This Buzz Kills Artists: An Interview With King Buzzo

Releasing two albums and several singles per year might seem like a lot for some musicians, but its just business as usually for Melvins frontman King Buzzo who has spent much of the year touring to promote his solo record This Machine Kills Artists. He’s playing his new stuff mixed in with with some very unexpected Melvins choices which sounded fucking amazing on acoustic. Next month, the Melvins will release Hold It In with a lineup of Buzz and Dale along with Butthole Surfers Jeff Pinkus and Paul Leary. I caught up with Buzz when he stopped by Brooklyn where we talked mostly about baseball, but also about music (which he is also known for).

A King Buzzo acoustic record, is one of those things that when I mention it to people, they might say something like, “Who would want to hear that?” But once you hear it, it makes total sense.

It doesn’t sound like it would work on paper.

A few months back there was a video of you playing Revolve acoustic. Did that inspire the album or were you planning the album before this?

That was for Ernie Ball. [Revolve] was their favorite one. That was a test to see if it would be worth doing. I never do anything by chance. My stuff is meticulously planned out.

Did you write these songs specifically to be acoustic, or is it unrecorded songs that never made it to Melvins albums?

They could have been Melvins songs, but I would have done them differently. Some of the riffs may have been old riffs, but I just write songs. Some of them are finished and some of them aren’t. I just take it from there. I have to think of how it will fit with the drum parts and the bass parts. That’s not happening with this, so I have to think of how to make it work by itself.

You just turned 50. Les Claypool also turned 50 and released an acoustic album. Is that the thing to do?

I don’t know anything about his record. It’s Primus songs, isn’t it?

It’s Country versions of Primus songs and other covers.

I refuse to do a country album. I’m not sure I love Country as much as everybody does. I like Les. He’s always been nice to me. More power to him. My album’s 17 originals songs. This is the first one where it’s just me. Technically this is my second, but the first was just an EP. That was just me and Dave [Grohl]. This is the first one that’s just me by myself. Just me and an acoustic guitar.

Is it tougher to deal with loud people or hecklers with just the acoustic guitar?

No. I can deal with hecklers. I’ve dealt with that for a long time. [I’m also going to note that there was indeed a very loud and drunk person in the audience that night. He wasn’t heckling but having a good time which was louder than the guitar. Security removed him during the second song which got a bigger ovation than the song itself (and the song was Dwight Fry, so it did get a fair bit of applause)]

You’ve been telling a lot of stories about other artists between songs on this tour?

I might tell one of those tonight [The Mike Patton story from this very show is embedded at the bottom of the page]. I told the Iggy Pop one last night. They’re either self-deprecating or me talking about how much I like them.

Photos by Matt Adams.

Since you have a lot less gear to unload and set up, do you have more time in the cities to catch a ballgame or anything?

I’m here to do one thing. Vacation for me is being at home.

What’s your favorite ballpark?
Dodgers Stadium. I’ve been to a lot [of stadiums], but I certainly haven’t been to all of them.

And the Dodgers are your number one team?

I’m a baseball fan in general. I live in LA, and I like the Dodgers. I’ve seen them more than any other team, so I guess so. They’re like the Yankees of the National League, or arguably St Louis is. I like the Dodgers. I don’t really hate any team. If I lived here, I’d go to Yankees games and I’d go to Mets games.

Is this going to be their year?

They’re fully capable of blowing it, as is any team. I think it’s going to be the A’s and maybe the Pirates.

Pirates had a rough start. They’re not the team they were last year.

They’re doing OK. I don’t know. We’ll see.

I’m a Cubs fan, so I look at the standings from the bottom up.

Cubs always have a tough time, and I don’t know why. They have money. They’re not paying off the stadium. I don’t understand why it never works. It doesn’t really make sense to me. Tampa Bay can be a contender, and the Cubs have a lot more money than them. I don’t know what the fuck’s the problem.

I guess they’re building a farm team and want to wait until they have enough good players to bring up at once.

OK. So fuck the fans this year. Fuck that. “We’re building.” Oh great. So I’m supposed to sit here and buy tickets while you’re building. Fuck you. Get a team that fucking wins. You play baseball for money. That’s what you’re doing. You’re not going to play to win? You’re trying to win a World Series. Everything else should be second.

They really need a bullpen. Their closers have blown a lot of games.

I don’t know what their problem is. I can’t figure it out. They had Greg fucking Maddux and they couldn’t win. I don’t know what it is. I don’t believe in curses.

How do you feel about the designated hitter?

I hate it. I think they should get rid of it. I’m totally against it. It’s not baseball. It’s fucking bullshit. Make the goddamn pitchers get out there and hit. National League baseball’s always been better. There’s more strategy involved. The designated hitter is stupid. Greinke from the Dodgers is a good hitter. Greg Maddux was a great hitter. He never played for the American League. I think he said he wouldn’t. National League baseball is better. It’s a different game.

They only really train for the one specific thing now.

The pitchers? American League pitchers have a harder time. It’s not as good baseball. It’s boring.

National League has all the great  pitchers now. Giants and Dodgers.

The Dodgers have amazing pitchers as long as they don’t get hurt. A lot of things can happen. It’s a long season. Kenley Jansen’s good. I like him. The bullpen’s OK. I think their starting pitchers are second to none. What they need is a little more hitting. Not much more. They got a good team.

