Scott “Wino” Weinrich, of The Obsessed, possesses the air of a man built to withstand time: His face looks like it was chipped from stone, perpetually stern, with a jaw that juts out like a locomotive’s cattle catcher; his hair, long, silvery and wild, would be the scourge of any barber’s shears, and about the only time he’s not covered in leather or denim is when he’s in the shower—presumably.
If Weinrich has the appearance of a dude whom time forgot, well, maybe it’s for the best. Time hasn’t always been so good to him — he’s frequently found himself ahead of it, earning plenty of accolades as a doom-metal forebear in his long-running bands like The Obsessed, St. Vitus and Spirit Caravan, if not a lot of record sales.
Incubated in conflict in the late-’70s Washington, D.C. punk ranks, the members of The Obsessed were shaggy-haired square pegs in a scene where rocking a flowing mane could lead to fist fights. But the band stood out in the right ways with Weinrich’s seismic riffing; soulful, bloodletting vocals; and equally hard-boiled and searching lyrics — all of which prefaced the late-’90s stoner-rock boom by two decades.
The music was heavy yet emotive, forceful, but underscored with a hint of vulnerability. And while their punk and metal peers were preoccupied with blazing speed, The Obsessed were content to play slow.
Yet, The Obsessed’s luck has been as hard as their tunes: The band has broken up multiple times; it last put out a record in 1994; and, on a financial level, it never did much more than survive.
Now, Weinrich has reconvened The Obsessed with a fresh line-up for its first full-fledged tour this century.
“I must say, I wasn’t really into playing these Obsessed songs anymore,” Weinrich acknowledges over the phone before a recent band rehearsal. “The reunion was floated quite a bit over the past couple of years, but it just never felt right.”
Enter bassist Dave Sherman, who also plays in Spirit Caravan, and drummer Brian Constantino, who once served as The Obsessed’s drum tech in the early ’80s. After joining the phone call, both Sherman and Constantino acknowledge being longtime Obsessed diehards.
“It’s a dream come true,” says Sherman. “I’m in my favorite band.”
“Most people are just writing words just to write them. His words are so deep,” Constantino says of Weinrich. “You can put parts of your life into the lyrics and say, ‘Yeah, I was feeling like that then, and I’m feeling like that now.’”
Currently, the group is three-quarters of the way through writing a new record, The Obsessed’s first since its one major-label release, 1994’s seminal The Church Within.”
“Obviously, the stoner-rock thing hadn’t hit back in the ’90s when The Obsessed was signed, and even though we had some good people working for us back then, we did that one record, and then the record company fell asleep really quickly,” Weinrich says. “That whole situation kind of put a bad taste in my mouth. It was a big letdown.”
That finally changed when some old friends helped breathe new life into The Obsessed.
“Now, things are beautiful,” Weinrich says. “I finally heard the songs the way they were supposed to sound.”brace