Melvins frontman King Buzzo said he expected the band to be dropped after its first major-label album was released on a major label, and he’s still surprised they were allowed to make two more.

Boosted by the grunge explosion, Atlantic Records signed the band in 1993, leading to the release of Houdini, Stoner Witch and Stag before they were dropped in 1997. In a recent interview with Guitar World, Buzzo expressed amazement at the freedom they were given at the time, which extended to the release of Prick on another label in 1994.

“We thought Atlantic would take one album from us, hate it and be done,” he explained. “But they did three, which is still surprising to us. People told us they were surprised, but trust me, no one was more surprised than us.”

He added that they “did not pursue major labels; they pursued us … plenty of bands from that ’90s era begged labels to help them sound commercial and sell records. That was never us. Atlantic left us alone; I don’t know why, but fuck, we delivered. I’d sign on for those terms again in a heartbeat. We charted our course, and we’ve followed it from the very beginning.”

Buzzo admitted that “it’s not as if we thought we’d sell millions of records. We considered it a side road, and we hoped we would come out in a better position than before. It’s hard to say if that is the case or not.” He furthered his argument by noting, “It’s not like we’re trying not to sell records. That’s just how it worked out for us. I’ve learned that the world’s not a right place. We don’t bother trying to sell records; we do whatever the fuck we’re doing. And even if that doesn’t work, all is well. It’s better to stick with what you like without letting the perverse thinking of others influence what you do.”

Melvins’ latest album, Bad Mood Rising, came out last year. To celebrate their 40th anniversary, they recently released The Devil You Knew, the Devil You Know, which pairs the original versions of songs recorded for their first 7" EP from 1986 with brand-new recordings of the same songs. They launch a European tour on May 30 in Bristol, U.K.

“People wonder how we’re still here,” Buzzo said. “The simple answer is we never stopped. People ask how Dale [Crover] and I have made it work for so long, and that’s simple, too: It comes down to trust and understanding. I don’t trust him, and he doesn’t understand me! … I’m invigorated by the fact that this still works and that I wasn’t wrong in my vision. I’ll stop when I don’t feel like doing it anymore or when no one cares. You can let us know when that is.”

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