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ROCKET Interviews Mark De Vattimo of PSYCHONAUT


Perth, Western Australia metal act PSYCHONAUT is led by guitarist/vocalist Mark De Vattimo, winner of ‘WF Metal Awards Best Guitarist’ 2007/2009 and nominated in 2005 for The Western Australian Music Industry’s ‘Best Guitarist’ award. The group cites influences such as Mercyful Fate, Loudness, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, KISS, W.A.S.P. & Slayer. They combine a classic metal & rock sound with lyrical themes such as Star Wars, Horror plus Science Fiction The band has already supported the likes of Death Angel, Exodus, Finntroll, Frankenbok, Lord, and Armored Saint.

A debut album called Masters Of Procrastination was recorded during late 2003 and released during early 2004. Now in 2012, their new record entitled Shock ’Em Dead! reveals the band’s 14 new tracks of power-speed-thrash-death-rock-metal.

The Metal Den’s Randy “Rocket” Cody has conducted an exclusive interview with Mark De Vattimo of PSYCHONAUT for his loyal worldwide Den Headz.


ROCKET: Where were you born and raised?

MARK: Perth, Western Australia. The most isolated city on Earth. I wish I could say something cool such as “I was raised by wolves and my mother was a witch.”

ROCKET: Do you recall your first rock concert?

MARK: I sure do! It was The Osmonds! We were living in Singapore in the late 70s and The Osmonds packed out a concert with an old school laser show. I can still see their perfect, gleaming teeth in my nightmares!

ROCKET: What metal bands would you say are your biggest influence?

MARK: Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Judas Priest, Slayer, KISS & W.A.S.P., Morbid Angel.
I’m also a fan of obscure European 80s metal bands such as Acid (Belgium) and various Yugo metal bands.

ROCKET: When did you first start playing guitar?

MARK: I was late in starting out at the age of 16. Before then I was using tennis racquets and cricket bats.

ROCKET: Who are some of your biggest guitar playing influences?

MARK: Tony Iommi, Ed Van Halen, Glenn Tipton, Randy Piper and Frank Zappa.

ROCKET: What year did Psychonaut first form as a band?


MARK: Hmm, I think perhaps 1998. There have been several line-up incarnations over the years. The band didn’t really get serious until about 2000. During the 2000s I was playing for Voyager and that took up a ten years of my time. I left Voyager in mid-2008 and decided to get super serious with Psychonaut. Even though the band has had a few musicians come thru, especially drummers, the core sound has always been there.

ROCKET: Can you briefly tell the name and instrument played by each band member and a little something about their musical backgrounds?

MARK: Mike Kaval – lead guitar/backing vocals. Big fan of Children of Bodom and Diamond Head. Simon Hallett – bass/backing vocals. Steve Harris meets Gene Simmons on speed. Looks like Dio. Luke Aumond – drummer. An insane, hyperactive mix of Tommy Lee and Dave Lombardo. If David Lee Roth were a drummer he would be Luke.

ROCKET: Your most recent record is called “Shock ‘Em Dead” When did it release and where can fans buy a copy?


MARK: It was ‘pre-released’ March 7th 2012. We scored a distribution deal through Firestarter Music and the official release was 27th July 2012. http://www.firestartermusic.net/home.html

At this stage hard copies are available only in Australian stores. We are working on an US distribution deal and an EU deal. ‘Shock Em Dead! Is also available worldwide via iTunes and other related digital download sites.

ROCKET: What is your ultimate goal in the metal music industry with Psychonaut band?

MARK: I think it is to give back to the world of Heavy Metal what I have taken from it. What I mean is that I have been a huge fan of metal since being a teenager and I have used the music as a sort of ‘aural diary’ of my life. All the cool things I’ve seen and heard in this ultimate musical genre have shaped who I am. I’d like upcoming fans/musicians to get turned onto Psychonaut and hopefully have the band be a part of their lives.

ROCKET: Who are some of the heavy metal record labels that you are impressed by today?

MARK: The Metal Den of course! Firestarter, Prime Cuts. I still think the old school labels such as Nuclear Blast, Megaforce and Roadrunner are very valid. Who can forget Moonfog, Candlelight and Combat!?
There are so many metal labels these days that it is impossible to keep up with them all.

ROCKET: How does the songwriting work for the band?

MARK: Usually I have a corpse of an idea, be it a riff or vocal line. It’s a non-regimented process for me. An idea comes into my head and my brain chooses to attempt to develop it there and then or trash it. Ideas linger around in my brain library. I get inspired from a line out of a film or book or even a scene that has an impact on me. I’ll bring the skeleton of a song to the band and we go thru the task of adding meat to it and dressing it up.

ROCKET: What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?

MARK: It’s more or less the same setup. I don’t see the point of using completely different rigs for recording. We sound how we sound and why bullshit it? My trusty best friend is a 1985 Ibanez Destroyer. It’s the same model as the guitar Mantas (Venom) used in the 80’s. Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and I think Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) also used that model. It’s been a workhorse for me for 17 years.

ROCKET: What kind of amps?

MARK: We used Marshall cabs and Peavey 5150 amps in the studio for the album. Live, Mike and I use 5150s. They are reliable and have few knobs. Less chance of a screw up if your amp looks like an aircraft cockpit. Imagine standing onstage in front of a huge crowd with the amp manual in your hands and frantically slamming pages trying to find the page where it says ‘turn amp on’.

ROCKET: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

MARK: I want to be screaming and yelling and tearing ass on my Destroyer in front of as many people as possible. To be doing a Psychonaut concert on the Moon or even Mars would also be acceptable! I read years ago that ZZ Top were booked to play the first commercial space flight so perhaps we could support them.

ROCKET: What are some of the upcoming shows for Psychonaut we should know about?

MARK: We just supported Blaze Bayley and Paul Di’Anno and that was a fucking blast. 2 legends on the one bill always make for a crazy show! Psychonaut will be supporting Sydney power metal band Lord in February 2013. We also have an Australian tour coming up next year. We are in negotiations for Psychonaut to play the 2013 Rocklahoma festival. I think some other Australian rock/metal bands will be making that trek. Looks like and Aussie invasion will be happening.

ROCKET: Thanks for rocking this out with me. Best of luck with your music. Go ahead and give thanks out to your biggest supporters.

MARK: Over the years Psychonaut has gained many fans locally and internationally. Thanks to you all for believing in what we do and supporting us. Remember… Heavy Metal never dies!!!


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