SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN 5/1/2003
DAVID T. CHASTAIN (Southern Gentlemen, Chastain) **EXCLUSIVE**
By Scott Alisoglu of ElectricBasement.com
David T. Chastian has been a fixture among guitar freaks since the 80s via his metal band Chastain. The cult guitar hero even received strong accolodes from Guitar World, "As a player, Chastain ranks with Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai." Keeping busy with his new projects ranging from his latest band Southern Gentlemen, to working with new artists, his label and even a new Chastain CD, he has a lot to talk about. - Editor
Tell me about the new Southern Gentlemen album, Double your Pleasure.
DTC: It is the band's second CD. Originally, it was supposed to be a Georgia Blues Dawgs (a more traditional blues band that I dabble with) release but we made it heavier and it just evolved into a Southern Gentlemen CD. There was talk of releasing both versions in one CD, henceforth the title of Double Your Pleasure. However, we decided just to release them separately. So the clean version with a few different songs is the Georgia Blues Dawgs CD Racing Back. Of course, the Double Your Pleasure artwork still worked with the title since it is the band's second CD.
How does it differ from Exotic Dancer Blues?
DTC: This CD is a little heavier and definitely a little more jamming. This one is a little more metal whereas "Exotic" tended to go a little more hard rock.
I found the album covers to be rather 'um' intriguing. Tell me about the models on the covers of both albums.
DTC: On Southern Gentlemen Exotic Dancer Blues, the model is Kate French, Chastain's lead vocalist. Originally, she did the photo hoping to use it for a Chastain promotion but once I saw it, I knew it was perfect for the Southern Gentlemen CD I was recording. On Southern Gentlemen Double Your Pleasure the model is Tamalynn. She lives in Indianapolis. She was the model on a couple of our Diginet Music releases, most notably Georgia Blues Dawgs Hard Times and Guitarmageddon Extreme Solos. She is obviously very hot! We were fortunate in that we had tons of photos to choose from women all around the world. It is such a tough job, but someone has to do it!
What are you trying to get across musically with Southern Gentlemen?
DTC: Just good time rock 'n' roll; nothing too serious. I let my metal albums talk about things that matter to me politically and morally. Southern Gentlemen music is more about women, heartbreak, sex and all that goes with it. Kind of like a Saturday in your neighborhood bar where you are having a good time with friends and trying to hook up with a hot member of the opposite sex.
I heard a heavy dose of Robin Trower on Double Your Pleasure. Is he an influence?
DTC: Yes, there are definitely some Trower influences in Southern Gentlemen. I was a very big fan of the first three or four CDs he did. The track "I Languish For You" is definitely a Trower tribute. Actually some of the reviews have stated that the vocals are somewhat similar to James Dewar, Trower's vocalist in those glory days. To me, that is a huge compliment, as I have always loved the guy's voice.
What is your connection to Kevin Kekes (bass) and Mike Haid (drums)? How did these two end up joining you in Southern Gentlemen?
DTC: Kevin played on the first Southern Gentlemen CD as well as a Chastain CD. Mike has played on numerous things for me in the past as far back as 1994's Next Planet Please. Both of the guys are great guys and very professional - a dream band for me.
Who do you think the music on Double your Pleasure or Exotic Dancer Blues will appeal to?
DTC: Fans of 70s and 80s hard rock and heavy blues rock should dig the CDs. Plus guitar heads who dig that type of playing. We tried to make the music sound like early ZZ Top, Trower, Stevie Ray, Hendrix and the like but just a little heavier.
I understand that you are currently working on a new Chastain album. How is it coming along?
DTC: It is currently being mixed in Germany as we speak. It has taken a few years to complete due to some personal things that have gone on in Kate's life. However, lets hope the wait was worth it!
When will it be released?
DTC: Hopefully, it will be out later this year.
How does it compare to previous Chastain albums?
DTC: Hard for me to say at this time. Maybe if you mixed the CDs In Dementia with The 7th of Never. We have a new rhythm section on this CD - the original Vicious Rumors guys, drummer Larry Howe and bassist Dave Starr.
Speaking of Chastain, what impact do you think this band had on metal in general, particularly the 80s material?
DTC: Well it is hard to say. I have had so many people tell me "Man I really loved this or that CD and it has influenced me to this day." So I don't think that is a question I can easily answer. Hammerfall just recorded the old Chastain track "Angel of Mercy" on their newest CD, Crimson Thunder. That was a great honor, as I really like that band. Plus Powergod did a great version of "Ruler of the Wasteland" on a CD a year or so ago. It really pleases me to hear bands cover those tracks. It is also interesting to hear male vocals on them.
