Don’t get me wrong, I dig Saint Vitus‘ Thirsty and Miserable EP for what it is, but I think the bigger impact of the 1987 release has to be what it said about who the band were and the ground it so brazenly tread upon, namely that of Black Flag. Now, Vitus had been putting stuff out through Greg Ginn‘s SST Records since their 1984 self-titled debut, and maybe having them take on Black Flag‘s track “Thirsty and Miserable,” which appeared on that band’s Damaged full-length in 1981, was an idea that came up as a way of bridging the gap between the ultra-Sabbathian Saint Vitus and SoCal’s punker elite, which famously hated the band. I wasn’t there, but my understanding is it didn’t work.
Nearly 30 years later, however, the Thirsty and Miserable EP holds a special place in Saint Vitus lore. Complemented by the two originals “Look Behind You” and “The End of the End,” the EP’s titular cover isn’t about meeting a fanbase halfway so much as showing the fuckall that had rooted itself into the band’s approach by this time — somewhat ironic since that very same fuckall is precisely what they had in common with the punk of the day. Coming off their third album, Born too Late, the band sound assured on Thirsty and Miserable of their sound and style, and listening to them run through “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Look Behind You” — both of which wind up pretty fast — and the swinging “The End of the End,” they make a convincing argument that if the world doesn’t get it, it’s the world’s problem. In hindsight, it’s easy to hear that statement and view it as being correct. Plus, they talk about breaking into a liquor store, and that’s hilarious.
This is Wino Wednesday number 199 out of 200. Next week we’ll wrap up the series and hopefully end on a positive note. Since this is the last time Saint Vitus will be featured as a part of it, I thought it important to include something special. Enjoy:
I’m going to be honest: I can’t even pretend to know what’s going to happen with Saint Vitus at this point. The legendary doomers are currently two nights deep into a European tour that will carry them to and through Hellfest in Clisson, France, later this month, and following the arrest in Norway last fall of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich (he of Wino Wednesday fame), they’re touring as the four-piece of guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott Reagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez, which actually puts them as close to their original lineup as they can get after the 2010 passing of founding drummer Armando Acosta. Nonetheless, how permanent any of this is, with Reagers stepping in for Wino in the frontman role, what the band’s plans are and whether or not they’ll follow-up studio comeback, Lillie: F-65 (review here), which was released in 2012 on Season of Mist, I simply have no idea.
As a fan of the band, it’s exciting to have Reagers back singing for them much as it was exciting to have Wino singing for them when they first got back together in 2009. Their 1984 self-titled debut is a watershed moment in American doom — as pivotal, essential a release as anything the genre produced before or since — and to think of Reagers singing “Saint Vitus” and “White Magic/Black Magic” again makes it easy enough to get on board. Minus “The Psychopath,” that entire album was aired at Vitus‘ tour-kickoff on May 23 at Red 7 in Austin, Texas, as well as cuts from 1985’s sophomore outing, Hallow’s Victim and their 1995 post-Wino/post-Chritus Linderson/pre-Wino reunion with Reagers, Die Healing. 1995, incidentally, was the last time the band performed with Reagers up front. Two decades ago. Here’s the setlist as reported to the interwebs:
Dark World One Mind Zombie Hunger War is Our Destiny White Magic/Black Magic Trail of Pestilence White Stallions Burial at Sea Look Behind You Mystic Lady Saint Vitus Born too Late
Of those, only “Look Behind You” and “Born too Late” were originally vocalized in the studio by Wino, so Chandler and company have definitely shifted their focus, but as the clip below shows, Reagers is readily able to take on the anthem as well that has become so much a signature of Vitus and what they represent. If you’re one for bootlegs, there’s a killer version of Reagers singing “Born too Late” on Let the End Begin — one of the band’s several not-quite-official live albums — and here’s how he handles it nowadays:
Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” live in Austin, TX, May 23, 2015
SAINT VITUS European Tour 2015: June 1 Livorno, IT @ The Cage June 2 Bologna, IT @ Alchemia June 3 Giavera del Montello, IT @ Benicio Live June 4 Innsbruck, AT @ Weekender Club June 5 Wien, AT @ Rock in Vienna June 6 Zagreb, HR @ Vintage Industrial Bar June 7 Beograd Stari Grad, RS @ Dom omladine Beograda June 8 Budapest, HU @ A38 June 9 Prague, CZ @ Modra Vopice June 10 Warsaw. PL @ Hydrozagadka June 12 Talinn, EE @ Rockclub Tapper June 13 Helsinki, FL @ Nosturi June 14 Tampere, FL @ Klubi June 16 Oslo, NO @ Blå June 17 Götebor, SE @ Truckstop Alaska June 18 København, DK @ Copenhell June 19 Deventer, NL @ BWH June 21 Clisson, FR @ Hellfest Open Air – The Valley
For as long as I have a brain with which to remember it, I will consider myself fortunate to have been at Roadburn 2009 to witness the beginning — barring a warm-up show or two they played before leaving the US — of Saint Vitus‘ reunion. They hadn’t put out a record in 14 years by that point, and you’d have to add five more to that to get back to 1990’s V, their last studio outing to be fronted by Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Even though that Vitus reunion continued for the next half-decade, produced a righteous comeback in the form of 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) and introduced a new generation to some of the finest American doom ever riffed through a Marshall, the beginning moments were a landmark. The start of a band getting its long over-due.
