The Melvins frontman and rock star Buzz Osborne


Photo: Mackie Osborne
Words: Florian Obkircher

Buzz Osborne is the rock star the rock stars look up to. Here, the Melvins frontman explains the strange secret of his success 

For 33 years, Buzz Osborne and his band the Melvins have been making extreme guitar music that places the toughest demands on listeners.

Osborne may not fill stadiums, but he does have the highest- grade fans: Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and Sean Lennon all admire his ingenuity.

In this article: 

  • What being weird will do for you
  • How he became the rock stars’ rock star
  • Why you should give reign to your inner freak 
  • Why there are no weekends if you really want to be successful 

THE RED BULLETIN: You’ve been hugely successful in your career, what will being weird do for me? 

BUZZ OSBORNE: People will remember you. Nobody would have been interested in Alice Cooper if he’d looked like a children’s TV host. There’s nothing more boring than doing things the same way that someone else has done. 

When you were in high school, where did you take the confidence from to live your weirdness?

It has always come natural for me. And it probably does for a lot of artistic type of people. People like John Waters and Elvis Presley – they weren’t known for being normal. Musically, the stuff that inspired me was Flippers, The Fugs, Throbbing Gristle – none of those people you could accuse of being normal.

But doing things differently doesn’t automatically mean that you’re better. 

You have to be good at what you’re doing. And not caring what other people say. You’ve got to have that attitude if you want to be successful. 

The facts: 

  • Real Name: Roger Osborne
  • Born: March 25, 1964 (age 52)
  • Place of birth: Montesano, Washington, United States
  • Also known as: King Buzzo
  • Did you know: He was the bassist in Kurt Cobain’s first band, Fecal Matter


Listen to “Hideous Woman“ from the new Melvins album: Basses Loaded

© Ipecac Recordings // Youtube

Is that the same beyond the music world, too?

I would guess so. Take the stock market. Never buy shares that everyone else is banking on. By the time you find out about something, then it’s already past its prime. You’ve got to be more adventurous than that. Be as weird as you can be. 

Does being different mean something else than it did 30 years ago?

My attitude about that hasn’t changed. But it’s easier to do what I’m doing now. I have a career in music as opposed to 30 years ago. But I was sure about it at the time, long before I could make a living doing what I was doing. I was sure I was right. 

“Ever since the start of my career, I’ve consciously avoided belonging to any particular scene“

But many people call you the father of the grunge movement…
No thank you.

You introduced Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl to each other. The world has you to thank for Nirvana. 

To be honest, Nirvana weren’t as revolutionary a rock band as people today like to claim they were.

A lot of people would disagree with you on that. 

Well, they looked a little different. And their attitude was certainly somewhat different. But if you look at the drugs they were taking, at their divorces and their management, they were really no different from ordinary rock bands.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the recent ...

Thanks to everyone who came out to the recent tour with Napalm Death. We have a new round of US tour dates coming up this summer (tickets for headlining dates available this Friday, May 13): August 3 Las Vegas, NV Backstage Bar & Billiards August 4 Flagstaff, AZ The Green Room August 6 Boulder, CO The Fox Theatre August 7 Ft.

Are there still career decisions you regret?

No. I’ve made mistakes. But they’ve never been artistic mistakes.

Not even putting a two-headed dog on the cover of your first major label album Houdini​ in 1993 which could have been your breakthrough into the mainstream?

No, that was the right move. I never made a wrong move along those lines. I regret absolutely nothing. It was highly calculated, all of it. It always is and always was.

If that was calculated, what does success mean to you?

Success to me means artistic freedom, and no one telling me what my music should sound like. I do whatever I can dream up. And as long as I stay true to it and work on it way harder than anyone works a normal job, it will work. You can’t be successful working on something only 40 hours a week. It’s impossible.

How many hours per week do I need to work to become successful? 

A lot more. There are no such things as weekends in my world. There are no such things as time off. You just continue to work. Weekends are for children not for adults.

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Ooh, Melvins reissues on 3rd Man...#vinyl #melvins

So you are telling me that one of the coolest outlaws in the rock world is actually a workaholic?

A while ago I made a conscious decision in my mind that I want to be the rock ‘n’ roller that watches the sun come up after sleeping all night, not after being up all night. I usually get up at 4am, band rehearsals start at 9. At 2pm I go home and dedicate the rest of the day doing the business of the band. We don’t have a manager, I do all that stuff myself.

Melvins can’t afford a manager?

I don’t want a manager. I have no interest in rock star trappings.

“I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I have been married to the same woman for 23 years. That is not rock ‘n’ roll.“

What are rock star trappings?

The big tours, playing places that are designed for sporting events, the rock n roll hall of fame, Grammy parties – I don’t like that kind of stuff, it embarrasses me. I don’t go to parties. I don’t even go to bars. I don’t like the people who go to bars. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t do any of that kind of stuff. I have been married to the same woman for 23 years. That is not rock ‘n’ roll.

But in a world or rock clichés your lifestyle might be truly rock ‘n’ roll, don’t you think?

Haha, yeah, Maybe you’re right.

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07 2016 The Red Bulletin

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