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I’ve seen Buzz Osborne several times at Pappy and Harriet’s; last time, he performed his one-man King Buzzo show, which highlighted his crazy charisma as he strolled around the stage with an acoustic guitar.

Last Wednesday, gloom-metal fans got to see Buzz with the Melvins—complete with two drummers, Dale Crover and Coady Willis, who provided the sonic freight train. Jared Warren was on bass, showing off a black eye he said was courtesy of a mugging. He claimed he fought off a dozen or so robbers who said, “Give me all your money.”

The sonic drenching that smashed fans rivaled any sound-bath chamber designed by aliens from Venus in the nearby town of Landers

Thank God for foam earplugs. I felt my kidneys move a little with the roar from Osborne’s guitar—but I have two, and that helps in these sweet situations. I was thankful for the lack of moshing, which was supplanted by cranium-crushing head sways that managed to keep everyone upright.

The show was sold out, and fans were crammed in, feeling the raw boom by these skillful rockers. The highlight for me was the song “The Water Glass,” which showcased the superb cadence of the drummers, while Buzz—wearing a druid smock—led the band like a wild wizard: “Here we go, every day, all the way, in the grove, on the move, hoo hoo hah hah.” Osborne asked his band for a restart of the song, saying: “I totally messed it up.” A mistake was not evident to me, nor do I suspect anybody in the audience noticed any goof-ups. But I defer to King Buzzo and his 30 years of performing experience.

Published in Reviews

While most bands rest on occasion, the Melvins keep on going.

The band released a new album in 2013, and then another one in 2014. They’ll be back at Pappy and Harriet’s on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Buzz Osborne discussed that 2014 album, Hold It In, and how it came to feature not only Jeff Pinkus, the bassist for Butthole Surfers, but also Paul Leary, the guitarist for Butthole Surfers. Hold It In is a fantastic album that combines the Melvins’ traditional sound with some oddities—in a good way.

“I always wanted to do a record with those guys,” Osborne said. “I’ve always loved the Butthole Surfers, so it seemed easy to do. We ran it by Pinkus, and it just seemed like it was going to be a good thing. When we got Pinkus, we were just going to do a fun EP, but it just kind of grew into a full-on album. I thought, ‘Let’s get Paul (Leary) on board.’”

However, getting Leary on board wasn’t easy. “Paul thought it was a great idea, but he was hesitant about it at first, because he didn’t know us, but it didn’t take him too long once he got into it. It’s a really great record, and I’m hoping we can do some more with Paul. That would be great.”

Leary not only played on the album; he also took part, with the whole band, in producing it.

“It was a dream come true,” Osborne said. “He’s always been one of my favorite guitar-players, and he doesn’t really have an interest in what we’re doing, but I don’t really care about that. It’s one of those things where you don’t ask, ‘What do you think of my stuff?’ I don’t make that mistake, not ever. We wanted it to be different, and that was the point.”

During the past few years, the Melvins have often used Jeff Pinkus on bass, because bassist Jared Warren was taking what the band has called “paternity leave.” Osborne explained that while the band’s work ethic is strong, the members have an attitude that if a member wants time off, everybody else is fine with it. Warren has since returned to the band and is currently touring with them.

“By the time we did that tour in 2013, his kid was just about to be born,” Osborne said about Warren. “He didn’t want to have to blow the tour and have to go to home. We thought it was right to let him take some time off and (for us to) do the tour with somebody else, and the whole thing grew from that. We’re in the position now where we can do what we want, and no one cares.”

Osborne said fans can expect more Melvins records soon.

“We have two albums in the can at the moment that we did recently,” he said. “One is an album that was shelved about 14 years ago, and the other one is newer stuff. I’m not too sure when they’ll come out, but that’s what we’re doing.”

The Melvins are known for shelving material and revisiting it, and for playing songs Osborne wrote but never recorded.

“That’s always been the case,” Osborne explained. “There hasn’t been a time where we’re not doing songs that are older. It’s just kind of how it works, given you don’t finish everything at once. Sometimes, when you write stuff for an album, you don’t always finish it.”

Recording albums on a regular basis can be an obstacle when it comes to budgets, but Osborne said the Melvins have never spent large sums of money on recording.

