Interview With Scott “Wino” Weinrich: The Prophet Of Doom

In March, legendary singer and guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich will officially release the vinyl edition of his first-ever acoustic album, Adrift, via Volcom Entertainment (the CD is out on Exile On Mainstream). Wino, whose legacy spans a 30-plus-year career in bands like The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Place Of Skulls, Shrinebuilder—and most lately—Premonition, continues to be one of if not the most preeminent figures in American doom metal.

His unique style and songcraft has inspired a generation of players, and as he embarks on an acoustic tour to support Adrift co-headlining with his friend and Shrinebuilder bandmate, Scott Kelly (also of Neurosis), it was an honor to speak to him for the following interview.

Are you signed to Volcom? I know they’re doing the EP release of Adrift.

We aren’t physically signed yet, but we are going to sign. Maybe as soon as this weekend. We’ve been back and forth between the legal people, and yeah, I think so. I’ve got a couple releases coming out, and I think it’s a pretty cool opportunity.

What do you have coming out this year?

They licensed Adrift for a limited edition vinyl and I think they went through them already, so they’re probably going to license another run. Me and Scott Kelly, from Neurosis, we do this acoustic thing, so we’re teaming up to do a mini-tour, it’s like eight cities. He’s been doing that for a while now, playing acoustic around, but I just started doing it. We’ve got a single coming out on Volcom, where each of us do one song on each side. That’s coming out. They licensed Adrift.

And Premonition, this band I’ve been working with for… Well, I’ve known the one guy for 20 years and we never did anything, finally decided to make a record. And they liked the demos, so they said they’d put it out. We did a single, and we’re right in the process right now of mixing a full-length. Suddenly I’ll have a lot of releases out on Volcom. They give a pretty fair deal.

I had heard the idea behind Premonition was to just play live.

Maybe that’s the same person who said we were gonna be an all-improv band. I don’t know. Basically, here’s the deal: Me and my buddy, we’ve known each other for 20-plus years. We’ve always jammed together. Two guitar players. He has this woodshed out in the middle of nowhere, we can crank it up at whatever hour.

We’ve been doing that for years and years, and he really wanted to make a record. We had good chemistry, and I said, “Okay, we’ll make a record.” It’s a good opportunity for me to jam some more and keep my word. The songs are good. He sings and writes some stuff too, and I’m the guitar player. So all of a sudden, I’ve branched out into two guitars. It’s pretty new.

It’s got to feel a little strange to be doing stuff like that at this point in your career. After playing guitar for so long, suddenly you’re doing acoustic records and joining bands with two guitars.

The thing of it is, the power trio, for as much power as you can have, is definitely limited. As I’ve matured as a player, I like a challenge. You can lock a good groove, and hey, power trios are cool, but there’s just three of you.

That’s fine if it’s together, but if it’s not together, it’s not together (laughs), you know what I mean? The thing about playing with another guitar player is, I did most of the writing in my career—except [Spirit Caravan bassist Dave] Sherman wrote a considerable amount of stuff, and I wrote a lot of the stuff. Now, I have other input, other ideas for songs coming at me, and that spurs my creativity. If I get really into somebody else’s song.

Usually it’s a challenge to learn other people’s stuff, because everybody has a different rhythm, a different way of counting. Like when Kelly writes something, I just cannot fucking count it. Eventually I’ll feel it, but I’ll try to count it, and man, “Is that six? Seven?” And people say the same thing about me. It’s just fun.

Did you do a lot of writing on acoustic before, or would you write riffs on electric guitar?

Usually whatever’s laying around. I didn’t have acoustics for some years, but usually if there’s one laying around, that’s good to do a bunch of writing on. You can just pick it up wherever when you get an idea. Could be anytime.

It had to be a different experience recording the acoustic record.

