THE OBSESSED “A Sacred Obsession” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

Everything that goes around, comes around. The Obsessed are no exception to the rule.

This band was doom before doom was cool. Dating all the way back to the dawn of the 80’s, a time when the Good Doctor was still in junior med school, the band created by Scott “Wino” Weinrich has always paved a path of fat, fuzzy riffs, slower tempos and soulful Ozzy-like vocals. In the early 90’s, it looked like the band might be on the cusp of something big. Their album “The Church Within” was released on a major label and had a sizable buzz to it. But the metal market imploded, major label politics reared their ugly head and Wino’s personal troubles exploded. The Obsessed was no more.

Until just a few years ago, when Wino decided to revisit the scene of his past triumph. A strong set at Maryland Deathfest 2013 got a warm response. And then the band got signed to indy powerhouse Relapse Records, where they are currently working on their comeback album “Sacred”. Could The Obsessed regain their status decades after it melted away.

New bassist Dave Sherman sure thinks so. This veteran of the doom wars has been around the block a time or two himself, most notably with his long running band Earthride. Now he’s got a new posse and Dave is pretty psyched about it. Time for a chat to see what the future holds for The Obsessed…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: How does it actually feel to be a member of The Obsessed?

DAVE SHERMAN:  Oh man, it’s an honor to do it! I’m pretty much ecstatic about it. Now I’ve played with Wino for years and years before but in Spirit Caravan. But now that we’re in The Obsessed, it’s a whole new ball game.

WC: Does it feel odd to be an actual member of a band that influenced you years ago?

DS: Yeah, absolutely, man. I was kind of freaked out when we made the announcement but when I was riding in a car with Wino, he just said, don’t worry about anything, brother. You’re the man for the job and I know you can do it. He kind of gave me a little bit of his back, you know what I mean? HE gave me the “attaboy” kind of thing…you can do it! Obviously I can play the songs, but the whole feeling of switching over to The Obsessed was a big deal for me. It was a dream come true! When you’re growing up, you listen to The Obsessed and go, man, what a heavy cool band! You’re just doing your life thing and then you get a big birthday gift. YOU WON! “Tell him what he’s won, Don Pardo…” (laughter) “You’ve won the bass player position in The Obsessed!”

WC: If you’re in the American doom metal scene, that is the prize!

DS: It is, it is, man. The actual stars of this genre are Pentagram and The Obsessed. They were doing it before Sleep, before anybody.

WC: You played with Wino before, but is the chemistry you have now with him in The Obsessed significantly different?

DS: Ahhh, it’s the same, but the drummer is making a big difference. Brian is just the right guy for the job. He goes back with Wino to 83, before even I knew him. He was a kid that grew up watching The Obsessed and watching Wino write a lot of the old songs like “Sodden Jackal” that were popular but never really got out there. Those old songs are on B-sides and the “Incarnate” collection. Brian actually watched Wino develop these old, old songs way back then.

WC: It’s been a long time since the last actual Obsessed album. Do you have a huge backlog of material or are the songs you’re coming up with relatively recent?

DS:  We’ve written almost half the record. We’re going to re-do some of those old old songs but we’ve got some other ideas, too. We just signed to Relapse. Right after the Doomfest in Maryland, we plan on going into the studio and start to make the record. The record’s going to be called “Sacred” and that’s the name of one of the new songs we’re playing on this tour. “Be The Night” is another new one that’s out there now.

WC: I just heard that one. It’s real punchy and to the point.

DS: Yeah, yeah, it’s kinda punky. It’s fast, it’s not crawling around like Saint Vitus. Not that slow isn’t good but sometimes people want to hear something more up-tempo. It gets the blood boiling a little more. 

WC: The roots of the Maryland doom metal scene actually extend back into the punk and hardcore scenes of the 80’s.

DS: Oh yeah, The Obsessed played with Bad Brains and Void and all these punk bands. There would be all these skinheads watching your set. We kind of adapted to a little of that as far as the speed and tempo…we’d play the occasional up-tempo songs. The punks actually started to like our slower songs. They were like, hey, these guys got long hair and don’t shave, but they’re playing the music I like!

