Posted September 3, 2012 by Jeff in Tunes

Melvins Madness: Band preps for record-breaking tour

The Melvins
The Melvins

There’s likely a Guinness World Record for just about everything. One record that doesn’t yet exist is that no band has every played all 50 states and Washington D.C. in a matter of 51 days. The heavy-hitting Melvins are out to change that. They’ll attempt to become, as the press release puts it, “the Guinness World Record holders for the first band to tour the full United States and D.C. in 51 days.” Singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne recently spoke to Whopperjaw about what he freely admits is a publicity stunt. And, in typical fashion, Osborne strays off topic to tell us about cool toys and his favorite flicks.

Does someone actually hold the previous record for the fastest tour of the United States and D.C. by a band with a 51-date fall tour or is this a new category?
No band has ever done it. I think a folk artist did it by himself but no band has ever done it. George Thorogood says he did it, but if he had done it, he would be in the Guinness Book of World Records and he’s not. We talked to the Guinness people and there’s no record of him having done it. In 1980, I was a George Thorogood fan. I know for a fact that he made it through about 30 shows and then canceled the rest of the tour. To this day he says he did it, but I know he didn’t. Bullshit makes the world go around. We don’t care about any of this. We don’t care about doing 51 shows in 51 states plus D.C. It’s a publicity stunt. That’s it. I’m all over it. I think it’s cool in the grand tradition of Evel Knievel, though not quite as dangerous.

Certainly not like when he tried to jump over the Grand Canyon.
He didn’t make it, but I’m sure he got paid the same as if he would have if he made it.  I hope we can do it.  It’s a good thing for us to do. It’s a good thing all around. The only thing that can stop us is if one of us dies or gets struck by lightening or if one of us gets religion . . . or if one of us winds up pregnant.

Talk about the logistics of booking this tour. You’ve had it in the works for some time now, right?
We booked this an entire year out. We had a U.S. tour and a Canadian tour and a European tour all this year before this tour. Also this year, we put out a five-song EP with the regular line-up. We just put out the Freak Puke album with Melvins Lite and we have a new one coming out. We’ve put out three new releases with three different line-ups.

To what do you attribute all this activity?
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

The Melvins have always overdone everything but this is a bit more than usual.
It is. I feel like I just have to keep coming up with stupid shit for us to do. What’s next? The Meat Puppets said it best when they said, “Who needs action when you have words?” What are they going to do if we don’t make it? What are they going to do? Drag us before the committee? I have confidence that we won’t have a problem playing. Getting to the shows might be tricky.

How does it get verified?
We’re booked by William Morris and they’re not known for their lying. It’s not like Sammy from down the street saying, “My boys played all 51 shows.” We have actual written contracts. You can pay Guinness to be there at the last show or just wait three months after for verification. I know if we did it, we did it. People can say or think whatever they want.

Are you playing in any state that you’ve never played?
We’ve never played Alaska, New Hampshire or Hawaii. I’ve never even been to Alaska or Hawaii. We’re doing it with Melvins Lite, which is less equipment and one less guy. We’re not ending one band to start another. Next year is our 30th anniversary so we’ll probably do some shows together with Melvins and Melvins Lite.

Talk about the concept behind Melvins Lite. The album still sounds pretty heavy to me.
It’s one less guy and it’s with a stand-up bass. In some of these shows, we can’t bring the stand-up so we’ll have electric. We wanted to make sure that people know both versions of the Melvins are not playing.

Was the band ever close to breaking up?
One of the times was when we were playing with [bassist] Mark Deutrom at the end of the Atlantic Records thing. We got home and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore. I was home for a couple of weeks, and I realized I didn’t want to do it with him anymore. Once I realized that, problem solved.

Was he forced on you by Atlantic?
No. Atlantic forced nothing on us. That was my choice. It was a self-inflected misery. It’s one of those weird things where you never know how it’s going to work out with someone. I don’t care. If someone is an asshole, they’re done. I don’t give a shit. I honestly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. I’m certainly not a “good old days” kind of person. I’m much more of a “what have you done lately” guy. I consider us hyper contemporary. We’re as today as anyone out there.

