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Interview: Sin Quirin (3 Headed Snake)

Sin Quirin has made solid impact in the entertainment world. Holding proficiency in such diverse roles as musician, actor, and DJ, Quirin’s most notable success is as guitarist and songwriter for industrial icons Ministry, for which he earned two Grammy awards. Recently, he formed a new quintet, 3 Headed Snake, recruiting front man Johnny Ray, guitarist Cesar Soto, bassist DV Karloff, and drummer Derek S. Abrams to round out the lineup. The band released their self-titled debut EP earlier this month, and plans to follow up with a full-length album for 2019.

I caught up with Sin to discuss his time with Ministry, the inception of 3 Headed Snake, as well as the importance of giving music a resonating presentation.

ME: You’ve been playing with Ministry for 10 years now, right?

Sin: 12 years, technically.

ME: Ah, I see.

Sin: Yeah, I mean I came into the Revolting Cocks on their 2006 MasterBaTour. Then after that tour, I went into the studio with Al Jourgensen and starting co-writing Ministry’s The Last Sucker album with him.

ME: What was it that inspired you to join the band?

Sin: I was always a big Ministry fan since high school, and they were a band I was influenced by heavily. Of course, when the opportunity arose for me, I was more than happy to jump on it.

ME: How would you describe your initial chemistry with the guys?

Sin: Once Revolting Cocks finished their tour of the States, Ministry went to Europe. When they got back from Europe is when I went to El Paso, Texas to work on what would become The Last Sucker. At that time, there was nobody else there; it was just me and the engineer in the studio. Al would be there sometimes but not always. So there was no real jamming going on. I would write a song, which would take me two to three days, then Al would come into the studio and listen to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Then, we’d move onto the next one. It was kind of done like that, and I ended up co-writing four songs.

Toward the end of that process is when Tommy Victor and Paul Raven came in. There were a couple songs we’d played on together, but not a lot of jamming except for when we’d all come together as a band for rehearsals.

ME: Would you consider your role as a primary songwriter something new for you?

Sin: In the sense of being in Ministry, yes. In all the projects I’d been involved in, I had always been a strong songwriter, but this is my first time as co-writer for Ministry and for Al. It was intimidating in that sense, but I got comfortable fairly quickly.

ME: That’s cool how it managed to work out. It’s not always easy adjusting to being in a new band.

Sin: No, not at all, and luckily, I’d toured with Al and Revolting Cocks in the months before that, so we’d gotten past the initial awkward stage and were already comfortable with each other. It was difficult for the first few days, realizing I was writing for Ministry, but Al was very comforting in that respect, and that allowed me to do my thing in the studio.

ME: After playing with them all this time, do you take a step back and acknowledge your growth as a musician?

Sin: Yeah! I think it’s cool to look back on all I’ve done and recognize that I did grow as a musician and songwriter, you know? I give a lot of credit to Al. He gave, and still gives me, a lot of freedom to do what I want in the studio, whether I’m working on stuff with Ministry, or with Revolting Cocks – I’ve done a lot of music writing on two of their albums. Al believed in my abilities to the point where I really stepped out of my comfort zone, especially with the two Revolting Cocks albums. Coming out of all that, yeah, I definitely believe my abilities have grown.

ME: Now, you have your new project out – 3 Headed Snake. How did that idea come about?

Sin: It actually started a little over two years ago, when I had some songs written, and wanted to put this classic metal-type project together. The initial idea was just to record a handful of songs for my own enjoyment, and that was it; it wasn’t really meant to go public. But after writing the songs, I’d set out to look for a singer. I found Johnny Ray, who’s from Florida. We’d email songs and ideas back and forth, and wanted to put them all together and release an EP. But it’s taken as long as it did mainly because I was busy touring with Ministry.

We’d start going into the studio at the beginning of the year, then we’d do two Ministry tours. It wasn’t until we got back from Europe that we returned to the studio to finish mixing, mastering, and manufacturing the EP.

ME: When you mention touring for that long with Ministry, and sharing files long distance with Johnny, it’s cool how those ideas still resonated even with your tight schedule.

Sin: Yeah! When we started working together, I’d told him what my vision was, and the idea that I had behind the project. It was one of those things, man, that was just meant to be. What he ended up sending back would be exactly what I was going for. One of the songs on the EP, “Wisdom Screams,” which we did the music video for, was kept almost completely intact; we did very little tweaking on that one, because he just nailed it.

