Adrift + An interview with Wino

Posted 12 Feb 2011   Interviews

Adrift + An interview with Wino

TBR:  So I just noticed earlier this morning that “Hold On Love” is being released on National Public Radio which is really cool…

WINO: YEAH!  It’s amazing I was really happy this morning!

TBR:  It seems that you’ve always been pretty comfortable sharing your personal views on things, but “Adrift” is an intensely personal album.  For example, there’s a lot of openness about the situation with your family and the situation with your kids in particular.  If I’ve got it right, you’ve been held apart from them for awhile…

WINO: Yeah, that’s right.  It was kind of a situation where my ex-wife, I believe, is a pretty heavy control freak.  She does really, really well with the kids.  She treats them well and loves them and I would never take that away from her but on the other hand, they’re my kids too.  I raised them – I was a stay at home Dad for eight years but we made some mistakes and when we decided to separate, I made a few mistakes too.   I did the things that I did but at the same time, I feel that… it’s really up to her.  I think that we had some words – there was never any violence that happened, we had some words – I said a few things that I shouldn’t have said as did she but basically, she thew the kids into it by putting a restraining order on me and then they wanted me to do these programs but I said “I can’t do them all because I’m going on tour” and I told the judge that but they don’t care.  Because of the fact that I wasn’t there, she was able to walk all over me.  She had a lot of money and because I wasn’t there, she was able to walk all over me legally because I wasn’t there to defend myself.

Now, all of a sudden, she wants me to pay – literally $70,000 to cover her legal fees and I still can’t see my kids until I do all these crazy programs that I’ll never be able to afford.  They know I can’t do it, pile it on and make it harder and harder.  I have music as my outlet and I’m lucky I can talk with them every now and then on the phone every now and then but I can’t even tell you the last time I saw them – I think it was September two years ago.  It’s pretty sad.  I raised them, like I said, and you know…  I changed their diapers, taught them how to talk, how to walk – I did all those things – sent them to school.  Hung out with the ladies at the playgrounds and at the co-op and now, it’s sort of like having your arm cut off.  So yeah, I’m pretty angry about it.  There’s nothing I can do about it which is also kind of frustrating because the trouble I’m in, it’d be almost 100 grand.  I mean, who can pay that?  And of course there’s also the jail time part of it too.  So this is what I got – because I wanted to give him a drum set – that’s what this was all about.

The most important thing is do whatever you can to keep the peace and keep the love between you and your significant other that you have the child with because if you don’t stay together, I’m telling you, it’ll be harder than you ever felt.  You had a child together so you obviously there already with that so just try to keep that and go the extra mile because if you don’t, you’ll regret it, I think.

TBR: What was it that made you feel as though you were ready to share these things?  Is it simply that you tend to write from your life’s experiences or was there something different about where you’re at in life at this point?  Did you feel as though you were taking any sort of risk by doing it or was it pretty comfortable for you?

WINO: Some people though that this stuff was too personal.  Bottom line?  At this point in time, this is all I do.  I’m in the public eye and I mean…  from the first time I took my kids to school the first time, the teachers (gave me a hard time) because of the way I look.  Bottom line is that it is a personal record but it’s my way of dealing with dealing with things.  There is only so much you can do and I feel like this is my outlet so I wanted to sing about it.  You know?  I’m getting walked all over.  I’m not a vengeful person at all but it’s kind of a way for me to exorcise these demons and tell it like it is.  I like to be honest about stuff, you know?  It’s there for the people who buy my music and my fans that care about me and love my music to understand what’s going on in my life.  It is a pretty angry record and it’s all about life and emotion – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not good.  With the music, this is the way I deal with it and I just hope that people can dig it.  Surprisingly enough, it looks like it might be one of my best selling records.  To me, that’s pretty stunning because I had no idea really how it would do.   All I can say is “Thanks” to all the people that made it happen – I’m really kind of stunned.

Wino on going acoustic and recording “Adrift”:

WINO: I was a late bloomer, you know?  Andreas from Exile On Mainstream, who put out the record in Germany…  he was licensed by Volcom who are my new label but Andreas asked me a long time ago, “would you consider doing an acoustic record?”  I wasn’t even considering it at the time and didn’t even give it a second thought but the reality is that he was kind of a visionary because he brought out Elliot Whitmore and Scott Kelly started doing his thing, and all of a sudden, for me personally, the way it came about was kind of through tragedy and humorous songs…

When “Punctuated Equilibrium” came out, a friend of mine who has a motorcycle magazine said “we want to put your bike on the cover”.  He had a little record release party for me – he put an ad in the paper and said at the end of the night, that I was going to be playing a short acoustic set which he didn’t ask me (Laughs).  I wasn’t really prepared to do it but because it was in the paper I said,

“You know what?  How hard can it be?”  so I said I’d do it.  Well, I was very unprepared and it was actually pretty bad, I thought.  I told myself I’m never going to do anything like that again until I’m a little more prepared.  That’s when I sat down and wrote some songs.  I sat down and wrote some songs specifically for acoustic and that’s what became the meat of “Adrift”.