That Wino/Vitus reunion may continue, it may not. Following the former’s arrest last fall in Norway, the band linked up again with original vocalist Scott Reagers, and the future remains uncertain. But even if it is over, Saint Vitus have left behind a mark on their genre that will continue to be felt for years to come — not just for that full-length they were able to put together after so long away, but for the force with which they got on stage and delivered their classic material. It’s toward that classic material we turn for this week’s Wino Wednesday, finding Saint Vitus at Hellfest 2009 in Clisson, France, for “Mystic Lady,” which originally appeared on their 1985 sophomore outing, Hallow’s Victim (on which Reagers sang). Drummer Armando Acosta had already by then left the band prior to his death in 2010 and Henry Vasquez joined guitarist Dave Chandler, Wino and bassist Mark Adams, so even as they kept moving forward, the character of the band changed.
Still, these moments remain something special within doom, proving the timelessness of this band and their work. I hope you enjoy:
Posted in Features on March 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nine days ago, I posted a eulogy for my favorite t-shirt, a Saint Vitus tour shirt purchased at their Spring 2011 run on the Metalliance Tour with Crowbar, Helmet, Howl, Kylesa and The Atlas Moth. I caught the tour in Manhattan at Irving Plaza. Great show and an even better shirt. I was sorry to lose it after four years of regular wearing, and knew that even if I bought another Vitus shirt — as I have done in the intervening years — it wouldn’t ever be the same.
By my count, that post was up for 18 minutes before Lisa Hass, a venerated constituent of the NYC heavy rock faithful and all-around swell lady, left a comment that not only was she at the same show, but she also purchased the same shirt, in the same size, hardly ever wore it and was ready and willing to let it go to a good home, i.e. mine. Well shit. I just about fell off the couch. I informed Ms. Hass that, hell yes, I would be glad to adopt her Vitus shirt as a replacement for my own, and it came in the mail today.
The photo above doesn’t really do justice to how beat my old shirt (on the left) looks in comparison to Lisa‘s much-less-worn-by-me-for-four-years one (on the right), but trust me, there’s a difference. My old one is more or less gray. No holes in the new one — yet. If you’re wondering, yes, I tried it on. Of course it hasn’t had the intervening time to become acclimated to the shape of my gut, but I looked down at the sleeves and they just about covered my elbows and I knew the potential was there. They were just right. As for wearing in the rest? There’s plenty of time.
I’m not sure I can properly convey to you, let alone to Lisa, how deep my gratitude runs for this gesture, or how amazed I am by the generosity — my question about paying either for the shirt or the shipping was laughed off — and the selflessness. Needless to say, I’m going to wear the living crap out of this shirt, but when I do, I won’t just be thinking about how good that show was, or how lucky I was to see it. I’ll think about how lucky I am to know such wonderful people and to be a part of something so supportive and considerate.
Thanks to Lisa and to everyone else who took the time to comment or send condolences. I didn’t expect this story to have a happy ending, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out.
Posted in Features on March 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I have loved this Saint Vitus shirt since the day I bought it, March 25, 2011. If I’m not mistaken, it was the esteemed Kim Kelly who sold it to me, at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. Vitus were playing the Metalliance traveling festival, alongside Helmet, Crowbar, Kylesa, Howl and The Atlas Moth (show review here), and I knew on-sight that the shirt was something special. Had to have it.
A reasonable estimate seems to me that if you’ve seen me in a public place in the last four years, there’s at least a 30 percent chance I was wearing this shirt. Last night, doing my usual toss and turn routine in my sleep, I moved my left art up and under my pillow, felt the fabric give — even a Gildan Ultra Cotton can only take so many years of punishment — and mumbled out a barely conscious “ah shit,” because I knew what had happened and I knew it meant that the already-existing armpit hole had just gone from keep-your-hand-down to unfit-for-public-wearing. It’s a fine line sometimes, but looking this morning definitely confirmed my favorite Saint Vitus shirt is on the other side of it. What a bummer.
