Perth’s own self-confessed ‘guitar operator’ and heavy metal addict, Mark De Vattimo began his devotion in 1984.
He swallowed up anything heavy metal based and over indulged in ‘Circus’ and ‘Hit Parader’ magazines in order to get more knowledge about the subject while listening to W.A.S.P, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Sabbath and Van Halen at this time.
He finally picked up the guitar in 1987. “My older sister had a no-name brand nylon string. When she went out I would grab it and mime to KISS songs. I even had my own light show in my bedroom: an orange spotlight behind a fan.”
De Vattimo was in a school band that year and played a few dances and over 18’s parties. “I think my guitar was an Onyx bought from a guitar shop where Ian Kenny was working. It cost about $150.” He was the only player in the group with long hair so was assigned the role of lead guitarist. – “I was terrible but had great hair!”
De Vattimo’s real foray into the live music scene was via a cover band called ‘Frenzy’ in 1994 playing 4 nights a week with a set list comprised of Classic Rock, Metal and even Grunge. This band also featured local screamer, Graeme Smailes. This led to a further ‘apprenticeship’ with Graeme to from ‘Karissma’ – KISS tribute outfit. – “That was a lot of fun until we actually started to become those guys behind the makeup with the boozing and arguments. We played a lot of shows and it lasted until 1996.”
1997 saw the formation of ‘Psychonaut’. With influences such as Motorhead, Black Sabbath, KISS & Slayer, this trio of mates set about rehearsing relentlessly and was quick to grab local metal/rock fans by the ears by use of thrashy riffs and De Vattimo’s screaming vocals.
A debut album was released in 2003 titled ‘Masters Of Procrastination’. This album was met with mixed reviews by ‘critics’ nationally and worldwide who claimed “too many styles in one band… the best parts of A-Z of a traditional headbanger’s album collection”. – “Bah, who cares what they think. I make music for myself and if someone else gets into it, then fine. I like to be in a band that can reference its influences without resorting to plagiarism. Who wants to be a part of the current trendy clique?!”
With electrically charged live shows, Psychonaut ploughed its way thru the Metal scene for 2 years until De Vattimo co-founded Perth melodic metallers Voyager in which Emanuel Rudnicki also played. – “Manny was fun to be in Voyager with because we had similar heroes, interests and sense of humour. The other guys in Voyager didn’t really get us sometimes, especially when we talked about Manowar.” While Voyager took up most of De Vattimo’s time over 10 years (2 full length albums, Australian and European tours as well as co-writing the WAMi award nominated 2006 song ‘Sober’), Psychonaut was still gigging (over 400 shows) and saving every buck of its earnings.
During mid-2008, Mark quit Voyager to concentrate on relaunching a new ‘high powered’ Psychonaut.
De Vattimo was a winner of the ‘Western Front Metal Awards Best Guitarist’ 2007 & 2009 and was also a ‘WAMi Best Guitarist Nominee’ 2005 losing out to Nathan Gaunt. He was also a fill in guitarist for Pathogen and The Furor. “Playing Swedish related melodic whatever death metal is ok but grinding up a guitar neck with some ‘ultra-kill-tank-black metal’ in the The Furor was the best. Hyper speed music with satanic KISS imagery”
“My guitar heroes are GODS such as Iommi, Blackmore, Frehley, Vai, Schenker, Akira Takasaki, Van Halen and Frank Zappa. I try to filter them through my own playing without becoming a clone of any one of them. My vocal list consists of Halford, King Diamond, Tom Araya, David Lee Roth and ulp, Gene Simmons.”
Psychonaut is currently in the mixing stage of the long overdue second album ‘Shock ‘Em Dead!’. “This album is pretty much the best moments of my album collection. I think my humour and homages come out in these songs.”
Final comment – “I love guitar and the perversion of it all. The fact someone can play the most touching beautiful piece of music on the instrument and then I come along and play something completely opposite, such as a Zappa inspired guitar solo of twisted horror, makes it the best thing around. I still think of myself as a ‘guitar operator’ as opposed to a muso. My weapon of choice is and always will be my black 1985 Ibanez Destroyer with an Ormsby ‘Nunchucka’ pick up.”