It was only a couple of months before I had been introduced to the music of the band I was soon meeting. I was told that if you like punk or rock, then you have to know the Melvins.
In my ignorance, I had neglected to do further research on them, until I was told that not only was I able to see the concert but also interview the band themselves. I pulled up Google and enter the name of the band. Many results came up — key developers of grunge and sludge metal, fringe rock legends, experimental-rock alchemists.
Yeah. I felt like an idiot.
After moments of waiting for the manager, he finally came in and said, “Alright kid, they’ll see you now.” Heading up to the dressing room, I expected to introduce myself with all formalities. I opened the door to the room, and saw Buzz Osborne, singer and guitarist for the band, sitting at this rectangular table at the side of the room. He was hanging out with the opening band, Redd Kross, watching a baseball game on his iPad.
Osborne turns to me, raises his eyebrows and asks, “You watch baseball?” I stuttered something absolutely incoherent; his casual tone and presence threw me off. He started to laugh. Smiling, Osborne motioned to the seat across from him. I set down my stuff and pulled out my questions.
At this point, drummer and founding member Dale Crover walked in and joined us, though he was busy eating his tacos. Osborne readied himself in his chair and looked at me expectantly.
So when and where did the concept of the Melvins start?
“We started in 1983, and I started playing guitar, maybe a year and a half before that. So, I started playing music late, compared to most people. After one point, I realized that if I wanted to start writing and playing better music, I had to do something different. So that’s when we [the Melvins] kind of started. But it was only like, five years later that we got to the point where we could really survive by just playing music.” He continued on, explaining they grew up on the coast of Washington state.
What was the environment like where you lived?
Osborne chuckled. They grew up in a more rural area.“Plus, you know, there were crazy war protests that were burning things down and blowing shit up.”
Okay, well, in all of that, was it always rock for the Melvins? Could you guys have done any genre, or was it rock?
“Oh, I wanted to play rock music for sure. I didn’t play music when I was in school, in the band or anything like that. You know, that [rock] was what attracted me, the wide variety of rock music. I still like all the same things I like then.” Suddenly, Osborne yells out. The baseball game was still running on his tablet.
His favorite team, the Braves, weren’t doing well against the Cardinals.
So do you think rock is thriving? How has it changed?
Osborne shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t think there’s any golden era of music where I liked everything, probably isn’t going to be one. I like about as many bands now as I ever did. I’m fairly picky when it comes to that kind of thing. We never expected to sell millions of records, so thriving for us is being able to make a living off what we’re doing.”
So you said your picky when it comes to artists. Any current artists that you like?
“Brand New? I don’t know. Nothing really comes to mind.” He chuckled again.
What about your discography? Anything of yours that you particularly like?
“I’m fine with everything we’ve done. With stuff that we recorded decades ago, it’s difficult to feel like it’s something that we did. I hear it with different ears now. I don’t spend any time at all listening to my own stuff. Once I make the records I kind of walk away from them. I just let it become something. It’s not my business whether [the audience] likes it or not.”
You seem to have a “do you” mindset. Is that what you would recommend for younger musicians and artists who perhaps want to go further?
“Uh, I don’t really know.” Dale Corver chimed in from the other side of the table. “Well, not necessarily. It’s tough, you know. Getting into music for a career is really hard,” he said. Oborne nodded in agreement. “Yeah, it’s not easy. But fortunately, you can still have fun playing guitar and having fun. That’s fine. I see nothing wrong with that at all. Music is a good outlet.” Crover smiled and said, “It really is fun.”
Our interview ended on a good note. I had already planned to stay for the concert, but they also had a backstage pass for me, so I circumvented the crowd and headed straight for the front, right near the stage. Whipping out my camera, I waited for the concert to begin. I thought that just being able to meet the Melvins was cool, but the concert was spectacular.
There was a gritty, biting energy to the music that crawled out from the stage. Standing near the stage, I felt the bass blasting through the venue, rattling my whole body. Everything from the guitar acrobatics, the powerful, passionate signing and blasting red strobe lights contributed to the effect and the atmosphere.
The floor was shaking. My head was spinning. I felt like I would get knocked off my feet I didn’t watch my step. The air seemed to shudder and each song was like a welcome punch to the gut.
The Melvins brought the raw energy to the stage. It was nothing like listening through headphones.
After leaving the concert, I still felt jittery, as if the bass and guitar were still rattling my bones. A massive ache rang through my head. Yet, all I could do was smile. I guess grunge and metal do something to you.
When I got back to my dorm, all I could do was talk about the concert — my meeting with Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, the concert, the lights… I talked about the Melvins for thirty straight before I passed out on my bed.
When I woke up, I still couldn’t stop talking about them.