Hail the King, Buzzo

King Buzzo
King Buzzo

Excerpt from phone interview with King Buzzo of the Melvins:

Me: Hello, may I speak with Buzz Osborne, please?

Buzz: That’s me.

Me: Hey, this is Rick Levin from the Eugene Weekly.

Buzz: Never heard of it.

And that, folks, is punk rock in a nutshell.

Before Nirvana, there was the Melvins, a sludgy band that sharpened its snaggles in Olympia’s early-’80s indie scene, where a pipsqueaky Kurt Cobain beheld the chunky squelch of Osborne’s guitar and followed suit. The rest is history.

Throughout the Melvin’s 30-plus years, Osborne has been the constant. It may seem strange, then, that the purveyor of loud/louder now unplugs the fuzz to release a solo acoustic album. Strange, that is, until one hears This Machine Kills Artists and finds King Buzzo plying his unmistakable brand of chromatic chords and crooning vocals in an unreconstructed setting.

Osborne says Pete Townsend’s work outside The Who was a big inspiration. “It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have the whole band with him,” he says, adding that any song can be interpreted acoustically. “I’m not married to any version of anything that’s on a record. It’s merely a suggestion. It’s the Indian, not the arrow. That’s the beauty of it.”

Playing in a pared-down live setting is fun, according to Osborne. “I’ve had great time,” he says. “You have to get to this point as a musician where you don’t feel stupid looking stupid in front of a large amount of people. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You can’t get lucky by sitting on your ass at home.”

King Buzzo plays 8 pm Tuesday, June 17, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door.