The annual Psycho Las Vegas festival is a little over a month away. Luckily all of the performing acts featured in the following story don’t need to purchase tickets (but you do — don’t fucking blow it), because there’s an excellent chance they’d all empty their wallets at the nearest blackjack table. Don’t believe us? Then read on as members of 1349, Goatwhore, Nothing, Rotting Christ, Lucifer and more recount their wildest gambling and/or Vegas-related stories. Many hilarious, some harrowing, but all deeply compelling. Well, except for the Fu Manchu dude’s story. That one is pretty fucking useless.
Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Led Zeppelin 2)
“One time I was playing roulette at 4:00 am at the Golden Nugget. Just got a fresh drink (probably my 8th or 9th one). I had money on lucky 13 and it hit. I was so excited that I won that I knocked the drink over the whole table breaking the glass and all. Ruined the table. They tried to clean it saying it was OK. I said, ‘fuck that,’ and gave the dealer a $50 tip and ran away from the table.”
“I am not a big gambler myself, but of course, when in Vegas for the first time, I obviously had to check some of these casinos out. It’s huge over there! I had a rather funny episode in Norway though, when buying a scratch lottery. I won approximately $120 and reacted rather excited when I saw the third number. My enthusiastic shout made the woman in the counter go ‘What? What?’ I told her that I’d won the $120. Her response was more like, ‘Oh god, you scared me! I thought you won a million.’”
Zack Simmons (Goatwhore)
“After a show with Celtic Frost and Sunn O))) years ago a couple friends and I decided to rearranged my hotel room. Nothing crazy or destructive. We were just using our drunken interior design skills. Afterwards we were walking down the strip and ran into [Mayhem vocalist] Attila Csihar. We had a long conversation about monkeys and how much chaos would be unleashed if they were part of a band’s stage show. Strange night!”
Mike Hubbard (Warhorse)
My first time in Vegas was back in 2000. I was in L.A. meeting with [Southern Lord head] Greg Anderson to go over some last details on the As Heaven Turns To Ash record. We were out at a bar with a few of his friends, having more than a few drinks, watching some bands (Dead Meadow comes to mind). I casually made a joke about how ‘we should go to Vegas,’ to which he replied with something like, ‘Well, now we have to. Those are the rules.’ We pile into the rental car and head east. It’s like 3:0 0am.
We arrive in Vegas just after dawn, crash out for a few hours, and then hit the Golden Nugget for the Punk Rock Shakedown. There’s like 50 punk bands from all over who have taken over this old-school Vegas casino for an annual festival. The Donnas were headlining, I know that for sure. The rest is a blur.
It was incredible. I’ll never forget witnessing the strange collision between the two very different factions present: the old blue hair retirees jamming nickles into the slots, and the new blue hairs, green hairs, mohawks, longhairs—you name it—running amok. The poor bartenders couldn’t keep up. They were accustomed to people nursing their free drinks for as long as they can. They were not prepared for us. There must’ve been 1,000 empty plastic cowboy boot shaped souvenir beer mugs littering the bar top, the floor, even the potted plants. It was absolute chaos, and I loved every damn second of it. That’s why I am stoked to be going back for Psycho. I know how this is going to go!”
Jake Nunn (Hell Fire)
“Hell Fire/Haunt Tour April 2018: it was our first time playing Vegas and we pull up to our hotel a spot off the strip. It was a short-term living type of place, fridge, long living room. We checked in and headed to find this venue. It turned out to be a karaoke bar in Chinatown. Everyone was confused that there was metal bands there to play. They had one mic, a giant fluorescent green thing that you only see in the possession of karaoke or strip club-DJs. I asked some poor guy about sound, what was up with the PA, and he just gave me a look like, ‘huh?’ Our PA ended up being the karaoke’s surround sound system, and even better they had no input jacks or anything so the songs playing in between sets were missing vocal karaoke versions of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden songs; it was a trip.
The first band went on and it was a complete sound disaster. People were covering their ears. The bartenders were wondering how metal bands were even allowed. A couple guys snuck 24 packs into our backstage rooms which were empty private karaoke rooms so that we could actually drink. They were real stingy with drink tickets for the bands for some reason. Trying to charge $10 for shitty beer. Right before we played, some metalheads who must have done some true detective research to find this venue rolled out in full party-mode. Then it got fun. The stage was a stair. No monitors, just the echo of the room, and a fully light up disco dance floor. We figured out a way to make it work for Haunt’s set and ours and it actually turned out okay. Never thought we would have a pit on a disco dance floor.
After the show out in the parking lot this awesome woman who looked to be able to deadlift 600 lbs was obsessed with John and Herman. She told John she’d wrestle him to submission. He politely declined and we headed back to the hotel to reload on party supplies. It was 2:30 and a couple guys had never been to Vegas before, so we decided to go back out. We started off in the casino and I came out even after a couple hands of blackjack. I have a problem, so I try to get out before it gets bad. So we hit the gas outta there fast and ended up at a massive strip club with a huge cover charge; they wouldn’t let us in because a couple of us had no sleeves. We literally bought t-shirts from them with the strip club logo on the front just to get in. We met some people in there and had a group going, it was pretty rad. One of us came out with a bunch of cash and this stripper took the hint and asked him to make it rain. She twerked in his face and he threw some bills in the air, then scrammed. She looked down, started cracking up and when I asked her why she said, ‘he literally threw three dollars, then split.’
