It doesn’t weird me out. I kept waiting for something to happen. Like she was gonna have sex with a Doberman. That’s it? People are upset about this?
Musically, I mean the music is just nothing. There’s nothing there at all. I might as well be listening to the sink drip. Really, it’d be more entertaining. And as far as the rest of it goes, nobody’s fooled by it. There’s no singing or music going on there. That’s clearly obvious. Even rock bands now, I would say a large percentage don’t even play live. So that’s how far down on the scale we’ve come. Now you have to give credit when people actually play. That’s fucked up.
I also read that you’re not a big fan of this alt-country trend?
No, not at all.
I’m curious to hear what you think of bands like Mumford and Sons.
Never heard it.
Nope. I would. I’ll look and listen. But I mean, most of that alt-country stuff sounds like REO Speedwagon to me. Why would I listen to alt-country? Country’s good enough. I don’t know. I’m not in on the joke. I don’t hear it. But maybe if I listen to them, there might be something. Any band, other than that Miley Cyrus-type stuff, usually has at least one song I can like. I think even the worst band could have a couple of minutes of good music.
What’s a modern guilty pleasure for you?
Nothing comes to mind. I’m not afraid to like stuff. I’m certainly not afraid to say I like it. There’s not enough good music out there to be that picky. So, once in a while, I agree with the masses. Not always. I like Nine Inch Nails. The Downward Spiral record, I didn’t think I would like that. I thought that was good. I hate Mötley Crüe but I like that song, “Dr. Feelgood.” It sounded like Van Halen. I wouldn’t buy it though. I can’t think of anything new that would be a guilty pleasure. You know what record I like? New music but not by a new artist, Tom Wait’s newest record. I think that was one of the best things he’s ever done. It’s been out a couple years now but that was really good. It was really fucking great. Who would’ve thought? It’s a weird-ass album. He can do that. He’s not afraid. Guys like that give me inspiration. I’m not a Paul McCartney fan but my friend took me to see him about 8 years ago. He was fucking good! I have to admit. He certainly wasn’t playing to no fucking tapes, that’s for sure.
I’d really love to know what you thought of him playing last year with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.
I thought the song was good. I thought it kind of sounded like one of our songs. I wouldn’t buy it but I appreciate that. I wonder if he even knew who those guys were. McCartney was probably my least favorite of all the Beatles but Jesus, his worst stuff is better than most stuff.
You once said when you were younger, you got rejected for jobs at both Burger King and McDonald's.
Yes, that’s true.
If you weren’t playing music, what do you think you’d be doing?
Well, I never had a good job in my life so I don’t know. I think eventually the genius of my capabilities would’ve shown through to someone. There’s not much I couldn’t do. I don’t think I would’ve went to college. The people that I know who made the most money never went to college. I would’ve been an entrepreneur of some sort or a manager of some kind. Who knows? But I wouldn’t be working 9 to 5, I’ll tell you that. You cannot make money working 9 to 5. Acquiring real wealth requires a lot more work than that.
Dan Ozzi is a guest editor at Noisey and has remarkably lamer hair than King Buzzo. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi