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Wino Comments On The Resurgence of The Obsessed

Before Scott “Wino” Weinrich joined doom legends, Saint Vitus, he played with The Obsessed out of his home base in Maryland. The group released three full-length albums of premo doom—“The Obsessed” (1990), “Lunar Womb” (1991) and “The Church Within” (1994). The latter album was released via major label, Columbia Records. Just a year later the group broke up.

The Obsessed was by no means the end of Wino’s story. Including appearing on more Saint Vitus records, he fronted numerous bands such as Place of Skulls, The Hidden Hand, his own solo project, an appearance with Dave Grohl and Lemmy on the Probot album and as part of the super group, Shrinebuilder. After The Obsessed dissolved, Wino formed Spirit Caravan, which contained several songs slated for a The Obsessed album that never surfaced.

Now, over twenty years since the last The Obsessed record, the group is back and contains Dave Sherman (bass) and Brian Costantino of Spirit Caravan. The group signed a deal with Relapse Records, released a demo (“Be The Night”) and has embarked on a major U.S. tour. The group plans to record it’s new album, “Sacred” very soon. Wino was on hand in Austin, Texas to talk about this new album/lineup and also shed some light on major events in the band’s past.

Rex_84: The Obsessed is on their first tour in over twenty years. How does it feel to be back on the road with this band?

Scott “Wino” Weinreich: Well, I’ve been touring with other bands. It feels really good, actually. Things kind of crystallized when we got our new drummer, Brian [Costantino]. We did a tour last with Spirit Caravan with Henry [Vasquez] from Vitus sat in for us and also Eddie [Gulli] from The Obsessed last year, but we’re just coming off the wagon with that. I’ve known Brian for a long time. He was Eddie’s tech, but we never knew he could play drums. I actually think it’s kind of a relief for Eddie. I don’t think Eddie really likes to play live. He’s had a few issues. I’ve been asked to do The Obsessed reunions for a long time, but I never had the desire to do it. I just really wasn’t into it, but once we started jamming with Brian, everything clicked. The songs are now being played as I’ve always heard them in my head. I’m super happy! Now I’m way into it. The music is timeless. I think it’s cool to be out here doing it.

Rex_84: How do you feel about the touring cast of Karma to Burn and Atomic Bitchwax?

Wino: I think it’s cool. Atomic Bitchwax fell off because of an injury, but a band from Canada called Sierra picked up their spot and they’re great guys, so it’s been really fun. All three bands get along really good and it’s been really cool.

Rex_84: You reunited to play Roadburn in 2012 and Maryland Deathfest in 2013. How were those performances?

Wino: Both with different people. The Roadburn was with Guy [Pinhas] and Greg [Rogers]. That’s the “The Church Within” lineup. Guy can’t tour the U.S. Greg’s pretty locked down with his job, too. MDF was with Greg and Reid Raley playing bass. Reid Raley was the bass player in the band, Rwake from Arkansas. It’s kind of the same situation where Reid is working a lot and Greg is really not wanting to tour, so I really thought it was put to bed at that point, but people still want me to do it. They still want The Obsessed. Like I said, I just had no desire to do it, no desire to play these songs, but now I feel really energized. I feel really into playing these songs. We wrote new songs. Things are going really well. We signed a licensing deal with Relapse Records at the beginning of the tour. We already have almost all the material for a new full-length.

Rex_84: Can you tell your fans a bit more about the full length?

Wino: It’s going to be called “Sacred.” It’s probably going to be between eleven and thirteen songs. As soon as we get back from this tour, we have about two weeks before Maryland Doom Fest on June 24th. After that, we’re going straight into the studio to start tracking. We’ve got ten days locked up to do the bass and drum tracks, initially. With any luck, it should be finished and out, officially released in February. That’s what we’re hoping.

Rex_84: What kind of contract do you have with Relapse?

Wino: It’s basically a licensing deal where we kept our publishing and they gave us a substantial amount of money to do one brand new one and one of outtakes and demos that we’re going to put together. It should be pretty cool, stuff that never saw the light of day. Then they gave us some dough for a video. It’s pretty cool. It’s a great deal. I’m happy to be on that label.

Rex_84: You have a demo song that’s available on the Internet called “Be The Night.” Can you give us some of the details about writing and recording this song?

