Royale Daemons left to right: Joey Castillo, Wino, and Nick Oliveri. Photos by J. Bennett.
“You want something to drink? I know I do…” Wino laughs as he knocks back a cold one and straps on his guitar. So kicks off the world’s first Royale Daemons performance, to a highly privileged audience of one. That’s right: Saint Vitus frontman and all-around doom legend Scott “Wino” Weinrich—also of The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and many others—has invited Noisey down to the Los Angeles practice space for his inaugural rehearsal with former Queens of the Stone Age (and current Bl’ast) members Nick Oliveri (bass/vocals) and Joey Castillo (drums) as his rhythm section. The powerhouse rock triad crank out three songs, including two killer originals, and a cover of Aussie rough boys Rose Tattoo’s “Rock N’ Roll Outlaw”—which is a completely appropriate choice, given Wino and Oliveri’s well-documented entanglements with law enforcement. “We’re already the black sheep,” Wino observes. “No one’s in any denial about what we are. But playing with these guys just feels powerful.”
Given the personalities involved, there’s never a dull moment in the Royale Daemons camp. “It’s definitely not dour hour,” Wino offers. “I’ve been in bands where I don’t even wanna be backstage because motherfuckers are so dour. Fuck that shit, man. If I gotta choose between dour hour and power hour, you know what I’m choosing.”
Noisey: So who hatched this plan?
Joey Castillo: Me and Nick were with Bl’ast over the summer, and we saw Wino shredding balls with Spirit Caravan at Hellfest. We’d always talked about doing something together, but at that point we knew we had to. Wino playing guitar and singing is completely different than him just singing, and we knew that was where we had to start.
Wino: Me and Nick have known each other for a long time, and we’ve been talking about playing together for a while.
Nick and Joey obviously played together in Queens. How did you guys first meet Wino?
Nick Oliveri: When I was in Kyuss, the last tour I did was with the Obsessed and Wool. I think it was like 1991 or something. Scott Reeder was the bass player in the Obsessed at that time. When we got to Seattle, he got into the Kyuss van to go home, and I got in the Obsessed van. I remember we broke down the whole way home, too. When I got back, Scott was in Kyuss.
Wino: We used to run circles around Nick’s handler in Kyuss. [Laughs] Their label or management had hired someone to make he didn’t get too crazy, but it didn’t matter. So Nick jumped in the van with us and as soon as the taillights on Kyuss’ brand-new van were gone, we broke down. Literally, as soon as all possible help was gone, boom. Do you remember that night, somewhere out in the agricultural district?
Wino: Yeah, man. Thousands of them. We broke down again somewhere outside of Sacramento. When the tomatoes fall off the vines out there, the mice just move in. We got out of the van one night, and there were thousands of mice everywhere. I was pretty freaked out.
Joey, have you known Wino for a long time?
Castillo: Yeah. When I was in Sugartooth, we were supposed to do a tour with the Obsessed. But growing up as a punker in South Bay, I was always a huge fan of Vitus. I knew about them because of [Black] Flag and the whole SST scene. Vitus were completely different and opposite of all those bands. So we were supposed to tour together, but it fell through and then Wino and I ran into each other at a mutual friend’s house one day and said we should jam one day.
How did you decide on the name Royale Daemons?
Wino: The reason I wanted to spell it that way was so it would have 13 letters. I think it’s the lucky number.
Castillo: Plus I’m Mexican, and M is the 13th letter in the alphabet. [Laughs]
Wino: It’s always been a righteous number for me, but it’s had a bad jacket put on it. The name itself is just something I came up with because I thought it fit. We needed a name to book this show we had set up, and it was one we agreed on. The show didn’t happen, but people seem to like the name. I mean, I’ve had a chick or two look at me funny when I say the word “Daemon,” but whatever.
Castillo: We ain’t pussies, bro. We ain’t scared. [Laughs]
Wino: That’s the bottom line right there.
What was the first practice like?
Wino: It wasn’t really a practice. It was more like a jam—a jam with intent.
Castillo: We did it at Nick’s room downtown. None of us really knew what to expect, but we plugged in and we went for it. Five or six hours later, we knew it was on.
