WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Of all the surprises to be found in Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One), none come as far out of left field as when you recruit Buzz Osborne, the singer and guitarist from the Melvins, to help you out…and it’s really Buzz doing his own voice. But in talking to King Buzzo about his role in the game, it seems this gig was as far out of left field for him as well.
Photo by Mackie Osborne
When Insomniac first approached you about being in Sunset Overdrive, what was it the game that made you think it would be fun to do?
I’d never done anything like it before. They were fans, and it looked like fun.
Had you ever heard of Insomniac or their games?
No. I don’t know much about games. The last time I played a game was when I was in the seventh grade and I got stoned and played Asteroids.
How much of the game did you get before you sign on?
The game wasn’t finished when I saw it, but they showed me some footage of the game. It looked like fun.
Now, the Melvins are on Ipecac Records, which is co-owned by Mike Patton of Faith No More, who has also done voices for such games as The Darkness and The Darkness II, Left 4 Dead, and Portal. When you got offered the gig in Sunset Overdrive, did you ask him if you should do it, or get any advice about voicing a video game character?
No, but I went to Greg Werckman [the other co-owner of Ipecac], he knows a lot about that stuff as well. I never talked to Mike about it at all. But I knew the people at Insomniac were nice, and that they were fans of the Melvins. The rest of the details didn’t concern me.
Did their plan for your role change at all from the original idea to what’s in the game?
They were going to have us do an original song for the game, but then it turned out they didn’t have the budget for it. So they instead just picked an older song of ours, which actually made more sense.
In doing this, did they take a lot of reference photos?
Actually, they had me come over and I wore one of those suits so it would look like me in the game.
One of those mocap suits with the little ping pong balls on it?
Yes. That was really cool, I was really happy to do that. Though they also took a lot of pictures of me as well. That all took one afternoon, and then I went and did the voice over stuff later, and that was it. It very easy.
As someone who’s been in a recording studio before, I assume the voice stuff wasn’t difficult for you.
Yeah. I blasted through that part real fast. When I would do my lines, I would always do it two different ways. I think I only had to redo one line.
Had you ever done voice work before, either for another game or a cartoon?
I got asked to do a game called Dancing Fireman, but then nothing ever happened. It never came out. It was a total waste of time. Which is why I went into this with the attitude that it wasn’t going to work, but thankfully it did.
But I assume you’ve had songs in games before.
Not to my knowledge.
Wouldn’t you know?
I might’ve forgotten. So I might be wrong about that.
Now, the thing about your appearance in Sunset Overdrive is that while the Melvins play at this show, you’re the only guy from the Melvins in the game. Are the other guys in the band pissed that they’re not in the game?
No, they got paid anyway, since our song is in the game.
And they’ll probably get a kick out of the Tinkerbell part as well. Speaking of which, when they told you about that, what did you think?
I didn’t care, I trusted them. They know what they’re doing.
So I haven’t seen the game yet. Is it cool?
Yes, it’s really good.
Oh, that’s great.
The people who made it, Insomniac, are known for making good games.
That’s what we heard from the beginning. And I have nothing bad to say about them. They were totally cool to me.
So are you prepared to have people say, “Hey, you’re that guy in Sunset Overdrive.”?
I’m prepared for anything.
And are you prepared to have people say, “Hey, you’re that guy in Sunset Overdrive. I didn’t know you were a real person.”?
I’ll just tell them I’m not a real person. That’s how good the game is: I’m not even real.
Buzz with Sunset Overdrive creative director Marcus Smith
Now, besides Sunset Overdrive, you also have a new album with the Melvins called Hold It In, which has you and drummer Dale Crover teaming up with guitarist Paul Leary and bassist Jeff Pinkus from The Butthole Surfers. Are any of the songs on Hold It In about video games?
No. [laughs] Sorry. Maybe I’ll have to write one. I’ll write a song called “Sunset Underdrive.”
Just don’t call it “Sunset Overhype.”
No, I wouldn’t do that, I like hype. It’s all I’ve got.