Do you have mostly new fans or are there still some fans from the beginning?
There’s nobody still following us from the beginning. There wasn’t anybody anyway in the beginning so that’s not hard to beat. Our initial expectations were just to play a show. We beat that relatively quickly. When you have no expectations at all, it’s hard to be disappointed. I consider us to be a very weird band. We’re hard for millions of people to like. Millions of people will not buy our records. That’s fine with me. I don’t care. I think millions of people should buy our records. I’m not trying to operate an exclusive club. I really believe that people from eight to 80 should love our band. It’s just that the general public has never agreed. People get to be between 30 and 40, and they don’t go to as many shows. We lose people every year and gain new people every year. None of that worries me. I like new bands and old bands. It doesn’t concern me how old they are. I feel like there is not enough good new music out there for me to be that picky. I’m picky but when something is good, I’m not going to hate it because millions of people like it. Once in awhile I agree with the general public. For every David Bowie album I loved from the 1970s, there’s an REO Speedwagon record that I didn’t like. Pink Floyd and Queen sold millions and I agree. I like that stuff. The Eagles, not as much.

Do you go out to see many shows?
No. I play the better part of 100 shows a year. I’m around music 70 percent of my time, so it has to be someone I know. I would, but it doesn’t come up. I have other things going on.

Like what?
I do all kinds of weird stuff. I collect all kinds of crazy stuff. I work on a lot on our own artwork. We do letter press prints and lots of hands on stuff, none of which goes to stores.  We sell it online and all that stuff does really well. We have a good cottage industry, but I’m not afraid of working as opposed to most musicians, who are arguably the laziest people in the entire world. I love it when people talk about how much CEOs are paid but they don’t talk about how much lazy musicians are paid. What, they have to come up with 12 songs every five years. How do they manage? Whatever. The first thing I would do if I sold millions of record is say I’m not going to do things the way that these bands do it. The reasons why I was drawn to punk rock in the first place had little to do with playing in the hockey arena.

What do you collect?
Hyper-limited vinyl toys. Look up an artist named Gary Baseman. It’s not stuff you find at Toys R Us. Most of it says ages 14 and up, not because it’s dirty but because it’s a liability. My all-time favorite toy is The Great Garloo. Anyone who has one can give it to me or I will buy it from them. They’re very hard to find.

You really like movies, too.|
I love movies in general. My all time favorite director would be John Huston. His work ethic was amazing. He was in a wheelchair and on a breathing machine when he did his last movie, The Dead. He didn’t get famous until his early 40s. He worked until he died. He did The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is easily the best movie of all time. People are like, “What are you talking about?” I’m like, “No. Watch it.” People always say Apocalypse Now is the best movie of all time. It’s good but by no means better. Treasure of the Sierra Madre is amazing. It’s a perfect movie. There’s nothing that doesn’t belong in it. I’ve watched it at least 100 times.

Would you want to direct a film?
I would love to direct, but nobody has ever asked. I think directing movies and making music is similar. I’ve read about directors like [Rainer Werner] Fassbinder and John Huston. A lot of people have this weird idea that European films are better. They’re out of their fuckin’ minds. No one has ever made as good of movies as the Americans. People always say, “What about Kurosawa?” Kurosawa is ripping off John Ford. They’re not surviving in a vacuum. I hate that shit. French movies are not better. They are not better. There might be some good ones, but take a movie like Network. It’s genius. There’s nothing even close. I can like stuff like Fassbinder, but I like him more for the idea of how much he worked and how hard he worked, right up until when he died. He would be a hero as far as work ethic. Or someone like Francis Bacon, who painted just about until the day he died. Not just painted, but was a genius. There’s a great book about what he had in his studio. The chaos he surrounded himself with was amazing. You take a blockbuster movie like Lawrence of Arabia and you watch it and realize it’s why we like movies. It’s an English director with American backing. They have hit a home run that no one has ever come close to. I never tire of that movie. There’s nothing like that. Movies are the ultimate art form. There’s nothing better. You have storyline, music and visuals and you’re sitting in the dark doing it. You won’t get that at home. I think these hotshot directors should look at that. I’m always amazed at these young fucking idiots who don’t know who John Huston is, who don’t know who David Lean is, who don’t know Fassbinder is, who don’t know who John fucking Waters is. They’re all massively important and they all have something to say.

