The Melvins mastermind Buzz Osborne recalled the real reason why he fired Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain from his producing role on “Houdini”, and noted how the way Nirvana and Motley Crue were marketed felt similar despite the musical differences between those two bands.
Nirvana might have ended up overshadowing the works of Seattle’s sludgy underground powerhouse fronted by Buzz Osborne, The Melvins and their mastermind played an important role in Kurt Cobain’s musical upbringing, and also served as a major influence for several other key grunge bands.
Buzz Osbourne, who is said to have taken Kurt to his first live show and gradually introduced him to Seattle’s underground, however, told Revolver in a new interview how he’d rather have the late Nirvana frontman “not famous and alive, than famous and dead.”
Kurt was also brought in as the producer for the Melvins’ iconic fifth studio album “Houdini”, which is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year, but there are many accounts of how Kurt famously did little for the project before eventually getting fired.
Asked whether there was a “catalyst moment” during the production of “Houdini” where Buzz realized he couldn’t work with Kurt anymore, given the late musician’s addiction, Buzz said (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):
“Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. He didn’t show up for one of the sessions, and it was just really obvious. It wasn’t a judgement call, as far as I’m concerned, it was more of, ‘This isn’t gonna work.’ It’s been said… I went into [Nirvana manager] Danny Goldberg’s office at Atlantic, and told him this. And he conveniently doesn’t remember any of it, which is crazy.
“He’s actually said stuff like, Kurt quit because we wanted him to write songs for us, which is fucking insane. I don’t need anybody to write songs for me. And a producer, to me, what you do is you come in, maybe we’d show him the songs we have, and maybe we’d go through them, [ask him] ‘What do you think of this’, but I’ve never needed anyone writing anything for me. Ever.
“That whole idea’s absurd. It’s quite disgusting, and I take a lot of offense from that.”
While commenting how he was never the one to ask the major label what to do so that Melvins could become “big superstars”, Buzz was asked whether Nirvana ever collaborated in that way. He answered:
“They wanted to sell millions of records and were willing to do what it took to let that happen. The labels plugged them in the same way they sold bands before them, like Mötley Crüe. Their musical sensibilities were far different, and where [Nirvana’s] music was coming from was a completely different place than the hair metal bands prior to them. But how it was sold, it wasn’t a lot different.”
“The whole Nirvana thing, it was not a happy time, with how it all ended and everything. So, it’s kind of taken away the idea that [there were a lot of happy memories]… When I hear their music, it’s difficult for me to have feelings that aren’t affected by that. [It’s a] personal tragedy, ends badly, and I’m not over it.”