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We’ve Had It Happen With People. Big Fans Until They Actually Get To Know Us, An Interview With (The) Melvins Part II

 

Interview by Pam and Mark Schaff

Live Photo by Pam and Mark Schaff

 

MGM : Say someone’s never heard of the Melvins, would you tell them that’s a good album to start with? (In reference to “Stoner Witch” from Part I.

Buzz : It might be, but…

Steve : Have you guys ever released greatest hits?

Buzz : No not really.

Dale : There’s the book that we put out. That has kind of a greatest hits thing on it. Sorta.

Buzz : A compilation. That would be a good example. Neither here nor there.

Dale : I mean, like Itunes now has like a greatest, or lists. Of what they think is the greatest, or best of or whatever.

Buzz : But their list is probably different than my list.

Dale : Of course, and who knows who did it, a fan or something.

Steve : That would be a fun release for you guys, or are you so interested in moving forward always. You know like a double record.

Buzz : No, I don’t mind that. We already have all those ducks in a line, though. With the records companies.

Dale : We’d have to at least cover Strutter 76 on it. Or 78 or whatever.

Steve : Strutter 76, is that in the original?

Dale : No, that’s on Double Live Platinum.

Steve : Double Platinum, That’s the greatest hits right?

Buzz : Which I never bought. I was done with them by then.

Steve : I was trying to think what the format was. Double Platinum is similar to the double gatefold greatest hits record.

Buzz : Did you (Dale) buy it?

Dale : I don’t think so, no. Maybe I should go buy that. Actually, I think I might have it on CD now.

Buzz : No thanks!

Dale : Strutter 78 has the extra two or three lines added to it.

Buzz : What are they?

Dale : Luckily I can say I don’t know.

Dale : He does some like “Strutter, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah”.

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MGM : How difficult is it for you guys to come up with new music after all these years?

Buzz : It’s not difficult, we just have to do it. Sit down and make it happen.

MGM : Now do you write while on the road? I know it’s got to be hard to do so.

Buzz : We don’t write a lot of songs on the road, hardly any at all. I do it at home a lot.

MGM : Do you have a home studio?

Buzz : No not really. I don’t want a studio in my house. It’s a little very basic thing. I had a little four-track thing that I would make semi- elaborate recordings for the guys to give them an idea. Those are kinda cool. But, I haven’t really done anything like that in a long time.

Music coming from Dale’s Phone (Strutter 78)

Buzz : This is that Strutter 78.

Dale : I think all they did was remix it and put new vocals on it.

Buzz : Just play this and sing over it.

Dale : Yeah I have to sing on top of it.

Buzz : Do it right now.

Turns up the volume

Dale : (Singing) “Walk the streets beside her, But when she wants, she’ll pass you by.”

Steve : You sound like the guy in Detroit Rock City that’s singing along with the song.

MGM : What do you guys do on the road to keep from burning out?

Buzz : You’re looking at it.

MGM : I know you’re not into drinking or anything.

Buzz : As far as you know. (Laughs) No I don’t drink. We’ve moved on to heavier stuff.

MGM : Coffee?

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Buzz : No, I don’t even drink Coffee. Quit about a year ago. Robitussin, only over the counter drugs. I try and stay focused as to why we’re here. I read and things like that, but, we’re here for a reason, that’s pretty much it. It’s not a vacation. Just focus your energy on the fact that we have a show to play tonight. That’s really why we’re here, that’s what your energy should be focused towards. I’m not gonna out and do a whole bunch of crazy shit and ruin myself for the show. I see it as counterproductive. Kickboxing tournament all day, then try to play a show that night.

MGM : Do you guys see yourselves being like the Rolling Stones, still touring and putting out music into your 70’s?

Buzz : Hopefully we’ll play a little better than they do. That’d be nice.

Dale : Yeah, I mean who knows. It’s kinda what we do.

MGM : Do it forever?

Dale : Unless the whole thing takes a dump.

Buzz : It’s kinda hard to get too old to play music.

Dale : Sure Chuck Berry’s still doing it.

Steve : Is he touring?