We all just started drinking tequila and hanging till a girl jumped in our group and started asking guys if they wanted lap dances. The stripper from earlier who did the $3-twerk stepped directly in her face and said, ‘back off, no one wants you over here.’ They death-stared at each other face to face but before it got ugly, we separated them. She looks at me and says, ‘that ratchet bitch steals my outfit then tries to steal my customers? Lucky she didn’t get cut.’ At that moment the other one yells out, ‘I wear it better, you nasty bitch!’ Security got involved. Mike and I decided we had to get out of there. We were headed to the door when we realized we lost a guy. We figured he was in the VIP room vortex, maybe never to return. We waited, then walked outside to the sun burning down on us. It was 8:30am. Our MIA dude emerged, shaking his head with a bittersweet smile. Hopped in a cab to a coked-out driver telling us the party wasn’t over; he was going to take us to get laid. I said, “thanks but no thanks, bud.” We went to Dunkin’ Donuts in full zombie mode. After that, walked straight to the van where the other guys were loading up to head to Reno where we were playing the next night. It was the most brutal hung-over-no-van-AC death drive through the desert you could imagine. I was hacking shit up and could barely talk. Weird night but overall it was definitely worth it.”
Scott Hill (Fu Manchu)
“My wife and I went to Vegas. We gambled and lost $700.00. We left.”
Dominic Palermo (Nothing)
“I religiously tried to sneak into casinos in Atlantic City as a minor. It wasn’t Vegas, but it was equally grim. After countless trips of learning the games and tables before I was even allowed to gamble legally, I knew early on this eventually would be a problem. What I didn’t know was when I ultimately learned to mix my other main problems (drugs and alcohol) I would be in for a lifetime of self-torture.
I was freshly 21. My old hardcore band, Horror Show, had just played our final show in North New Jersey with American Nightmare and Reach the Sky. It was a benefit for me as I was to begin serving a seven-year prison sentence in six weeks time. The money was intended to be raised and donated to me for my books or prison commissary. I was never really a person who thought too much about tomorrows, so I took the $2K that was irresponsibly handed to me and did what any 20-year-old degenerate who was about to go to jail for a while would do, and drove straight to AC as soon as we could.
I stayed with a pocketful of Percocets back then. It was a huge thing in Philadelphia before it popped off anywhere else. They were extremely easy to come by and there was no threat of fentanyl then, so we’d all inhale them like Tic-Tacs. I enjoyed them everywhere but especially when I gambled. They made me confident and they increased your drinking ability which made me fearless essentially. This, if procured correctly can be great for poker. We pulled into AC with about a hundred dirtball Philly kids in one tiny piece of shit car and I swallowed a couple more as we headed for the bright neon lights of the disaster of a casino they call Harrahs.
I handed out a $100 to four of five of my guys to go blow on roulette and blackjack on the main floor while I took the rest to the poker room sifting in and out of traffic of some of the worst people ever that would be lingering in Harrahs on a Tuesday night at 3:00am. I didn’t really have a plan of ever walking out of there with money, which made me a real threat. Add that with some drug and alcohol muscles and I was owning this table completely. Within an hour or two I had quadrupled my money, sent off several people, almost got in 10 fist fights, it was magical. I was bluffing, winning and showing hands when I didn’t have it. I was calling out my hand, winning and showing when I did have it. I was an absolute nightmare in fleshy form. All the meanwhile the Jameson was flowing like the apocalypse was upon me and no matter how much I was up, it would never prove to be enough.
After several attempts to peel me from this table at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, I finally convinced everyone to leave without me and like clockwork, my once great stack of chips that I could barely see over dwindled down to crumbs. A few hands later I was busted, alone and annihilated beyond recognition. I made my way to the Greyhound station with just enough to get home, climbed in and passed out in the far back of the bus with one positive thought in my head being that I lived right behind the station in Philly.
In what seemed like a lifetime of sleep, I woke up in a massively disoriented state to a man in a Greyhound sweater shaking the shit out of me to get off his bus. I obliged and staggered my way to the front as I slowly started to recollect what had happened to me. I step out of the bus to a nighttime sky and to an unfamiliar bus terminal and asked the bus driver as he tried to close the door on me, where I was. He responded impatiently, ‘Hartford, Connecticut,’ as he shut the door in my face and pulled off blowing dust into my eyes. I stood there in that exact place for a while before checking my pockets realizing I didn’t have money for another ticket home. I thought about how Id get back to Philly, but mostly I just thought about how sad everything is.”
Gabriel Franco (Idle Hands)
“One time, when I was like 19, my guitarist and I snuck into “The Mansion” behind the MGM Grand. We waited for a car to open the gate and then walked in assassin style. I don’t know what we were looking for, maybe a crazy rich person party or some kind of Eyes Wide Shut deal. It was in the spirit of adventure back then. We found the kitchen and were looking around for wine or beer, but all we could find was a fridge full of king crab legs. After a short debate on whether to take some with us, we slunk back into the casino through some back hallway. Later, we would find ourselves in the maintenance stairwell of New York, New York, high up like 20 stories or something. In between the handrails, there is an 8-inch gap where you can see all the way down to the first floor, so we started a game called ‘Geronimo’ where you drop a Pabst and see how far it goes before hitting a railing. Even later, we managed to find our way to the roof of the ultra-swanky Aria Hotel. My partner in crime took a piss off of it, as part of his ‘Pissin’ Off America’ campaign that tour. He did Seattle and the Grand Canyon, as well.”
Nicke Andersson & Johanna Sadonis (Lucifer)
“Lucifer and Las Vegas go very well together. We smoke as much as Keith Richards during the recording of Exile On Main St., with the exception of our guitarist Martin Nordin, who hasn’t started yet. At last year’s Psycho Las Vegas, we hung out at the blackjack tables and cabanas. Not because we gamble or swim, but to smoke and drink.”
Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ)
“Life is full of passions, right? The younger you are, the closer to the limit you want to live. This is what we always do with our band; so, of course we have gambled and we passed a period addicted to gambling. The most extreme? Yes, when I had lost Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness LP playing dice! That was the worst mistake I had made back in the days with this passion.”