Then, of course, “Punctuated” was doing really well and got a lot of good press and then Jon Blank died unexpectedly, basically on the eve of the US tour with Clutch.  Jean-Paul (Gaster, of Clutch) was also in my band, he suggested we should not let this opportunity with all this good press go, he said “You should get on the bus with us and warm up the whole set acoustic.  That was pretty daunting, especially for Clutch, because Clutch’s crowd is not into that whole long-haired trip.  So it was pretty daunting, but I thought about it for awhile and he gave me a little pep-talk and said “think of it this way:  We took out Kelly Carmichael, (Elliot) Whitmore…” so I agreed to do it, I did it, and once I did it, I realized that hey, this is pretty fun and that it could also be done.  That’s where I started going for it full-bore, full-tilt.

The songs I had written at that time became “Adrift”.  I had the music for “Adrift” around for a long time, actually.  I didn’t actually have the concept and the words yet.  When I finally latched on to that I was pretty happy because I’d been wanting to press up that music for a really long time.  The timing had never been right for me until now – I feel like now’s the time and I really want to make the best and the most of it.

Scott Weinrich aka. Wino

Photo by Taylor Keahey

TBR:  Philosophically speaking, it’s been said that without the darkness, there is no light – and vice-versa.  Heavy music struggles to balance it’s dark side with a light side and from where I stand, you’re one of those guys who’s got that figured out.  What would you say about that struggle to find that balance?

WINO: Well, I used to be afraid to really get in anything that seemed remotely like the dark side.  When I was younger, I had a pretty strange experience – I don’t know that I really want to get into it – but I had a pretty strange experience when I was really young that kind of came out of nowhere and led me to understand that there was dark forces out there that were actively trying to or could actively influence you.  They said that I was called in a dream really young into a black mass and it was frightening.  At the same time, there was some other weird shit going because I was young, with my body.  I think that basically, that colored my (experience) and kid of put me a little bit in fear of the dark side.

Then of course, you had people who wanted to put these huge pictures of Baphomet up while we played and you know, I wasn’t into that.  I just realized that the Rock is not really a place for religious beliefs.  I’m pretty opinionated, in my humble opinion.  So basically, I just decided that religion wasn’t really the place.  Over the years, what I’ve come to believe is that religious denominations, these are all man-made things.

As far as the Bible goes, come on….  I just don’t buy it, man.  It’s been proved to be written and re-written so many times…   I just don’t see how anyone who’s got half a brain could really buy into it all.  Definitely if you’ve done any research at all into the life of Jesus, he belonged to the Essenes of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, then you’ll start to get a picture of what they were dealing with:  not only being oppressed by the Romans and also being oppressed by their own people who were too scared to fight back.

A lot of the Bible is just allegory and basically, there is a lot of code in there insofar as their ideas and how they communicated.  But to take some of those words literally, it’s just mind-boggling.  Not only would it be impossible but it’s also like OK…  if you want to get into talking about the Bible and some of the research and stuff like that, I’m all about the Old Testament anyways.  As I understand it, in my mind, the modern day Bible is derived almost wholly from the Sumerians, right?  We can take it from there, you know?  (Laughs)

TBR:  Who are a few of the people you admire most in life and what do you admire about them?

WINO: Lemmy is one.  I know he’s got sort of a god-like status but the reality is I sort of follow in his footsteps in a way.  He’s sort of the quintessential lifer and to me, to watch him do what he does and to life his life the way that he does, he dedicates his life to the music, sort of, what I have done, sort of…  I just think that he’s somebody to look up to.  He’s got a few vices – we all do – but he’s intelligent, he’s got a great outlook on life, he’s a really personable, nice guy and I think those are great values.  There’s a few other people:  My father is one.  He’s retired now and everything he had a really great work ethic and worked hard for the family and made a lot of sacrifices to give the family what they needed.  There’s certain political people from the past that I admire and a lot of others that I hate.  I dunno…  let’s just stick with Lemmy!  (Laughs)

TBR:  It always seemed to me like you guys are kindred spirits in a lot of ways.  You both had a chance to get down on Dave Grohl’s “Probot” album – and you did the video for “Shake Your Blood” with him.  Was it the first time you guys had really had a chance to rock out together and spend any time together or did you know each other from before?  Has there ever been any talk about getting together to do music together?

WINO: I had met him before, just in a social setting – I’d actually been over to his apartment with a friend of mine and you know, being as inspired as I am by him, I had been carrying around in my wallet – just because I liked it – this treatise he did on organized religion.  He used to write in this magazine called…  umm…

TBR:  Oh yeah!  I remember that shit from back when I was a kid!!  He was holding down an advice column like “Dear Abby” or “Dear Lemmy”.  He had some really solid advice for the kids who were writing in.

