Joe Reineke: Gone full circle

by Bennett Hanson

From his years in the 80s punk scene through the 90s fronting The Meices and their grunge-pop-punk, into the 2000s heading Alien Crime Syndicate, as well as his time as studio head, Joe Reineke has seen a thing or two and worked with some of the greatest acts in music.

Reineke’s days are now spent at his Seattle recording studio, Orbit Audio, where he has recorded Andre 3000, Nas, Wilco, The Nihilists and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist, which was the first Platinum record Reineke has worked on yet (he’s about to start work on their new album). Reineke said it felt good to produce a Platinum record, but he added that “It’s more just an inspiration for other artists – so when they come in, they just know it’s possible,” he said. “We’re excited that they’re successful and everything, but it’s more for others to look at and say, ‘Damn this shit’s possible, man, our dreams are possible.’”“ Also,” Reineke mentions in the humblest way possible, “I started a school called Seattle Academy of Recording Arts. A creative person sort of needs all of these outlets and not just one,” Reineke said.

Years of recording other people’s music has been his focus for quite awhile, but Reineke recently rediscovered his passion for making and playing his own music. Under his name, Joe, with the help of his wife Karyn on the harmonium and backing vocals, Mike Musburger (ex-Posies), Mike Squires (Loaded) and Andre Bearfield, the ex-punker is getting reacquainted with the stage. The band is working on their debut album to be released this fall, the first of a double feature. The music is more “vibey” than his previous brash and punk-inspired tunes, Reineke said.

The new sound comes partly from his four trips to India, as seen from his wife’s rockin’ with the harmonium, an Indian instrument resembling the lovechild of an organ and an accordion – basically it’s a portable piano-in-a-box with a compellingly ghostly sound. Reineke wanted to create something unique – a blend of Western pop sensibility with Eastern influences. “It’s sort of a melting-pot of my studying and interpretation of Indian music,” Reineke said, which he said is far from the typical 1, 2, 3, 4 beat. “It’s like a weird hippy jam that doesn’t make sense,” laughed Reineke.

Reineke is taking his new project on tour in Europe this summer. But this won’t be his first time touring Europe – Alien Crime Syndicate traveled Europe with one of Reineke’s rock n’ roll heroes, Tommy Stinson from The Replacements, opening for him, playing as his backup band and Reineke even performed with him as a duo.

“We just wanted to go back to Europe and build our fan-base there, not really tour America ‘proper,’” Reineke said. The show at The Cabin Tavern on June 7th is a kick-off gig to send the band over the pond.

Between his two previous, hi-profile bands, Reineke has had contracts with London Records, Warner Bros. and V2 Records and has toured with the Pixies, Weezer, Nada Surf, No Doubt, Green Day, Deftones, Sugar Ray, The Offspring and The Killers. His music has appeared in films too, such as Empire Records and Joyride.

While originally from the Bay area, the Northwest has been home for Reineke, who has lived in Seattle since 1999, while his wife was born in Bellingham, The Meices’ first label and agent was from Seattle and they often toured the Northwest. “Everyone thought The Meices were a Seattle band but we were from San Francisco,” Reineke said. However, The Meices did just play a reunion show in Seattle. Reineke describes The Meices as “a brashy punk band – punk like the early Replacements and Ramones vibe.”

“I have a lot more invested than in just pressing record,” he said referring to the new project.

Nicely said. Cheers Joe.

LIVE SHOW: See Joe Reineke at The Cabin Tavern on June 7. For more information about him, go to joereineke.com. 

Published in the June 2015 issue of What’s Up!