Wino: Personally, I’m into playing faster. So the fact that Nick is singing as well means I’m not locked into the mic and I can move around a little bit. He writes songs, too, so now we’ve got double trouble.
So you’re gonna sing some songs and Nick is gonna sing some, and then some together?
Oliveri: Yeah. It’s great to have two singers. I kinda scream—I’m don’t really know how to sing—so this way I don’t have to scream too much. [Laughs]
Wino: In my opinion, he can scream and sing. So we can do those whiskey harmonies.
You’re both writing songs as well.
Wino: Yeah. I brought a riff to the table and we turned it into a song. Everybody helps with the arrangement.
Oliveri: We’ve been throwing riffs around and going from there. It’s great for me because I get to play with one of my favorite guitar players and one of my favorite drummers.
Wino: We’ve got a killer cover, too.
Oliveri: Yeah, it fits perfectly.
Rose Tattoo, right?
Wino: Yeah, “Rock N’ Roll Outlaw.” Nick and I played an acoustic show not too long ago and I was all about doing [Rose Tattoo’s] “Nice Boys” on acoustic. But he was like, “Nah, we gotta do ‘Rock n’ Roll Outlaw.” It just seemed right.
It seems appropriate for you guys.
Castillo: No shit. With these two guys? [Laughs] I think it’s three badass worlds coming together. The three of us have all been doing this a long time at all different levels. The one thing all three of us have in common is the desire to play and tear balls. It has nothing to do with all the other shit that comes with that. We already know it’s fun and cool, and from what I’ve heard and seen from a lot of people so far, people are excited and ready for it. It was funny because when we came into it I thought it’d be slower because of Wino’s influence. Me and Nick’s whole Bl’ast trip right now is just balls out all the time. I know the musicality that these guys bring, so I figured it’d be in a certain vain. But it’s been the complete opposite so far. I think we’ve honestly thrown ourselves for a loop in a very killer way. There’s no, “It’s gotta be like this,” or “It’s gotta be like that.” Fuck all that.
Wino: Exactly. Luckily, everyone’s seasoned enough that there’s no bullshit, no egos, no arrogance.
Oliveri: I’m seasoned and pickled. [Laughs]
You can’t ever be a cucumber again.
Oliveri: That’s right!
You know what people are gonna call this. Are you comfortable with the term “supergroup”?
Castillo: Fuck no, dude. It’s just a killer fucking band. Fuck that supergroup shit.
Wino: You gotta have more than three people for a bourgeois term like that, I think. The music talks and all the bullshit walks. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it has to be.
Castillo: No disrespect to anyone out there, but has any fucking supergroup really been a supergroup? I wouldn’t even wanna have that word hung around us.
So this isn’t like Audioslave?
Oliveri: [Laughs] That didn’t really hit the mark, did it?
Castillo: Or Asia.
Oliveri: Dude, Asia! Let’s go see Asia!
Tell us about the advantages of the power trio.
Wino: I’ve done power trios my whole life, so I was actually talking about getting a second guitar player for this at one point. But Nick said, “It seems to me you got it covered.” And especially with Nick singing, too, I’m good with it this way.
Oliveri: It just makes things easier. When we wanna do a show, there’s only three people to ask, you know?
The first Royale Daemons show was supposed to be last night, but it didn’t happen because the club accidentally double-booked. So what’s the next step?
Wino: We’re taking offers from labels right now, so we’ll see what happens.
Are you gonna try to record an album before you play live?
Wino: Oh, we’re gonna play first for sure.
Castillo: I think right now the focus is getting a good, solid set down instead of just rushing it to play a show. I think we crossed that bridge yesterday. We were pushing things because we were excited about doing a show, but it didn’t happen. I think in the long run, it’s better. I think we’ll be playing soon, probably. We’re not fucking around. This feels powerful. We love what we’re doing. I think the world of these dudes, and I think all three of us are at the point in our lives where there’s only one thing that we do, and that’s kick ass. [Laughs]
Wino: That’s it in a nutshell. That’s why we’re fucking here.
J. Bennett is beyond psyched that this band is actually happening.