Melvins’ Osborne – New Album Felt Like ‘Completely New Thing’

June 18, 2024 - News

“It was like a completely new thing,” Melvins singer Buzz Osborne tells Full Metal Jackie on her weekly radio show about the band’s Tarantula Heart album, adding “It’s very odd.”

Indeed, Osborne did come up with a very unique approach to recording the band’s latest record. revealing that two of the band’s members for this album were surprised when they heard the final album. He details how it all went down in the chat below.

Osborne also delves into what passes the muster for him when it comes to creating their new music, details what’s on the horizon for both himself and Melvins and he also talks about his second passion, photography, and deciding to share some of his works through social media and exhibitions.

Check out the chat in full below.

It’s Full Metal Jackie and this week, we welcome Buzz Osborne of the Melvins. The band recently issued their new Tarantula Heart album, which Buzz came about in a unique way of recording for the band. Can you explain a bit about how this record was built and the challenges it provided you in bringing the works of players who weren’t necessarily working off the same playbook at the same time into what we’ve got on this new album?

When we did it, we did this recording in a strange way. It all started when we toured with Ministry a couple years ago. Roy [Mayorga], their drummer, would come out and play a couple songs with us, and so I was like, “Oh, this is great. Let’s do some recording together.”

So after the tour, it was like the better part of two years ago, we got together at our studio. Roy came over. He goes, “I’ll bring one of my synthesizers, and I’ll bring some drums.” So we set up, and I had a few riffs that we could jam to, and with the idea that we’re gonna get cool drums.

Then we did, over the course of two days, seven or eight recordings that were somewhere between 12 and 20 minutes long. I was listening to those rough mixes of all that while me and Steven [McDonald] played along, like guitar and bass.

And then I found these sections. I think the first song I did was “Allergic to Food.” I found this section that was six minutes or whatever it is. And then I had Toshi, our engineer, cut that section out for me. He didn’t chop the drums or anything.

Then I went and wrote new riffs along with it. And once I realized that it would work, then, and only then, did I get the idea that I could probably do most of the record like that. So when those guys heard it, after I put guitar on it and Steven put bass and put vocals on it, they were like, what’s this?

It was like a completely new thing. And so the vast majority of the album is recorded like that. It’s very odd.

Melvins, “Allergic to Food”

Buzz, you’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of musicians in the band over the years. How long have you had your eye on doing something with Roy Mayorga on drums?And what was your introduction to him as a musician like? What put him on your radar as someone to work with?

Well, we had known Roy a little bit since the ’90s when he was in Soulfly and then when we toured with Ministry. We would talk to him every day and then he would come out and play with us. And that was when I got the idea to have him come and do some recording with us. He was very keen to do it.

It’s great to find new challenges this far into your career. And I’ve read where Miles Davis in some way inspired this different way of recording. Knowing you’re a student of the craft, how much have you looked at the approaches of other artists to recording, and are there still different approaches you’d like to take in order to keep everyone on their toes and keep things interesting?

Yeah, I have all kinds of crazy ideas, but I don’t get a lot from other bands. I mean, the Miles Davis thing, I really am a big fan of the electric Miles, especially Big Fun, On the Corner and Bitches Brew and records like that, and all the stuff surrounding that where they would do long songs with lots and lots of parts.

I’m really capable of listening to things of that nature and enjoying it. And I just figure that there’s other people, too. But, you know, we’ve done stuff like that for a long time. Like, we did the Lysol record had a whole one. The first whole side is two songs.

It’s really long, and so it’s nothing new for us. But as far as finding new things to do, I’m always interested in something. It’s just figuring out what it is.

Ipecac Records

Ipecac Records

Buzz, you’ve stated that the traditional verse-chorus-verse style isn’t necessarily your thing. That then really puts the onus on yourself for what passes the muster, as opposed to worrying about conforming to rock radio norms. What are you looking for within your music, for it to be something you want to share with your listeners? Is there a bar or a test for what gets the green light with you?

I just have to think it’s cool, whatever it is. I’m probably far less interested in what’s palatable to people. I never think about things like radio or. I just never do. I figure, no, they’re passing on playing our stuff.

It’s not that we’re not willing to do it, but as far as writing something that I know will conform to that, I’ve never felt like that was something I was interested in. But I’m not, perversely not doing it. There’s plenty of songs that would fit into those categories that just seem to get ignored.

So there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t know what people want. I don’t know what radio wants. I have no idea. And I don’t. I’m not even going to pretend to try.

READ MORE: Buzz Osborne Addresses The Melvins Legacy

Buzz, in addition to the new Melvins album, you’re going to be hitting the road with Trevor Dunn. Sadly, Gift of Sacrifice didn’t get the attention it deserved due to the pandemic. So what does it mean to you to finally get a chance to properly give it some attention later this year?

We’re on top of the new album. We have a reissue of The Gift of Sacrifice and my first solo acoustic record, This Machine Kills Artists. Those will be packaged as one record, double album in one package with us with a new flexi disc thrown in. So that’s cool.

We have an EP with Hazelmyer, Tom Hazelmyer, Eat the Spray. That’s out in hyper limited fashion. I’ll have that for sale at the shows as well for the people that didn’t get it during the one time sale when it went on sale online. And we have this tour. We’re doing 45 shows in the U.S. and 25 in Europe, ending on Halloween night in London.

I’m looking forward to it and it’s me and Trevor Dunn doing the whole thing. I’m looking forward to playing with him and finally getting out on the road and really taking this thing to the next, next level.

Buzz, you’re not only a musician, but a photographer. In fact, some of your works were part of a current exhibition running at the Everybody Gallery in Tucson. Buzz, as someone who has been photographed as an artist for years, how has that informed your approach to photography? And what do you most like to seek out for photo subject matter?

Well, I’ve always liked photography. Ever since I was a kid, I always took pictures, but I never showed them to anybody. And so it was a few years ago, someone said, you should make an Instagram account and show your photography because it’s good. And I decided to do that.

It seemed like people were interested in it. Then I made a book called “Rats,” a limited edition book that came out a couple years ago, and I just did a reissue of that. It’s going to be available at the gallery as well.

I have six photos in [the exhibition]. It’s a group show, but when I’m looking for stuff to photograph, I’m mostly a street photographer with whatever’s in front of me. I take lots of pictures of stuff at home. My bandmates are very used to me taking their picture. Things like that on the road. Anything interesting? Weird? I’ve got a very keen interest in that sort of thing. I would say you take 100 pictures to find one that’s good or good enough, I would say.

But it’s something that’s interesting me for a long time. I get a lot of pleasure out of taking pictures.

Thanks to Buzz Osborne for the interview. Tarantula Heart is out now. Keep up with the Melvins through their website, Facebook, X, Instagram and Spotify accounts. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.

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Gallery Credit: Chad Childers, Loudwire

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