It was amazing because we hadn’t even met face to face at that point. Our communication had all been through email, but it was one of those instances where we were on the same page from the beginning.

ME: I checked out “Wisdom Screams,” which is the single out now, and have read that you strove to really revisit those metal roots. That got me thinking – when you were growing up, did you take a strong liking to those types of bands when you were younger?

Sin: Yeah, definitely. As a little kid, I grew up listening to my parents’ albums of The Beatles, The Kinks, The Animals, Rolling Stones, and stuff like that. Then as I got older, my introduction to heavier rock was listening to Kiss Alive, which my older cousin had brought over in late ’75. I was obsessed with Kiss (laughs). Of course, I also got into all the heavy metal bands – Sabbath, Zeppelin, all that stuff. In my late teens, I got really into Priest, Maiden, Dio, and some local bands like Malice and Warrior.

ME: And Ministry, too, since you’d listened to them in high school.

Sin: Yup, absolutely!

ME: The EP’s got those classic elements – like Maiden and Priest, for instance – but in a contemporary setting. For production, you worked with Michael Rozon. What do you enjoy most about working with him?

Sin: I first became familiar with Michael on the last Ministry record, AmeriKKKant, and we just hit it off in the studio. It’s very important to have a good relationship with your producer. I’ve been in situations in the past with other producers where it would be an absolute nightmare, fighting all the time. It was not like that with Michael. He’s not only great at what he does but is easy to get along with. We sort of finish each other’s sentences, if that makes any sense. So, when it was time to take 3 Headed Snakes into the studio, he was the first guy I’d thought of to engineer and produce the EP, because I knew he would get it.

Before we all went in there, we’d talked about what I wanted out of the project and what my vision was. He nailed it, man; he did an amazing job. I’d always listen to his input. He’s an all-around great person and an amazing producer.

ME: What I like most about the EP is how naturally it flows, despite it only being three songs. The most difficult part, I think, is making it sound varied, but also seamless.

Sin: Yes, I agree with you on that completely, and thank you. I’m glad you made note of that because that was the intention. I definitely wanted the songs to have a sense of continuity between them. One is fast, one’s mid-tempo, and one is slower, but I wanted to make sure each song flows naturally into one another. So far, that’s what a lot of people have been taking from the EP.

ME: Tying this all together is the cover art. How did the image of the woman with the snake hair come about?

Sin: The album art was done by Sam Shearon. I told him about what I wanted for the 3 Headed Snake logo, and sent him a really crude version of a woman with the snakes on her head. To be honest with you, there was no real reason behind it other than what I’d immediately associated with the band name. He interpreted it on a whole other level, and knocked it out of the park. If you look on the middle snake head, it says ‘3HS,’ and if you read that backwards, it says ‘SH3’. That’s really cool, and something that Sam added to the concept.

ME: It reminds me of going to a record store, picking up a vinyl with intriguing cover art, and saying “What the hell is this?”

Sin: Exactly! That’s exactly it. I remember going to record stores, finding records with cool cover art. Sometimes you didn’t even know what it was, but just on that factor alone, you’re thinking “Ah, man, this is killer!” With this project, I definitely wanted to tap into all those things I grew up with.

ME: The EP covers issues like identity, greed, and widespread confusion. Do you see these themes working on a future album?

Sin: Yeah, definitely; that’s the next step. We pretty much have a whole album’s worth of material already. Cesar, who also plays guitar in Ministry, has been writing quite a bit for 3 Headed Snake as well. Between myself, Cesar, Johnny, and DV, we’re definitely doing a full-length for 2019. The plan is to do a full-length and hopefully some touring. We’re not sure whether it’s going to be on a small or large scale, but we’ve already been approached by agents and promoters that are interested in booking us next year. That’s definitely in the works.

ME: Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Sin: A huge thank you to all of my supporters, whether you know me from Ministry or another band I’m associated with. Thank you for checking out 3 Headed Snake. We did an initial pressing of 100 CDs which we’d sold out in little over a week. They were limited edition, numbered, signed by myself and Johnny, and included a 3 Headed Snake guitar pick. But you can still get our music on our Bandcamp page as a digital download, and you can also find us on Spotify and iTunes as well as Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for also sharing the “Wisdom Speaks” music video on YouTube. Look out for us in 2019; we’ll have a full-length and hopefully some tour dates.

Follow 3 Headed Snake:

Facebook|Instagram|Bandcamp|YouTube

“Wisdom Screams” Music Video:

About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it's best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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