This shirt has seen me off to more shows than I care to count, has accompanied me to four Roadburn festivals, two Desertfests, to SHoDs and Stoned Goats and much, much more. It’s been a loyal companion through my move from New Jersey to Massachusetts — anywhere I put it on was home — and together with my Brothers of the Sonic Cloth shirt formed a reliable duo that never let me down.
If I could bear to do anything with it other than stick it in a box marked “SENTIMENTAL CLOTHES,” I’d have it cryogenically frozen until I could clone it or 3D-print myself a new one. Or maybe a Viking funeral. Either ice or fire; some elemental extremity worthy of celebrating it. There are other holes as well, and while the teary six year old in me wonders at the possibility of a patch or sewing the seam back together, my clearheaded, through-the-five-stages-of-grief adult self knows the cotton is too worn and it would never work. The moment has simply passed and it’s time to say goodbye.
I’ve had plenty of good shirts in my day, even other Vitus shirts, but few that I’ve enjoyed as much as this one. Not only because Saint Vitus are an incredible band, or because that was the first time I saw them play “Blessed Night” — the first new song they wrote after getting back together in 2009 — but just because it fit so damn well. I’m not a small guy. I’m not out there wearing a medium. For me, to find a shirt where the sleeves reach or go past my elbow and the chest is wide enough and the shirt itself long enough — it’s not something that happens every day or with every shirt. The Vitus shirt was perfect. It was just right.
Already it was semi-retired, only broken out for shows or other special occasions — I wore it to Thanksgiving last year, pretty sure I wore it out to dinner for The Patient Mrs. birthday — but after last night, it’s time to give up the ghost and put it into full retirement, never to return. Rest assured, it will be missed. Gone but not forgotten.
Saint Vitus, “Blessed Night” Live at Irving Plaza, March 25, 2011
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some pretty surprising word from Season of Mist concerning an upcoming summer European tour for Saint Vitus brings the news that the hugely influential doom outfit will be joined by original vocalist Scott Reagers on the run, including their stop at Hellfest in France this June. I haven’t seen other dates for the tour, will post when I do, but the news of Reagers joining his fellow original members Dave Chandler (guitar) and Mark Adams (bass), as well as drummer Henry Vasquez, is striking in itself. His last recording with the band was 1995’s Die Healing, and even that was a reunion, Reagers having left the band after the release of their 1985 sophomore outing, Hallow’s Victim.
Of course, Reagers‘ taking part in the tour — and it is, at least as of now, just listed as being for this one tour — comes after the arrest of current Vitus frontman Scott “Wino” Weinrich in Norway near the end of their fall 2014 35th anniversary tour, co-headlining with Orange Goblin. What Weinrich‘s legal status might be in Europe and whether or not he’s banned from performing there, I don’t know, but it would explain why Reagers is being brought in for the tour after about 20 years absent from the band.
More as I hear it, but for now, here’s the announcement from Season of Mist with some comment from Vitus themselves:
Saint Vitus have announced that vocalist Scott Reagers will be joining them on their 2015 summer dates in Europe. The band comments: “We will play a special set for the fans; one comprised mostly of Reagers’ pre and post era as SAINT VITUS’ singer. We hope that the Vitus family, fans and friends, are eager to revisit the Reagers sound for this brief tour and we especially thank you for your continued support!” The doom legend has already been confirmed for Hellfest Open Air Festival and more dates will follow in due time.
I saw Saint Vitus on this tour. They played the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn just a couple nights before this Denver, Colorado, show on Oct. 3, 2012. It was one of the best shows I was ever lucky enough to catch, so to find them in top form as they run through this rendition of Black Flag‘s “Thirsty and Miserable” isn’t really much of a surprise. Having released their awaited return album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), earlier in the year on Season of Mist, they were riding high at that point, their on-stage reunion having been going for about three years since initially making their return at Roadburn in 2009. They were a sight to behold there as well.
Since this is, rather unbelievably, the first time I’m writing about Vitus in 2015, I’ll say that the big question concerning the band now is whether or not they’ll follow-up Lillie: F-65 with another studio album. Guitarist Dave Chandler put out word in July 2013 that he and drummer Henry Vasquez were working on new material, but I’ve yet to hear of anything newer than the last record being played live, and though the band has done a couple reissues through Season of Mist, there’s been no real update on progress for what would be their ninth outing. Last Fall, when Wino was arrested in Norway near the end of Saint Vitus‘ 35th anniversary European tour and subsequently entered rehab, he made a statement that noted several projects in the works. A new Vitus record was not one of them.
