Rednecks, Middle Management Zombies, and KISS: Buzz Osborne's Tour Diary, Part Three
The Melvins frontman reports from the midwest on his solo acoustic tour.
The last time we talked to Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, we asked him what he thought of Miley Cyrus and Mumford & Sons (spoiler: not much). Now, King Buzzo is out on an acoustic solo tour called This Machine Kills Artists. Since he seemed trepidatious about the whole idea to begin with, we asked if he could send us some dispatches from the road. After sharing the first installment about his trip up the California coast and another about the Pacific Northwest, he's back with dispatches from the next leg of the tour, the Midwest.
We took off early from Spokane on our way straight into Montana for two shows that I had no idea how we'd would go over. Montana, for a guy like me, is a tough nut to crack.
I was playing in Missoula and Billings, which are big cities really, and Shangri-las compared to where I grew up. I was raised in tiny podunk shit holes and in those towns I'm sure nothing has changed.
As a result of this blunt upbringing I was forced to understand the redneck and their strengths and weaknesses and I'm not sure if I'm a better person because of that but I certainly have a much deeper and more profound hatred of all things rural.
That feeling is mutual between the rednecks and me, and they made sure I understood this clearly the entire time I had to live there. I prefer the city but that doesn't mean I like all of the people there, lord no, it's just much easier to not get noticed in a massive metropolis FILLED with insanity. In Hollywood, where I live, you pretty much have to be on fire in order to get a cop to even look at you.
This is good.
I'd played Missoula a lot of times in the past and it had been fun. Wildly enthusiastic drunken crowds always on the verge of turning into a beer throwing mob. A blast to play in front of, but this trip and this show is a whole different animal, to be sure. I'm walking out on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar.
This might just prove to everyone that I've totally lost my mind.
Missoula is a college town and I'm convinced these days colleges and for that matter and maybe even on a larger scale high schools are little more than PC indoctrination centers aimed at turning children into life long middle management zombies. We used to be able to actually play shows ON campus but those days are long over. I think about the only thing college "entertainment" committees spend tuition money on today are horse shit DJ's. What could be lamer than that? When you think about it that's absolutely perfect for the soon to be middle management zombies. They love pre-packaged crap.
I imagine a seriously brutal yet totally plastic future and I can't wait! The more mechanical society in general becomes the better it will be for guys like me because not everyone wants to listen to some shitty DJ playing "beats" over Madonna mashups. Some people will WANT something a bit more human.
In this I have total faith.
Well maybe not total, I don't know if I'd go that far, I mean there's no point in being reckless.
The show in Missoula went well. We quickly packed our crap and hit the road. The next day we took off for Billings. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains with trees and a winding interstate dotted with road kill in varying degrees of decay. Some looked freshly dead and others nothing was left other than a fifty-foot bloodstain squished across both lanes of freeway.
I'd only played Billings once before and it was at a weird brewery type place. Small but fun show. Tonight's performance was no different. After sound check, Dave and I went to a restaurant just across the street from the club that ended up being really great. We ate an amazing meal complete with crab stuffed Japanese peppers.
I went back to the van and spent the next hour until show time listening to mixes of the new Melvins album. I'm very pleased with it and it's sure to surprise a lot of people.
It's been brought to my attention that a lot of angry noise is being blasted on the internet as a result of some off handed comments I'd made about Kiss. Apparently pissed off Kiss heads have been flipping out and calling me every kind of son of a bitch and a lot worse and until I saw it on line I didn't even remember doing it. Strangely, once it all came back to me I remembered it was from an interview I'd done for a Missoula weekly. At the end of the interview the interviewer asked me what I thought of Gene and Paul continuing on without Ace and Peter and I told him I saw no reason they should call it quits because the two booze heads fucked themselves up and besides, who cares? I mean it's Kiss, even Gene doesn't take it tremendously seriously, and that was it.
Then the article comes out saying I "weighed in on the controversy" which I suppose is true but I never would have thought twice about any of it had the interviewer not ASKED me what I thought. Honestly I don't give a rat’s ass about what goes on in the Kiss camp. Why would I? I really couldn't care less.