It was hard. Way hard. It’s really strange, because it was harder than I thought it was gonna be, by a longshot. But something strange: Adrift is probably gonna be the biggest selling album of my career, except for Probot. I’m stunned by the response, and I’m stunned by the sales, but I don’t know, man… (laughs).

You know, when I put that record out, I really figured it was a crapshoot. I figured some people were gonna like it, I’d take a lot of heat from people saying, “Ah, is he gonna mellow out? He’s playing acoustic. Is he gonna go soft?” Man, I’m not gonna fucking mellow out (laughs). I can’t mellow out. Are you kidding? But I don’t care what people say. I’m trying to get deeper into the acoustic, and it’s getting darker and heavier. Getting easier to play slow.

And you’re doing Roadburn again this year?

With Shrinebuilder, yeah. Have you seen Shrinebuilder yet?

Yeah, at Le Poisson Rouge, in New York.

That was a great show, yeah. That was one of those magical shows where everything on stage is picture perfect. The sound was perfect, the lights were perfect, everybody played real well. Except for me and Al [Cisneros, bass; also of Om], we almost had a collision on stage. Aside from that, I thought that was a fun show.

That’s a fun band for me. That’s really a fun band for me. Playing with [drummer Dale] Crover, man? Fuck. If I were to die right now (coughs), or couldn’t play music, I’d have to be happy, because I got to play with Crover, [Probot spearhead Dave] Grohl, and [Clutch’s Jean Paul] Gaster.

Those are pretty good notches on the belt, those three.

It’s humbling for me, because those guys… When [Chris] Hakius quit Om and the Sleep trip—he was also gonna be in Shrinebuilder—he was in the original conception, me, him and Al. He quit and we were just like, “Fuck, what are we gonna do now?” Al went like, “Who’s you’re favorite drummer we could have?” and everybody said Crover. And then he fucking accepted! I think it was just fated to happen, but it’s a fun band to play in, that’s for sure.

Are Shrinebuilder going to do another record this year?

Yeah, we are. We’re starting to get the songs ready. The songs are written. That’s one good thing that came out of that volcano, actually. We couldn’t get over to Europe, and it’s the only time we all had together, so we all went to L.A., to the rehearsal room, and basically fleshed out the record. We played one part of it on this last tour we did, but yeah. It’s gonna be cool. It’s gonna be heavy as hell.

Actually, it’s fucking really fucking heavy. Kelly’s writing some amazing stuff, and we’re all collaborating. He’s a great guitar player. He won’t tell you that he is, but he’s a great guitar player. He may not be Yngwie Malmsteen, but he knows the power of a song and delivery for sure.

One last thing. I talked to Sherman not too long ago and he said you guys were going to do a Spirit Caravan reunion?

Well, there’s been talk about doing it again, and Sherman just proved to me again why I don’t want to work with him. I don’t really want to go into details, because I don’t want to embarrass him, but he’s the kind he’s the kind of guy who’ll know something real private about you and he’ll just—out of the blue—decide to talk about with it with some wacky journalist chick who’s almost a stalker. He’s gonna tell her all this fucking shit, all this private shit that he knows. Bottom line is you just don’t do that, man. After all we’ve been through. After all the things he’s done to cause the acrimony in the band, then he still does something like this. It’s mind-boggling.

So I don’t know. I just don’t know if I can do this thing again. I was the one like, “I’m gonna offer an olive branch to Gary, we’re gonna do it.” We got all excited about it, talking about it and all this shit, and next thing you know, he’s running his mouth about the this crazy shit that he shouldn’t be talking about at all, to this Mouth of the South peckerwood chick, who’s seriously a stalker. Okay. So that spun around and I heard about it right away, and I never dreamed in a million years that I was gonna hear someone talking about that. Fucking Sherman. He’s a piece of work, I tell ya. I love him, man, but he’s just a piece of work (laughs).

Wino and Scott Kelly will be at NYC’s Mercury Lounge on Feb. 12. Adrift is available now through and will be in stores next month on Volcom.