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Vio-lence: Psycho Las Vegas Preview

2 July 2019

Photo: Vio-lence

So, the Big Takeover has been talking with a lot of artists participating at this year’s Psycho Las Vegas festival in August. In fact, we’ve interviewed musicians from the majority of the 70-or-so bands on the bill.

During most of those conversations, we’ve asked musicians what other bands they’re most excited to see. Widely respected but oft-overlooked Bay Area thrashers Vio-lence seem to be taking the cake in that regard.

Count among their fans Stephen McBean of Black Mountain, Greg Meleney of Danava, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza, Tony Campos of Hell Fire and Zack Simmons of Goatwhore (in addition to Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt and DJ Painkiller, as will be discussed in those soon-to-be-published interviews).

Vio-lence, which originally existed from 1985 to 1994, has reunited numerous times over the years. But, as vocalist Sean Killian recently told the Big Takeover: “Vio-lence has not played a large festival like the Psycho festival, so for us to reunite as longtime friends and musicians and be given this opportunity is verification that we did the right thing by reuniting.”

Ahead of Vio-lence’s August 18 gig at Psycho Las Vegas, happening this year at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Killian — who has battled liver cirrhosis — also revealed the band he’s most excited to see play at Psycho and why fans can never know what to expect from a Vio-lence show.

Why are you particularly excited to play Psycho? From your point of view, what makes the festival special — both from a performance perspective and as a personal experience?

KILLIAN: The festival has evolved into a truly big-time event with some big-time acts. It’s in Las Vegas and we get to be a part of it. How cool is that?

Getting the chance to be onstage at a four-day party in America in front of metal fans from all over the world is going to epic. Vio-lence live gets people fired up, and the pit should insane.

Vio-lence has not played a large festival like the Psycho festival, so for us to reunite as longtime friends and musicians and be given this opportunity is verification that we did the right thing by reuniting.

If you’ve played the festival before, what memories do you have of it? If you haven’t played it before, what are your expectations?

KILLIAN: We have not played the festival before, so I’m expecting it to be hot and hectic just the way I like it.

Do you have any surprises planned for your Psycho set, whether they be songs you wouldn’t normally play, added stage elements, etc.

KILLIAN: We do like to bring different elements to our live shows. At our Oakland shows, [Exodus guitarist] Gary Holt joined us onstage to play [Exodus’] “A Lesson in Violence.” In Mesa, Arizona, a 17-year-old friend of [guitarist] Phil [Demmel] took Phil’s place on guitar for “Kill on Command.” So we have been known to go outside the box at our live shows. That’s all I’m saying.

Vio-lence is a no-nonsense, straightforward thrash band. Hell, we don’t even have a backdrop. It’s all about the music for us. No frills.

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?

KILLIAN: I prefer indoors at about 67 degrees Fahrenheit. We hit the stage at 3:45 p.m. Should be an inferno at about that time, so as far as advantages or disadvantages, I don’t ever think about the conditions. When it’s our time to play, that’s all that matters to me.

Tell me something that happened to you in Vegas that was supposed to stay in Vegas.

KILLIAN: Nothing ever happens in Vegas. Right?

What other bands are you most excited to see perform at Psycho?

KILLIAN: Opeth — and Vio-lence, of course.

What friends of yours are also playing at the festival? Who are you planning or hoping to hang with in your downtime?

KILLIAN: I don’t know that I’ll have friends playing the show, so I’ll have to make some in my downtime.

What can fans and newcomers expect from your performance(s) at the festival?

KILLIAN: Our fans are fanatics, and they get crazy during Vio-lence shows. There is always a pit and a massive release of energy. If you are new to the Vio-lence live experience, be ready. If you get too close, you might find yourself compelled to join in the insanity.

For previous installments of the Big Takeover’s Psycho Las Vegas preview series, check out our interviews with:

• Colin H. Van Eeckhout, vocalist of Belgian post-metal purveyors Amenra
• Jason Shi and Scott Key, singer/guitarist and drummer, respectively, for melodic hard-rock masters ASG
• Stephen McBean, singer/guitarist of long-running psychedelic-rock project Black Mountain
• Greg Meleney, vocalist/guitarist for Portland psych-rock mainstays Danava
• George Clarke, vocalist for shoegaze/black-metal powerhouses Deafheaven
• Victor Vicart of Scottish progressive-metal quintet Dvne
• Zack Simmons, drummer of blackened death-metal demigods Goatwhore
• Emil Amos, drummer of experimental post-rock band Grails
• Julien Chanut, guitarist of French sludge-doom band Hangman’s Chair
• Tony Campos, guitarist and founder of thrash revivalists Hell Fire
• Nashville cosmic-riff connoisseurs Howling Giant
• Joshy, drummer for crusty death/doom-metal outfit Ilsa
• Stuart Braithwaite, founding guitarist/vocalist of beloved post-rock legends Mogwai
• Thomas Eriksen, centrifugal force behind true Norwegian black-metallers Mork
• All-female Motörhead tribute band Motorbabe
• Tobias Grave, frontman of shimmering post-rock trio Soft Kill
• Derrick Vella, guitarist of death-metal arsonists Tomb Mold
• Niklas Källgren, guitarist of Swedish fuzz fanatics Truckfighters
• Los Angeles Satanic doo-wop duo Twin Temple
• Bruce Lamont, frontman of experimental heavy-jazz project Yakuza and Led Zeppelin tribute band Led Zeppelin 2
• Aaron Rieseberg, bassist of 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.