Chandler, Vasquez and bassist Mark Adams finished the last several shows of that tour as a three-piece, and while a new photo of the band hoisting liquor bottles in unified toast was posted on Feb. 1, I don’t actually know when it was taken or what their plans are moving forward. An air of mystery, perhaps, and obviously that feeds fan intrigue, but it would be cool to get some kind of advisory or status update from Saint Vitus, just to figure out where they’re at.
I’ll keep my eye out. For now, enjoy this multi-cam capture of “Thirsty and Miserable” from Denver and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus, “Thirsty and Miserable” Live in Denver, CO, Oct. 3, 2012
I’ve been kicking around the idea lately of ending Wino Wednesdays. I mean, it’s been over three years. We’ve covered an awful lot of the man’s career with The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Shrinebuilder, Premonition 13, solo band, solo acoustic, guest spots, and so on, and aside from having run a decades-long gamut of the available videos, it’s starting to feel a little fanboyish. Don’t get me wrong, I dig Wino‘s work a lot, but I’m not trying to stalk the guy. 162 weeks later, I worry it’s getting to be a bit much.
Last week, Scott “Wino” Weinrich got arrested in Norway with what turned out to be 11 grams of of meth. Not an inconsiderable amount. He was deported back to the US, which left the remaining three members of Saint Vitus to finish out the last few shows of their 35th anniversary co-headlining European tour with Orange Goblin on their own. They did it, and from what I’ve heard they were pretty good, but no question it wasn’t the victory lap they had in mind. The whole situation was a bummer on just about every level, and it brought to mind a refresher of just how rampant addiction is in this community. Everything from meth to coke to prescription abuse to beer to vinyl, doom appeals to those who have a habit of forming habits. All the more reason to watch out for your friends and hope they do the same for you.
Wino issued a statement yesterday to Decibel saying he’s entered rehab for treatment and he’ll be back next year with a new Wino & Conny Ochs release, a new solo album, a new webshop and a biography. That’s all well and good — except perhaps for the biography, which much to my personal disappointment I didn’t get to write — but the important thing is that he gets himself well first. New records and projects are cool, but life needs to take precedence. On behalf of this dinky website, I wish Wino all the best in the challenge ahead of his recovery. We’ll be here, continuing to pull for him each week, for the foreseeable future.
Here’s that statement:
At this time I feel it is necessary to release an official statement of the facts in regard to my recent deportation from the country of Norway. First, I want to apologize to all Saint Vitus fans, and to my band members and crew for my lapse in judgment that ultimately resulted in me missing the last six shows on our Born Too Late 35th anniversary European tour. On November 9th before noon just over the Norwegian border, I was arrested for possession of an illegal substance. I take full responsibility for the consequences of my actions. The other members and crew were unaware of my substances use. I was truthful with the authorities, and initially sentenced to 16 days in jail minus the three initial days immediately following my arrest. On those days I was in solitary confinement, with no reading or writing material and fed solely bread water. Despite these conditions, I was treated respectfully and cordially by all Norwegian authorities. Initially, I believed I would be fined, allowed to continue the tour, and upon its end, I agreed to return to Norway to finish my sentence. I was disheartened to realize that I was to be deported straightaway back to the US, and not allowed to finish the tour. I sincerely regret the inconvenience and loss incurred by everyone involved with these gigs, the inspiring co-headlining Orange Goblin, our booking agent, promo folks and the venues, and of course fans and ticketholders. I want to salute the members of Saint Vitus for carrying on with these shows without me, and proving admirably the class of true road warriors they are. Again, my deepest apologies to all. After several productive years of sobriety, the rigors of almost nonstop touring and life’s circumstances led me to develop a dependency that has become detrimental to my health and now, my freedom. As of now, I am currently off the road, and actively engaged in treatment.
And THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES….
I will continue my course of creating music and art. Early next year you will see the release of “WINO AND CONNY OCHS” new full-length recording, “FREEDOM CONSPIRACY” on Exile on Mainstream records. Also on the near horizon: A full-length Wino solo acoustic recording, the launch of my art and music web store, and my no holds barred biography.
Thanks to all who Believe! Wino, November 18th,2014
And to keep with Wino Wednesday tradition, here’s Saint Vitus doing “Saint Vitus” in Stockholm, Sweden, at Wino‘s most recent show with the band:
Saint Vitus, “Saint Vitus” Live at Debaser Strand, Stockholm, Nov. 8, 2014