David T. Chastain interview for Metal Inside Magazine 12/2013
1. When did the plan about a reunion with Leather and Mike came to your mind? And was it hard to convince them to join the CHASTAIN-Band again?
DTC: When Leather came out of retirement I offered to help her in any way I could. I offered to produce a solo Cd for her but I think she wanted to stand on her own two feet so she did her SLP release. It was good but everywhere she went she always heard "Let us know when you and David do a new CD." I had 3 full Cds of metal music recorded in demo form so we chose the one that was the most old school CHASTAIN. We demoed up well over 20 songs and picked these 11 just because they fit well together. Since we were "reforming" CHASTAIN I asked Mike the original bassist to come on board. The original CHASTAIN drummer is Fred Coury who still plays in Cinderella so that wasn't really an option. I knew Stian from other Leviathan Records releases and he killed on all the tracks!
2. Did you all keep contact after "For Those Who Dare" respectively "Voice Of The Cult" in Mike's Case? And are you still in contact with all the other musicians, which played in CHASTAIN the last decades?
DTC: I believe I am on good terms with all of the old CHASTAIN members and other than Fred, who I have lost track of, keep in contact to some degree. Everyone is still in the music business so our paths cross from time to time. Leather never quit or was fired from CHASTAIN. We both were just burned out after a hard 6 years, 7 albums and numerous tours. I decided to concentrate more on my instrumental career, which was the biggest selling music of mine at that time with a lot less stress. It was the same situation with Kate French. She has been concentrating on her band Vainglory and was never fired from CHASTAIN. Kate and I are in contact at least weekly. We both live in the Atlanta, Georgia area although about 90 miles apart.
3. Did you have a special plan when you started the songwriting?
DTC: I generally thought we should do old school metal with some newer influences. We knew we couldn't come out with something off the wall. People expected CHASTAIN with Leather to sound like CHASTAIN with Leather. I guess I tried to showcase Leather more but it was all pretty natural. When we finally got in the same room together it was as if we had only taken a 2 week break. Not a 23 year break!
4. Are the songs all new developed or are there some older ideas mixed in?
DTC: For the most part they were all written within the last few years. Maybe 3 or 4 of them were written in 2013. There are definitely some old influences in the tracks. Some we did purposefully to help bridge the old and new. Leather is going to sound like Leather so that was obviously a strong constant in both. Leather used some lyrics that were takeoffs of the past.
5. In my opinion the new Album combines traditional CHASTAIN stuff with a modern twist. Who brought the modern attitude to the Songs?
DTC: Thanks, that was our goal. A lot of the "modern" sound is the drumming of Stian Kristoffersen. I told him before he recorded his tracks to play as much stuff as he wanted and I would let him know if it was too much! I only had to "rein him in" a couple of times. So the strong drumming drove the band into 2013. He has already recorded the tracks to another CD and his drumming is just as intense on that one!
6. How do you came across PAGAN'S MIND drummer Stian Kristofferson?
DTC: When I was helping produce the second Firewind CD "Burning Earth" Gus G brought him into the band. I then produced another band called KINRICK that he was the drummer where we worked more closely together. I knew Stian was a monster so when the new CHASTAIN was reborn he was my first choice to handle the drums. Without a doubt that was a good decision.
7. I know that musicians often don't like it if their music is categorized...but how would you describe the new CHASTAIN Album to a person who never had heard the band before?
DTC: There are so many subdivisions now days I am not sure how a modern person would categorize it. However I have always thought of CHASTAIN as a "Progressive Power Metal" band. To a metal historian I am not sure what they would say?
8. What are the most important lyrical topics or messages in the songs on "Surrender To No One"?
DTC: With a CD titled "Surrender To No One" most of the lyrics are about holding your ground and fighting back. Titles like "Fear My Wrath," "Stand and Fight," "Rise Up," "Freedom Within," and the title track are all calls for the oppressed to "not take it anymore." I also have a tendency to write about man's inability to stay peaceful. "Evil Awaits Us," and "Call of the Wild" continues that story. Something in men's DNA makes them violent. Leather writes more personal types of lyrics such as "Bleed Through Me" and "I Am Sin." "Bleed Through Me" is about her connection to Ronnie James Dio. "Deep Down in the Darkness" is a track I wrote a few years back that is about an immortal living "A little north of Hell." I hate to say that I don't spend a lot of time on lyrics but a lot of time I just let the recorders run and these just come out with no forethought. Of course with the intention of rewriting them later. However these off the cuff lyrics usually seem to work best with a little fine-tuning? I then gave Leather my ideas and she reworked them to make them more "Leather."
9. Now that CHASTAIN are back in the metal-world, do you plan to support the album in playing live? Especially in Europe?
DTC: We have received numerous offers to play festivals and some other tours. However I didn't want to tour and have to play strictly 25 year old songs. So we will wait to see how this Cds does and hopefully release another one before we try to play Europe. Maybe late 14 or early 15. With that said if an opportunity arose to tour with someone like Black Sabbath again... that would be a different story! We may play some dates in the US in 14... but only a few. Of course Leather feels just the opposite, as she would like a tour bus to pick her up tomorrow and tour for the rest of her life. You have to understand she has been away for 20 years and has a lot of catching up to do!
10. You are one of the most versatile musicians I know. How does your songwriting work? Do plan from the beginning "Now I write a CHASTAIN Metal Track and now I compose a song for SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN" f. ex. Or do you just start writing and decide afterwards in which band or project it will fit in?