WINO: It (the magazine) was Rip! So basically, he nailed it – his Dad was Vicar.  I carried that around and  had it in my wallet and when we went over to his pad, I had a chance to show him that and hey…  you know… I’m a big fan.  It was really cool!  We drank some Carlsbergs.  His bathroom has got the industrial fuckin’ sized can of mouthwash.  Lemmy’s the fuckin’ dude man!  He’s got his collection on his wall of German daggers.  It was amazing, really – a dream come true for me.  Just because you know…  Lemmy is Lemmy!

So when I got a chance to do the Probot record with Grohl, I was overjoyed and then of course, they asked me to basically play air guitar or whatever on “Shake Your Blood” I was overjoyed.  I didn’t play on that song at all, but I was really glad they asked me to do it and I was more than happy to beat my guitar like a wildman and look at all those naked girls.

TBR:  So have you guys ever talked about working on tunes together in the future?

WINO: Me and him have never really had enough of a personal relationship to really consider it although I’d LOVE to do something like that.  I knew him socially through another friend of mine…  I actually sold him a German World War II patch with a red cross.  He’s a WWII buff extraordinaire – he’s a huge collector.  He had me over and dated the piece………..

As far as the “Shake Your Blood” thing goes, when I got the message that Dave wanted to do this record and he wanted to send a song for me to sing and play guitar on, when I got the song, I was blown away ’cause it was right up my alley – it was great.  Then when they asked me to do the thing for “Shake Your Blood” I was like “Are you fuckin’ kidding me?!?”  I was driving with my wife, she was driving, I was talking on the phone and I look over at he and I say, “Video shoot with Lemmy and Grohl” and she was like “Yeah!  Yeah!  Do it!  Do it!”  Then I lean over again and I say, “Fifty naked suicide girls” and she looks at me real long and she says, “You better behave!”

Dave Grohl, Lemmy and Wino

TBR:  You’re a lucky man!  Being able to work with with people you admire so much is a pretty amazing.  How about the session you did with Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Halford – Bullring Brummies on Nativity In Black.  How did that project come together?

WINO: Well I didn’t actually get to meet them when I did that, but the way that came about was that basically, they tried to get Sabbath together for a reunion – Coloumbia records did – and my band was on Columbia at the time so basically, they hired Toby Wright – he’s a great producer – to put together a song and so he chose “The Wizard” and he hired a couple of really kick-ass LA studio musicians to whip up that version with the harmonica and all that shit, right?  So then he (Toby) went to England to sort out the boys and see if they wanted to do it.  He took it to Geezer and Geezer loved it right away.  Geezer loved it so much that he wrote that extra Heavy Metal part that’s there in the middle.  They took it to Ward and he loved it.  Ozzy loved it.  They took it to Tony and he didn’t like it very much at first but he warmed up to it.  Pretty soon they had ‘em all, they had ‘em all in the studio and they all actually did lay down tracks on it – the original band, including Ozzy.

Now I never heard that, but the guys who did hear that was…  well, let me finish the story first.  So all of a sudden, the record company cheese started to come into play.  They couldn’t use Tony’s tracks cause Tony’s record label wanted too much money.  So it basically came to where Iommi’s people wanted too much money, Ozzy’s people weren’t giving anything and so there was going to be no Ozzy and no Tony.  So they called Henry Rollins and they said “Hey, would you want to sing on this?”  For one reason or another, Henry said he couldn’t do it but he said “Why don’t you call Wino?”  Before they had a chance to call me and ask me to sing, Halford already agreed too sing.

Of course, they still had the guitar player problems so what they did was, hire me, I went into the studio and basically brought up Tony’s tracks that they had on tape and I just dialed in this sound with my amp, it was really close to his sound.  Basically, I just followed his tracks.  So then when it was all said and done, it sounded like Tony but it was me playing guitar.  Cool thing was that Toby Wright had a lead on there already from the guy from Fight.  I expressed some interest to try to do a solo on there.  He said, “Well, I’ve got one I like and I’m definitely going to use, but if you wanna take a stab at one, go ahead”.

Being nervous and everything like that, I had a really spastic solo, you know?  I can be kind of a spastic solo anyways, so…  I knew it wasn’t a keeper so I just kinda like got sloppy and let the strings ring out and they make this noise like “WAHAHOOO”.  Well, Toby says to me, “You know, I think I’m still gonna use Jeff’s solo but man, I love the noise you made at the end!”  I was like, “WHAT?!?”  Man, I’ll tell you what he did:  If you listen to that solo, halfway through, it kind of comes to this break where you hear this weird noise – he spliced that noise of me kinda letting everything hang out at the end of the solo I did.

Sadly, at this point, our conversation had gone quite a ways over the time set aside by the good folks at Volcom and we had to part ways.  With that said, TBR would like to offer our sincere thanks to Wino for an amazing conversation and also to the guys at Volcom for making things happen.

If you’re really lucky, maybe you can still get a copy of the limited “cigar box” version of “Adrift” on CD.  Vinyls are limited as well, so good luck!

I got mine directly from Exile on Mainstream

As always, you can buy a digital copy on iTunes