Please tell the readers how Leviathan Records came into being?
DTC: It was originally started in 1985 to release CJSS in the states. It evolved over time to release quite a few of my projects and others, most notably Joe Stump who does pretty good business for us in the states.
What would you say is the mission of Leviathan Records?
DTC: At this point, it is to release things that I personally enjoy listening to. We really don't have to release anything but there is so much good music that comes thru my office that I can't let it go undiscovered. My other company Diginet Music at http://www.diginetmusic.com is also an avenue for our releases. However in 2003 Diginet has no plans for any new releases. Had to take a break as one year we released one new title per week. That was a lot of work!
As far as the label is concerned, has each year been more successful than the previous year?
DTC: Not really, some years have been better than others. 2002 was actually a pretty good year, all things considered. Plus it depends if you are talking gross or profit. Lets just put it this way: we make enough every year to keep going. The company started in 1985. Most companies that were around then have gone out of business so I guess we are doing something right.
As you know, I've reviewed the albums by Firewind and Joe Stump's Reign of Terror and found both to burn with the fire of classic metal. Tell me about both bands in general and Between Heaven and Hell and Conquer and Divide specifically.
DTC: Firewind is based around guitarist Gus G and vocalist Stephen Fredrick. Gus writes music that is pretty accessible for the average Euro metal fan. It has been quite successful around the world. The Reign of Terror is obviously based around guitarist Joe Stump and vocalist Michael Vescera. Joe Stump's Reign of Terror Conquer and Divide has tons of insane guitar by Mr. Stump. Joe is the king of shred in my book.
Michael Harris's Hurricane X was released a short time ago and was originally one of the Diginet Music Guitar Masters Series recordings. Why did you decide to release this one on Leviathan?
DTC: Diginet has limited distribution, pretty much just Internet. There are so many of those guitar masters that are just killer that I wanted to make sure they were heard. We will next release Joe Stump Armed and Ready, which was Joe's Guitar Master 2002. The versions are not 100 percent the same but probably 98 percent. We "cleaned them up" for commercial release. In any case, the guitar playing is out of this world on most all of those titles. There should be more released on Leviathan Records over the next year or so.
Tell me about Michael Harris specifically and the Masters series in general.
DTC: The premise behind the Guitar Master series is to provide numerous guitarists with the same bass and drum tracks and let them play anything they wanted over them. It is really quite a treat to hear the different versions. In regards to Michael Harris I have known him since the late 80s and have always respected his playing. We have played on three CDs together in the past. The two Zanister CDs and the 1992 Chastain Harris Live, Wild and Truly Diminished. Plus Leviathan Records released a few of his instrumental CDs over the years.
I'm guessing that you are someone who likes to stay busy. Between running Leviathan Records and your own recording projects, do you have time for anything else? How do you juggle the various responsibilities?
DTC: I pretty much have a full day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, it is mainly business and not guitar playing but that is the way the cookie crumbles at this point. I guess my other interests would be movies, sports and our cats.
In your opinion, how has metal changed since you first began playing?
DTC: What passes for metal in the US in 2003 is very simplistic guitar-wise as compared to the "old days." These so-called nu-metal bands usually don't even have solos, mainly because they can't play. Fortunately, the rest of the world is still pretty open to the older style of metal and it is important to them that you know how to play your instrument and sing on pitch.
Are there any newer bands out there that you are impressed with?
DTC: Of course the bands that I work with such as Firewind and Vainglory are very good. There are tons of Eurometal bands that are quite impressive.
What are you top five favorite albums of all time?
DTC: That is hard question and hard to narrow down but these come to mind:
Black Sabbath-Heaven and Hell
AC/DC-Let There Be Rock
AC/DC-Highway to Hell
Iron Maiden-Seventh Son
Iron Maiden-Somewhere in Time
Pantera-Cowboys from Hell
The first two Ozzy CDs with Randy Rhoads
Robin Trower-Bridge of Sighs
Allman Brothers-Fillmore East
Who is your favorite all-time guitarist?
DTC: I guess Allan Holdsworth, but I enjoy most all guitarists in one way or another.
You've made music your life. Could you imagine doing anything else?
DTC: Sure. I have actually written a couple of books I would like to get published. For some reason I am interested in all things real estate. But of course I would be happiest just playing guitar, touring and recording 100 percent of the time.
Any closing comments?
DTC: Please check out the Southern Gentlemen Double Your Pleasure as well as all of the new Leviathan Records releases in 2003. You won't regret it.
Visit http://www.davidchastain.com for more info.
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