WC: It’s not like the doom was commercial, either. They probably liked the fact that it was not trendy at the time.  Is “Be The Night” typical of the new stuff you’re coming up with?

DS: It’s going to have a lot of variety. There are a couple of fast songs, a couple of really slow ones, there’s some melodic stuff on there. It’s gonna have some doom, some really dirge-like stuff. We are going to redo that old song “Sodden Jackal”, that one’s pretty slow.

WC: 22 years is quite a long time between albums. Is this the logical successor to “The Church Within”?

DS: Yeah.  A lot of Spirit Caravan songs that were on “Jug Full of Sun” were originally going to be on “The Church Within II”, like “Fierce Machine” and a couple of others. We put them on “Jug Full of Sun” because the second Obsessed album never came about. 

WC: As far as the lyrics go, is there an emotional theme running through the album or is everything pretty separate and by itself?

DS: Well, it’s pretty separate but as far as words go, Wino always makes it mean something, it’s not just words. It’s pretty deep when he writes it. It’s not tongue in cheek shit, it’s something to think about. Not just words that rhyme. He actually makes sense with his words and they’re deep.

WC: He’s certainly been through a lot.

DS: Yeah, he’s got a lot of stuff going on, man.He’s been a road dog forever. He’s a smart man…really intelligent guy. Well read. He’s well travelled and knows about a lot of culture. He’s had contact with every culture in the world.

WC: Right now, doom metal and stoner rock is a lot more accepted now than when the last Obsessed album came out.

DS: Back then, man, no one would show up to the shows. Ten people would show up, Now people like Pentagram and us, there’s a lot of people showing up, It’s taken a turn. All these bands like The Sword and Weedeater , people are really liking us now. They’re digging it because there’s a lot of feeling to it. And the guitar tones are there, too. It’s not that tinny ass guitar tone….we’ve got that really thick guitar tone. It’s come full circle for the genre, for sure.

WC:  Last year I talked to Lee Dorrian and he talked about the doom scene coming full circle. When he started Rise Above Records, it was everything he could do just to keep it going…

DS: Keep his head above water, sure…nobody was buying this shit back then. (chuckles) Now it’s like, oh my God, as soon as that motherfucker hits, they want to buy it.

WC: I attended Maryland Deathfest in 2013 and there was a huge doom presence at that show. Pentagram played there…

DS: I was there. Down, Sleep, The Obsessed…

WC: Pagan Altar was even there…

DS: Oh yeah! And then their singer died not too long after.

WC: That was a band I never thought I’d see. And now that I did see them and then that happened, it’s not gonna happen again. That was a show that was a breakout for doom metal. There was just as much a presence for doom as for any other genre.

DS: It kept pace even with Venom. Sleep was so good, Pentagram was a blast. It was a lot of doom. The Obsessed was great that day. I was standing alongside the stage with Dixie Dave, believe it or not, drinking to high heaven and smoking a joint. We were standing with Al Cisneros and it was like , I was thinking, this is like seeing the Jimi Hendrix Experience of our day, our time. Now of course I was as high as hell.It just blew me away. Sleep was so good.

WC: To this day, that’s been the only Deathfest I’ve seen and it was an adventure. It was a horrible experience getting there but there were so many memorable moments. One of them was Sleep playing. I looked out on that huge crowd and the way people were swaying was phenomenal. Not a circle pit or headbanging…

DS: No, people don’t pit for these bands. You can’t really move like that to them.

WC: It was like watching a field of human grain…

DS: Yeah, a pulsating kind of thing.

WC: How did your deal with Relapse come about? Was that something that took a while to work out or were they the first people to approach you?

DS: We had interest from several labels…Metal Blade, Peaceville. We had a bunch of offers, but this seemed like the best one. Relapse is behind us 150%. They’re gonna make it really good for us and they’re giving us some dough to get this ready. The merger with them is going to be awesome, man. We’re using the producer and the engineer who worked on “Luck of the Corpse”, the first Deceased record. That was one of the very first Relapse records. He’s a good friend, he ran Southforest and Black Cat Studios, he’s gonna be the man.

