With the way technology and the music industry have changed, we have seen a burgeoning display of do-it-yourself culture in music. Bands are able to do a lot more on their own, in terms of managing their own careers, than ever before. Local and upcoming acts can do everything from book their own shows and tours, to make and sell their own merchandise. A good band to observe and learn from is the Venice, California, stoner rock band, The Shrine.

Growing up in Venice has exposed the band to a very DIY skateboarding culture. To start, they would have put their own board together by purchasing a deck. After assembling all of the parts, they then would be on the hunt for a place to let it ride. A few park benches, stairs, or even abandoned pools could help them create their very own skate park. All that was left was to pop a cassette tape in of a band that would help match their adrenaline. A couple bands that most influenced The Shrine were Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Those bands, those moments, helped forge the fast-paced, fuzzed-out sound that can be heard on their latest record, Bless Off.

They carried on the DIY mindset to their music career and formed Eliminator Records. This online store has everything from stickers, buttons and patches to vinyl records and cassette tapes, tour posters, shirts, and even skate decks. The band also has their very own fuzz pedal, created by a friend of theirs.

I recently had the chance to talk to the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Josh Landau. We discussed some of the merchandise they have for sale, how some of the items came to be, and the importance of selling merch for upcoming groups. I picked Landau’s brain about some of his musical influences and how they recorded their latest, Bless Off. Another topic of conversation was the Wolf Pack, a membership program that will grant a select number of fans access to limited edition vinyls and tapes. Check out what Landau had to say below:

You guys create a great blend of riff-based rock. What was the first riff you learned to play?

I’m not sure what the first riff that I ever learned was, but the best one I ever learned was “Spiritual” by John Coltrane.

Several bands have been named in terms of your sound and influences. Bands like Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy. Is there a release by any of these bands that is most influential to you and your writing style?

Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath, My War by Black Flag, Killers by Iron Maiden, and Black Rose by Thin Lizzy are some of our influential favorites.

What was the process recording Bless Off like?

We spent five nights in The Hague in Holland with Guy Tavares after our very first European tour. We had all these new songs and learned a bunch of them while in his dungeon studio. He was our army general and our doctor. We were in boot camp.

What we did there basically became demos of all the Bless Off songs and inspired new ways of approaching a riff or a drum fill. Guy taught us to be “lazy but tough” with the sound. About six months later, we re-recorded the songs along with some more new tracks here in Venice at Eliminator Studios with all of his philosophies in mind, but with more time to work on the recordings.

I read that you guys used reel-to-reel tape, vintage gear and colossal Marshall stacks. Did you learn anything or do anything different in terms of the recording techniques compared to Primitive Blast?

Recording on reel-to-reel is the way our favorite albums were recorded, so that’s what we’re going for. We created more separation between the instruments on Bless Off by setting up amps in different rooms, using long speaker cables, and all of us playing together in the same room.

You guys also have your own fuzz pedal. Fans can head over to The Eliminator store and get one for themselves as well. How did The Shrine fuzz come about?

Our buddy Magic got deep, deep, deep into the pedal world and started building them, and I wanted to have him build me a certain kind of pedal. It just made sense to put the band’s name on it. Then, after people started seeing it, they’d always ask what it is and how to get one, so we finally decided to make a batch of ’em! They’re currently sold out and we only made 25 official production ones, so they’re kinda rare. I don’t know if we can get Magic to make any more.

Also available from Tee Pee Records and the Eliminator store are The Shrine skateboards. You guys attended Converse Con’s project earlier this year and gave advice on DIY merch. Any chance we could get a glimpse of some of your ideas/lessons?

Steal your dad’s paper clips.

Is merchandise something upcoming bands should be cautious of as they develop a local following?

Everyone’s got their own trip. Plenty of bands I like don’t have a bunch of merchandise like we do, but I’m a skateboarder and I’ve been obsessed with stickers and graphics and skate decks since I was like, 10 years old. I’d go into the skate shop with my parents and I wanted all the boards. But, maybe you could just afford all the stickers, so we’re feeding on that.

What was the greatest piece of advice you have received yourselves?

George Clinton’s got a lot: Don’t frown, even the sun goes down. The solution is within the problem. Free your mind and your ass will follow.

In May, you mentioned on Instagram the Wolf Pack. Is there any new info on that membership?
We’re having our research team navigate the membership card platform and it should be available soon!

What has it been like working with Tee Pee Records? There are a lot of great acts associated like Witch and Graveyard. You guys are also hitting the road with Earthless now.

It’s like a black market mafia full of crackheads and record collectors. We get along.

What is a typical day in the life of The Shrine on tour?

Sleep every time you sit down from being up all night. Hear about 100 sick skate spots that we don’t have time to go to. Skate the curb at the gas station.

Do you guys have any free time to skate or anything else while on tour?

Maybe one spot a week or so, if we’re lucky. I wish we could hit more spots, but I ain’t complaining.

What else do you guys have in store for the future? I know you guys are playing in Japan for the first time in August. Congrats on that! That has got to be exciting.

Thanks, man. We’re hitting Japan and then after Japan, Europe for the fifth time. We really like it over there. The people love rock ‘n’ roll like we do.

The Shrine will be playing at Philadelphia’s Underground Arts on Aug. 21, NYC’s Mercury Lounge on Aug. 22, and Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar on Aug. 23. Bless Off is available now. For more information on The Wolf Pack or to check out the band’s merchandise, go to theshrinefuzz.tumblr.com.

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