Dale : Well I don’t know how often Chuck tours, I know they saw him and he’s up in his eighties. It’s like he can’t really duck walk so well, but he still does it.

Buzz : He duck rolls now.

Dale : Duck crawls.

Buzz : Ducks crawling, duck sits. And then they’re having that big geritol-a-thon in LA.

Dale : That’s right, Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan. Pink Floyd, well Rodger Waters is doing The Wall.

Buzz : So if they can do it, why can’t we do it.

MGM : Cool

Buzz : Besides, who are we trying to not impress. I didn’t like teenagers when I was a teenager. Nothing’s changed.

Dale : The good thing is our audience doesn’t really age. There’re older people that still come, but the majority are people in their mid-twenties I think.

Buzz : We get older, they stay the same age.

MGM : What is it like to see so many bands that have been so heavily influenced by your music it’s got to feel good right? Most people say the Melvins created the whole slow heavy Sludge genre?

Buzz : That’s very nice of them. Funny thing is that if they got close to us, they’d probably be disappointed.

MGM : I don’t think so.

Buzz : You’d be surprised. Don’t be so sure. You never know with that kind of stuff. We’ve had it happen with people. Big fans until they actually get to know us. Oh… I thought you guys would be more like this. They have some weird thing in their head about what we think, why we’re doing what we’re doing. They completely miss the point.

Dale : Not that we’re jerks or anything like that. It’s just that they have some idea of what we’re like. When the mystery is gone, well then yeah.

Buzz : Why we are doing what we’re doing. they completely miss the point. Oh, your not really doing it for these reasons, your music’s not coming from here. Nope, then familiarity breeds contempt.

Dale : We’re not balling it out and writing tunes.

Buzz : I don’t care, people can do whatever they want, it’s your personal freedom, you can do whatever you want. But having said that, I’m not a big joiner inner. That’s kinda why it worked. If you have an organization, protest or something, I’m not gonna join it. I’m good at not joining it. No thanks!

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MGM : We’re big vinyl collectors. I think it’s great that you guys have been re-releasing your albums on vinyl. Do you think this whole vinyl revival is here to stay or just a passing fad? Has it been good for sales?

Buzz : Yeah, it’s a boutique item at best. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a big pain in the ass. It’s very expensive to make. I think it’s in the pet rock type of thing. A very specific audience. So other than that, I don’t feel love for it, like O my god, we have to preserve this. If there’s a certain amount of people that will buy it so then we’ll make it. But if that wasn’t there, I don’t really care how people listen to my music, I personally like CDs. But I collect things, I collect art objects and all sorts of things, so I understand the mentality of why people would be interested in it. I approach it from that perspective. So it’s not like it’s a big mystery to me. But as far as a love for vinyl, I don’t have a love of vinyl.

MGM : Do you feel bands have to now release their albums on vinyl as a necessity?

Buzz : We approach it from a different perspective than most bands do it. So I don’t know, we try to do it in another way than most bands do it. There’s not a normal way of doing it.

Dale : We also thought some others would catch on and do the same thing. Some are, but for the most part, no. And it’s expensive like he said.

MGM : There’s been a lot of people here in the Buffalo area posting your records on Facebook preparing for the show tonight. I think you guys are gonna have a really good turn out.

Dale : It’s been a while since we played here. I think the last time was, at that venue called the Town Ballroom.

Buzz : 2009

Dale : Was that the last time, wow, yeah I guess it’s been a while.

Buzz : We’ve played Rochester, which isn’t too far, and we’ve played Syracuse a bunch of times. But not Buffalo. A lot of times we won’t play Buffalo and Syracuse because the promoters get weird about it.

Dale : They’re too close together.

Buzz : The promoters shit their pants sometimes if your playing too close.

Dale : We’ve only played here a handful of times I think, not that many.

MGM : I’m sure that’s why everyone is so stoked for this show tonight.

Buzz : Yeah, you know, sometimes it’s availability, or there’s nowhere to play. I can’t say that that’s exactly why, but it’s not that we haven’t tried.

MGM : We just have a few more questions. These questions are from the people in the vinyl collective we belong to on Facebook. What we did was tell them that we would be talking with The Melvins, and thought it would be fun to let fans of yours in the group ask a few questions. So the next set of questions is from the people in the WNY Vinyl Collective.

