Q&A: Buzz Osborne and Coady Willis of the Melvins
After taking up a once a week residency earlier this year at the Los Angeles club Spaceland -- during which they revisited some of their more notable albums -- sludge-rockers the Melvins decided to take the concept on the road.
Now, the band is in the midst of a tour that features multiple dates in select cities. The first night in each mini-residency features the band playing the "Lysol" and "Egg Nog" albums, followed by a second set of music from "Houdini." On the second night of each mini-residency, the band tackles "Bullhead" during the first set and "Stoner Witch" during the second.
"We just wanted to do something different," vocalist and guitarist Buzz Osborne explained. "There is a certain weirdness factor to everything we do."
Now in their 28th year as a band, the Melvins have kept themselves busy, and seem to constantly be either on the road or in the studio.
SoundSpike recently spoke with both Osborne and drummer Coady Willis before the second of two sold out shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
SoundSpike: The Melvins are doing a handful of residencies in select cities on this tour where you are playing two albums in their entirety. When doing these types of shows, how do decide on what albums you will be focusing on?
Buzz Osborne: Well, we decided to play the records that we played during our residency in L.A. earlier this year. That way we wouldn't have to learn anything else. We already knew these records.
Coady Willis: Yeah, there was that. It just seemed that since we went through all the trouble to learn these records, we should play them again. Most of these songs we have not played live. There are only two or three songs from each record that we have done in our regular set, so there was a lot of material to go through. Some of the songs are quite different and were never meant to be played live, so we had to figure out new ways to convey it in a live setting.
Your new live record, "Sugar Daddy Live," will be released later this month, and was recorded in Downey, CA. Was there something about this show in particular that you liked?
Buzz Osborne: We recorded a whole bunch of shows, and that one just seemed to work all the way through.
Coady Willis: Right off the board it sounded really good. It seemed like there was a really good energy that night. It was a good example of the set.
And you also have a new split 7" with John Spencer Blues Blues Explosion where you both cover "Black Betty."
Buzz Osborne: Yes!
Are there any immediate plans for a new studio record?
Buzz Osborne: Not really, but we never wait too long. Sometime in the next year.
Having been a band for so long now, and having released so many records over the years, do you find it difficult to keep inspired? What keeps you going and constantly coming up with new material?
Buzz Osborne: I write a lot of stuff and pick out maybe one of 20 things. I'm not really sure, some things are easier than others. There is just no easy way, and by and large I just have to wade through it all and keep working and eventually come up with something.
The Melvins just toured Australia for the first time with this current line-up, correct?
Buzz Osborne: Yeah, the last time we were there was 2003
How were the Soundwave Festival shows?
Buzz Osborne: They were OK, but I'm not a super big fan of festivals. By and large I don't really like the bands that are on them, and I'm not really a big arena rock fan. We played with some miserably horrible bands, played through crappy equipment and were rushed onto stage almost everyday, but I thought we did surprising well, all things considered.
Coady Willis: Yeah, there so many bands playing, and as far as getting drum kits together, they would just give you a box of stuff and say, "Here you go," and everyday you would have to put together everything. But by and large, I think people were probably getting drunk by the time we came on, but they seemed to like us, and we never played to an empty field, so I think it was good.
And you also played some shows on your days off, including one in St. Kilda with Primus?
Coady Willis: Yeah, that was a fun show, and really cool old theater.
The Melvins have collaborated and worked with many different people over the years, is there anyone else you would like to work with?
Coady Willis: During our last studio session we did a Kinks cover and Clem Burke of Blondie came in and played drums on it. We still have to mix it, but that was really cool. He's a hero of both Dale and mine, so that was pretty awesome. I would do that again if he wanted to.
Buzz Osborne: Yeah, definitely!
Any plans for the rest of the year?
Buzz Osborne: It looks like Big Business is going to do a tour this Summer.
Coady Willis: Then we are talking about the Melvins playing Europe in the fall.
Buzz Osborne: Yeah, we are going to play some European shows in the fall, and that should take us to the end of the year, pretty much.