CJSS/David T. Chastain Interview 9/6/2000

Interview for Concreteweb

1. We have a pretty good idea of your (David) career and releases up to '97's "In Dementia" under the name of Chastain. Could you tell us a bit of what happened in-between, and also which releases there have been?

DTC:In 1998 I released a solo instrumental acoustic Cd called "Acoustic Visions." It actually has just been released in Europe on Lucretia/Academy Records. It is acoustic but still heavy. In 1999 there was a rerelease on Pavement of the first 2 CJSS cds, World Gone Mad and Praise the Loud called 2-4-1. Also in 1999 I had a new group called ZANISTER and their first Cd called Symphonica Millennia. The music is pretty much traditional 80s metal in the vein of old Maiden, Priest and Chastain. Earlier this year I released a completely new style of music for me in SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues." This music is kind of like heavy metal blues rock. It has also just been released in Europe on Lucretia/Academy Records. The Cd is doing very well in the US and is the best reviewed Cd of my career. Other members in the band include x-Trouble drummer Dennis Lesh and x-Damien bassist Kevin Kekes. The band is a lot of fun. Then of course we just released the new CJSS "Kings of the World."

2. The album is out on Pavement Music (with Zomba distribution), and not on your own label, Leviathan! Has the label ceased to exist, or what is the reason for putting out the album on another label?

DTC:When Leviathan Records put the word out about the 2-4-1 release we also said that the band was available for a new recording contract with the right label. We had quite a few offers and chose Pavement over the others. Even though I run a record company I don't necessarily like pushing my own music. I never felt comfortable calling up someone and telling them how great the music is which is what a record company needs to be doing.

3. Why has it taken so long for a new C.J.S.S. album, when you re-started Chastain five years ago already? Were the members not available? Why did you, after a period of instrumental albums between '90 & '95, prefer to re-start vocal albums with the 'Mark II' of Chastain, rather than with C.J.S.S. (that was, after all, the band you started out with -not counting Spike)?

DTC:Well after the first 2 CJSS Cds the other band members wanted to start writing some of the music and to me the stuff wasn't up to releasable quality so I decided to concentrate on Chastain where I controlled the quality of the material. Plus in CJSS the guys in the band are pretty tied down with responsibilities and are not free to do any large scale touring. Especially when money is not in great quantity. On the other hand Leather, the vocalist in Chastain, was ready to tour forever and I always loved her voice and professionalism. CJSS never officially broke up. We would get together for a random show here and there, just not any real recordings only demos.

4. How comes there's never been more than the two first albums ("World Gone Mad" and "Praise The Loud", both from '86), when you did still do the occasional live performance up 'till '92?

DTC:I answered this pretty much in the previous question but I guess it just boiled down to musical differences in regards to the direction of the songs for a new Cd. The stuff that actually is on Kings of the World was written back in the old days. We sent Pavement 50 songs to choose the songs for Kings of the World. That way there would be no hard feelings about which tracks made it on the Cd.

5. None of David's projects was ever known to tour extensively. May we expect a difference in the future? Can we expect to see him in Europe some day at all?

DTC:Chastain did a short European tour in the early 90s and the band had an opportunity to do an extensive tour in 95 but logistics didn't work out. I would love to tour Europe in one band or another but in most likelihood it will not be with CJSS as I mentioned previously the difficulties the band has in touring. Chastain did many national US tours throughout 86-91 but I really just prefer recording and playing the occasional concert. If I toured I wouldn't be able to release all of my different musical projects.

6. By the way (nasty question), did Russell (Jenkins) get rid of his meddling wife, or has she mellowed down a bit (enough to let him continue the C.J.S.S. project, that is) in her ways?

DTC:Russell has been through a few different women since the old days. I believe the lady he is with now is very supportive of his musical career. The one that was causing problems is long gone. However in Russell's defense to the one that was a troublemaker, the woman was pretty damn hot looking.

7. Would you tell us something about the lyrical topics (feel free to choose 6 tracks)?

DTC:1)Kings of the World is about how people around the world think that the US is the only remaining superpower and how we are the police of the world and in reality the US has tons of problems of its own.
2)Cries of the Dawn is about man's destruction of the earth and its resources.
3)I4I is Russell's abomination of certain people in the religious world who are hypocrites and manly interested in $$.
4)The Final Frontier is about the colonization of Mars due to the Cries of the Dawn ideology.
5)The Executioner's Song is about the condemned man's last day and his escape.
6)Thief of Hearts could be Russell's description of that woman that helped put the brakes to CJSS back in the glory days!

8. Mike (Skimmerhorn) and Les (Sharp) are currently part of Alice Cooper's band. I'm sure they make a pretty good living, as I'm sure that you yourself will be able to have a pretty decent living off your music as well. But how about Russell (Jenkins)?

DTC:Mike and Les are not in Alice Cooper's band. I am not sure where that info came from. They do have a band in Cincinnati that mainly plays covers but they also have other jobs to make ends meet. Russell is pretty much in the same situation.

Since there's not really any money in touring (and David is not a touring guy), just how does he make a living?

DTC:I make a living off royalties from my Cds and my association with Leviathan Records and all of our other acts such as Kenziner, Joe Stump, etc. Also I receive checks in the mail from surprising sources. A couple of big TV shows used some of my music without my knowledge and they paid pretty well. In any case I don't need a lot of money to survive. Money has never been a driving source in my effort to create music. The two usually don't make good bedmates.

9. Final question: any upcoming releases? Can we expect more 'solo' projects with other guitar players (like the "Live! Wild And Truly..." with Michael Harris, or the mini with Chono Masahiro)? Can we expect another album from The Cincinnati Improvisational Group in the future?

DTC:Currently I am finishing up the second Zanister Cd and it will be called Fear No Man. I am also recording a more blues type of record under the name Atlanta Blues Rock Militia. There will need to be a new SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN Cd in 2002 due to the response of Exotic Dancer Blues. I already have 2 or 3 Cincinnati Improvisational Group Cds recorded it is just a matter of when to release them. They will probably be internet releases only. That is becoming a big thing in the US. I have no plans at the moment for a new instrumental release but you just never know. Since Leviathan Records has our own recording studio I can just go in whenever I wish and record whatever I want. It is a great luxury I am very lucky to have as a musician.

CJSS 2000 Photo

Kings of the World Cover Art

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2-4-1 European Cover Art

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