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Venice Skate Punks on Black Flag’s Gear, Accidentally Scoring a Producer & The Worst Acid Trips Ever
If skinned knees made music, they’d wail like The Shrine. Venice skate-punks and all-around acid-dropping metalismos, The Shrine have cultivated a sound that’s one part Black Flag (which’ll make sense in a moment), one part Motörhead and one part psychotic whiskey freak-out. After two years of relentless touring, the band found an (accidental) kindred spirit in producer Dave Jerden, who helmed the console on the group’s latest collection of abrasive tracks, Rare Breed. We caught up with the trio’s guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau to chat about the kick-ass new record, inheriting Black Flag’s PA system and how skate culture has influenced their creative process.
Where did the band originally form?
Court [Murphy, bass] and I met at a house party in Venice. We both went to Santa Monica High School, but he was a few years older and a metal head, I was young and a punk kid. We met somewhere in the middle on Thin Lizzy. After that, I placed an ad for a hitman to take care of some trouble I got into and Jeff [Murray] showed up with drumsticks.
You guys are well connected in the L.A. skate scene. Did you all grow up skating Venice Blvd, the Santa Monica court house, and the Venice Beach ledges?
I didn’t realize it much growing up, but yeah, the real skate stuff was all around me. I surfed the Venice Breakwater all middle school and high school, surfed with Jim Muir and his son Teague who went to school with me. I went to city hall meetings at like 13-years-old to get Venice Park built. Bought my first skateboard at Rip City and hung out at the West L.A. Courthouse when I was 10-years-old and could barely ride. My brother Jason and I would dig through the dumpster behind Hot Rod and take people’s broken boards just because we were so obsessed.
Who are some of your favorite skaters?
Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Gonz, Jason Jesse, Eric Dressen, Lance Mountain. Today, it’s newer dudes like Grant Taylor, Greyson Fletcher, the Nuge and the Vol. 4 crew. My brother Jason, all the dudes we skate pools with like Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski. Dudes I learned to skate pools with like Pat Rat and Blake from Hawaii, that crew.
So coming from Venice, do you identify with what’s going on in the local music scene there? Who are your favorite local Venetians?
Chuck Dukowski and his family. Timewarp Music, Jeff Ho, Juice Magazine and Crap Eyewear. The skater Blake Johnson and Dogtown Skateboards. That’s some of our Venice family, we frequent a lot of East Hollywood places, too.
Are you into any bands from the Cali desert scene like Queens of the Stone Age and Fu Manchu?
We’re really into our friends’ stuff now like Dirty Fences, Hot Lunch, Earthless, Royal Headache and Graveyard. Kadavar, Zig Zags, Isaac Rother and Death Alley, too.
Did you originally want to be pro skaters or were you always enamored with the idea of being touring musicians?
I just wanted to surf forever until we started looking for backyard pools. Trespassing is really fun (laughs). Driving through alleys in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, seek-and-destroy style looking for the ruins of a mansion. Crawling through construction sites to find an empty swimming pool that was built sixty years ago.
David Bowie recently died. Were you all influenced by his music?
Chuck Dukowski is actually the one that got me listening to The Man Who Sold the World. I tripped out on how much it was a hard rock album because until then I had perceived Bowie based on the hits you hear on the radio… man, I fuckin’ love him! I play the “Width of a Circle” riff all the time, I also like the fact that he failed for like eight years and had three different personas before something finally stuck.
Didn’t you guys start out playing DIY shows opening for Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag?
Yeah, we jammed with Chuck a lot when we first started. He’s incredible – still an inspiration to us to put everything you can into whatever it is that you do. When you see him play bass, you’re absolutely stoked.
You have a song called “Tripping Corpse” that’s pretty popular in the skateboard scene. Do you all enjoy tripping acid?What inspired the tripping corpse?
A friend who missed our gig because he donated blood to the Red Cross to get Further tickets. What a bummer! (laughs)
What about the song “Space Stepping” off your new album Rare Breed?
It came out of my mouth while skating the Gonzales Pool in Mar Vista. Someone flew off the hip of the pool and was floating for a second, I just said it and then wrote it down. I wrote some words that had nothing to do with skateboarding and then two years later, we recorded it.
What are the best places to drop acid in California? Describe your best trip.
We had to get to a show in L.A. and were tripping and had to drive the van downtown. We were playing this ghetto warehouse and our friend, this chick Malie, was dancing on the PA speakers the whole time. It turned into a mess, we started arguing with bands over who’s gonna play next and where to put gear. Total bust!
You guys have some really cool merchandise. I dig your raglan tees and the signature skateboard. Who comes up with the ideas for your merch?
Most of our art is done by a friend by the name of Kris Kirk; he designed the wolf on his own.
What are some of the lyrical themes on your new album?
Hitting the nail on the head, walking the razor. Dance, boogie and boogaloo…standing up for yourself and freaking out.
I really like the guitar solo “Pull the Trigger.” What rig were you using when you recorded that bit?
A $150 Japanese Univox Les Paul rip-off. Now Gibson gave me a real one (laughs).
What gear did you use for the rest of the album sessions?
Greg Ginn from Black Flag’s solid state Peavey PA that Chuck Dukowski gave me, also my 1971 Marshall Super Lead.
How did you end up working with producer Dave Jerden on the record?
He went into the guitar shop near my house called Timewarp Music, that’s where we played our first show in 2009. Dave heard our last record Bless Off playing and asked what it was and got my contact info. After that, he came over and started practicing with us and talking about Blue Cheer and Captain Beyond. [editor’s note – dear readers, shame on you if you don’t own the first Captain Beyond LP – it’s an amazing trip.]
Any last words about the album?
It’s the first album we didn’t record ourselves. Check out the ballad “Dusted & Busted.”
photos by Olivia Jaffe