Photos by Olivia Jaffe
Interview by Jonathan Hay
Confusion magazine: For those not in the know, how would you describe the sound of The Shrine?
The Shrine: A bloody blender on acid rock, buzz metal, and freak punk.
Where did the band form and how did all the members of the band get to know each other?
Me and Court, the bass player, went to Santa Monica high school together, but we didn’t really know each other. When i was 18 I ran into him and a party and we blasted Thin Lizzy out of someones boombox and started jamming the next week, he quit his job working at a bong shop on the Venice boardwalk and we found Jeff .
Let’s go with the most generic question of all, which bands are your influences?
Bill Hicks, Jay Adams, Hendrix, George Carlin, Funkadelic, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Sabbath, Metallica, Minor Threat, Captain Beyond, Cro Mags, Bob Dylan, Pentagram, ThinLizzy, Motörhead…. all the stuff that never got good reviews it seems like.
You had a band in high school called Rabies that put out a few records and went on a few tours. Tell us a little bit about Rabies. Who was in the band and how did that give you experience that helped you out when you started The Shrine?
I was 15-17 years old, we were a hardcore skate punk band with minute long songs. There’s a community for punk and hardcore where people help you out booking shows all over america and all over the world. It was really small but really connected. We toured all of america when I was 17. It was 44 shows in 46 days playing a lot of house shows and basements and we were able to pay for the whole trip because there were a lot of like-minded teenagers into what we were doing, and like us, they were living at home still in high school or barely out of it, so they had money to buy our records and come to our shows and we were able to pay for gas. I can remember in July, stinking hot Austin, Texas sleeping on the floor in an empty room with no furniture with another six dudes and I was sweating so much and bummed out that I brought a sleeping bag cause it was way too hot. I saw a lot of awesome intense bands and learned how to press records and book tours and talk to people and network that shit. It was the only way to survive and that has carried on into The Shrine. It’s the same shit as driving around Beverly Hills hopping into construction sites looking for pools because the skatepark sucks and it’s crowded and it’s not your scene.
The Shrine are a three-piece band. How did you decide to not pick up a lead singer and have the guitarist also handle the vocal duties?
Frustration and desperation, I was ready to start playing shows, all my favorite singers were told they sucked and couldn’t sing by other people and it didn’t stop them… Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Henry Rollins. It’s not up to anyone else except you to decide.
Chuck Dukowski, founder and bassist of Black Flag produced your first recordings. How did you guys meet and how has he helped you with producing your music and as a band in general?
He lives in Venice and his band CD6 played a lot of shows and we jammed with him. Actually Rabies played with his band too when I was 15. We were able to tour and connect with people in a way because of the ground he layed with Black Flag. His attitude and enthusiasm towards life and doing what you want and love to do have been an inspiration and probably will be for the rest of my life. We still go to him with questions and ask for his advice when we’re navigating the depths of hell that’s the music “business”. He’s an ace all the way.
Which other band or bands have helped you get your name out there and hooked you up with shows or tours around the country or world?
Graveyard, Fu Manchu, Red Fang.
How did you first get into skateboarding and then into skating backyard pools? Did someone take you to your first pool or how did you get into it?
My friend in middle school had his pool emptied, I was in 7th grade, I spent the whole day jumping off my board trying to go over the light. I finally committed and pretty much my mind went blank and I slammed super hard. Since then I’ve got a little better. I got to skate it again when I was 17, it was awesome, I got the light and the box.
According to Jocko Weyland who told me he skated the “The Regency” pool with you guys back in 2007, one of you guys can quote lines verbatum from his voice-over in “Fruit of the Vine” (Coan Nichols and Rick Charnowski’s seminal pool skating super 8mm film).
Jocko’s awesome, yea, I’m a big fan, I love his writing and madness. “Fruit of the Vine” changed my life.
Speaking of “Fruit of the Vine”, how did you guys hook up with Coan Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski to film at least two of your videos? Are they your friends or just the guys you envisioned to put together your videos and you made it happen?
Met them in a backyard pool in the San Fernando valley when I was 15 and my little brother was 11. They’re our family now.
As far as the videos go, does The Shrine come up with the concept, or do you just do the acting and the soundtrack?
We meditate holding hands underneath the Venice pier and all the answers just roll in like the tide.
How was your tour in japan?
Japan loves california, we love japan. They get skateboarding and rock and roll. They’re wild.
There’s a few bands with a similar style and sound as you guys, what separates The Shrine from the rest of the pack?
Can’t really say, that’s up to you, we’ve never been part of a scene, there’s not that much of a music scene in Venice anymore. It’s cause we’re like a hardcore diy raw vegan Led Zeppelin tribute rip off jerk off post punk sub-basement boogie guy.
Speaking of “the pack”… how did you end up with a wolf with a hit of acid on his tongue f0r your logo? Is that the connection to the Hendrix guitar influence?
Shit got too intense for a while dealing with shows like that. Playing is so good and it’s like wearing a wild costume and the ice is broken so you can immediately light the fuse and go crazy, but having to drive the van afterwards is too hectic, too much stress. The wolf is by Kris Kirk, He came up with it.
What do you attribute this return of 70s style stoner rock to the 2010s music scene. I know in the 90s there was a kind of revival with bands like Fu Manchu, but now there are whole stoner rock festivals with 20+ bands in different parts of the world?
It probably has a lot to do with the Kennedy assassination, the world’s just been going through some stuff it can’t get over because the violence is too much and should be replaced with guitars.
You put out a lot of vinyl, what’s up with that? Vinyl is back! CDs are out? How many people actually own record players these days. Can you download a digital version of the albums if you buy the vinyl?
Yea all the vinyl comes with download things. The world is fucked. Holding a record is like childhood refusal of adulthood thing. Don’t want to accept that everything is disposable and meaningless.
It appears that The Shrine do a lot of stuff for themselves, and not just relying on a label or tour manager to put everything together. What’s your take on the current diy movement connected to the punk diy ethos?
The diy thing gets confused and people are up their own asses about it. Greg Ginn said he wouldn’t have started SST if someone had been willing to put out a Black Flag record. It’s just the determination to make it happen when no one else is willing to help.
You just got back from Australia, how was the tour? Did you get to skate any of the concrete parks or diy spots?
Australia was amazing, people were so fucking sick, and the shows were wild, we didn’t get to skate ’cause it was raining a lot, but the tour killed, we’re definitely going back there.
Sounds rad. Thanks Josh. See you next time!
The Shrine x Dogtown Skate Deck Collab “I Can’t Control It”
The Shrine. Cologne, Germany. “Primitive Blast”
Filmed by J. Hay
The Shrine. MTC. Cologne, Germany.
Filmed by J. Hay
Originally printed in Confusion magazine issue #11