Formed by Mark De Vattimo, multi award winning guitarist and former member of Voyager, Psychonaut are, simultaneously, one of Perth’s best known and most enigmatic metal bands. Like, they’re worth coming to check out just to see if they actually exist. Set to headline Gargantua on 28 May at the Milk Bar, Around The Sound had a chat with Psychonaut’s metaller-in-chief, the one and only De Vattimo, to see what the vibe is in the Psychonaut camp.
I avoid writing songs about world issues, love songs or introspective cranium puzzles because I need some entertainment in music.Mark De Vattimo, Psychonaut
We started out by asking De Vattimo to spill the dirt he’s accumulated after 25 or so years at the helm of Psychonaut. The best he could come up with was, “Scandals!” Boring! Oh, but don’t misspell his band’s name! Points off for that. We can see the lads from Psychonaut having a spelling bee backstage with those young chaps from Art Of Dysfunction. Having spoken to people from both bands now, we’re putting our money on Psychonaut, as the gents from AoD can’t even spell their own names, let alone their band’s. So we hear, anyway.
De Vattimo did have a couple of amusing anecdotes to share, accumulated from this quarter century on the road with the likes of Exodus, Armored Saint, Ace Frehley, Death Angel, Anvil, Venom Inc. Blaze Bayley, Paul DiAnno, Finntroll and Hellyeah, as well as Aussie metal bands Lord, Desecrator, Frankenbok.
“I’ve made a lot of cool friends via the metal scene and those relationships are still rock solid to this day,” said De Vattimo. “I remember playing Rock In Solo (Indonesia) in late 2013. It stormed with rain as we were setting up and the stage was soaked. With fears of electrocution we opened with ‘Trollhunter’ and the skies dried up. There was a huge mud mosh put in front of us going nuts! Later on, the local beer gave us MANIA (don’t ask, we didn’t, but you can be mostly assured that they’re almost fully recovered now.) Also, backstage after supporting Blaze Bayley and Paul Dianno, listening to Paul Dianno reminisce about one of his teeth that got knocked out and ended up on a dance floor. He had to buy it back from eBay the next day.”
It’s evident that the three members of Psychonaut, De Vattimo (guitar and vocals), Simon Hallett (bass and vocals) and Seb Giorgi (drums) have lived the rock and roll lifestyle to the full over their time together gigging on just about every continent on the planet except Antarctica, but it seems they haven’t lost their lust for life…and metal, always metal.
“Well, we’ve come this far,” said De Vattimo, “so it’s in our collective blood to keep going. Being in a band these days is more about the social aspect of it rather than the sex, drugs and rock and roll days of before. These three items still exist but change from month to month. The call of the instrument is always in your mind whether you like it or not! Sometimes song ideas come to you at weird times…driving, showering, digging graves…”
Let’s hope the modern-day De Vattimo keeps his hands off his phone while he’s writing songs in the car. As for digging graves, we wanted to know whose and when, but we were a bit too scared to ask. Is grave digging still an actual job these days? Come to the Milk Bar and find out for yourselves.
However he came by his experiences, it seems they do have rather a direct influence on the content of De Vattimo’s lyrics. “I’m still writing about sci fi, horror and heavy metal culture moments,” he said. “The album we are working — slowly, my fault! — will be full of dark humour and is dedicated to all who influenced us. I avoid writing songs about world issues, love songs or introspective cranium puzzles because I need some entertainment in music.”
Evidently, Psychonaut aren’t a band that’s likely to disappear up its own rectum as they explore the meaning of life in their songs, it’s straight-ahead wholesome metal all the way for these troubadours. Which is refreshing in a world gone mad with the sort of pop will eat itself sensibilities that made stars out of the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay.
As for what justifies their billing at the top of the heap for Gargantua?
“We will bring our usual shtick and improvised stage mania,” said De Vattimo. “I was in Maverick Firebird for a few years and Simon (Hallett) is still in the band. It’ll be like hanging out with two exes and their new partners (laughs). I’m looking forward to catching Electric State as well.”
When Psychonaut come to play expect to have some fun. And, you know what, why don’t you buy yourself some premium tickets so you can get back stage for the spelling bee and the inevitable bust ups that happen at every family reunion.
GARGANTUA, featuring Psychonaut, Electric State, Maverick Firebird and Art Of Dysfunction
Friday 28 May at the Milk Bar