MGM : First question is from Jeremy Coupe, What is you approach to writing music? Do you think of ideas and bring them to the band, or do you collectively jam to come up with riffs? And also how often do you practice when not on tour?

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Buzz : Well practicing it depends on what we’re doing. If we have something coming up, we’ll practice quite a bit. If we’re going to record, we practice quite a bit. Writing songs can be in a wide variety of ways. we can bring something in that’s relatively finished, or we can jam something out. There’s no one way to do it.

MGM : Cool, another question comes from Tim Domes, who wants to know if you’ll play a secret gig at his place, The Mohawk Place? Well, I guess now that I asked the question it’s no longer a secret….

Buzz : It will be so secret, you won’t even know we’re doing it. (laughs)

MGM : Next is from Rick D. Harvest, what bands do you listen to, that you can tell that YOU’VE influenced them?

Dale : Um..Hmmm..Well, there’s that band Boris. Obviously, they took their name from one of our songs. And they used to sound a lot more like the Melvins, but I think they’ve kinda found their own thing. I don’t know, they’re certain bands that you can tell like, awe man they lifted that. And a lot of bands say they’re influenced by us but you can’t really hear it. There’s a band in LA that says they’re influenced by us that I really like a lot. They’re called Tweak Bird. But they don’t necessarily sound like us either. But they are one band that says they are influenced by us, that I really, really like.

MGM : From Jim Sheppard, will you ever do another The Fantômas Melvins Big Band performance?

Buzz : Not that I know of.

Dale : We wouldn’t be opposed, but I don’t that it will ever happen. You never know, though.

MGM : From Rob Cambell, Any memorable interactions with fans over the years? And How was your experience with guests on the Uncle Grandpa cartoon?

Buzz : Can you think of any Steve?

Steve : Oh, I don’t know. None. Well, yesterday Dale and I had an interaction with this fan that had a Paul Stanley shirt on.

Buzz : You don’t often see someone wearing a Paul Stanley shirt.

Dale : That’s why we had to get a picture of him.

Steve : I mean that was memorable.

Shows the photo on his phone to us.

MGM : That’s awesome!

Buzz : Really Fun!

Dale : The Uncle Grandpa cartoon was great. I had watched the cartoon before with my kids and thought it was pretty cool. they were watching TV and I was like what’s this, they said Uncle Grandpa, I was like that’s really good. Really weird, psychedelic. And about a week later we were at our studio, and there’s a band recording there with their engineer, called The Minks, and they worked on the show. They said they were big fans, and asked if we wanted to be on it. I was like, Yeah, that’d be great. So I ended up talking to the main guy, and he was saying, I kinda want to do it like how Scooby Doo used to have guest stars on there. And they wrote this whole episode around us. Very Cool!

Buzz : Yeah it was great!

MGM : This one is specifically for Buzz, Joseph Kalson wants to know what is your favorite brand of 9-volt battery that you use for a slide?

Buzz : Whatever you got! It doesn’t matter.

MGM : What led you to start using a 9-volt battery?

Buzz : I liked it for that song because it has sharp edges. That’s it.

Dale : I can’t remember why you came up with using a 9-volt.

Buzz : Because I can hold on to it really tight. You can jam it in there really hard. A slide was too easy, it wasn’t rough enough. That was it, it was the only reason.

MGM : Last question is from Jeffrey Allen, How do you feel about Kiss and Gene Simmons in particular? And is it true you were snubbed in the nineties from a Kiss tribute album?

Buzz : Those guys have been nice to us. We did the tour with them.

Dale : The deal was, and Gene even called me, and told me, look we’ve got all these bands that are trying to be on this record. And we don’t know who we’re going to pick. Obviously, they’re going to pick the ones that help sell the record the best. Dinosaur Jr. I think had already done a version of the song. And then we might have said something like, well I guess they don’t like us. That’s not true. He called us up and said, it’s not true, I’d like to come down and play the song with you, and so he did.

