Skateboarders are used to hopping fences, sneaking around and trespassing to get to the perfect spot. So it makes sense that the band The Shrine, a trio of shredding musicians and skaters, brought that same "get in, get it and get out" mentality to their initial renegade gigs (these guys definitely have bolt cutters in their van).
Guitar player Josh Landau explains, "These kids do these bike rides at night, where up to a thousand of them take over the streets. We played a few of them. We'd rent a generator, set up in a parking lot ten minutes before they would arrive, and we'd jam out as quick as we could before the cops got there. Sometimes the cops would be following the bikers and so we'd get shut down right away, which is what happened at CVS. So we packed up and went to the roof of a Best Buy parking lot near by and got away with it there."
Landau was quick to point out that they're not part of the growing bike scene, "We were just a distraction on the rides. We ride skateboards."
From Venice, Calif., Landau grew up skating as did his band mates Court Murphy and Jeff Murray. Landau was behind the most recent draining of the famed Gonzales pool, made famous by legends Tony Alva, Ray Flores and Stacy Peralta back in the 70s.
"I first skated it after they made 'Lords of Dogtown' there when I was fourteen. But then, after the movie they had plenty of money, so it was filled for swimming for the last six years. One day, last year, my dad was walking our dog and he calls me and says, 'You know that house is for sale.' I live on the same street, so I walked down there and checked it out. It was full to the top with black, scummy, sludge water. Me, my little brother and our buddy dropped a few pumps in that night and it was empty in the morning. I thought it would get totally blown out and over with in a week, but nobody found out for a few months and it ended up lasting almost a full year."
Although they draw from multiple genres, The Shrine defies the categories of metal or punk, thrash or doom, creating a sound uniquely their own, which they've christened "psychedelic violence." One of the first to recognize and help foster their sound was none other than original Black Flag bass player and co-owner of SST Records, the legendary Chuck Dukowski.
"He dug our band and after we played said to me, 'I'd like to help you guys get your music out there.' I felt like I was dreaming. Chuck's had such a powerful influence on us, our music and attitude, both before and since he became our friend." That fortuitous meeting led to Dukowski producing The Shrine's records and their bands hitting the road together.
For a lifelong Black Flag fan, the Dukowski blessing was truly inspiring and has been audibly impactful for Landau and The Shrine.
"Since fourteen I've sat in my room listening to Flag records and trying to figure out how to get that gnarly hair raising sound. My Marshall amp never did it. One day I was on the phone with Chuck and he asked if I'd help him sell this old Peavey PA on Craigslist, and then he mentions it belonged to Greg Ginn. It's what he used on "Nervous Breakdown," "Jealous Again," "Damaged," all the early records and Chuck has had it ever since. I was practically stuttering when I asked if I could maybe try it out, and he was just like, 'Oh sure come get it.' Totally could not believe it when I picked it from his house. It gives me goose bumps to play it."
"I've used it on every recording we've done, in addition to my Marshall, but next time I think I'm only gonna use it and nothing else. I can't ever play it live cause it goes in and out and starts spazzing out and humming and buzzing. But in my garage I can tweak it to make it work, and it sounds so gnarly."
This series of epic mistakes and lucky breaks have all turned out to be adventitious for The Shrine. Their newly released record "Primitive Blast" was actually recorded back in August of 2011 by accident, as Landau explains, "I set up a few mikes in my garage where we practice. The plan was to just get some rough takes of the new songs to see how they sounded. Afterwards I went back and was like, "Well that sounds like a pretty solid take. That's the song." We burned CD's of it and sent it everywhere we could: record labels, radio stations, magazines and blogs. Eventually I got in touch with Dave Sweetapple at Tee Pee Records and sent him the jams, and he was just like, "Oh yeah, we're into this." We thought we could do it better, booked a real recording studio and started hacking away. But then we got to the point where we were trying to add the little things like accidental guitar feedback and do vocals exactly like they were on the album, which was a fucking awful idea. It was maddening. It was impossible. Meanwhile Tee Pee was ready to go and were stoked on what we had already given them, so we were just like let's roll. We changed the name from "Bless Off" to "Primitive Blast" and the rest is history."
The Shrine celebrated the release of "Primitive Blast" this weekend, playing to a packed house in downtown Los Angeles. The set was heavy, hilarious, fast and loud enough to be heard in a four-block radius. With a wall of Marshalls and a twenty-six inch bass drum, louder is this trio's war cry.
Filmmaker Buddy Nichols, who has produced videos for the band said, "The Shrine has been playing out so much lately, that their set is as tight as a crabs ass." It doesn't get much tighter than that.
The Shrine is opening for Fu Manchu's European tour this September. "Primitive Blast" and their self-titled, first album, "The Shrine", are both available on iTunes.
Video by Six Stair Productions