In this week's issue, we ran a short profile on Wino by Phil Freeman culled from his recent conversation with Scott "Wino" Weinrich, a singer/guitarist who's split his time with a slew of revered metal and hard rock acts such as Saint Vitus, the Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls, the Hidden Hand and Shrinebuilder. Read the full interview after the jump.
Westword (Phil Freeman): What made you decide to release Punctuated Equilibrium as a solo album, rather than give the new backing band a name?
Scott "Wino" Weinrich: Well, I was actually considering retiring. I didn't have a band at the time, 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. 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. It was fun, no pressure, and Southern Lord agreed to put it out, but when it came out it did so well in the press, it got so much acclaim, that a whole bunch of doors started to open. Now right around the same time, I had some stuff in my personal life change, me and my wife got separated and stuff, so I didn't have the same responsibilities I had before, so I figured well, maybe I should go ahead and tour. And the money was better, so I decided to keep going.
WW: Are you planning on continuing as a solo artist, or forming another band?
SW: Right now the Wino band is me and Jean-Paul Gaster, and we got a new bass player because the original bass player died, and we're on tour right now the whole month supporting Clutch. And basically that's it. The Wino group will still be together, we will record another record, but after this particular tour I'm gonna start touring with Saint Vitus and Shrinebuilder, and I'm gonna be busy touring with those two bands all the way until summer.
WW:Is Jean-Paul playing two sets a night, with you and Clutch? How's he handling that?
SW:He is, and he loves it. I said, Are you sure about doing double duty? And he said, 'I love double duty.' It's really cool.
WW:Are you playing songs from prior bands (Spirit Caravan, Obsessed, Hidden Hand) on this tour?
SW: In the Wino band we play a couple of old Obsessed songs, and a Spirit Caravan song too. We play basically our originals, both released on Punctuated Equilibrium and some new ones that we're working on, and we also play some of people's favorite Obsessed songs and one Spirit Caravan song right now. We will be spreading our repertoire out. We reach back and play everything from my catalog, usually. People love that, they really wanna hear that. That's something that the guys in the Hidden Hand weren't interested in doing, but we always did that in Spirit Caravan and people really liked it. I like playing 'em, too.
WW: How do you differentiate your various bands, as a writer? When Hidden Hand was going, for example, did you ever write something and decide it was too much of a Spirit Caravan song and hold onto it?
SW: I take that into consideration. Like 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. With the Wino band I can pretty much do whatever I want. Jean-Paul's into jazz, so you'll probably see us getting a little bit more technical. We have a great new bass player, Brian White, who played in Dog Fashion Disco, and he's a real virtuoso. I have a good writing chemistry with him, too, so stuff we're writing now, it's heavy but it can be a little bit proggy, 'cause Jean-Paul's very into jazz and so am I. So the Wino band will be the vehicle for getting really out there. Shrinebuilder is like -- it's not all super bombastic. There's some pretty cerebral stuff, and there's a lot going on. Scott singing, me singing, Al chanting on some stuff, a lot of e-bow, it's sort of Pink Floyd-ish in parts. So I definitely am tailoring my songs to the band, for sure.
WW: A friend pointed out that some of it sounds more influenced by Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" than by Sabbath or other doom bands...
SW:That's the first time I've heard that. I think I might know which song he's talking about...wow.
WW: I heard that you were working at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, loading equipment for other bands for a while. What do you do when you're not on the road?
SW: Now I'm an electrician's helper. I make $150 a day, cash. We pull wire, I mule the tools up and down, and I'm learning about electrical stuff. One thing I'll tell you is, when you devote your life to art the way I have, when you devote your life to playing music that's under the radar and out of the mainstream and absolutely refusing to sell out -- I mean, I've had offers from rap dudes who want to buy part of my songs to put in rap songs, and I will not fuckin' do it. No fuckin' way, no how. You could offer me fifty fuckin' grand to take part of my song and put it in a rap song and I will turn you down on the spot, guaranteed. I'll never, ever compromise my art.
And when you have that kind of ideal, you can bet your ass you're never gonna be able to learn a trade, because you're gonna be out struggling on the road. You can bet your ass that you're gonna miss your kids' and your wife's birthdays, you can bet that the most important show you can get is gonna fall on someone's birthday, one of your kids' or your wife. That's the kind of thing you've gotta do. If you're not willing to do that, don't do it.