Steve : That’s cool, I felt snubbed by them. I know I wasn’t part of the question, but my band had recorded ‘Deuce’ in like ’84 or something. When things were really not rosie in the Kiss camp. Certainly not from the underground, they weren’t getting a lot of respect. And then Gene kinda made the rounds, and this is a very cynical perspective I suppose, but like in the early nineties he would just kind of show up and see bands that he thought were kinda cool. And he came and jammed ‘Deuce’ with Redd Kross. But then when the record came out, we didn’t get the apology. And we were broken up by the time they did their reunion shows.

Buzz : Who was on that record?

Dale : I don’t even know.

Buzz : Dinosaur Jr.

Steve : I don’t know. I think that out of our peer group was Dinosaur Jr. But probably had a bunch of groups like Creed or something. I mean everybody from our age group grew up loving Kiss. It’s like them curating their own tribute to themselves, everybody wants to go to that party.

Dale : But Gene is actually in the documentary. The guy that made it is also a big Kiss fan. And he was like I have to see if Gene would like to do an interview. They got ahold of his management and made it happen. That was really cool. And his interview is great. So we like Gene.

Buzz : Actually those guys have been nothing but totally nice.

Dale : We toured with them, he was Mr. Nice Guy. He came into our dressing room in full makeup, “How’s it going in here?”, “Looks like they’re treating you guys like kings. That’s great!”. Talking normal, in full Kiss makeup and costume. “Alright, time to go make some money now”, and he heads off onstage.

Buzz : A lot of people think he’s a joke or whatever, I don’t feel that way. He does a lot of stupid shit. But you know, It’s Gene Simmons. He’s a real rock star. I mean I have a lot more respect for a guy like him than I do for some doped up moron like Ozzy Osbourne.

Dale : And I’ve always liked his vocals too.

Buzz : I think Gene is a severely underrated bass player. Nobody ever talks about that. I think he’s a great bass player, really good.

Buzz : I mean don’t you (Steve) think so?

Steve : Gene’s great, the only thing about Gene, is that he loves money, and I don’t think he’s ever misrepresented himself. The only thing I kinda think is ridiculous is he drags his family around on TV. You know like Ozzy had this hit show. there’s a lot of like creating an image thing, but that’s what he does.

Steve : He’s always done it. And I think that just hearing their stories about touring with them, says a lot to me, because it says that they run a really good organization. I’ve done lots of opening slots on tours for bigger bands, and it’s like the entire vibe of the organization generally comes from the top.

Buzz : Yep, absolutely, 100%

Steve : And they had a really pleasant experience with them. Where they felt they were valued.

Buzz : They did not disrespect us in any way.

Steve : But generally bands don’t feel valued. I was like on an arena tour, and I remember my band, and it became so black and white, that you are not as important as the singers’ socks being in the dryer right now. And it’s thing like that that say, how much more can you tell me that you don’t value us. And they had the opposite of that with Kiss. And that just goes to show that they are running an organization that I would respect.

Buzz : And if it was any other way I would have no problem calling them out on it. At all. I have no reason to lie about shit like that. Not at all. They were not like that, those guys are real rock stars in the traditional sense of the word. And you would think, that they of all people, would do that sort of thing. But they didn’t do it, that means nobody needs to do it.

Dale : The first moment we were there, the first show, we walk in the Superdome, they’re sound checking. We walk in and they’re like “Hey guys how’s it going?”. Gene’s like trying to hit us with guitar picks.

Buzz : They call you over, come on in. “Hey Buzz”

Steve : Usually there’s always all sorts of weird politics going on.

Buzz : We don’t want you in the venue while we’re sound checking. Or That sort of thing. But Kiss was not like that at all.

Steve : And that’s because there’s some eccentric person making somebody’s life miserable. And it doesn’t sound like that’s what they do. That being said, they’re still really fun to make fun of. And all my friends that are Kiss fans that I’ve had for years, we can spend hours, just like, not hating them, just making fun of them,

Buzz : On a purely human level when it comes down to it, They are decent people. When it comes down to it, he’s a good guy.

MGM : Thank you all some much, We can’t tell you how great this has been! Can’t wait for the show tonight.

 

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