Photography, interview, & article by Jenna Williams ‘The Scream Queen’

The smell of rusty train tracks, gravel, and a chilled fogginess graced the air in Fargo, North Dakota on the afternoon of September 5th, 2023 as the Melvins, who arrived in town the night before, were warming up to play a second time at Fargo Brewing Hall, the first being about a year ago with Helms Alee. The tap room vibrated with swirls of heavy bass drums and grungy, distorted guitars as Mr. Phylzzz and the headliner for the evening, Boris, were completing their soundchecks.

Melvins strode into their soundcheck with Buzz Osborne on guitars & vocals, Steve McDonald on bass, and drummer Coady Willis from Big Business & High on Fire, who is on tour filling in for Dale Crover. The soundcheck lasted for about half of a regular set and they even played a short rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Merch was being set in place and members from all bands walked around listening and watching. At the end of their special soundcheck set, King Buzzo stood at the side of the stage chatting with Steve and Coady while holding a paddle with the handwritten word “CUNT” in black sharpie. 

Fronting the Melvins for forty years, King Buzzo has spent over half of his Life living in the South West part of the United States, particularly in Los Angeles, California. Throughout his Life, as a fan of Music, he’s been to quite a few concerts, including his favorite band, The Who, Tom Waits in San Fransisco, Judas Priest on their Screaming For Vengeance tour in the 80’s, and The Crucifucks. One Artist he always wanted to see, but never got to was Amy Winehouse.

Traveling through different cities and cultures while on tour has taught Buzz that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. He’s been to Europe close to one-hundred times over the years, naming that if he’d have to live anywhere else, it would be England. The elusive and soft-spoken frontman added, “I basically never want to get on a plane again. It’s true, eventually. I would still be very active, I wouldn’t really be relaxing, just not traveling.”

Steve McDonald
Coady Willis
King Buzzo

King Buzzo feels some shows are better than others, and when he’s in the moment performing, his body feels as if it’s guided by an outside presence, “It’s better to let your body do its thing and Trust it to do the right thing. If you start second guessing your nature, it just doesn’t work, not for me. I’d rather be a little more organic than that. It’s more of a physical-spiritual-mental thing. It’s all part of muscle memory.” 

Making a slight chuckle, he said, “the shows that I don’t remember, I don’t remember because they’re good ones. The ones that you remember aren’t good ones.” Later into the evening when the Melvins were on stage in front of a jam-packed crowd you could barely move through, they appeared to be having technical difficulties with the drums. Although, some of the chatter heard throughout the crowd was full of wonder and thoughts of maybe it’s all part of the show. Their tour manager, Gareth Turner, kept nonchalantly aiding Coady with sandbags and weights to fix whatever was going on with the drums.

The drums sounded great from a crowd perspective, but maybe the drumkit was about to float off the stage with the amount of Magic felt in the room. The audience was way into it, Buzz and Steve kept on playing without missing a beat with some parts sounding improvised. Coady’s frustration and angst only made him beat harder on the drums, embracing the vibe inside The Hall, with the dark blue and green lights reflecting upon their silhouettes, sending the harsh beats echoing into the abyss of captivated fans.

Buzz constantly changes up his pedal arrangement throughout different album cycles. Currently, he’s using a distortion box, compressor, and noise box that he and Hilbish designed together. He uses those along with a preamp that goes on the pedal board, into one of the two crown power amps, one of which is a spare. 

Melvins have an extensive discography, literally pages long, releasing an album, EP, or single sometimes multiple times per year. King Buzzo says he can write songs all day long, but nothing he could really use as the majority of them get cast aside, “I have tons of songs already written. The trouble is just going through them. When you put together a record, you put together all of the material, it’s not always new. Everybody else thinks it’s new. Sometimes it takes a long time before they actually come out of a record. It’s twenty years, maybe more.”

Most of the album covers by the Melvins are done by Buzz’s wife, Mackie Osbourne. His most favorite album cover out of their entire discography is the one she designed for A Walk with Love & Death, a double album set that came out in 2017 through Ipecac Recordings. Some of the ones that are done by different Artists are created by Amphetamine Reptile Records, for their Tribute EP’s; A Tribute to Queen, A Tribute to Venom, A Tribute to The Kinks, A Tribute to David Bowie, and more.

Fan Facts: Melvins first 7″ album, Six Songs, that released in 1986 was recorded live in the studio, recording it twice so they could get a good version.


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