“Spending a lot of money on albums depends on what you believe is a lot of money,” he said. When I mentioned the budget for a Metallica album as an example, Osborne responded: “Fuck no! Are you kidding me? You can buy several houses with that, or record 20 fucking albums with the money they spend on one album. That’s a joke. A total joke.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Big Business at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $18. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Published in Previews

Buzz Osborne, the heavy riff guitarist for the Melvins, has gone acoustic.

He recently recorded an acoustic album, just released, titled This Machine Kills Artists, and he’ll be bringing his one man acoustic show to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, July 31.

During a recent phone interview, Osborne didn’t offer many details on the name of the album, released in early June by Ipecac Records. In fact, he turned the tables by asking me what came to mind when I heard the title; I told him it reminded me of “This machine kills fascists,” a statement famously written on Woody Guthrie’s guitar.

“The thing with Woody Guthrie is I never knew if he meant the guitar, or if he meant him,” Osborne said. “He never got specific, and people just sort of assumed. I think he assumed that music has the power to do something of that nature—or does he need you to take the guitar and use it as a weapon and literally and physically kill someone with it? Which you probably could—and then you have to figure out what his definition of a fascist is.”

I suggested to Osborne that Guthrie may have been making a reference to his favoring of labor unions against those who abused workers who migrated to California from Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

“What’s real interesting is if you study the history of the Okies, the vast majority (of them) had nothing like that happen to them when they got to California,” Osborne responded. “The reality is, those people came here and did real well in California. They were well-off, and a lot of them were well-off to begin with, and moved here for better pickings. I can’t say it was a mistake; I’ve been to Oklahoma.”

Enough about history: Let’s talk about the music. What inspired Osborne to make a solo album—and an acoustic one to boot?

“I’ve always played acoustic guitar and have always loved playing acoustic guitar,” Osborne said. “I’ve done a lot of things in my vast, three-decade-long career. I’ve never been afraid of doing weird stuff as far as stuff that would be left of center of what I normally do. I really feel that there’s nothing I can’t do and be universally accepted by, I’d say, 80 percent of whatever my living audience is at that moment. Twenty percent of people won’t like it, no matter what … but there will be a new 20 percent to take its place. So, it’s odd, you know?”

Osborne said he’s always writing songs of some sort.

“I consider myself a songwriter in one form or another. It doesn’t necessarily mean I write for someone else to play my music, although I would, but it never comes up,” he said. “I wade through a lot of stuff, and it’s like digging for gold. Some of these songs could have been on earlier records, and some of them are very new.”

Osborne added that some of the feedback he’s received regarding his songwriting does not make sense.

“Let’s say (the Melvins) put out a new record, and it has different guys on the record, and then I’ll hear somebody say, ‘Well, I liked your earlier records, and I don’t like what you’re doing now.’ I say, ‘You know, a third of those songs were written during the era that you like, so they aren’t new.’ You just can’t win,” Osborne said with a laugh.

Osborne explained that musical legends inspired him to go acoustic for This Machine Kills Artists, which is credited to King Buzzo.

“One of my all-time favorites is Pete Townshend from The Who,” Osborne said. “He did this live show called Secret Policeman’s Ball back in 1979, and that always inspired me with how he could take Who songs like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ on acoustic guitar, and make them sound just as good. I realized very quickly that it’s not the arrow: It’s the Indian. I always had that in the back of my mind—that (if) music is good, and it’ll be good, no matter what.”

Bob Dylan’s acoustic efforts also influenced Osborne, he said.

“Bob Dylan could do an acoustic version of ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ and no one ever thought it was bad. Folk music is fine, but I always thought Bob Dylan made (music) a lot better. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were big heroes of his, but he took what they were doing and bettered it, which is what you always hope would happen. (Dylan’s music) is mean-spirited. It’s not better days are coming; it’s much more realistic. … It’s not campfire sing-along stuff.”

Of course, he and the Melvins are not without their critics. While Osborne said he’s somewhat sensitive to criticism, he doesn’t have any regrets about his success.

“In 30-plus years of doing this, I’ve never had anyone tell me something … that makes me walk away saying, ‘You know, he’s right. This is right; I’m terrible.’ Never; not one time,” he said. “No one has ever given me good advice as criticism, not once. I’ve done music a lot more than the average person out there. I’ve been involved in it for a long time. … Things I’ve thought were good when I originally started influenced people and touched people around the world, and were ideas that were originally mine. That makes me feel really good.”

