Interview By Angela Kinzie
For nearly 40 years, Buzz Osborne and the Melvins have been a pivotal influence as well as a popular mainstay in the undercurrent of the grunge and metal scene. Formed in 1983 in Montesano, Washington, their rich, complex sound, which has explored everything from sludge metal to experimental, from punk to noise rock, was immeasurable when it came to laying the groundwork for what would become grunge, influencing bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.
Thirty years and several lineup changes later, Osborne came together with original drummer Mike Dillard and (almost) original bassist Dale Crover under the moniker Melvins 83, and in 2013 released Tres Cabrones.
Released in February, the band’s latest album Working With God is the second full-length to use the Melvins 83 appellation. According to the group’s Ipecac press release, they chose the title because “it was time to get right with the lord.” It also states that the trio is “as close to the original Melvins lineup as we’re willing to get.”
The first single, “Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon,” was released in December, with “Caddy Daddy” following in January. Both feature the Melvins’ signature sludgy, chunky guitar riffs, and heavy, driven sound.
Working with God opens with a parody cover of The Beach Boys’ classic, “I Get Around,” titled, “I Fuck Around.”
“We’ve always wanted to do that,” Osborne says with a hint of humor in his voice. “That was a really hard one to do. People tend to think things like that are easy to do. It’s not easy to do!”
In addition to covering the Beach Boys, the band also put their stamp on “Goodnight Sweetheart,” by Sha Na Na, and “Fuck You,” by ’70s folk icon Harry Nilsson.
Most of the record was written and recorded prior to the COVID-19 quarantine. However, Osborne says that one of the best parts of 2020 was spending time at home with his wife, Mackie.
“We’ve now been married 27 years,” he says. “And in the last year, we realized this was the longest we’d ever been together without me being gone. Because I’ve toured the whole entire time we’ve been married. It’s just us two, we don’t have kids. We’ve been sheltering together at the house for a long time, and we realized that us hanging out together is actually quite enjoyable. Lying in bed next to her and watching a movie with the dogs in the bed is as good as it’s gonna get for me, and I’m okay with that. I win.”
Regarding the start of 2021 and the pro-Trump protests at the U.S. Capitol, Osborne says:
“I’m not a fan of protesting in any way. I don’t like it. I especially don’t like rioting or looting. I don’t care who’s doing it, and I don’t even care if I agree with what they’re protesting. I don’t like it. I don’t like things being destroyed. I’m not into it on any level, for any excuse. Just the same as I wasn’t into the rioting before, that’s been going on for the last six months. I view it the exact same. I have a dim view of all of it. It has nothing to do with what I think. I just don’t like that kind of action. I don’t think you have the right to go out and destroy private property, government property, or anything else along those lines. I think if you do it, you’re wrong.”
Osborne concludes that, for now, there are no touring plans for 2021. “Nothing’s happening at the moment,” he explains. “We did a New Year’s Eve streaming show, we did another streaming show [that came] out on Valentine’s Day, and [released another at] the end of March, around my birthday. People seem to really dig it. It’s called Melvins TV.”
Listen to Working with God below, and pick up a copy on limited edition silver vinyl while they’re still up for grabs here.
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Images courtesy of Melvins.