Interview with guitarist David T. Chastain by Brett from Transcending the Mundane
1. Where and how do you feel In An Outrage fits into the Chastain legacy?
David T. Chastain: I feel it is the best sounding Cd to date in regards to the production. In regards to the material and performance that is hard for me to say at this point in time. It is best for me to answer that question in a few years once it has had time to "settle." This is the band's eighth Cd and sometimes I forget about how much I liked a certain Cd. Plus a few of the old Cds the production was below par so that hurts the final result in my views.
2. Listening to the reissue of The Seventh of Never and The Voice of the Cult I almost forgot what a killer shredder you are- then listening to the last three Chastain albums I'm amazed at what a great riff master you've become; do you take pride in being the best you can in all aspects of guitar playing?
David T. Chastain: Well...I just play how I play at the time when I record a Cd. I agree that "The 7th of Never" has the most shredding guitar of all of the Chastain Cds. I think Sick Society is the most riff oriented of the Cds. Back in the later 80s I was definitely more fleet fingered in my solos. Since I started putting out the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN Cds my playing has become a little more "blusey" in the solo department. I really have no specific plan on solos. Whatever happens just happens. They are all pretty much off the cuff so to speak. However for some reason on this new Cd it was like 1987 and my "Instrumental Variations" Cd. I would listen back to some of the stuff and go "Where did that come from." Of course I would love to be a better player and keep my chops up to 100% but I have to run Leviathan Records and that takes up way too much time. I long for the "good old days" of just playing guitar!!
3. Kate puts in a more diverse performance on In An Outrage; how do you feel about her vocal prowess on this album and how does it compare to the previous times you've worked with her?
David T. Chastain: I think she did a perfect job on the last Cd "In Dementia." I listened to that the other day and I was really impressed with her performance. Both as a vocalist and songwriter. On the new Cd, once again time will tell better than me just saying something that I will change later. Stepping away from something awhile changes my perspective. You have to understand I have already heard this Cd 100s of times from writing, recording, producing and editing. With that said, Kate seems to think that this her best performance she has recorded on the three Chastain Cds.
4. There's a lot of mid paced, heavy songs and a few uptempo old school Chastain style songs on In An Outrage- both are awesome- which are easier for you to write?
David T. Chastain: Maybe mid-tempo but whatever comes out in the songwriting just comes out. I have never had a problem with quantity. I really could write a Cd in a week with not much problem. I have always had a creative river flowing. That is actually the part I like most about doing Cds is the initial musical songwriting and demo. After that for me, becomes a little more work as opposed to inspiration.
5. How did you hook up with Dave and Larry from Vicious Rumors? Were you a fan of the band?
David T. Chastain: Kate lived out in San Francisco and she was more a fan of the band than myself and knew all the guys. I really am not that familiar with most of the VR material. Also it just made sense to try to get most of the band located in the same part of the world. Of course they are both metal giants in their own right. Plus they understood the Chastain ideology of classic/traditional metal as Vicious Rumors is not that far removed from Chastain's music as far as I know. Larry and Dave both did a helluva job on the new Cd!! Dave used an 8 string bass which added a lot more low end to the mix. Larry certainly knows how to play powerful metal drums!
6. When Chastain first started out, it was a completely different time for metal- how is releasing an album in 2004 different than 1994?
David T. Chastain: Actually the first Chastain Cd came out in 1985 on Shrapnel Records! It was a much different time in the 80s than the 90s and now. In the 80s there were far fewer bands out there and traditional metal was at its peak. You could sell a ton of records without spending a fortune on promotion. In the 90s metal was not very popular and it was a hard sell for most everyone. Now days traditional metal is making a comeback but there is just way too many releases. With the advent of high quality home recording every band in the world is releasing Cds whether they are ready or not. Of course the internet has been a big help but also has allowed mass piracy.
7. Does this make things better, worse, or really no different for the band?
David T. Chastain: Well as I said above in 2004 things are easier in some aspects but much more difficult in others. However the bottom line for the band hasn't changed and that is recording the best possible Cd we can no matter what the outside world is doing or not doing. I am the only critic that really matters to me. While I want everyone in the world to like the music, if they don't, I can live with that. Would I rather have a low selling Cd that doesn't sell that well that I absolutely love or play on a Cd that sells tons that I don't like? That is a tough question to ask an artist. However I have gone with the former and not the later.
8. Following For Those Who Dare, there wasn't a Chastain album for about five years; did you feel ready to go on to other things? How was the transition from Leather to Kate when she joined the band?
David T. Chastain: After the For Those Who Dare tour ended in 1990 both Leather and I needed a break. We had done 5 Cds in 5 years and numerous tours and a MTV video without "breaking big" so to speak. Leather and I both felt we had done all we could do at that point in time. Leather was very frustrated that she wasn't a bigger star. I looked more to the instrumental stuff for my next releases as that was actually a bigger seller in the US for me. I then started looking for a male vocalist to do a new project. However I never could find one that worked out so I started doing the vocals for the band in 94 and actually did a short tour down in Mexico. Then almost the next week Kate gave me a demo and I was real impressed. We started working together and decided to make a go of it. She was a big Leather fan and her vocals are in the same general ballpark. Kate and I have not done a lot touring whereas Leather and Chastain did a ton so I think that is where it would be most different. Leather always was a great performer. Kate is a much more prolific songwriter. I think both of them are great vocalist and I wish Leather would get back out there doing something. She is a great talent. Plus I think Kate needs to get out and play live whether in Chastain or something different to show people how great she can do it live.