King Buzzo (aka Buzz Osborne) will perform with Emma Ruth Rundle at 9 p.m., Thursday, July 31, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Published in Previews

The Melvins don’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re currently celebrating 30 years together while touring behind Everybody Loves Sausages, an album of covers that includes a version of Queen’s “Best Friend.”

They’re also making a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Melvins were formed in Montesano, Wash., in 1983 by Buzz Osborne (vocals, guitar). The original lineup also included Matt Lukin (bass) and Mike Dillard (drums). Eventually, Dillard left the band and was replaced by Dale Crover; Lukin also left the band, and The Melvins have gone through several bass players since.

The band’s unique cross between hardcore punk and doom metal has been linked to the grunge bands of the Northwest, largely due to the fact that Osborne was a high school classmate of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Cobain supported of The Melvins while Nirvana was going on to become a mainstream success.

The Melvins, meanwhile, have not been such a mainstream success; however, they remain legends of the underground and an extraordinary live band—and they actually look like they enjoy being in a band together.

“We really have nothing to live up to; that’s a plus,” Osborne said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “I still like doing what I’m doing; I would probably be doing it to some degree in some fashion, whether I was playing sports arenas or not.

“I’m definitely a workaholic. When you stand up next to certain arena-rock people, you think those people would have more time on their hands and certainly more money to do whatever they want to, and they seem for some reason to work less. I’ve never understood that, and it’s very strange to me.”

When it comes to The Melvins’ connection to grunge and the fact that they’re categorized into the same scene as Pearl Jam, Osborne said the connection never boosted their image.

“We certainly sound more like Mudhoney than we do Pearl Jam,” Osborne said. “In a similar position … Pearl Jam’s audience would have no concept or have any interest in either us or Mudhoney. Pearl Jam has sold millions of records, and they’re like U2, which means they’re untouchable. They don’t care. Why should they?”

Beyond their faithful core audience, The Melvins haven’t been opposed to playing to new and mainstream audiences. However, The Melvins list Lollapalooza ’96 and Ozzfest ’98 as their least-favorite experiences. They ended up getting invited to Lollapalooza during the era when grunge was already dead, and the nu-metal bands were dominating the market.

“The interesting thing about Lollapalooza is they never had any interest in us when Perry Farrell was at the helm,” Osborne said. “Perry always thought we were ‘too metal’ for his liking and his festival. They would openly say, ‘Perry doesn’t like your band. We would like you guys to come, but Perry said no.’ … The second Perry wasn’t involved, we were in there. We played the second stage; we played to a lot of people every day, and it was great. But it was hard to be there when people had no interest.”

Osborne has an amusing story about how the band found themselves in Ozzfest in 1998.

“Ozzfest flatly said they didn’t want us to do it. When I say that, I mean they openly said they did not want us to do it. The only reason we did it is because Tool was co-headlining, and they said, ‘We want one band on this tour we can like, so we won’t do it unless The Melvins play.’”

In hindsight, there’s no love lost between The Melvins and the figureheads of those festivals.

“I’ve always said this stuff about Perry and especially Ozzy being drugged-out morons, but when Ozzy’s wife came out and said, ‘I had no idea he was on prescription drugs,’ I mean, I knew he was on prescription drugs! How the fuck could she not had known? She’s just bullshitting us!”

As Everybody Loves Sausages hits the shelves, Osborne said those covers were recorded among a lot of other material.  The band wanted to give fans an inside look at the songs that inspired them. Osborne noted that the cover of Iron Head’s “Black Betty” was not planned for the album, but rather for a commercial contest.

“We did that for a Super Bowl commercial-making contest,” said Osborne. “This company had all these bands record versions of that song, and the winner would get to have their version in a Super Bowl commercial. We didn’t win. They gave us some money to make it, and we could do whatever we wanted with the song, and we didn’t have any problem with that.”

As for what is bringing The Melvins to Pappy and Harriet’s, Osborne explained that the band is booked at the FYF Festival in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, and contractual agreements with promoter Goldenvoice prevent them from playing within a certain radius of Los Angeles.

Osborne also said bassist Jared Wallen will miss the show due to “paternity leave” and said that Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers will be filling in.

“We’ve never played there before, so it should be good,” Osborne said. “We looked for a venue that was somewhere around the Los Angeles area, and we couldn’t play Orange County, so we just figured it made sense to play Pappy and Harriet’s.”

The Melvins will perform an all-ages show with Honky at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Published in Previews