Psych Fest spotlight: Vietnam

By: Lee Ackerley

Michael Gerger hasn’t released an album in six years, but the lengthy hiatus hasn’t had any negative effects on his latest effort, An A.merican D.ream, which picks up where his band Vietnam left off in 2007. On tour with all new personnel, we spoke with Michael about Vietnam’s appearance at Psych Fest and his deep Texas roots and influences.

So how is your current tour going?
We’ve had about a month off. We just completed a two-week tour. We went up and down the country and back through SXSW, and finally got to take off on Friday morning.

So you were just down in Austin. How was the SXSW experience? Was it a meat market, or did you guys have fun?
I think it’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed SXSW. I mean I’m from Texas originally.

Where in Texas are you from?
Copper Springs, it’s a small area by Fort Hood, but I lived in Austin and went to college there, so I was there for about 6 or 7 years. It’s been like 5 years since I’ve been back, and now that everything has expanded toward the East Side, it’s pretty amazing how much it’s changed. We have actually talked about moving back there.

The band or your family?
The whole band.

Is this your first Psych Fest? What’s your take?
It seems really amazing. I’ve never really been to a festival. I guess this year I ended up there by happenstance through my roommate who was DJing at a party. It’s an amazing lineup. I’m bummed that we’re only there for a day, because we have to be in El Paso this Saturday.

Are there some bands on the lineup this year that you’d like to see?
I’m really excited to see the Silver Apples again, and I wish I could see Kaleidoscope and I would love to see Spectrum again. All those guys are on the second day, on Sunday, and I think we will be in Tucson by then.

I’m sure you’ve heard this question before, but its been 6 years
since your last album, what have you been up too?

I spent a long time moving back into synthesizers, then doing a lot of soundscape music with my friend Christian, pretty much just learning a lot.

The new album is called an A.merican D.ream. I listened and loved it. You could say that it’s bombastic as far as lyrics go and it certainly have some sensational parts to it. Where did the title come from?
It was a concept I had been working on a few years. I guess it was the dissuasion with the American dream.

I really enjoy your vocals and your sound is very distinct. Do you have any specific influences? 
I’m just kind of screaming to hit the note. That’s how it’s always been.

What are some other bands out there that you are listening to that you think are unique?
I really like this band Hectors Pets. They are from Austin too but are moving up here. They toured with us for only a couple of shows but it was really fun to spend time with them. The Shine Brothers, I really like what they’re doing, it sounds really awesome. They put on a great live show.

Yeah there is a lot of talent coming through Austin.
I really like what’s going on in Austin right now. Its pretty amazing.

What is tour life like for you? 
It’s different every tour I’ve been on. This last tour was very relaxing. It was like being on a road trip with your best friend. I’m not actually working on material, I cant seem to find the time at least this last tour. This one was only six hours, which was lucky, many of them are like 12 hour drives. There’s not a lot of time to do much other than rest when you stand still but its the closest thing to freedom. Perpetual motion.

What is Vietnam’s next move?
I mean we’re about to release a song on the computer Friday and then we’re recording out in LA. Basically were just going to try and record songs through June.

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