WC: That’s almost like going back to the future.

DS: Right, man, everything’s like going back and back to the beginning.

WC: You guys are touring right now. How’s that going?

DS: Oh, it’s going fuckin’ wonderfully, man! Crowds are good…there’s a couple of low turnouts, but most of the crowds have been great. A lot of people are into it and they’re ready for The Obsessed.

WC: You’re a man of many projects.  Outside of your old band Earthride and now The Obsessed, what would you say was your favorite band or project?

DS: Well, now it’s The Obsessed for sure. But  of the other project, they were great, I’ve got a lot of praise for them, but I’m totally focused on this right now. This is almost the last chance for me, the last chance to be as successful as, say, Clutch. Just so you can make a living from this shit. So I don’t have to get up at the ass crack of dawn and have somebody barking down my throat all fuckin’ day and telling me what to do.

WC: It’s tough to make a living strictly from music now.

DS: Oh man, unless you’re already huge or you tour continuously without a break. I’m an electrician by trade and I’ve been working at it for years. But with the money we’re getting from the label and from this tour, I don’t think I’m going back!

WC: I sure hope that works out for you. Are any of the other bands you’re involved with, like Weed Is Weed that you’re going to keep up with or will it be only The Obsessed from now on?

DS: We’re going to have another Weed Is Weed release coming up with Henry Vasquez working on the record. It’s gonna be called “The Bong Remains The Same”…(laughter). I’ll see him tomorrow and we’re going to talk about it, maybe see when we’re gonna work on it. It should be out later this year. We’re gonna try and do some new songs, but I am mostly focused for now on The Obsessed. Maybe in a year or two, I’ll focus more on that, do a few gigs, maybe even tour for Weed Is Weed. It will be a 5 song EP that will come out for them, “The Bong Remains The Same”.  We’ve got a song called “Raining Bud” on there, (laughter), another one called “Kleptus Butanus” about stealing lighters and another one called “Drop the Wax”.  There’s an acoustic interlude I did called “Puff”. Black Sabbath has “Fluff”, we’ve got “Puff”. (chuckles)

WC: Just on the title alone, it’s going to be one of my records of the year. (laughs)

DS: Exactly! You can change the water but the bong remains the same!

WC: What was the last release or CD you got just because you wanted to hear the band?

DS:  People give me a lot of music so I gotta think. I think the last one I got was the Internal Void record.  It was “Standing on the Sun”.

WC: Now this can be from any band you’ve been involved with in the past, as well as The Obsessed. Is there a Spinal Tap moment you can share with the readers?

DS: Mmmmm, yeah, OK! I was with Sourvein at the time and we got stuck in Europe. We didn’t have enough money to fly home. We didn’t even have any merch or anything. That really sucked! (laughs) Had to call my wife to fly me back. That was kind of a Spinal Tap moment right there.

WC: Which country were you in?

DS: We were in Italy and that’s when the driver told us we had to stop touring. He drove us back to Amsterdam in Holland and that’s where we got left. 

WC: There’s worse places to hang around in than Amsterdam…

DS: That’s true! I just happened to spend most of my time in the airport. Like for almost 24 hours I was stuck in that airport. And then I got on the plane and the plane didn’t work! The navigational gear was all wrong or something. So I had to get back off the plane. Then when we got back on, we found out the connecting flight was scrapped. We were going straight back to the States. I was like, oh my God! (laughs). It all worked out eventually but it seemed like a thirty hour day. Oh, no fuckin’ way!

WC: It doesn’t rain, it pours…

DS: Oh man, it just kept pouring on that day! (laughs)

WC: Any messages or last words for the fans?

DS: The Obsessed is out there and we’re gonna be working hard. Pick up “Sacred” when it comes out on Relapse, it’s gonna be a good record, something you can listen to and hold on to for a long, long time. Should be out around February 2017.