The third edition of the Psycho Las Vegas Fest takes over Sin City in about a month-and-a-half from now and here we are, contributing to the buzz which the fest kickstarted on its own by offering up a stellar lineup indicated on the various poster shown throughout this post. Our initial angle in previewing the 2018 version of the fest involved trying to get in touch with the labyrinthine collection of festival organisers, bookers and promoters to discuss the labyrinthine behind-the-scenes goings on in putting together a fest of this caliber. But that was proving to be too labyrinthine and way too serious. Plus, we figured, most people who would venture out to Vegas for three or four days of immersion in an off-the-rails good time are more interested in blowing out their livers on hooch and blowing their bank accounts on games of chance. So, it was decided that posing a few less-than-serious questions to braver members of some of the performing acts was a more fitting way to go.
The Psycho Las Vegas Fest has quickly become a well-respected hot spot on the underground festival circuit. Have you played/attended the fest in previous years? What do you know/have you heard about it?
Nathan Garrett (Spirit Adrift): I played last year and it was one of the best times I’ve ever had. If they’ll have me back, I’d love to keep playing it every single year.
The Munsens: This will be our first time playing the festival, but we’ve attended Psycho LV the last two years. With all the action and the characters who follow, packed into one hotel and casino – it’s just as wild as you imagine. Four days of full-on mania.
Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer): I have never been to, or played, the festival, but have definitely paid attention to the quality line-ups of previous years.
Victor Vicart (Dvne): It will be Dvne’s first performance at Psycho Las Vegas and in the US too, so I can’t tell you much about the previous editions. That said, Psycho Las Vegas is well known in Europe mostly because of their insane line-ups, but also because of the whole Vegas/Hardrock Casino vibe. You really don’t have a fest like that over here!
Vincent Houde (Dopethrone): I know it’s in Vegas, the city of excess, I like that. I heard Psycho is a killer fest and I can’t wait to share the stage with all these awesome bands.
Shawn Vyk (Dopethrone): I know people who have attended in the past for years. They come back with koozies for me every time. All I know is that it is one of the most interesting fests out there to date; enough to attract people all the way from Montreal just to attend.
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved): It will be our debut there this year and we cannot wait! I have seen the line-ups the last years – that in itself is enough to want to go there to hang out, let alone be one of the top bands on the poster! Also, I know it is at the Hard Rock hotel on the strip, which is quite the bonus for a bunch of village Vikings from Norway. Quite exotic I tell you.
Abdallah (Tinariwen): No, we haven’t. It seems pretty metal-oriented, a genre we are not very familiar with. It will be an interesting experience!
Obviously, people live in Vegas, but it’s difficult for outsiders to shake the idea of it being a 110% tourist trap that’s unique and unlike most other cities. In your touring travels, how would you characterise a Vegas show in relation to shows in other cities?
Nathan Garrett (Spirit Adrift): It’s definitely unique. I’ll just say this, most shows I’ve played in Vegas aren’t as good as playing Psycho.
The Munsens: This will also be our first time playing in the city actually. As far as seeing shows and partying in Las Vegas, it may not be the cheapest city, but it’s pretty damn loose. There is no one to tell you when to stop in Vegas. The dice are in your hands!
Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer): A city like any other. Locals and tourists alike come out to the shows to have good time and a few cocktails.
Victor Vicart (Dvne): We’ve never been there yet, but I’m sure we’ll have plenty of stories to tell afterwards.
Shawn Vyk (Dopethrone): Well, I have been to Vegas and, yeah, if you’re just doing the casinos and the like, it’s totally like they say. But bring the underground aspect into the mix and it can be very interesting as so far as stepping in and out of two very different yet extreme realities. I’m all for it!
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved): The shows have been like other shows in the US, and I mean that in a positive way – nothing touristy or silly about the Las Vegas shows! On the outside, however, it is something quite different, for sure. Of course there’s “normal” people living there, but we don’t get to see that. The view outside the venue of the well-known city of Sin is quite spectacular; and I like it a lot: it is morally corrupt, intoxicating (literally and metaphorically) and fun! What’s not to like?
Abdallah (Tinariwen): We have been in Las Vegas before. We thought it was strange but fun! We played in some kind of saloon.
Apparently, what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, not as far as this interview is concerned! What’s your craziest Vegas memory/story, whether on tour and band related or simply part of your own personal debauchery?
Nathan Garrett (Spirit Adrift): I never really went HAM in Vegas in my party days. One time I played a show in the kitchen of a bombed-out crack house. Oh, and security tried to throw me out of the pool during Inter Arma’s set last year. But I refused. If you’re trying to come at me while Inter Arma is playing, I ain’t hearing it.
The Munsens: Two Elvises brawling outside the MGM, and watching a guy build a bong out of one of those three-foot plastic piña coladas towers still screams “Vegas” in my mind.
Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer): Getting hammered and wandering the upper floors of the Stratosphere, only to see someone jump off the roof and go flying passed the bar window I was standing by. Due to my own ignorance I wasn’t aware that you could bungee jump off the roof so I thought I had witnessed someone legit calling it quits!
Shawn Vyk (Dopethrone): Oh boy! First of all I went with an ex-girlfriend so that kinda killed a good amount of “debauchery” so to speak [laughs], but I kinda remember – again kinda – getting lost due to drinking just about everywhere and all the time and some parts off the beaten path get real sketchy real fast. Nearly got ran over a few times by drunken yahoos and trying avoid contact with cops who were throwing people in the paddy wagon. That almost happened to me in Philly as well. Maybe Vince has more “stories” about Vegas. Amsterdam on the other hand… oh boy!
Vincent Houde (Dopethrone): I’ve never been in Vegas, but I had this dream once, I was there playing blackjack and I accidentally shot myself in the balls while winning.
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved): I got re-married there back in 2010. It was 1am when we finally found an Elvis to do the sermon. My best friends were there: my wife (obviously), Grutle, Cato, some guy they found and hung out with who looked like George Constanza, and our tour manager Vikky. Quite the experience I must say. Elvis had to keep telling Grutle, Cato and “George” to stop falling over decorations, wake up, etc.
Abdallah (Tinariwen): Nothing crazy! We haven’t been to the casinos…
The organisers of the fest turned down doing an interview with Decibel, saying they wanted to keep the vibe of anonymity alive. Assuming you’ve never met these mysterious cloaked figures of show organization and promotion in person, and in the interest in compiling a completely inaccurate profile, what do you know about them? What do you think they look like?
Nathan Garrett (Spirit Adrift): I can assure you they are normal as fuck.
The Munsens: I heard it’s all the handiwork of that one craps dealer with the Burt Reynolds ‘stache!
Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer): Humans, I would assume!
Victor Vicart (Dvne): Actually, Psycho Entertainment is running our management and I’ve recently meet them last week! I know they are really keen to keep things mysterious for good reasons, but I can tell you they are not corporate suits and are completely independent. These guys are just dudes who love heavy music and they have put shows for quite a while in California and Las Vegas.
Vincent Houde (Dopethrone): I know nothing and I don’t give a fuck about how they look, I judge people by their actions… and smell.
Shawn Vyk (Dopethrone): I know nothing of “them” and I didn’t even know that there was a mystery behind all of this [laughs].
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved): I suspect the whole thing is one of these secret-identity schemes, like Ghost or Megadeth (I take it no one really looks and acts like Dave Mustaine?). The main suspect is our ex-drummer Cato (see previous question). Psycho Las Vegas has taken up too much of his time and now he had to quit Enslaved to focus fully on the fest. I’ve exhausted every other possibility – there’s nothing else he is doing, so it has to be that. That he wants to hide his identity since he is a little embarrassed to ditch avant-gardist art for the Strip, and has hidden his identity. I wish he would just tell us, we would just tell him we understand and how proud we are of him.
Abdallah (Tinariwen): We don’t know anything about them unfortunately!
What’s your gambling game of choice? What’s the most you’ve ever won/lost in a single sitting playing that game?
Nathan Garrett (Spirit Adrift): Blackjack. I don’t keep track of how much I lose, but I’ve won a couple hundred here and there, including at the last Psycho fest. Pretty sure Chase from Spirit Adrift/Gatecreeper won $500 last year as well. We’ll definitely be at the tables this year. Come give us some chips.
The Munsens: Blackjack. We don’t play too heavy, though I once won $600 on a ripper in Reno.
Adam Clemans (Wolvhammer): I’m not a gambler. I work very hard for the little money I have so I have always found gambling pretty useless. I already spend money in dumb ways and don’t need to add another to the list.
Victor Vicart (Dvne): I’ve actually never gambled, so this is going to be a first. I’m probably gonna stay away from the machines and try to play blackjack!
Vincent Houde (Dopethrone): Texas Hold’em. Won 2K one time because I spotted some drunk, kept buying him shots and talking about things I know would piss him off, angry drunk people suck at decision making, so I got to take all of his money and fucked off. The most I’ve lost was $200.
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved): I like the one-armed bandits! I like sitting or standing next to them and just watch the reels spin. Of course, they are all rigged from here to the moon and I am not dumb enough to think I have a chance; I just like the monotony of it. Like a good doom song. When we were getting remarried in Vegas, I decided I should do something wild first and put in $8 on one of the machines in one of the hotel casinos. Took me 40 minutes to lose it. Go figure. On the 70000 Tons of Metal in February, I won $150. Those are my two most exciting gambling stories. Let us just say I am not exactly Lemmy…yet.
Abdallah (Tinariwen): We are domino players! We play all day when on the road – betting our per diems!
Psycho Las Vegas happens at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (duh!) August 17-19 with a pre-party/show on the 16th. All your ticket, info and merch questions, answers and wants at www.vivapsycho.com.