“People talk all the time about how some new band is saving rock 'n' roll,” says a disgruntled Josh Landau, the vocalist-guitarist of the Los Angeles band The Shrine. “It's so silly to hear, and most of the bands are cheesy wannabees. So we said, 'Fuck it! The Shrine's not gonna save anything, we're gonna be the fucking destroyers of rock 'n' roll!'”
The Shrine's annihilative mission continues with its new album, “Primitive Blast,” out this week on Tee Pee Records. Summoning the combined powers of thrash, metal, cock-rock, hardcore and punk, the album's nine songs deliver a brutal double-fist knockout punch (followed by a bash to rock 'n' roll's bloodied skull from a custom-made The Shrine skateboard -- more on this later).
Landau and bassist Courtland Murphy both went to Santa Monica High School in L.A., but they didn't become friends until later. “Court was a big metal-head thrash dude,” recalls Landau. “He had a big beard when he was 15 years old, and he could play all the Slayer solos. I was a 13-year-old freshman straight-edge kid with a shaved head who listened to a lot of Black Flag. Then, four years later, we met at a beach party and went nuts. We both loved Thin Lizzy, so we just started jamming and taking acid.”
Landau also cites UFO, Black Sabbath, the Stooges and MC5 as the roots of The Shrine's sound -- which they refer to as “psychedelic violence” -- and, most importantly, the entire SST roster, from Black Flag to the Meat Puppets. So, when Landau, Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray became pals with ex-Black Flag bassist and SST co-founder Chuck Dukowksi, they were thrilled, to say the least.
“Dukowski's one of my idols,” says Landau. “I played him our stuff and he was totally stoked on it. He said he wanted to help get our music out. I was like, 'What the fuck? No way.' I still get goosebumps when I remember I actually know him.”
Dukowski recorded The Shrine's self-titled debut, which Landau released on Eliminator (the label he started when he was in high school to put out tapes by his first band, the Rabies). Following tours with Dukowski's band, the Chuck Dukowski Sextet, and the stoner-rock band Fu Manchu, The Shrine accidentally recorded their second album in Landau's garage.
During band practice, Landau hit record on what was meant to be a demo called “Bless Off.” Tee Pee then showed interest, and The Shrine tried to re-record the songs for the new album.
“We tried to record it again, but couldn't figure out how to make all the mistakes we'd made on the demo,” says Landau. “All the little feedback things and the random shit we didn't mean to do sounded so cool. So we just said, 'Fuck it, let's just give it to the label.' We didn't want to ruin it by making it perfect.”
"Then, four years later, we met at a beach party and went nuts. We both loved Thin Lizzy, so we just started jamming and taking acid.”
The “Bless Off” demo then became “Primitive Blast.” To celebrate the release, The Shrine had a custom skateboard designed bearing the album art: a teeth-gnashing wolf preparing to attack. (Under the Eliminator banner, Landau also designed decks for the L.A. band FIDLAR, one of their recent tour partners.)
Landau's been skating pools in Santa Monica and West L.A. since he was a kid, so it only seemed right for The Shrine to have a deck. One of his favorite vids is “Fruit Of The Vine,” the classic skateboarding documentary made by Coan Nichols and Rick Charnoski -- the two filmmakers are currently working on a music video for The Shrine that captures a day in the life of Landau's little brother, whom he calls a “ripping skater.”
“We just really like playing loud and heavy rock 'n' roll, hanging out, skateboarding and touring,” says an especially stoked Landau about The Shrine's recent goings-on. “It doesn't get any better than doing these things and doing them really hard.”
Follow Elliott Sharp on Twitter @ElliottSharp for more music news.
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