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After 35 years, the Melvins "still like doing what we're doing," Buzz Osborne (center) says.
After 35 years, the Melvins "still like doing what we're doing," Buzz Osborne (center) says.
Photo by Chris Mortenson

King Buzzo on Melvins' Evolution: "Slow and Steady Wins the Race"

After 35 years and 20-plus albums, Melvins are still going strong — and its 55-year-old mop-topped frontman has lost none of his famous chutzpah.

Shortly after the release of their latest album, Pinkus Abortion Technician, in 2018, the Melvins launched their Escape From L.A. Tour, which will make a stop at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, October 22. Original Melv and guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Buzz Osborne, drummer Dale Crover, and bassist Steven McDonald will be joined by a number of the band's usual rotating members. Calfornia rockers Redd Kross will open the show, with Crover and McDonald doing double duty as members of both bands.

Originating in 1983 in Montesano, Washington, the Melvins have continuously experimented, challenged, and shaped rock and punk over the years, serving as inspiration for other grunge bands, including Nirvana. Osborne describes the band’s evolution as “slow and deliberate,” but always with the same passion and spirit — and its members have no interest in quitting any time soon.

“Slow and steady wins the race,” Osborne says of the band’s momentum. “We still like doing what we’re doing. We keep it fresh; we’re not afraid.”

Renown for their unbridled musical imagination, the Melvins can pack a room, and their psychedelic metal sludge sound whips up the kind of raw, electric energy one concert reviewer recently compared to a communal bowel cleansing.

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In a game of word association, Osborne describes perception as “ever-changing,” something clearly visible in the evolution of the band and the roles of its members. For Pinkus Abortion Technician, Osborne, Crover, McDonald, and Jeff Pinkus, formerly of the Butthole Surfers who regularly subs on bass guitar, all contributed not only instrumentally, but on vocals as well. For Osborne, the album marks the first time he did not contribute to the songwriting efforts, which he describes as “refreshing,” after just coming out of writing songs for the double-album A Walk of Love & Death nine months prior.

What does “fear” mean to King Buzzo? “Inactivity,” says the always candid 55-year-old. Osborne adds that the band is already at work on new projects.

“[We’re] working on a solo record with Trevor Dunn,” Osborne says. “We’re working on a couple other recording projects that I don’t want to mention because those are all in the works right now, and we’re going to do some recording with the band Helms Alee from Washington State. So we’ve got a lot of stuff going on.”

As for the inspiration for the Melvins' take-no-prisoners music — usually labeled grunge, but just as often called sludge, hardcore punk, experimental rock, and alternative metal — Osborne describes the band's creative process as being quite random.

“You know, the hardest part is figuring out what you want to do,” he says. “Once you figure that out, it’s not too hard to take it from there... You try not to repeat yourself too much. Inspiration can be I don’t know where, I don’t know. Sometimes you just have to pull it out of the air, pretty much.”

For the Melvins, what they've done and what they're still doing after 35 years has not been about ambition or even success. Rather it's about passion and doing what they love to do. 

“We just think it’s what we do and it’s just music... we’re not trying to cure cancer,” Osborne says. “We’re trying to make it interesting because we care. Music is art and art is an extra thing you do in your life and so we’re trying to provide people with something they don’t get in their normal life and that’s it. We try to make it as interesting as possible for them and interesting for us along the way. That’s it. That’s ultimately exactly what we’re doing.”

The Melvins. With Redd Kross and Toshi Kasai. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 22, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $20 via ticketmaster.com.

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