Buzz Osborne (the Melvins) Talks the HBO Documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Buzz Osborne knew Kurt Cobain since before the beginning and until the very end. And he says most of Montage of Heck just isn't true.

I love documentaries. I can watch a documentary about anything. But I didn’t have much interest in this one —I’ve had my fill of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana bios and documentaries, and stopped reading and watching them a long time ago. I don’t have a lot of happy memories about any of that stuff, and the nice things I do remember are clouded by a deeply depressing fog of pointless misery. Look how it all ended.

Nonetheless, I sat through Montage of Heck twice.

I went to high school with Kurt and was a big part of all the Nirvana guys’ lives before and after they became famous. I thought very highly of Kurt, Krist and Dave. We were good friends when they were all flat broke, long before they could buy big houses and cars with credit cards. My band played with Nirvana at their last show. I was there for the beginning and I was there for the end, for the very good and the very bad.

First off, people need to understand that 90% of Montage of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit. That’s the one thing no one gets about Cobain — he was a master of jerking your chain.

For instance, I know the whole “I tried to fuck a fat retard” story is complete bullshit. Not even an inkling of truth. That’s too good a story to have gone this long without me hearing about it, especially if, as he suggests, the girl’s father freaked out about it at the high school. In that small-town shit-hole, exciting news of that nature would have been common knowledge before the sun set. It never happened. And the trying-to-kill-himself-on-the-train-tracks story is bullshit as well. It never happened either. There it is, though, told in a recording of Kurt’s own voice so it must be true…right? Wrong.

Kurt also told me there was absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded. Of course he was vomiting — that’s what people on heroin do, they vomit. It’s called “vomiting with a smile on your face.”

At least they spared us the horrendously overblown tale of him living under a bridge in Aberdeen. Another bullshit story. As far as I know, Kurt never set foot under any bridge in that town, let alone lived under one. That whole idea is romanticized crazy-talk for glassy-eyed, stoned teenagers and pathetic, middle-aged, rock & roll morons.

And then there’s Courtney.

A lot of what she says in this documentary doesn’t exactly jibe with things Kurt told me himself, but I suppose that’s not surprising when you consider history becomes elastic every time Courtney Love opens her mouth.

For instance, she’d have us believe that Kurt tried to off himself when she’d only thought about cheating on him?

Wow. That’s a whole lot different from the stories he told me in regards to Courtney’s behavior — and this was well before he ended up dead. And that’s just one example.

When Courtney speaks, the truth is certainly there, but God only knows where it begins and ends. In the 20 years since Kurt’s death, the undisputed facts of some of her stories seem to change almost hourly. I remain unconvinced in regards to her testimony, and I don’t think I’m alone.

I find it amusing that the filmmakers never bothered to fact-check simple stuff like this, and just took Kurt and Courtney at their word. That’s a bit risky when you’re supposed to be making a behind-the-scenes documentary — but not surprising considering that not a lot of what’s out there about Kurt is the truth anyway. But no one seems to care. Unfortunately, it matters very little what the facts are; what matters is what people believe. And when it comes to Cobain, most of what they believe is fabricated nonsense. Montage of Heck does nothing to counter that. With that in mind, it’s really hard to take any of this film seriously.

After 49 minutes, I was ready for it all to be over, but Montage of Heck just went on and on, and oh, what a treat it was….

I got to see Kurt in creepy home movies, and Courtney nude, which, for me, was akin to staring into the sun. I got to see behind the curtain and right up close — two malodorous, doped-up rock & roll miscreants deeply fouling an unsuspecting apartment. Jesus! There stands a half-naked Kurt shaving, and right behind his back, his wife is parading around, showing off her naked breasts and pouting to the cameraman, who I’m guessing was Eric Erlandson, ex-Hole guitarist and Courtney’s former boyfriend. Really? Kurt probably had to deal with horseshit like that on a daily basis. My god, what a super-colossal drag.

I suppose this movie will be interesting for Nirvana completists, because it certainly reinforces their already twisted view of the man. I found it to be mostly misguided fiction.

Not a happy experience.

I did enjoy the really cool animation, though, and they did a fantastic job of showing what a depressing shit-hole Aberdeen really was and still is. For that, I salute them!

Buzz Osborne is a founding member of “rock” band the Melvins. Over the past 30 years, he’s played on more than 50 recordings on various major and minor labels, and performed over 2000 shows. In 2012 the Melvins became the first band to release three different records in the same year with three different lineups of the band, and did a spring tour of the U.S., a Canadian tour, and a London show with Slayer to 10,000 people, then played shows in all 50 states, plus DC, in a record-setting 51 days. Osborne’s latest album, released under the moniker King Buzzo,  is a collaboration with Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle called Gift Of Sacrifice.