For a guy widely regarded as one of the founders of a musical style known as doom, Scott "Wino" Weinrich is downright chipper. He speaks unguardedly on any topic, whether it's an innocuous question about his current band or his choice to stop drinking and avoid jail time. "My life is pretty much an open book to anyone who's got a computer," Wino says. "Everywhere you go, once people know who you are, they Google you. And after that? You're Googled."
From LA's Saint Vitus to D.C.'s the Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and newest trio the Hidden Hand, Wino has kept his Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer guitar thickness, somewhere-between-Lemmy-'n'-Ozzy vocals, and burly biker look, while gaining sobriety, fatherhood and middle age. In fact, along with such underground metal bands as Pentagram and Trouble, Wino's string of groups formed the pattern around which whole genres such as sludge and stoner rock grew.
Wino first came to (little) attention when he moved to LA from the Washington, D.C., area to sing for way-out-of-vogue heavy rockers Saint Vitus. "Vitus stuck out like a sore thumb in those days because the punk thing was so serious that they were really looked upon as Spinal Tap," Wino says.
And after three Saint Vitus albums from 1986 to 1990, Wino left the band; moved back to the country's other doom capital, D.C.; and re-formed his first doomy band, the Obsessed—one of the unique bands punkers and rockers were both allowed to like.
"The Obsessed had to prove ourselves to the punk scene. We were so into the energy of it—the New York Dolls and the Dictators—but on the other side of the spectrum, our other favorite bands were Mahavishnu Orchestra, Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad," he says.
A young Dave Grohl was one of these impressionable punks, and after stints in Scream and Nirvana, he returned the favor last year by having Wino appear on his metal studio project Probot.
Two bands and eight years later, the Hidden Hand eventually emerged. While the sound is familiar, the lyrical tone has shifted from the Obsessed's depression and Spirit Caravan's good-vibes spirituality. Much of the Hidden Hand's first two records have a decidedly political emphasis (Wino credits the shift to becoming a registered voter), but as always, Wino's sludgy guitar is at the forefront. And even in his mid-40s, there's no sign of mellowing.
"That's just what's in you from the start," he says. "I've seen artists I thought were really heavy go really light. I don't think I'm going to have that problem. There's something about the power that's just in you."
THE HIDDEN HAND WITH MASTODON, BURNING BRIDGES AND CROM AT THE GLASS HOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA; WWW.THEGLASSHOUSE.US. FRI., 7 P.M. $12. ALL AGES.
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