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Photo by Hangman’s Chair
Hard as it may be to believe, French sludge-doom band Hangman’s Chair has issued five full-length albums since they formed in 2005; played with High on Fire and the Eyehategod, among other metal greats; and toured Iceland, Russia, Germany and many other countries — but never America.
For their long-awaited bow on U.S. shores, the band will play at this year’s edition of Psycho Las Vegas, taking place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from August 16 to 18. There, the Parisians will rub shoulders with metal legends Opeth and Carcass, indie-rock icons Beach House and Mark Lanegan, post-rock powerhouses Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and punk-rock immortals Glassjaw and Bad Religion.
The four-piece consisting of vocalist Cedric Toufouti, drummer Mehdi Birouk Thépegnier, bassist Clément Hanvic and guitarist Julien Chanut will also mine their fifth album, Banlieue Triste — which translates to “sad suburb” in English and dropped in September on Spinefarm.
Chanut recently chatted with the Big Takeover about the band’s collective excitement to play the States for the first time, their recent collaboration with another Parisian participant at Psycho — Perturbator — and whether Hangman’s Chair might debut a new tune at the festival.
Why are you particularly excited to play Psycho? What makes the festival special — both from a performance perspective and as a personal experience?
CHANUT: The excitement mainly comes from the fact that it’s our very first time on U.S. soil as a band. To cross the Atlantic, for a band like us, is something kinda magic. Secondly, there are so many great bands on this 2019 edition that is making us looking forward to get there. This festival is special because of what Vegas represents in the world. I mean, we get the feeling that everything is possible [there].
What are your expectations for this festival in particular?
CHANUT: Basically, I try to have no expectations about anything. In life, I let the magic happen when it happens. But I know for sure that we will meet a lot of interesting people, and this is gonna be a crazy night to remember … if we can remember anything.
Do you have any surprises planned for your Psycho set, whether they be songs you wouldn’t normally play, added stage elements, etc.?
CHANUT: You know, we try to play our music as truly as possible, with our heart and soul. We don’t need any fancy things on our set, except a good sound. [However,] we are working on a song we’ve never played yet, and if it works, it’s gonna be a big surprise.
Do you prefer playing in the heat or in the cold? Indoors or outdoors? What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing at the time and on the stage where you’re scheduled to perform?
CHANUT: Heat/cold, indoors/outdoors, it doesn’t matter, as long as the audience feels what we feel onstage. I don’t know when exactly we’re scheduled to play for now, we just know it will be on a big stage, but we will be ready for sure.
Tell me something that happened to you in Vegas that was supposed to stay in Vegas.
CHANUT: Never been to Vegas … that’s what we’re supposed to say when something really happened there, right?
What other bands are you most excited to see perform at Psycho?
CHANUT: We play on Friday [and] definitely want to see Godspeed, Yob, Cold Cave [and] Nothing. And if we can stay until Saturday, Soft Kill, Lanegan, the Obsessed …
What friends of yours are also playing at the festival? Who are you planning or hoping to hang with in your downtime?
CHANUT: We’re [also] playing on the same day as James [Kent of] Perturbator, and as you may know, he did a feature on our last album [on the song “Tired Eyes”]. So you’ll find us chilling with him and his crew. We [will] also try to catch [guitarist] Sammy Duet of Goatwhore. We once played a festival together and had a really great time with him.
What can fans and newcomers expect from your performance(s) at the festival?
CHANUT: You can expect what HMC gives at each gig: passion and emotions.
For previous installments of the Big Takeover’s Psycho Las Vegas preview series, check out our interviews with Niklas Källgren, guitarist of Swedish fuzz fanatics Truckfighters; Thomas Eriksen, centrifugal force behind true Norwegian black-metallers Mork; Tobias Grave, frontman of shimmering post-rock trio Soft Kill; and drummer Zack Simmons, drummer of blackened death-metal demigods Goatwhore.
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