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Since the dawn of the '80s, Scott "Wino" Weinrich has sung and played guitar in a string of revered bands, including Saint Vitus, the Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls and the Hidden Hand. In all that time, though, he's never put out a solo album — until now. Punctuated Equilibrium, released in January, combines the psychedelic biker-rock sound he's known for with instrumental jams and more adventurous, even jazzy songwriting. Surprisingly, Weinrich was considering retirement before it took shape.
"Hidden Hand was over, and I was thinking well, you know, I've kinda made my mark, maybe it's time to hang it up," he recalls. "But me and Jean-Paul from Clutch had been talking about doing a record together, and I still had some songs under my belt that hadn't seen the light of day yet, and since he's such a great player and had the time, we agreed that it was time to do the record we'd always wanted to do."
Though it's easy to recognize Wino's rough vocals and thick, vintage guitar tone, he claims that each of his bands has had its own feel. "With Shrinebuilder, for example, I know that I don't want to write anything that's super-involved because there's a different vibe with that band," he says. "With the Wino band, I can pretty much do whatever I want."
Shrinebuilder is a supergroup that's garnering serious buzz within the metal underground; in addition to Wino, the band features Scott Kelly of Neurosis on guitar and vocals, Al Cisneros of Om on bass and Dale Crover of the Melvins on drums. The band, which will play a few select shows in Chicago, New York and Austin in November, recorded its self-titled debut in three days earlier this year.
Wino's also planning to get Saint Vitus, the group he fronted in the mid-'80s, back into the studio and possibly mount a larger-scale U.S. tour than the two East Coast reunion shows currently planned.
"Those guys are all convinced that Europe is the bread and butter," he says, "but I was like, if you can't crack your own country, then you ain't shit, you know? I think the shows are gonna be fuckin' fantastic. So hopefully my theory is right, and the time is right for Vitus and this type of music."
Indeed, in times of economic uncertainty and political upheaval, glossy pop won't do. You need to crank it up and bang your head, nice and slow, and Wino's understood the power of a doom-mongering riff for thirty years.
For more of our interview with Scott "Wino" Weinrich, visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat/qa.