Sun May 19
You're in a long-lived and never-more-popular rock band. Two, actually. You've played Ozzfest. You live in Hollywood. (All right, North Hollywood.) You've got legendary hair; hair people talk about, hair that gets noticed. People love you and follow you around. Yes, the lights of fame have fixed themselves on you, my friend, and for a mighty long time now. So, in the middle of what grand debauchery and poetic excess does a typical Saturday night find you, oh highly exulted rock 'n' roll star?
"Maybe, during the day, we might go to the movies or something. But not at night, no way. After five, I won't go to a restaurant, or anywhere," says Buzz King Buzzo Osborn, of the mighty Melvins and Fantomas. His wife, Mackie, to whom he's been married for eight happy years, adds, "Hardly anything we do is associated with rock 'n' roll. We avoid going out in public at all times, especially on Saturday nights." Scandalous! What Bacchanalian delights might we find this breed of wild man known as ROCK 'N 'ROLL FRONT MAN indulging in on a Saturday night at home?
"I might hang out with some friends, or talk on the phone, or watch movies, or read. Or maybe rehearse."
Yes--rehearse, perhaps. Buzz would indeed appear too busy for the cliché pitfalls of the typical rock star. He did, after all, play over 130 shows and release two albums last year (Millennium Monsterwork by the Melvins/Fantomas and Hostile Ambient Takeover by the Melvins).
Hostile Ambient Takeover brings the Melvins' number of releases to eight (not counting reworked reissues of early albums) since signing to Mike Patton's Ipecac label in 1999. Add that to the pile of records and countless tours since the band's inception 18 years ago in Aberdeen, Washington and you've got a body of work that would leave little time for distractions. "When you're younger, you thrive on it," Buzz says of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, "But after a while I just started desiring it less and less."
Hard work? Happily married? Staying home at night? Reading? Not very rock 'n' roll by most people's standards, but to keep your schedule as busy as Buzz's for this long and remain in control of your faculties, you'd have had to find a balance between your indulgent artistic side and the practical aspects of daily life.
The other option--unchecked amounts of wine, women, and song (and big piles of coke?)--can lead to the dilapidated state of rock's other Osbournes, the ones with the hit TV show and the standing invitation to the White House. After the Melvins found themselves in the unlikely position of playing Ozzfest, that is an option Buzz wants nothing to do with. "It's everything I hate about the rock 'n' roll business rolled into one big tour," he says of the mammoth festival they were reluctantly a part of. "We did it simply because Tool told the promoters they would only do it if there was at least one band on it they liked. So they insisted we go."
And what of the fest's namesake, the seemingly tireless performer and showman, the man who sold his soul to rock-n-roll? "Ozzy is like a mummy. It's awful. He's got tele-prompters because he can't remember lyrics to songs he wrote 30 years ago. He can't remember 'Paranoid.' It's not good. It's not funny," says Buzz of Ozzy's current sad, though ratings-grabbing, state. "That guy needs to be taken care of, not exploited. If that was the shape my wife was in, I would be devastated. I wouldn't be trying to get her on the next tour and make a TV show out of it. It's awful. Ozzy needs help."
Buzz's answer to the ugly underbelly of the music industry and the cliché rock-n-roller personae so celebrated and expected, is to stay productive, stay calm and--when not on the road--to stay home. "I spend a lot of time in rock 'n' roll types of environments, so when I'm home, I rarely venture out and do anything like that." Revealing his secret to brain-damage-free longevity in the rock biz he says, "I try to live a relatively conservative life and let the wildness come out in my work."