It took me awhile to even figure out exactly what I'd said that pissed off all the Kiss trolls and as far as I can tell they're mad because I called Ace and Peter alcoholic junkies, like that's not common knowledge. Are Kiss fans really stupid enough believe those two never got loaded? As it turns out these Kiss fanatics seem to have an enormous power of rationalization, but people all throughout human history have believed in totally absurd bullshit so I guess it's not surprising. I mean, in two seconds of an internet search I'd found Gene on YouTube talking all about the two of them getting fucked up all through the Kiss golden years and in fact he even talks about those guys not even playing on tracks of albums like Destroyer because of their fucked up behavior. In order to get the job done the sober members of Kiss were FORCED to hire studio hacks... In the 70's.
Haven't any of you asshole Kiss know-it-alls looked into this or do you just not believe Gene? Who knows?
So, for the record, you Kiss fan fuckheads who are giving ME shit for saying as it turns out, the exact same thing as Gene can KISS my ass!
The most hilarious part is they also, in their posts go on and on and ON about how I look! Apparently I'm a fat, stupid, Side Show Bob looking freak that none of them have ever heard of who has no right to talk shit about Ace and Peter. Ace and Peter, two grown men who made a fortune wearing Kabuki make up as a result of being even uglier than I am. You know why they wore make up? Because they needed it! Obviously without make up those two wouldn't have made shit.
You know, with that in mind, I have a lot more in common with the Cat and the Spaceman than I thought!
We had a day off to drive half way across Montana and all the way across North Dakota for a show in Fargo. It was an uneventful and boring drive choked with road construction, which forced the flow of traffic down to one lane more than a dozen times. This added at least another hour and a half to our already 10-hour drive. Excellent.... We ate tacos at a truck stop and Dave and Brian bought a six-pack to split in the hotel room but passed out instead after Dave drank one of them. Big time party monsters.
I did NOT sleep like a baby that night meaning I did NOT wake up every hour and cry like the George Jones song of that name. Ha!
I had a hot but fun show in Fargo and even did an interview with a guy who openly told me he didn't always like what I did musically. What exactly do you say to a bold statement like that? I just stared at him and blankly answered the rest of his mundane questions like a robot. I almost ate at the club but I happened to get a gander at the cook before hand and he looked like someone had kicked his ass the night before, face all smashed and bandaged yet still cooking away in the kitchen. I opted to eat elsewhere and had a great meal at a restaurant next door. The waiter was a spot on version of Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. He was meticulous and slow speaking but did a fine job of serving Dave and I. We brought Brian back a burger that he said was one of the best he'd ever had.
We split from Fargo relatively early considering we had a five or so hour drive to Minneapolis and my third show at Grumpy's in four months. Talk about overkill.
Minnesota is where Bob Dylan was originally born and in fact he's from a northern Minnesota iron mining shit hole called Hibbing that even people from Minneapolis have never been to. I've heard him describe that experience as being born in the wrong town to the wrong family and even with the wrong name. I know that shit all too well.
I love Grumpy's. Tom Hazelmyer and I have worked together for years in a most satisfactory and creatively productive way. Tom is a visionary and a great artist as is my wife so we have an excellent team right here and now. It's like nothing I've ever seen before and I love it.
My show this time was in the side room and I heard some noise about the vocals being too loud. Always some complaint. Oh well...
I played the wonderfully named Shank Hall in Milwaukee, which was fine, AND James Williamson from the Stooges and Demetri from OFF! came out. Apparently they were in town to judge a talent show. I asked James what the contestants win and he said "you know what, I have no idea?"
Some random dude told me after that he liked my show but he missed the bass and drums. Well duh. I suppose I should have just brought along the whole band to support me on my SOLO ACOUSTIC TOUR. That's like saying I should do an instrumental version of Edger Winters song Frankenstein. You can't win.
We had the next day off to travel to Grand Rapids and instead of driving we took the boat across Lake Michigan. Fortunately it was a high speed ferry and only took about two and a half hours. I'd never done this before and it was beautiful. A few months ago this lake was completely frozen over and now I simply stare out over it in total satisfaction.
I may no longer be the young maverick I used to be but this tour is giving me new eyes and in a lot if ways I'm younger than ever.