DAVID T. CHASTAIN 3/1/2001
1. First David, tell us what your role is with Leviathan Records.
David T. Chastain: I am the general manager and I am pretty much involved in every aspect of the company to one degree or another. Lots of time and energy!
2. Do you think that being a musician first and foremost gives you a unique
perspective on running the label?
David T. Chastain: Yes I think so. I try to make things fair for all concerned whereas a normal record company is really only interested in lining their pockets. But then again being a musician I am not a killer salesman. I have a hard time hyping my own music with "This is the greatest Cd since sliced bread." Maybe some musicians can do that but I have a little modesty that doesn't allow me to "toot my own horn" very loudly.
3.There also has to be a reversed effect. You can understand some the
extreme measures and decisions that other labels have to make.
David T. Chastain: Yes at the end of the day you have to show a profit to keep surviving. Leviathan Records has been in business since 1985 so I guess we are doing something right.
4. Let's talk a little about your musical career. At what age did you
first begin to play guitar and who were your first influences?
David T. Chastain: Started playing guitar seriously in high school around the 10th grade. While I had played before that it was only sporadically. Early influences where Zep, Hendrix, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Kansas, Allman Brothers, Yes, Holdsworth and other similar styled bands.
5. Didn't you release some stuff during the early 80's on the Shrapnel Record?
David T. Chastain: Yes, the first 2 Chastain Cds where on Shrapnel, Mystery of Illusion and Ruler of the Wasteland.
6. Any thoughts on Mike Varney or Shrapnel? It seems like during the
1980's every major guitar "hero" recorded for Varney in some capacity or
David T. Chastain: I learned a lot about the music business through Shrapnel's actions. Both positive and negative. Mike has made a lot of money through the years and has a good ear and the ability to place musicians together.
7. You've gotta be one of the busiest musicians alive. You've always got 3
or 4 projects happening at once. This is your big chance, tell us about
all the musical projects your currently involved in...
David T. Chastain: Zanister just released a new Cd called Fear No Man. I have just finished a Blues Rock Cd called Georgia Blues Dawgs "Hard Times" that will be released soon in Europe. I personally have finished recording all of my parts for a new Chastain Cd. I am finishing writing the new SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN and should begin recording that in the very near future. Kenziner vocalist Stephen Fredrick is doing a blues rock project that I am recording all of the guitar parts and writing the music which is pretty much finished. I am also spending tons of time mastering and editing all of my stuff that is going up on Diginet. Also working on a very heavy Cd but no much other info on that. I am sure I am leaving out something but that is what comes to mind.
8. Instrumental albums vs. traditional vocal albums...you've made both, do
you have a preference?
David T. Chastain: Prefer listening to the instrumental albums but I prefer playing the vocal albums live.
9. Tell us a little about Kate French who is pictured on the cover of the
Southern Gentleman album and has sung on some of your Chastain releases?
David T. Chastain: She's got a great voice!!
Kate is a great singer songwriter. The last couple of years she got married, pregnant and then became a mother so she has been pretty tied up with that. However she now seems to be back into the swing of things again.
I want to get you to talk a little about some of the other artists on
10. Joe Stump--This guy is amazing guitarist. How did he come into the
David T. Chastain: He sent me a demo in 92 or so and we hit it off real well and I have been involved with 7 of his Cds. Great player and person. Real professional and he is the head rock guitar instructor and Berklee. I am hoping to get him into a few other things in the future.
11. Kenziner--This is my favorite band on Leviathan. I haven't heard "THE
PROPHESIES" yet but "TIMESCAPE" is an awesome CD. Are there any plans for
a tour of the US for these guys anytime soon?
David T. Chastain: No tour is planned and there probably will not be a third Cd with the band. Or at least not Stephen Fredrick and Jarno Keskinen. Jarno had proven to be a handful and we don't really want to work with him unless we have to. I got into the music business for pleasure and he is a pain in the ass. Jarno thinks that everyone is stealing his fortune and he should be driving around in a limo. He has no grasp of the music business and I am tired of trying to explain it to him. The vocalist Stephen Fredrick will also have a new metal Cd this year with other musicians such as Gus G that will be incredible.
12. It seems like Leviathan is always putting out music from new artists,
is there anybody up and coming that we need to be on the look out for?
