Melvins’ Buzz Osborne says he would “rather have somebody like Kurt Cobain be completely unsuccessful and alive”

He was commenting on the intense nature of the music industry in the 1990s.

Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne has commented on the pressures of fame that existed in the 1990s music industry, and how they, along with Kurt Cobain’s death, have soured his memory of that particular time and music scene.

Speaking to Guitar.com, Osborne was asked about his experience in the grunge scene in the 1990s, and whether it was a “feeding frenzy” with labels looking for the next big grunge act, which he said it was, “100 per cent.” However, Melvins’ music wasn’t as “palatable” for radio as some bands’, and so they were never subject to the same pressures as acts like Nirvana.

Despite this, Osborne explained that he’s still proud to have been a part of that scene, and an influence on its biggest members. Nirvana would frequently mention Melvins’ music in interviews following their commercial success, and Kurt Cobain often called them his favourite band, “I never was jealous of their thing or thought that what they were doing, you know, it should be me. I always viewed their success and Nirvana’s success, and the fact that they talked about us as influences on them – I felt that was a massive compliment.

“And so our music in a way, to them especially, had an impact on a global level. We changed music on a global level, because without us those bands wouldn’t have thought the way that they did. And I was very happy about that.”

He further explained the bittersweet relationship he has to that era, describing the increasingly unpleasant atmosphere of success and Kobain’s death in 1994. “Now, Nirvana. I always liked those guys, but I never liked when they got big,” he explained. “I never liked the people around them. I never liked their management and never like any of the people that worked with them. And then you mix in the drugs, and the people that brought with it. And it’s a sordid tale. And it’s not a happy ending.”

“And it’s difficult for me to just get over that and just sit there and go, ‘Well, let’s just look at the good times’. I can’t, it’s not possible for me to do. I would much rather have somebody like Kurt Cobain be completely unsuccessful and alive than successful one day. We were friends first. So him being dead just puts a cap on that story that I’m not going to ever get over.”

You can read our full interview with Osborne here, or in the April 2021 issue of Guitar Magazine here.

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