I think more people see movies than listen to music, so more people think they’re movie reviewers than music reviewers.
They do. I find that experience to be depressing. You can take a movie like Prometheus. People are like, “It’s shit.” What did you think it would be? It’s a sci-fi movie. Take your thinking cap off. Put your brain in the seat next to you and have a fucking good time. I don’t want to hear it. What, it wasn’t Citizen Kane and you thought it would be? Then, you’re the fucking idiot. People say, “These Star Wars movies are shit.” Shit, compared to what? Avatar was horrible. It was dumber than Titanic, which is almost impossible to sit through. They have such a heavy-handed message. Gimme a break. Avatar was a comic book and not even a good one. Prometheus was a thousand times better. Avatar is about as subtle as a fucking hand grenade.

You have a lot going on for this year. What about next?
We have a bunch of plans for next year and we have stuff planned for the band’s 30th anniversary. We’re doing a big New Year’s show in L.A. at the Alexandria Hotel with Redd Kross.

Tour Dates

9/5    Anchorage, AK

9/6    Seattle, WA

9/7    Portland, OR

9/8    Boise, ID

9/9    Missoula, MT

9/10    Salt Lake City, UT

9/11    Cheyenne, WY

9/12    Denver, CO

9/13    Lawrence, KS

9/14    Columbia, MO

9/15    Omaha, NE

9/16    Des Moines, IA

9/17    Sioux Falls, SD

9/18    Fargo, ND

9/19    Minneapolis, MN

9/20    Madison, WI

9/21    Chicago, IL

9/22    Indianapolis, IN

9/23    Louisville, KY

9/24    Detroit, MI

9/25    Cleveland, OH

9/26    Morgantown, WV

9/27    Allentown, PA

9/28    South Burlington, VT

9/29    Dover, NH

9/30    Portland, ME

10/1    Boston, MA

10/2    Pawtucket, RI

10/3    New Haven, CT

10/4    Brooklyn, NY

10/5    Hoboken, NJ

10/6    Wilmington, DE

10/7    Baltimore, MD

10/8    Washington, DC

10/9    Charlottesville, VA

10/10    Carrboro, NC

10/11    Knoxville, TN

10/12    Greenville, SC

10/13    Athens, GA

10/14    Birmingham, AL

10/15    Pensacola, FL

10/16    Jackson, MS

10/17    Little Rock, AR

10/18    Baton Rouge, LA

10/19    Austin, TX

10/20    Norman, OK

10/21    Albuquerque, NM

10/22    Phoenix, AZ

10/23    Las Vegas, NV

10/24    Los Angeles, CA

10/25    Honolulu, HI

Bear Tooth Theatre and Pub

Showbox at The Market

Hawthorne Theatre

Neurolux Lounge

Top Hat Lounge

Club Sound

The Depot

Bluebird Theatre

The Bottleneck

The Blue Note

The Waiting Room

House of Bricks

The Vault

The Aquarium


High Noon Saloon

Double Door

The Vogue Theatre

The Vernon Club


Grog Shop

123 Pleasant Street

Crocodile Rock

Higher Ground

Dover Brickhouse


Paradise Rock Club

The Met Cafe

Toad’s Place

Music Hall of Williamsburg


Mojo 13


Black Cat

Jefferson Theatre

Cat’s Cradle

The Square Room

The Handle Bar

40 Watt Club

Bottle Tree

Vinyl Music Hall

Duling Hall

Juanita’s Cantina

Spanish Moon


Opolis Production


Crescent Ballroom


Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The Republik


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.