9. Some felt your two mid nineties albums were too "modern" sounding when compared to the eighties albums; yet when I listen back to them, they are just heavier and more song oriented; do you think the modern tag was not appropriate in hindsight or maybe some reviewers were just expected solos all over the place?
David T. Chastain: Thanks for saying that. I hear that all of the time and I just don't think they are all that different. Sure Sick Society is a little less complicated and more groove oriented but I feel the "mix" is what makes that one sound different as compared to the rest of the music. The songs "Vampire" and "Angels Fall" are typical Chastain songs to me. Kind of funny because Sick Society is showing up allover VH1, SCIFI channel, DVDs and other cable networks as background music for shows. That Cd does have some hellacious riffs on it! I think "In Dementia" fits in well with the rest. When people heard Chastain had a new vocalist in 95 I guess they figured it would be the same music with a different vocalist. What they got was the same vocalist and a little bit different music so it caught them off guard.
10. Do you anticipate playing live with the Chastain band anytime soon? How do you feel about playing live these days?
David T. Chastain: At this point in time I am not a fan of live music. I never go to any shows unless it is business related. I toured for years and years and it was fun at the time. However I just can't jump on a bus for 2 months anymore. However if a special event concert comes up I am open to those types of things. Flying over to Japan, or Mexico, or Europe for a few shows is always a vacation within a concert.
11. In my review (which will be posted later in the week) I marveled at how dedicated you are. Some people may look and say- hey there hasn't been a Chastain album in seven years- but many know that you have your label, you produce albums, you've been in other bands, and you help artists out in so many ways- is all your time, money, and effort worth it?
David T. Chastain: Thanks. Yeah there hasn't been a Chastain Cd for me but I have recorded 2 Zanister, 2 SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN, 3 instrumentals, a Ruud Cooty Cd, produced 2 Kenziner and Firewind Cds and numerous Diginet Music releases as well as oversaw some re-release packages. So I have been very busy. With that said the new Chastain Cd feels like a Def Leppard release! We actually started working on the Cd back in 2000. There were some personal things with certain members of the band that didn't allow a full blown effort at times. Also everyone recorded their parts on their own with me producing the results 2300 miles away so it was just a little different strategy involved than most Cds. Then we had some business problems with some of the labels we licensed the Cd to originally. The Cd was actually finished about one year ago and should have been out in early 2004. However the delay has had the unusual happenstance of allowing the major press to actually hit the streets before the Cd is released. That is a first!! So the bottom line is that the delay has created quite a buzz for this new Cd.
In regards to "Was it worth it?" Well I have decided to slow down and enjoy life more and not work as much. My father passed away in April and that was a jolt to my system about my priorities for the future.
12. If you were to retire from the music business tomorrow, what would you be the most proud of, what would you consider your biggest accomplishment?
David T. Chastain: Never selling out. Doing things my way even if it wasn't the best for my career. Actually my greatest accomplishment is the release of over 350 of my songs on Cds! And not really a "Dog" in the bunch! Of course some are better than others.
13. How do you keep away the frustration that there is an apathetic and dwindling c.d. buying fanbase? Does it discourage you as a record label owner?
David T. Chastain: Yes it does. All of the piracy is really disgusting. It really boils down that no one should be giving away a musician's music for free other than the musician themselves. If I decide I want to upload one of my songs for everyone to have for free then that is fine. But for someone else to upload one of my Cds for anyone to take is criminal. No ifs and or buts. I don't think the fans realize that they are putting hard working musicians around the world out of business. It is almost impossible for musicians to make a living as it is without the thieves. Plus I just read a report today that 33% of all normal Cds sales are bootlegs. Pretty insane!
14. What will the future hold for Chastain (the band)?
David T. Chastain: We will see how the response is to this Cd and then Kate and I will get together and have a pow wow. It is amazing that the first Chastain started 20 years ago and the band is still going. We did a video for one of the tracks off the new Cd so hopefully that will help us gain a little more recognition. The band is on a major label, EMI, is some parts of the world so hopefully that will kick it up a notch or two.
15. What will the future hold for David T. Chastain (the person)?
David T. Chastain: I hope to take it a little easier in the next few years. Of course with that said I am in the middle of recording SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN's third Cd and just finished producing a new Cd with Vocalist Stephen Fredrick and guitarist Corbin King. That release smokes!
But once that is over I hope to sit back and take it easy for awhile.
16. What plans do you have for the record label the second half of this year?
David T. Chastain: There is a new Firewind in the works and the aforementioned Cd with King/Fredrick. (Not sure about the name for the band yet.)
17. Final comments? David, thanks for your support and everything. Please add anything we missed in the interview. Thanks again-Brett
David T. Chastain: Keep the metal faith. It appears the long awaited metal resurrection is upon us!
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