AGAINST MAGAZINE by Joel Costa 11/22/2013
AGAINST: Congratulations on "Surrender To No One"! You have made a fantastic job with it. Are you happy with it?
CHASTAIN: Yes I think it is one of the better CHASTAIN albums Leather and I have recorded over the years. Of course I can't really judge a CD until years after the fact. At this point in time I have heard this Cd 100s of time in the writing, demo, recording, mixing and mastering stages. So in other words it takes me time away from a CD to hear it objectively. I have a slight form of musical amnesia in that sometimes I can go back and listen to some old records and it is as if I am hearing them for the first time.... kind of strange actually.
AGAINST: You have managed to offer the good old 80's sound with a modern approach. How important is for the band to try new things?
CHASTAIN: I write the way I have always written music. Usually I record what I have written closest to when the recording actually starts. I literally write 100s of songs per year. Fortunately over the last 10 years I have found an outlet for some of those extra songs: TV placements. I believe bringing in Stian Kristoffersen to play drums helped "modernize" the sound of the music. He is a bit younger than the rest of us so his influences growing up were different from ours. We wanted to stay true to the classic "Chastain" sound but we knew we had to sound modern doing it or it would sound dated. Stian's style helped accomplish that goal.
AGAINST: How do you recall these almost 30 years of activity with CHASTAIN and what were some of the highlights that the band had along this three decade road?
CHASTAIN: Actually the first time Leather and I met face to face was late December 1984. We worked extremely hard and close until late 1990. During those 6 years we recorded 5 Chastain Cds, 1 solo Leather Cd and 1 solo Cd from me. Plus we did numerous tours over those years. So I believe we were both burnt out from the hard work. We never had a big fight or blowout, we just went our separate ways. I decided in 91 that I wanted to concentrate on my instrumental career, which was doing big business and was a lot less stressful. In 94 I was actually out touring and doing the vocals. Then I met Kate French in late 94 so I decided to do a new Cd with her. When people heard I had a new singer they expected the same music with a different voice. What they got was pretty much the same voice with a somewhat different musical style on the first CD we did "Sick Society." I think the Kate era Cd "In Dementia" is one of the best Chastain Cds of all time. Definitely top 2 or 3.
Highlights? Of course hearing our first album on the radio, having major labels pursue us, playing with KISS in a huge arena, continually selling out a 1400 seat venue in our home town of Cincinnati, OH, seeing for the first time our video on MTV's Headbanger's ball, being in about every metal magazine known to man, but of course the most important was the interaction and hearing from fans around the world. I have always respected their opinions more than reviews from writers who know nothing about the band and were just assigned to review the music.
AGAINST: And speaking of the road, what's your favourite city to play and why?
CHASTAIN: Cincinnati Ohio was always considered our home base even though Leather nor myself was from there. As I mentioned previously we use to play to packed shows every time we played there. Other favourite cities would be Dallas, New York, Houston, Chicago, LA, Boston, San Francisco, and probably many others that slip my mind.
AGAINST: 30 years after, what significance do you attach to the band's name right now? Have any bands ever expressed CHASTAIN's influence on them?
CHASTAIN: I think a lot of female fronted metal acts owe a lot to Leather whether they even know it or not. She was the first really powerful female metal vocalist that could go toe to toe when the males. Our first Cd Mystery of Illusion had no band pictures and the vocalist was only listed as Leather. I believe most people thought Leather was a man! I think we blew their minds when the second album came out and we did have band pictures! A few years back Hammerfall recorded the Chastain track "Angel of Mercy" and I think that reminded many people about classic Chastain. It also helped gain the band new fans whom researched for the original.
AGAINST: And how was it to work again with Leather?
CHASTAIN: It was actually as if we had never stopped working together. Same respectful cooperation and desires to get the best recording we could. It was eerie in that it was like it was really just a few months since we had seen each other when actually it had been since 1990.
AGAINST: Do you still keep in touch with Kate French? And how did she take this return with Leather?
CHASTAIN: Yes I am in close contact with Kate. She actually lives in the same city I do of Atlanta, GA, although she is 90 miles away across town.
She has her band VAINGLORY that she has devoted the last 8 years so she is quite busy with that. She is a big Leather fan and likes the new CD a lot. As I previously said, she definitely has been influenced by Leather like many of today's female metal vocalists. As to how "she felt" I guess she would have mixed emotions. However we agreed years ago that there wasn't going to be another Chastain CD with her on vocals. There were really no plans for another Chastain Cd at all but when Leather came out of retirement she continually heard "If you and David record another Cd let us know." So we decided to give people what they wanted. It is kind of like the Van Halen situation, the majority of fans always wanted Roth back in the band no matter to what the quality of the singers that came after him. It is just "what they grew up on."
AGAINST: How do you compare this "Surrender To No One" to the other records with Leather on vocals?
CHASTAIN: I think it fits in quite well. I personally like it better than most of the previous Chastain albums she sang on. However it must be said in the old days we had very limited budgets so we had to take some performances of everyone that could have been better with more studio time at our disposal. With that said, it is kind of like someone asking a parent "Which of their children do they like best."
AGAINST: "Surrender To No One" is very intense"! How were you able to bring that energy and intensity to the studio?
CHASTAIN: I think Stian drives the music and it is his performance that makes it intense. I told him before he started recording to play as much stuff as he wanted and I would let him know if he was overplaying. Mike always drives the music with his bass no matter what band he is in at the time. Of course any recording with Leather is going to sound intense as that is her nature.
AGAINST: You have done a perfect guitar work in this record! Can you talk us a bit about your writing sessions? Do the other band members bring anything to the creative process?
CHASTAIN: Thanks for the compliment. The writing process is as it always has been. I practice with recording equipment close by. When I hear something I like I put it down and then accumulate enough ideas to form a song. Fortunately/unfortunately I have a creative river that has always run thru me so I can literally write 95% of the music for an album in 30 minutes. I can close my eyes and "see" the song even before I play it for the first time. While that might sound like a good thing it creates a massive amount of music laying around... so as I said before I usually record what I have written closest to the actual recording. That doesn't mean there aren't 100 better songs on cassettes somewhere in my collection languishing forever, to be heard by no one. I am always excited by what is the newest music I have written. Leather provides a lot of the melody and lyrical ideas on the new CD. I prefer not to have to write the lyrics and melodies if at all possible. After a 1000 songs it is hard for me to come up with something new that I haven't already said in the lyrics before.
AGAINST: What's next for CHASTAIN?
CHASTAIN: We actually have music written and recorded for at least one more Cd in the future. Of course it all depends on the response to Surrender To No One. We have been offered numerous festival slots around the world but I am not sure I will do those. Leather may play some solo shows instead playing mostly Chastain tracks. We will see. I advise everyone to go to www.chastainmetal.com for updates on the band. It was great to record another Cd with Leather so we can satisfy the throngs of fans who over the years have been asking for another Cd. So...this is for you!
Thank you so much for your time,
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