Skate Rockers The Shrine Wait for No One
Josh Landau can't stop moving — mostly because he doesn't allow himself to. For starters, he's the vocalist for Venice Beach-based The Shrine. Then there's Eliminator, the skateboarding and clothing company he manages with bandmates Court Murphy and Jeff Murray. Finally, his band's about to embark on a series of continent-crossing tours over the next six months.
Landau is a busy dude, and The Shrine's squealing feedback and furious riffing are just as unsettled as the Dogtown do-it-yourself era that took place down the street from his childhood home, the sonic manifestation of shotgunned beers and skating as fast as you can through city traffic.
"What we're doing is kind of a neighborhood thing, as far as how we operate on our own terms," Landau says. "No one is really running our shit for us — we're pretty heavily influenced by a lot of the stuff that went down in Los Angeles, both music and skating. Now there's people all over the world writing in and being interested in it."
Landau runs Eliminator out of his parents' Mar Vista house, the entire operation taking over one corner of the place as Landau's friends and family drift in and out. Make no mistake, however: Landau has always been dedicated to the band, acting as tour manager and booking agent on top of frontman duties while still finding time to design deck graphics, patches, buttons, and stickers. Eliminator is an just an extension of his upbringing in the no-fucks-given epicenter of skateboarding.
"Even just being a kid, going into skate shops and looking at shirts and boards I always wanted, I was fascinated by it," Landau says. "Me and my brother would go into skate shops and then we'd go in the dumpster out back, taking snapped boards that they threw away."
The Shrine's DIY aesthetic then comes as no surprise as the band melds psychedelia with long-haired thrash and booze-soaked punk in a power trio format. Close relationships with Black Flag's Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski feed their sound, with Dukowski even offering the band unused Black Flag lyrics from the early '80s for The Shrine's upcoming record, Bless Off. Such associations come from mutual respect for like-minded boundary breaking.
"I don't know what expectations to have — we don't sound like anything," Landau says, laughing. "We don't sound like Black Sabbath, we don't sound like Black Flag. We don't sound like anybody else, really, for better or for worse."
Landau's constant hard work is the hallmark of his ethos, and national attention from both the skateboarding community and the music industry seem to follow. Whether it's homemade graphic design, printing T-shirts, or piling into a van, humble beginnings are paying off for The Shrine.
"It was really more out of necessity, just knowing that you don't need to wait for somebody to take you on tours or press your record," he says. "Until we got on these rad tours that we're doing now, we toured on our own, sometimes playing to nobody."
Bless Off, meaning "freedom and 'fuck you' and whatever you want," according to Landau, will be the next set of anthems for The Shrine's pool-skating and ripped-denim shenanigans, coinciding with the release of a collaborative T-shirt with Baker Skateboards and following the release of a limited-edition 7-inch featuring Black Flag and Black Sabbath covers. While The Shrine's constant breakneck pace seems exhausting to most, Landau couldn't be more content with going crazy.
"It's the only way I see from going insane in the world," he says. "It's all I want to do."
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