The Melvins' King Buzzo: "They All Think I'm Insane"
I've been in and out of mental institutions my whole life," repeats the Melvins' Roger "Buzz" Osborne during our recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. "How about that?" he says slyly.
King Buzzo is a recognizable figure in the world of contemporary rock, especially with his gravity-defying, Sideshow Bob-like locks. His innovative songwriting, operatic vocals, and experimental guitar playing have credited him with pioneering countless genres, including stoner rock, grunge, drone metal, and sludge. However, that doesn't really matter.
"We are not part of any scene," he says. "Regardless of what anybody out there may think, there is nobody out there like us. People bring up that old grunge stuff, but that was over 20 fucking years ago!"
His achievements as founder of the 31-year-old band are astounding. The Melvins have released more than 30 albums (on both independent and major labels), have traveled the globe countless times, and just released a new endeavor with members of the Butthole Surfers. As a solo artist, Osborne recently toured the world with nothing but his acoustic guitar, and he also appeared in a recent Golf Digest.
"I played two rounds of golf this morning," he says. "I'll play again after we're done rehearsing this afternoon. I go to the golf course directly after rehearsal."
I hinted that I know of a great golf course in Fort Lauderdale. "I never play golf when I'm on tour," he says. "I only play when I'm off. I play all the municipal courses in L.A. I never play in country clubs because people in country clubs don't like me, and I don't really like country clubs."
Osborne shatters preconceived ideas of the stereotypical rock star: He has been married to the same woman for more than 20 years, doesn't drink or do drugs, goes to bed early, and wakes up even earlier.
"When I'm home," he says, "I get up somewhere between 4 and 5 in the morning. I see the sun come up every day. I wake up when my peers are going to bed. People who say that you get more done working at night, that's bullshit. You always get more done during the day. Nighttime is for sleeping."
He notices that I am completely dumbfounded on the other end of the line.
"I'm a weirdo, man," he continues. "Nobody acts like I do. They all think I'm insane. Good! I'm used to it. If you followed me around for a day, you wouldn't believe what I do. I've already done over a hundred shows this year, put out two albums, and everything else. I am a very driven person. My wife and I are both like that... I've been on this schedule for almost 20 years."
So attention, aspiring rock stars: It's not about how much coke you snort or how many groupies you have sex with; it's about a lot of hard work.
"Musicians are essentially lazy people," he says. "They really don't like to work at all. I've never had a plan B. So I have to continue making it interesting and not falling prey to the same shit that everybody else does."
In 1992, the Melvins were on tour with GWAR, and upon arriving at the Cameo Theater in Miami Beach, concertgoers were told that the Melvins had canceled. Why? Well, according to the promoter, "Buzz was in the hospital because he had overdosed on cocaine."
"I do remember that, but I actually had really bad ulcers," he reveals. "I was actually on a plane flying home. But I like when people make up stories. In fact, let's say that the moment that GWAR show was going on, I was in a straitjacket because I had gone crazy, and I was being pumped full of Thorazine. I was in a Miami mental institution for about six months. I got out and went to Wisconsin and fed baby ducks for the next two years. Dale did all the recording, and he got a Buzz lookalike to go on tour. So, I've been in and out of mental institutions... Yeah."
The Melvins. With Honky. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 5, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, cultureroom.net.
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