The Devil’s Supergroup of Doom!
Neurot Records

Shrinebuilder is a new supergroup powered by the guitar fury of Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, etc…), bludgeoning bassist Al Cisneros (Sleep, Om), power drummer Dale Crover (Nirvana, Acid King, The Melvins) and singer/guitarist Scott Kelly (Neurosis). Their sound is exactly what one would expect from such a noted lineup, heavy, heavy and more heavy. Wino and Cisneros had been kicking around the idea of forming a band since 2006 and evidently several “demo” rehearsals took place with drummer Chris Hakius. Kelly claims to have been there shortly after the first rehearsals in his ‘We Burn Through The Night’ blog that documented the formal progression of the band. When things turned serious Melvins drummer Crover replaced Hakius and a focus on songwriting turned basic ideas into several solid tunes including the thunderous “Solar Benediction, ” monolithic “Pyramid of the Moon” and nine-minute opus “Science of Anger.”

When last we spoke with Wino (Dec 2008) to discuss his critically acclaimed solo project for Southern Lord, he was balancing a day job building custom motorcycles with his music career.  With Shrinebuilder his fortunes seem to have changed. “I’m doing the music full-time now,” says Wino after the band’s soundcheck at the Metro in Oakland, CA. “Saint Vitus is on the move too. However, I’m making Shrinebuilder my top priority and Vitus my second. This band is really important to me right now. It’s amazing to work with this set of musicians. They are all extremely good at what they do and I think we have something really solid here.” Wino is nibbling from the catered salad tray when he’s joined by Dale Crover. The ex-Nirvana, Melvins skin basher lends his input to our conversation. “Our fusion on stage is getting better all the time,” says Crover. “Every night we play, it gets more cohesive and powerful.”

“Other bands I’ve been in, I had to rehearse with them for months and months,” says Wino. “With Shrinebuilder it’s come along really quick. It took one or two rehearsals to get into the songs before we left on this tour, now were just working on finessing each song to its utmost ability.” Since time is limited, the band uses their soundcheck to work out new ideas. At one point they huddled in a small group to teach one another different time changes and rhythmic arrangements. “Yeah, we use the soundcheck to try a few new things out,” confirms Wino when asked about the huddle. “Unfortunately the last couple shows we’ve been plagued by technical problems – that really slows us down.”

When asked about the converging of talents Wino is quick to admit of being a fan of the other’s bands. “I met Dale when The Melvins were recording Stoner Witch (1994). I was in Obsessed and we went down to Atlantic in New York and jammed together. We did a cover of Skynyrd’s “On The Hunt.” We share the same taste in music so that helps us find a common reference. I could tell from jamming with Dale that he’s a guy I wanted to work with. He had such fire and drive.” As for Crover’s take of working with the guitarist. “Dude, it was working with Wino,” was all he needed to say. Then reflecting Crover admits, “When we were on tour with Obsessed, I would stand next to the stage and watch them play every night. There’s not too many bands I would do that for.”

Wino revisits the formation of the band stating, “Al, Chris (Hakius) and I rehearsed at my house in Baltimore but the next time we did anything ‘live’ it was with Dale. He just fit once we got him there. Everybody contributes and makes suggestions. Everybody writes and we respect what each brings to the circle. I don’t think we’ve thrown anyone’s ideas out. I brought part of the music in for ‘Pyramid of the Moon’ - I was really struggling with the words.  Then I got a call from Scott (Kelly) who helped out with the lyrics. In the studio I had written ‘Science of Anger.’ I had fragments of song when Al came in – he’s like a stream of consciousness, man. I just sat there and wrote as he was streaming off all these words and phrases.”

Both complement the addition of Neurosis singer/guitarist Scott Kelly to the band. “Yeah, Scott brings the growl and Wino brings the howl to the band,” says Crover laughing. “We weren’t sure if it was going to work. But, yeah, it works out good, two vocalists with different styles. Scott’s no cookie-monster singer, when he does his low end, it’s like Tom Waits.” As for writing styles Wino states, “Each of us has a strong personality, but it works when we bring it together. We really noticed that when we were recording the record. The chemistry was right. There might be some time changes that I wouldn’t write, but someone else might think it works, so we work through it together. It’s a challenge but a lot of fun too.” As for fights in the studio Wino laughs, “We’re too old to fight between each other. The worst thing that could happen is the PA goes bad and wears on everyone’s nerves.”

With each member also involved in other projects, it’s a delicate balance to manage their time and their efforts as a band. “The Melvins are still active,” says Crover. “We do a lot of shows a year and still have an aggressive recording schedule. It helps with Shrinebuilder to work out songs as we go along so we have them ready when it’s time to record. We’ve got real solid ideas for the next record so by next winter we’ll be in the studio working that out. That’s the best time ‘cause were not really touring then. Touring in the winter sucks and we try to avoid it. People’s reactions really help too, when they get into it - you know you’re on the right track.”

“Sometimes you have this divine inspiration when it comes to music,” says Wino. “It’s refreshing to work with a group of guys where everyone knows what to do; everyone knows what their priorities are. When you look at the cast of characters in this band, it’s not your ordinary bunch of guys banging out pop tunes. My dream has always been to look over at the other guys on stage and be inspired. That is what we have in this band.”

Website: Shrinebuilder