The Phillies have some good pitching too.

I like that one kid from San Diego [Cole Hamels]. I always liked the way he pitched. He was pitching when they won the World Series. I like Lee, but I don’t know how well he’s playing this year. I like him though. I think Clint Lee’s a good fucking pitcher. But I’m not into the designated hitter. They’ve got to get rid of it. You can still hire a guy that’s a DH. Just let him pinch hit.

NL is more defensive.

It’s more strategy.

King Buzzo at the Wick in Brooklyn.

Back to music. What else can we expect in the future?

We have a new Melvins album coming out in October. It’s completely finished. We’re redoing the Night Goat 7” reissue. I can’t remember if it’s going to be a 10” or a 12”.

All the same songs from the original single?

Yeah. It’s hyper-limited. It’s going to be really cool.

I also saw that you also have the Station to Station single with Thirlwell here. Who picked that song? It’s a great choice.

We did. I don’t think anyone’s ever covered that. The B-side is Breaking Glass.

I‘m not as into those Brian Eno albums as everyone else is.

You gotta get over that.

I love Scary Monsters which is right after that.

That’s a great one. I like all those records.

I like most of his catalog.

…up to Scary Monsters. And I don’t really like the first album.

I think Outside is one of his good newer albums.

Heathen is a good one. I listen to about six albums of Bowie. Diamond Dogs might be my favorite.

This is a question I ask everyone, but I’m going to try to make it topical [which it would have almost been if I’d transcribed this interview quicker]. If you replaced Ace Frehley in KISS…


Well I usually ask “if you were in KISS”, but since you’ve been taking some flack…

That’ll be big news for about the next two minutes.

So what would your KISS makeup be?

I would just do blackface. I’d get in a lot of trouble.

You’ve taken a lot of flack in general for talking about other musicians. Who has the whiniest fans: George Thorogood, Dave Grohl, or KISS?

George Thorogood fans didn’t say anything because they’re too old. I never saw any Dave Grohl fans saying anything. Most of the people that say stuff just say, “Who the hell’s this Guy?” I wouldn’t have noticed if someone didn’t point it out to me, because they thought it was funny.

Who would be the best singer for a Nirvana reunion out of Kim Gordon, Lorde, Joan Jett or St Vincent?

I don’t know who Lorde or St Vincent is.

They all sung with Nirvana at the Hall of Fame.

When Kurt was alive, all he ever talked about was Joan Jett.

Well that’s perfect then.

No. He never liked that crap. Joan Jett. Who cares? The last song of hers that I liked was “ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb.”  She perpetuates the myth of the lame female musician. There’s not going to be a [Nirvana] reunion. They already did it with McCartney. Dave Grohl won’t even play those songs with the Foo Fighters.

Queen’s now playing with an American Idol winner.

Well, they got nothing else to do. I don’t blame them for doing whatever they want. Keep themselves busy. Besides, who cares? They wrote all the music. As far as a Nirvana reunion goes, we won’t hold our breath. I wouldn’t go. They should get Lemmy before he dies. Or Gene Simmons.

Gene always said that people come to see KISS and not the members.

I agree. It’s marketing. They don’t even take it seriously.

Do you think Melvins fans would care if Gene Simmons was your next bassist as long as he dressed like Jared?

They’d be into it.

Back to the Hall of Fame for a minute. KISS didn’t play their induction because Gene wanted everyone who has ever been in KISS to perform, but the Hall of Fame people wouldn’t allow it.

Fuck the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a joke.

Yeah. Madonna and Michael Jackson are in it.

Yeah. But Deep Purple’s not. That kind of stuff is totally stupid. I agree with the Sex Pistols’ letter. When they got inducted, they didn’t go. That’s exactly what I think.

People say they’re the boy band of punk. That everything was manufactured by Malcolm McLaren.

I never heard a boy band that sounded like that. God Save the Queen is a fucking great song. It’s heavy metal to me. I think it’s an amazing record.

I’ll give it another chance. They’re one of those bands I never got into. Black Flag is another one is another band that a lot of people I like and respect love, but I never got it.

I don’t know what to say. [blank stare]

You can tell me. I can tell by the way you’re looking at me what you’re thinking.

They’re an important band.

I don’t disagree that they’re important. It just never clicked for me. I think I was born too late to really appreciate punk. By the time I was in high school Green Day was popular.

They’re not punk. It’s K-Mart style punk. I don’t like all of [Black Flag] either, but if you can’t listen to a song like Slip It In or Damaged II, or anything off of the Everything Went Black record. If you don’t like those  songs, you’ll probably never like Black Flag.

People usually tell me to listen to My War.

That’s not their best record. Damaged is good. Jealous Again is a really good record. That’s probably their best one.

I’ll give them another listen. What’s next for you after this?

I’m finishing this US tour. Then I’m go to Australia and do the same thing. Then I go to Europe and do the same thing. I’m back on the 22nd of September. Then we’re going to do a few Melvins dates after that.

Cool. Thanks for talking to me.

My pleasure. Thank you.

In honor of Melvins, KISS, and baseball fans alike. Here is the Detroit Rock City/Star Spangled Banner 45 from a few years back.

Boris likes a lot of little things to kick.

Detroit Rock City

Star Spangled Banner