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One week ago, we brought you a lengthy conversation with Mikael Åkerfeldt, frontman of Stockholm progressive-metal kings Opeth — one of the three bands headlining next month’s Psycho Las Vegas festival. Today, we unveil an interview with Jeff Walker, vocalist/bassist for Carcass, another one of the top-billed acts playing “America’s rock ’n’ roll bacchanal.”
Incidentally, Walker and Åkerfeldt — in their talks with us — expressed mutual admiration for each other’s bands, which are playing on August 17 and 18, respectively, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Both acts just played the Download Festival in Donington Park a month ago. While that U.K. festival boasted an impressive lineup of hard-rock bands, it’s Psycho Las Vegas that takes the cake as the most authentic and highest-quality heavy-rock assembly in the U.S.
During our recent email interview, Walker amusingly referred to the event — which his extreme-metal behemoths previously played in 2017 — as “like a gathering of the tribes, but with showers!” Back then, they tapped into their critically lauded 2013 record, Surgical Steel; this year, it is expected Carcass will do the same, as the album continues to stand as their most recent release. However, since they’re billed higher than the last time around, their set list is expected to be a bit longer.
One of two Carcass founding members who is still in the fold, Walker was one of the best-humored musicians the Big Takeover has interviewed for our Psycho Las Vegas preview series thus far. He divulged how they’re leaving their Spinal Tap stage props at home, the story behind a drummer from another Psycho participant spraining his wrist after an unfortunate bowling accident, and much more.
Why are you particularly excited to play Psycho?
WALKER: Who says we are, haha?
What makes the festival special — both from a performance perspective and as a personal experience?
WALKER: You can’t argue with an all-expenses trip to Sin City. It’s quite a convenient set-up: You can just roll out of bed, play and blow all your earnings on the slots. It’s a bit like doing one of the [metal] cruises, except you don’t get seasick!
What are you memories of playing Psycho Las Vegas in 2017?
WALKER: It’s cool to see so many friends. It’s obviously within spitting distance of L.A. [Friends from there] and a lot of old faces travel in from all the U.S. It’s like a gathering of the tribes, but with showers!
We’ve done it the once. [It] was cool, except for the headliner [King Diamond] squeezing us by taking up most of the stage!
Do you have any surprises planned for your Psycho set, whether they be songs you wouldn’t normally play, added stage elements, etc.?
WALKER: Well it’s a “fly-in,” so sadly we’ll have to leave the “Stonehenge” stage props at home. Let’s see — I think we have a longer stage set than last time, so we’ll get to play more than a handful of songs!
Do you prefer playing in the heat or in the cold?
WALKER: The cold. I like to have a big fan (ventilator) onstage. I sweat like a rapist.
Indoors or outdoors?
WALKER: It depends, both can be surprising. We played Poland a few weeks back in a heat wave/ the sun — that is not fun.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing at the time and on the stage where you’re scheduled to perform?
WALKER: We don’t know our set time yet! Maybe we’re playing at the pool at 2 a.m.?!!!
Tell me something that happened to you in Vegas that was supposed to stay in Vegas.
WALKER: Well, I recall being on tour with another band and the drummer decided to sprain his wrist bowling on a night off whilst inebriated. He had to play the last few shows pilled up to the max on painkillers with the drumstick duct taped to his wrist!
What other bands are you most excited to see perform at Psycho?
WALKER: Will be cool if we get the chance to check out Hellhammer [Tom G. Warrior’s Triumph of Death project covering Hellhammer songs] and the Misfits. Bucket-list stuff!
What friends of yours are also playing at the festival?
WALKER: There’s a few bands we know/have toured with, etc.: Opeth, Rotting Christ, 1349 [check back for our interview with 1349, to be published shortly], Deafheaven. Looks like they’re all playing the day we have to fly home, though [Sunday, August 18]!
Who are you planning or hoping to hang with in your downtime?
WALKER: Well, Scott Carlson (Repulsion) has hit us up for the guest list, so [I] am sure our paths with cross at the bar!
What can fans and newcomers expect from your performance(s) at the festival?
WALKER: Did I tell you we have a different second guitarist Tom Draper from the last time we played?
For previous installments of the Big Takeover’s Psycho Las Vegas preview series, check out our interviews with:
• Colin H. Van Eeckhout, vocalist for Belgian post-metal purveyors Amenra
• Jason Shi and Scott Key, singer/guitarist and drummer, respectively, for melodic hard-rock masters ASG
• Jay Bentley, founding bassist for politically progressive punk pros Bad Religion
• Stephen McBean, singer/guitarist of long-running psychedelic-rock project Black Mountain
• Jean-Paul Gaster, drummer for “the quintessential American rock band,” Clutch
• Greg Meleney, vocalist/guitarist for Portland psych-rock mainstays Danava
• George Clarke, vocalist for shoegaze/black-metal powerhouses Deafheaven
• DJ Painkiller, an L.A.-based metalhead who will be spinning between sets
• Darkest Prince, lead guitarist for black-metal punks Devil Master
• Victor Vicart of Scottish progressive-metal quintet Dvne
• Laura Dolan, vocalist for Cincinnati rock ’n’ roll purists Electric Citizen
• Todd Fink, frontman for electro-pop punks the Faint
• Zack Simmons, drummer for blackened death-metal demigods Goatwhore
• Emil Amos, drummer for experimental post-rock band Grails
• Julien Chanut, guitarist for French sludge-doom band Hangman’s Chair
• Tony Campos, guitarist and founder of thrash revivalists Hell Fire
• Nashville cosmic-riff connoisseurs Howling Giant
• Gabriel Franco, vocalist/guitarist for gothy post-punks Idle Hands
• Joshy, drummer for crusty death/doom-metal outfit Ilsa
• Johanna Sadonis, vocalist for “heavy magic rock” band Lucifer
• Stuart Braithwaite, founding guitarist/vocalist for beloved post-rock legends Mogwai
• Thomas Eriksen, centrifugal force behind true Norwegian black-metallers Mork
• All-female Motörhead tribute band Motorbabe
• Mikael Åkerfeldt, frontman for Swedish progressive-metal kings Opeth
• Ethan Lee McCarthy, frontman for blackened-doom trio Primitive Man
• Tobias Grave, frontman for shimmering post-rock trio Soft Kill
• Experimental rock, alternative hip-hop and dance music guru Tobacco
• Derrick Vella, guitarist of death-metal arsonists Tomb Mold
• Niklas Källgren, guitarist for Swedish fuzz fanatics Truckfighters
• Los Angeles Satanic doo-wop duo Twin Temple
• Kevin Starrs, frontman of British fuzz royalty Uncle Acid and the deadbeats
• Sean Killian, vocalist for cult-favorite Bay Area thrash band Vio-lence
• Bruce Lamont, frontman for experimental heavy-jazz project Yakuza and Led Zeppelin tribute band Led Zeppelin 2
• Aaron Rieseberg, bassist for Oregon doom-metal dealers Yob
Also, don’t miss our special feature in which Deafheaven’s Clarke and Mogwai’s Braithwaite discuss their mutual affection for each other’s bands, whether Deafheaven should play their Mogwai cover at Psycho Las Vegas — and the possibility of a collaboration between the two projects.
Lastly, check out our recently posted YouTube playlists for each day of the festival, including the pre-party.
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