David T. Chastain: VAINGLORY is the new band in 2001 that we will be pushing. The guitarist Corbin King is excellent. Check them out at http://www.leviathanrecords.com/vainglory.htm
13. How much input do you have into the making of records by other people
on the label?
David T. Chastain: In Joe Stump's case not very much. Maybe the song order. In regards to the other acts I am usually the producer so I have great control over many things. Of course the bottom line is the material.
14. Tell us what you think about the current state of hard rock and heavy
metal music in the US.
David T. Chastain: Well I am anti-anything that incorporates rap/hiphop with metal. I find all of those bands very unappealing. Unfortunately that is what rules the so called metal in the US. There is still tons of good music out there but it is basically underground.
15. Lets talk a little about your latest label venture, Diginet Music.
What was the idea behind www.diginetmusic.com ?
David T. Chastain: The premise for Diginet Music is very simple.
Established artists/labels who have music such as demos, unreleased out takes from recordings, live recordings, jam sessions, out of print Cds, etc. that want to make the music available to the public can give it to Diginet who will in turn find ways to make it available on the internet in numerous formats such as custom Cds, compilation Cds, mp3 downloads and other downloadable formats.
16. Why another label? Why not just release this stuff under the Leviathan
David T. Chastain: Diginet is strictly an internet company and has no plans for normal commercial distribution outlets. I have tons of stuff recorded through the years that is really not applicable to a normal commercial release. In other words we would lose money on the Cds if we tried a normal distribution situation. At Diginet I can get stuff out that would normally sit in my basement unheard. Stuff that is still in a little more rough format but still cool stuff.
17. How much of your demo material is ready for public consumption?
David T. Chastain: I have hours of stuff available. I use to record 1 Cds worth of material a month for years so in other words I have plenty. I believe I have released 10 Cds on Diginet so far in 2001. A couple of them are out of print Cds, "The 7th of Never" and "Within the Heat" that have been remastered and repackaged. Then there is a new/old CJSS, Spike, Cincinnati Improvisational Group, new instrumental, The Georgia Blues Dawgs(blues rock), D-Daze (very heavy music), Riffology (Just rhythm guitar, bass and drums) and other stuff that I am a part of.
18. Being both an artist and being so closely involved with Leviathan and
now Diginet your probably one of the most qualified people to answer this
next question, What is your opinion of Napster?
David T. Chastain: Napster should not allow copyrighted material to be available through their service. If I want to make my music available to napster users then it should be my decision not theirs. All the other sites it is the artists decision. It is blatant copyright infringement and fortunately the courts have ruled the correct way. Metallica has caught a lot of flak about this but they are 100% correct in their claims. It is theft.
19. The Internet has opened up a lot of doors for recording artists. What
do you think the future holds?
David T. Chastain: Hopefully all music in the future will be delivered through internet means. That is another reason I started Diginet. Normal commercial distribution sucks, especially for indy artists.
20. Is there anyway for the record labels and music on the net to exist
David T. Chastain: Yes it is happening now all across the net. However at this time there is not tons of $$ being made that way. Once Napster and other theft driven portals are closed or their business structure is changed then $$ can be made legitimately as it should.
21. I imagine that you must get thousands of CD's each week from unsigned
bands and artist. What can a band do to get your attention?
David T. Chastain: I probably get 10 to 20 Cds per week. While some are very good Leviathan Records is not into signing anything unless it is very special and I trust the professionalism of the artists.
22. Out of all the CD's you get each week through the mail how many are you
actually able to listen too?
David T. Chastain: I listen a little to everything that comes in and I try to send an e mail to anyone that sends in something.
23. What kind of support can a label like Leviathan offer to bands?
David T. Chastain: At this stage not much. We are small fish in a big sea and we are more of a production company in 2001 than a record company. We will still release a few Cds a year but I prefer recording the artists and selling them to other labels.
24. What advice do you have for those unsigned bands out there trying to
David T. Chastain: Do what you like and don't worry about trends. By the time you chase down a trend something else has taken over. Have a fall back plan and don't expect to make a living making music alone. You have a better chance of hitting the lottery than being Metallica.
25. Any future plans you could let us know about for either Leviathan or
David T. Chastain: Same old story of trying to put out the best music we can afford to produce.
26. What about the future for David T. Chastain?
David T. Chastain: I wish I had 48 hours a day to do all I want and need to do but we all know that is not possible. I am still hoping to hit the lottery myself.