DTC: Well.... fortunately/unfortunately I have a creative river that flows through me that never stops. I can literally close my eyes and "see a song" before I play it. Put me in a room with a tape recorder and I can write 95% of an album in less than an hour. That may sound great but unfortunately it creates a huge backlog of material. So I am usually most excited about the material that is the newest. In regards to CHASTAIN vs. SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN, the SG material is very easy to write, as it is pretty basic hard rock stuff. Also it is "happier" and is more like a bar band on a Saturday night in a smoke filled club. CHASTAIN is much more serious and is far from "happy!" However I have no problem writing anything... other than a HIT!! I couldn't write a Katy Perry song. It isn't in my makeup.
11. Which of all your bands and projects is musically the most challenging for you?
DTC: The most challenging by far are the instrumental albums. In those the guitar has to carry the song from front to back. In a vocal song, the guitar is basically a backing instrument and has a short 20 second guitar solo where it comes to the forefront. The vocals usually carry a CHASTAIN track.
12. When CHASTAIN is active again, what about the male-fronted "Brother band" C.J.S.S.?
DTC: I am in touch with those guys. They all have their own bands and occasionally we discuss the thought of doing a one off concert but never really doing a new CD. However, nothing is ever final until you are six feet under... and even then there are plenty of tapes in the closet.
13. How were Leather's feelings and experiences at the Keep It True Festival?
DTC: I only assume from what she told me was that she was extremely happy with the response. She was nervous since she hadn't played a real show in forever but what I saw on the DVD she looked and sounded like the old days.
14. Are you still following the metal scene of today? And are you aware of the fact that there were quite a few very young fans that are totally into classic 80ties Metal?
DTC: That is good to hear. Leather said she met a lot of young fans at KIT. Currently "Surrender To No One" is #11 on the US Metal Radio charts. When I look at the other bands on the charts, I would say I have only heard of about 50% of them. So, no, I am not up to date on the metal scene. I do go on youtube and cruise around and see all sorts of new bands that are very good! I have never been able to get into the "death metal vocal" so that makes me change the channel quite often. However musically, there are some monsters out there.
15. You are the discoverer of the talent of Gus G. and helped him a lot in his start with FIREWIND. Do see any other well hidden talent today?
DTC: Well.... I released Gus's early works but I don't claim to have discovered him. He was a very good guitarist and was going to be noticed eventually. I was just the first to sign him to a recording contract and release his Cds. Joe Stump brought him to my attention. Gus and I are still in contract quite often. We still have the "Burning Earth" Cd in the Leviathan Records' catalog. As far as a new talent, once again youtube has a lot of technically proficient players that are scary. However a million notes are just a million notes. It gets boring to me and I imagine the average fan runs for cover when hit in the face with that style. Guitarists must learn to harness their talents and add some melody and song construction. Of course everyone likes what they like and I do understand the extreme practice regiment needed to play over the top guitar.
16. What are your plans with CHASTAIN? Was this a "one-off" thing or can we expect more CHASTAIN / LEATHER stuff in the future?
DTC: Everything is recorded other than the final vocals on another Cd. However we want to gauge the financial and critical results of "Surrender To No One" before we commit to its release. 2013 has been a stressful year in writing, financing, recording, mixing, mastering, and promoting the new CD. If there isn't a new CHASTAIN CD perhaps there will be a new LEATHER CD. We will see...
17. Concerning your other Bands / Projects: There were rumors about a SPIKE Live Album in the End of the 90ies...I've never seen this one. Does it exist?
DTC: A SPIKE concert in the later 90s, maybe 98, was recorded with Stephen Fredrick (x-Firewind) on vocals. However I have never taken the time to release it. To me the songs are too commercial and it is pretty hard to bring them to the modern world with a straight face.
18. What happened to the band ZANISTER? And what did the name stand for?
DTC: The band recorded 2 Cds and as I listen back to them now days, they were pretty much CHASTAIN Cds with male vocals. It was a fun studio project that never played live. The other guitarist Michael Harris also has a lot on his plate and we recently discussed releasing another night of the CHASTAIN HARRIS tour we did in the early 90s but we decided against it. ZANISTER was just a name I made up.... although to mess with people who pushed for a meaning I said, "It was ancient Egyptian for 'men with big cocks.'"
19. There are some bootlegs around with the material of the first CHASTAIN Albums and the SPIKE stuff. Are you upset by such piracy or do you say "whatever makes the name CHASTAIN more popular is ok"?
DTC: No we were not happy about it all. Outright thievery. Plus Spike and Chastain are not a good mix to release together. If you go online now days there are more illegal download sites than legal download sites with "Surrender To No One." It is never OK to steal music. It deprives musicians of just compensation for their work. It is hard enough trying to survive as a musician without your music being ripped off. I don't think there are any illegal download sites in the states... mainly Eastern Europe and Russia from what I can tell. Bootleggers should be taken out and horsewhipped. That takes it one step further than illegal downloads. That is serious criminal intent to make money off other's property.
20. Anything that you think is important to let the people know out there?
DTC: Hopefully we will finally do some shows in Germany. I know that is the #1 Metal country in the world! I was there on a promotional tour once and it was crazy. We appreciate the warm reception we have received for the new CD. Go to www.chastainmetal.com for the latest updates.
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