By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, February 10th, 2012
For a dude who has built a revered legacy on the back of playing big biker doom riffs and wailing with Saint Vitus, Scott “Wino” Weinrich’s recent output has been super-mellow. There was 2010 acoustic solo record, Adrift, then a Latitudes session recorded in London with German singer/songwriter Conny Ochs, before the pair got together and put out last year’sHeavy Kingdom, an LP that was largely all acoustic. Sure, at first it was kinda weird seeing Wino leave his Sunn Model T on standby, but it’s pretty cool too. And shit, if anyone in doom was to break ranks and bring it down a level into folk/Americana and still make it sound dark and heavy, it’s Wino.
While he is going to be playing acoustic shows in support of Heavy Kingdom, Wino will be back breaking bad on the mic with Saint Vitus and riffing out with The Obsessed soon enough. When we caught up with him the other week, the change of pace sounded like it was doing him good.
I gather that it was a bit of an accident that you got into playing acoustically.
What happened was, when Punctuated Equilibrium was coming out, my first solo album on electric, there was a motorcycle magazine which had a record release party for me. At the time I wasn’t playing acoustic, but the guy wanted to make some kind of special draw for it so he advertised it, and at the end of the ad for the party he said that I would do a half-hour acoustic set at the end. He didn’t even ask me; he just dropped me in it, but it’s kinda funny ‘cos I agreed to do it anyways even though I wasn’t really prepared. I watched the footage of that… When I saw it back I said, “If I ever do this again I’m going to be more prepared.” What I did was, that winter, I sat down with an acoustic and wrote some more meaningful songs and that went on to become Adrift. After the bassist on Punctuating Equilibrium, John Blank died, unexpectedly, and we were due to start a tour with Clutch literally days after it—I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether just to get lost or somethin’. But the drummer, John-Paul [Gaster] from Clutch and Punctuated Equilibrium said, ‘Why don’t you get on the bus with us and just play acoustic, and just support the whole show on acoustic? Play a half-hour set and take a little bit of the cut of you’d get with Punctuated.’ And that sorta got me doing it, and I realised that not only was it easy but it was pretty rewarding. A lot of people had no idea I even played electric guitar, and people were coming up and trying to buy a record, which of course I didn’t have. Those songs went on to become Adrift.
So it was really John-Paul Gaster who made you do it full-time?
It was going from the fat into the fire, and I gotta thank John-Paul a lot because he had a lot of time for me; he pushed me. I mean, playing acoustic guitar to a Clutch crowd? And he said, “Well c’mon, we’ve had a lot of people do it.” And that was not a reason not to do it, just so I wouldn’t be trashed by the crowd.
Did you write on acoustic before? Has your writing process changed much?
It depends where I’m at; if I’m at my house in LA I’ll probably be fucking around with my acoustics, or I might be fucking around with my electrics—I got a really cool little Silvertone 2×12, the amp’s like a 35-watt thing, and that’s really cool to use in the house. So I’ll either be writing with my acoustics or playing through something like that when I come up with an idea. I usually get a riff and then at the same time I’ll get a few different ideas for song titles. Sometimes you’ll be dry for ideas and then BANG! The whole song will hit you in one day. It’s what I call divine inspiration, and what I’ve noticed is that seems to happen to me more often when I’m sick. I don’t get sick very often but, occasionally, if I’ve had the flu or just laying around recovering sometimes it’ll just hit you all at once. Usually I’ve got a riff flowing around, some lyrical ideas and a title and I’ll match the riff to the title and once it clicks in my brain I get the music finished first. Usually, if I am in a recording studio there’s at least one or two songs that I’ll tweak, a few words here and there. There’s usually one or two songs that need a tweak before they’re perfect. Sometimes it happens quick and sometimes it is a slow crawl, but I’m just happy I still have the ideas.