Wino: We did it with this guy, Rob Queen, that I knew from growing up. He’s in our area. He brought his equipment out to Brian’s house. It’s fairly remote. It’s where we rehearse. It’s pretty nice. We basically set up like we normally rehearse and basically recorded it live with some separation. Rob brought his stuff to Brian’s house to do that. I don’t really like doing demos because if you’re going to spend all the time recording, you might as well do it right and release it, but the label wanted to hear something. It came out really good quality, so we decided to use it. The song will probably be rerecorded for the new record, but both “Sacred” and “Be The Night” we recorded like this. You’ve heard “Be The Night” and we’re not really sure what “Sacred” will be used for, but we’re going to use that version for something.

Rex_84: The Obsessed started out under the moniker, Warhorse in 1976 and changed to The Obsessed in 1980. Did this name change signify a change in style or lyrical themes?

Wino: There was another Warhorse, later on in the stoner rock days when
Shaun [Flynn] was around. I used to play with him all the time. We knew we needed a better name, a stronger name and we just kind of came up with this. The original bass player of The Obsessed was a guy named Mark Laue. He is a couple years older than me. He is kind of my mentor in a way. He taught me a lot. He taught me a lot about electronics. He taught me a lot about gear. He’s not one to tour. It was me and him that came up with the name. Neither one of us can remember who actually came up with the name The Obsessed, but one day we were both walking together talking about it and we came up with it. I think it might have been him. He said it was me. Either way, that’s the name we liked. People seem to like it.

Rex_84: You recorded first album for Metal Blade but it never surfaced? Why did it not come out on that label?

Wino: Well, if you remember, his deal at the time was you do one song for his “Metal Massacre” series and you get a full length. We did the song and we had also recorded the full length on our own dime. We were totally ready to go, but what happened was, if you know that record “Metal Massacre 6,” on that record was when thrash hit (thumps table). Our song “Concrete Cancer” was the slowest song on that record. On that same compilation is the debut of Nasty Savage, Dark Angel, Possessed. I could go on and on. Basically, that was what was happening and the writing was on the wall. Brian Slagel did not give us our full length. I still had it, recorded and ready to go. We had already paid for it ourselves. We were just going to license it to him. I had it in the can and a I joined Saint Vitus and I played it for the German label Saint Vitus was on, Hellhound Records, one day and they said they would really like to release it. We said ok. So when I went over to do the “V” tour with Vitus, we did the whole tour and I carried the tapes with me. I carried the master tapes with me. Basically, I told the Hellhound guys I would really like to release that record, too, and they agreed to do it. They said, “you’ll have to tour.” I said, “I’ll tour if David [Chandler] is ok with it.” He said he was okay with it, but later said he wasn’t, but that’s another story. Bottom line, that album, the first Obsessed record, saw the light of day sometime later on Hellhound Records.

Rex_84: How did Hellhound Records treat you guys?

Wino: Hellhound Records was really great. When we first went over to Europe, we were amazed at how well people were treated. We were used to playing in front of fifty people. The first Saint Vitus show was in front of about five hundred people. When The Obsessed first went over, Saint Vitus had begun to carve a little niche. Then The Obsessed record was out so we did pretty good. It was pretty fun. We played some good shows and they took good care of you there. There were a few issues with SST because they never really counted us properly. Some records we never even signed contracts for, so we weren’t really worried about fucking up that deal because we were basically off SST. That was it for SST.

Rex_84: Did you have a deal with Earache when you were on Columbia Records when you released “The Church Within” or was that just with Columbia Records?

Wino: It was just with Columbia. They might have licensed us, but I’m not sure. Jim Welch, he was Earache I believe. He was the guy who first discovered and liked The Obsessed who then turned on Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth to The Obsessed. Kevin Sharp then turned on Josh Sarubin, who was the A & R guy for Columbia. Jim Welch, man. He was the man. He told somebody, “Hey, you’ve got to pay attention to these guys.” Then Kevin was around and he hammered that a bit harder. The new rep for Columbia, Josh Sarubin came to watch us play in L.A. and the next thing you know we were showcasing for Columbia Records.

Rex_84: Do you feel Columbia gave you the proper promotion?

