For more than 35 years, the Melvins have been blasting out sludgy, smart, heavy music that doesn’t blur the line between punk and metal — it obliterates it.
With 29 albums under its belt — the newest is 2018’s “Pinkus Abortion Technician” — the band, which is touring as a trio of singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne, drummer Dale Crover and Steven McDonald (bass), has shows set for The Warsaw in Brooklyn (Oct. 10), The Stone Pony in Asbury, NJ (Oct. 11) and Underground Arts in Philadelphia (Oct. 12).
Osborne and Crover — who also briefly played in Nirvana — have been constant members of the band since 1984, recording the band’s early indie-label albums before “Houdini” was released on Atlantic Records in 1993 at the height of the Seattle grunge explosion that gave the Melvins, formed in Washington state, greater exposure.
We caught up with the straight-shooting Osborne in advance of the shows.
Now that “Pinkus Abortion Technician” has been out for over a year how do you feel about it?
It’s not like anything else we’ve done, which is really important at this point. I feel good about it. Records are a good thing, you do your songs, write them, record them, then you put it out and just kind of walk away from it. You can’t dwell too much.
What has kept you and Dale together all these years?
We’ve never even had an argument. That helps (laughs). I guess we’re both into the same kind of ideas or whatever. I think he’s a really great player. We haven’t destroyed ourselves with drugs and alcohol (laughs).
When the Melvins formed, what were the band members’ common musical interests?
Oh man, I don’t know, that was a long time ago. I guess we liked punk rock stuff, but we never stopped listening to stuff like Led Zeppelin. We would see Van Halen and Black Flag in the same week. I still like the same music as when I was 12, plus a thousand other bands. I never had a single situation where I was like, “Why did I like this crap?” That was never the case. I have no musical skeletons.
At that time, was there a divide between people who listened to punk and people who listened to metal?
Oh yeah, there still is. That mostly came from the metalheads, a lot of it, and there are still stick-in-the-mud punk rockers who think they know everything.
Were fans from both camps coming to Melvins shows?
When we first started we were getting nobody, it didn’t really matter. The punk rockers didn’t like what we were doing, and the metalheads didn’t like it either. We moved to San Francisco in ’86 or ’86, and we were really leaving nothing.
How did where you grew up in Montesano, Washington, influence your worldview and songwriting?
Where I grew up was counterproductive, stifling, boring and didn’t help me at all. If anything, it pushed me further down the path of destruction. Some people will say that helps form you, maybe that’s true but that wasn’t my experience. We made 99 percent of our music when we moved to California and I was a much happier person. Where and when I grew up was the worst part of my life and was the worst thing that could happen to me. I don’t have fond memories of any kind of that era.
Did you see the grunge explosion coming?
No. I never could have predicted what was going to happen. I was very happy that those bands got what they got and was happy to be involved in that to some great and that they counted us as an influence. It wasn’t completely off base. Beyond that, it’s not like I’m getting grunge royalty checks.
In January you did the Chris Cornell tribute concerts. Were you close friends with Chris?
Chris was always standoffish but he was very supportive. He was a weird guy. I wouldn’t have guessed that this would have happened, especially when the drug tests and all of that were done. He wasn’t on any kind of nasty, illegal drugs, the drugs he was on were prescribed. I talked to his bandmates and they were as surprised as anybody else. It’s a weird thing. We went through the same thing with the Nirvana stuff, but there’s an addict and you are never surprised when things like that happen. It’s unfortunate and horrible, it’s not something you really ever get over. This is just a mystery, this one. And there’s really no way to have closure. With a car accident or cancer, there’s closure of some kind. And I feel really horrible for his family and really bad for the guys in Soundgarden.
In the winter, there were reports that you were working on a band with Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters). Was there any truth to that?
Nothing’s happening with that. I worked on some stuff with Matt, but Taylor, he’s too busy with Foo Fighters and all that entails to be a member of anything else, he does some side projects — beyond that I don’t really know what goes on in the Foo Fighters’ world.
So what are you working on with Matt?
Songs of Matt’s. We recorded stuff with him in LA