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Melvins Frontman Explains How Their Music Appeared In HBO’s “True Detective”


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Melvins vocalist/guitarist Buzz Osborne was recently asked by Nuvo.net how the bands track “A History Of Bad Men” made it into the first season of the hit HBO series “True Detective“. At the time of the interview Osborne confirmed he had not yet seen the series, stating that he did not watch TV. He did offer the following explanation as to how it got picked up by the show, crediting its music supervisor T Bone Burnett as the driving force:

“We got approached to license that song some time last year. And, you know, it was a relatively decent amount of money. It’s not going to make anyone millionaires, or even thousandaires. But it sounded cool, and we honestly don’t get a lot of offers like that, not really ever. And I’m more than happy to put my music wherever possible. The only thing I’m not super interested in is [this scenario], “I’ve got an art film I want to put your music in; I don’t have any money, though.” It’s like, I can do stuff for no money every day of the week. I can set up gigs for nothing. Those are the easiest ones to set up!

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I rarely, unless I know the person, I just can’t be bothered. You can’t just put your stuff out there for nothing. It makes you look like you’re worth nothing. And so, we did it. … Here’s the weird thing. A long time ago, when we put out the Eggnog record, T Bone Burnett called me – it was in the early ’90s – and told me how much he liked that record. Isn’t that weird? He somehow got ahold of my number and called me to tell me how much he thought that record was amazing. The Eggnog record, of all records! He also told me that he thought indie labels were a ripoff, and we were getting ready and talking about signing to Atlantic and he didn’t think that was a bad idea. And I didn’t know him at all – I’d seen his band play before that, opening for The Rolling Stones, believe it or not. And I never talked to him again.

I know he’s been involved in a lot of projects, and every time I saw his name, like with that O’ Brother [Where Art Thou] and stuff like that, I would think, “Hey, I talked to that guy, once.” And now, 25 years later, we’re doing this thing. And I think it’s good! I always thought our music was tailor-made for soundtrack stuff, but it just never really happens, never. They say, “We want to use your stuff for this movie,” but when it comes time to do it, they say, “Well, we decided to use a Rage Against The Machine song, instead.”

And I’m like, “Okay, well it was your idea. I didn’t ask you.” I’ve been told so many times, “Oh, yeah, we’re really interested in doing this. We’re wondering if you can do it for nothing?” No. I can stay at home and make nothing. I don’t even have to get on the Internet for that. It’s just rare that it comes full circle. People always say to us, “Why don’t you do soundtrack stuff?” Why don’t we DO it? Well, first of all, I don’t want to make soundtracks for anybody.

That sounds horrific. I’m not built for that. I can’t listen to some director tell me what he wants or doesn’t want. My ego is not built for that. I would be going, “Here’s what I think of how you’re directing the movie.” I’m not interested in that; we have a vast catalogue of stuff people can pick from, and they have no interest. So this is a new thing, and I’ve heard a lot of good feedback from it. Thank you, T Bone.”

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