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And I was like Damn! That's the great Wino asking ME
what I want to do with a band! The legendary Wino!

Interview with Spirit Caravan.
There are few figures more revered in the world of old-school doom than Wino, guitarist of Spirit Caravan. For doomsters and stoners alike, he needs no introduction. But he is only one third of the monolith of power that is Spirit Caravan; drummer Gary Isom and bassist Dave Sherman complete the lineup. Both are veterans of noted D.C.-area doom bands such as Iron Man and Wretched. Dave also sings for Earthride, a quartet of veteran doomsters whose live shows provide an inspiring wall of down-tuned sound. They released their first EP last year. Father Doom spoke with Dave at The Hurricane in Kansas City, Missouri during this summer's Spirit Caravan Tour.

Allright! Just a few questions for you, Dave. Would you describe Spirit Caravan or Earthride as doom metal, and if you would, what does that term mean to you?

"I'd describe Earthride as doom metal, but I think Spirit Caravan is more ROCK, you know what I mean? Just rock n' roll. Not stoner rock, but just out and out rock. To describe that, I'd say Earthride is just tuned a little lower, a little bit doomier. Spirit Caravan is a little more uplifting. You get the best of both worlds, but its not like one is better than the other. Both are good, both are positive. But I'd consider Earthride definitely doomier. DOOOOOMMMM!!!!!!"

Are you comfortable with the term Stoner Rock?

"Yeah!! I like it because man, I do get stoned!"


"But every type of music needs a name, and if that's the name that they give it, then that's what its going to be, know what I mean? There's nothing I can do about it. I can't change the name, but I don't mind it."

How is your relationship with your label, Tolotta?

"Great!!! This record, "Elusive Truth", is hopefully doing really well, and we're definitely going to be working with Joe (Lally) in the future."

Spirit Caravan Joe from Fugazi?

"Yeah, from Fugazi. And we're going to push the Tolotta name, with Spirit Caravan, keep on staying on that, because Joe is so honest and up-front."

Its nice to be able to trust your label.

"Right right right!! We have a nice bond going on there, so we're not going to leave it for anything. Yeah, we love Tolotta and Joe, and we're going to keep going with him."

You've got a reputation for being an encyclopedia of knowledge for metal. How large is your collection, and what prizes have you acquired?

"I just acquired a Merciful Fate 1981, 10/10/81 show in Europe just a little while ago, its like the second Merciful Fate show EVER RECORDED. Anyway, they've got this song on there called "Shadow Night," and man it's the heaviest Merciful Fate song I've heard of all time, riff and all, but its not available, it was never on a record. I've been getting into that lately. I've got a bunch of demos too. But my collection is vast, from Cirith Ungol to Pantera; one extreme of metal to the other. I like Celtic Frost! But I do have a bunch of stoner rock like Fu Manchu and Hellacopters. And I like some death metal too, like Deceased."

The energy of your live shows is legendary. Is there any chance of a live Spirit Caravan album coming out in the near future?

"Definitely possible. We've been recording all these shows on the road for the last month now, and we might make a compilation and release that. Maybe. Its tentative. But if not, we might make one more full-length, then do a live show somewhere in one particular place and record it professionally, and maybe do it like that. We've got a couple possibilities to choose from."

How does the songwriting process work with Spirit Caravan and Earthride?

"Well, with Sprit Caravan everybody has ideas and they bring them to the table and mix them up. Salt, pepper, you know what I mean? And we mix them into a unit and Bam!"

You wrote the music for "Black Flower" is that right?

"Yes I did. A couple of riffs 'Retroman', 'Powertime'."

Does Earthride work the same way?

"The band writes a lot of material on their own, because I'm often not there, being so much on the road with Spirit Caravan. We are signed on Teepee Records, so we're making a record for Teepee."

Excellent. When's that going to come out?

Spirit Caravan "January. But the writing process for Earthride is definitely different. They write the material and I just bring the words. Actually the drummer, Eric Little, writes a lot of the lyrics too, and he brings them to me, and I just sing them!"

Will there be an Earthride tour?

"That's tentative, too, ha ha."

Next year?


What are the guys in your former band Wretched up to these days? Do you keep up with any of them?

"Yes I do. Jeff Parsons and Mikey Phillips, on the third Wretched record, they're in Unorthodox with Dale Flood and a new kid on the block, Rob, he's the new bass player for them. Johnny Wretched, I'm not sure where he's at right now."

Wasn't he playing bass for Unorthodox?

"Yeah, he was for a little bit, but he departed from the band. I'm not sure whats going on with Johnny right now. As far as Unorthodox goes, they're kickin' it right now, I think they're going to be on the last show of this tour, with Jeff Parsons and Mikey Phillips. Gus, you probably know, is in Life Beyond."

I was listening to them on the way up here. They're excellent!

"Yeah! So that's what Gus is up to. So I'm hanging with all these guys, swimming, we're all friends. Internal Void as well."

You're all from the same area, right?


So how did you get hooked up with Wino and Gary?

"Well, I knew Gary for a long time; he played in Wretched and Pentagram. He played in every doom band but Internal Void! Ha ha."

There's no recordings with Wretched with him?

Spirit Caravan "No, he never recorded with any of the bands except for Iron Man, he did one release with them on Hellhound. But that's really the story about Gary. I met him back when I was in a band called Pendulum. That was one of my first bands. The drummer left to go on tour with Trouble. Gary was available, and I knew he was a good drummer, so I hooked up with Gary. That was about '88. I've known Wino for a long time, because of his career, and I've seen him in Vitus and Obsessed. When he came to me in despair towards the end of that, he asked me "what would you want to do with a band?" And I was like "Damn! That's the great Wino asking ME what I want to do with a band! The legendary Wino!" ha ha. I said "since you're a great guitar player and a great singer, you do that, and I'll just pick up the bass." I was actually a pretty accomplished guitar player already, although I just sang for Wretched. I wrote several songs for Wretched as well, and we combined ideas right then and there. Gary was in Wretched at the time, and we were doing Wretched AND Shine at the same time (Shine was Spirit Caravan's original name). The demise of that situation was that Johnny called me up and basically said "look man, its not working out. It seems like you're way more into Shine than Wretched, and you're putting all your energy into that." Anyway, I was putting effort into both bands, but it did seem that my interest was more toward Shine. So that was the demise of Wretched. Gary and me just went with Scott (Wino), or he went with us, ha ha. But Scott was coming over to my house, down and out, and I asked him if he wanted to jam. Wino, that's like all that he has! He's been doing that for so long, you can't stop him! Back then I thought "what more does Wino have in him, and can I mix my talents with him in a unit, and make some real cool music?"  Which we have!"

Obviously it worked!

"Right! Over the years its paid off. Six years now we've been a band."

Have you guys ever thought of adding a second guitarist?

"We're going to try Dale (Flood) out in "On the Hunt." We might work with him, maybe get him up there for a live show. But at no time in the future will we add someone else in there permanently. That's a good question."

I'll just leave it by asking you if you've got any memories of best gigs, worst gigs, any good stories?

"Oh man! OK, I've got a good story. We were visiting with Phil (Anselmo) from Pantera. And we were hanging out, and he was checking out our new album, "Elusive Truth," and he said "Don't' change a thing! This shit ROCKS! You can't fuck with Wino!" You know, he's in the biggest band in the world, the biggest heavy metal band, we're smoking a joint with him, he's Heavy Metal himself, so that was a good feeling."

Thanks for your time Dave, I appreciate it.

Visit the Spirit Caravan bandpage.

Interviewed on 2001-09-06 by Kevin.
Aesthetic Death
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