Wino: They fell asleep pretty quick. A lot of people said a major is going to fuck you over, but to me at the time, it was a license to fly. They were paying for a 24-hour rehearsal room. We were all drawing salaries. They were paying us late, though. My landlord didn’t even believe we had a record deal because I couldn’t pay the rent on time. We were on a major label, but we never really had the money. It’s just normal shit. We had to pay our lawyer, she charges like $250 an hour, we had to pay her $350 to write a letter to Columbia saying if they didn’t pay us on time, we were going to breech. That’s normal the check goes to one order to be signed and then goes to another order to be signed. Eventually, I knew if we didn’t have a hit song we wouldn’t stay with that label. I was really pushing for the song “Streamlined” to be the single. I’m going to chalk it up to not being old enough, being too immature at the time to really put my foot down. Being a three-piece band we were always a democracy and we came from a punk rock ethic, so basically we made two-way decisions. Now, in hindsight, if I had put my foot down and said, “Fuck that! “Streamlined” is going to be our single. It’s not something we wrote as a pop song; it’s something we wrote that we liked and they liked.” But instead of doing that, I let the guys have their way. They said, “Well, if it’s something that is not that indicative of our sound, let’s make “Blind Lightning” our first single.” Basically, we shot ourselves in the foot because it’s a five-minute dirge where the vocals don’t even start it. That was a mistake that I will attribute to my youth.

Rex_84: You split a year later. What happened then?

Wino: They exercised their option for our next record, which was fantastic. We were very happy about that. But then it came to the caveat. The caveat was we had to re-demo to be more radio friendly. So what do you think we said? Fuck you! We walked away from the label. We refused to play the corporate game. They signed us on the strength of what we were and what we believed in, and that was the music that we played. We don’t compromise. I don’t like to compromise. I’ll come by any other situation to make it work, but I can’t compromise on the music. They wanted us to re-demo to be more commercial in order to get to even do the next record, so we told them to fuck off. A lot of songs that were going to be on that The Obsessed record ended up being on the Spirit Caravan record “Jug Fulla Sun.” Almost all of those were Obsessed songs: “Melancholy Grey,” “Fear’s Machine,” “Lost Sun Dance,” and a couple I had written in the Spirit Caravan era, too.

Rex_84: Earlier this year you announced that this lineup would become The Obsessed and you would play material from both bands. Please explain your decision to absorb the two bands?

Wino: We got Brian. Even though Brian was technically in Spirit Caravan, we never really did any show with Brian. When Brian came into the band, everything completely changed. Now we have the camaraderie and the chemistry to really make it happen. All of a sudden we started playing those old songs and they just came to life for me. They’re how I always heard them in my head. He’s able to execute them so perfectly. We played L.A. the other night. Greg Rogers was there. He was the drummer that played with me most of those days. He played on “The Church Within” and “Lunar Womb.” Greg watched Brian and gave him the thumbs up. For that to happen, especially for Brian, it was really nice because a substitute in the band heard from the original drummer that he did a good job. He plays some of that stuff pretty close to the way that Greg did it, but some of the old songs he remembers that we did on tour with Greg like “The Church Within” like wax museum stuff he plays the old way, like “Neatz Brigade.” He has his own thing. I can’t even say enough good things about Brian. He’s really breathed life into this project. He’s inspired me. I feel like I’ve got a new lease on the whole trip.

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An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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4 Comments on "Wino Comments On The Resurgence of The Obsessed"

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1. Drum_Junkie writes:

Nice interview! The Church Within is an underrated album IMO. Wino has a gift for riffs almost on par with Iommi.

# Jun 14, 2016 @ 2:19 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. Rex_84 writes:

"The Church Within" is totally underrated. Before I ever heard about Wino or Saint Vitus, this journalist gave me a promo copy of that album on tape. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I checked it out in my car. I was on the fence at first, but subsequent listens kept me from changing out the tape. Now it's one of my favorite doom albums. They mostly played songs from that album, too. Check them out if they come your way, Junkie.

# Jun 15, 2016 @ 11:33 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. Pigford writes:

I got turned on to the Obsessed after they'd broken up ...I did manage to get a copy of the Church Within on CD...I've followed all of Wino's projects over the years & liked them all but nothing could touch those Obsessed songs...I was lucky enough to see them live this past Friday June 24th at the Maryland Doomfest ( their 1st show on MD soil) man they sounded awesome! I will go see them every chance I get & I recommend you do the same 🤘🏻

# Jun 26, 2016 @ 7:14 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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4. I'm not Jesus Christ writes:

I saw The Obsessed in concert one time, back in '94 with White Zombie and Prong. It was an awesome show. It's good to hear that they're back together and hopefully they'll come back to California soon.

# Jun 26, 2016 @ 11:45 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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