Proud to be American doom

My editors gave me a ribbing for an earlier column in which I urged readers to get their “doom metal” on with the exhausting Doom in June festival at Cheyenne Saloon a few weeks ago. Well, they’re going love this edition of Soundscraper, because nothing less than the pioneers of American doom, Saint Vitus, arrive in Vegas on July 1 to crush the eardrums of anyone inside Wasted Space in the Hard Rock.

Old (and rare) punk labels like SST were so necessary to ’80s kids like me, and diversity was their strength. SST released all kinds of different acts—from the noisy guitar heroics of Dinosaur Jr., to the power-pop of Hüsker Dü, to the sludge-rock of Saint Vitus. Now there are plenty of indie labels around—even entire labels devoted to the doom genre. Vitus was among the first to embrace the latter tag.

“We didn’t even know the term when we started out,” says Vitus founder/guitarist Dave Chandler. “We were just trying to sound like Black Sabbath. A German booking agency slapped ‘doom metal’ on a poster once, and we thought it was cool.”

Chandler admits it’s a good feeling now to know his band, which formed way back in 1979, is considered to be among the originators (along with Trouble and Pentagram) of American Doom. Especially after years of slugging it out in bars with little to no attention from critics and tastemakers.

Chandler wrote and still writes songs about the doom that nuclear war will inevitably bring. He says he was exposed to a lot of Cold War movies in the pop culture in which he grew up. Fear of atomic destruction was everywhere he looked.

“Then I moved to New Orleans in May of 2005, right before Hurricane Katrina hit. I’ve got a few things to say about that. It’s become a crazier, darker place to live. Now, with this bullshit oil spill, I don’t what’s going to happen.”

Despite more than 30 years of writing and performing Doom Metal, Chandler still basically listens to the same music he’s always listened—fellow doomers such as Witchfinder General and Candlemass.

Vitus has never played Vegas before, and Chandler hopes to be bringing copies of a new seven-inch vinyl recording of a live version of signature song, yes, “Saint Vitus.” It will have to tide over fans until next year, when Vitus hopes to finally release a new album, the first since 1995’s Die Healing. Visit for more info on this awesome show.

Other places to spot your friendly neighborhood Soundscraper this week: Northern California’s thrashy crust-punk band Early Graves levels Lucky Lady Bar & Grill (4360 S. Decatur Blvd.) June 26, 8 p.m., $8. R&B/neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu dazzles The Pearl in The Palms June 24, 8 p.m., $45-$65. Eighties post-punkers The Psychedelic Furs get frisky at House of Blues June 26, 7:30 p.m., $25.50.

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