KATE FRENCH Interview 2003!!
Interview with Kate French
After a seven year hiatus, a son, and an incapacitating illness that almost
stopped her in her in her tracks, Kate French is screaming back into the music
scene with the new Chastain CD release due out late this year "NEW
BEGINNINGS". We caught up with her to find out the skinny on life, music, the
past present and future.
1.) Good to hear you are back, what can we expect from the Chastain CD "New
I think by far it is the best lyrically written CD I have ever done. As for
the vocals...I've added a lot of dynamics this time. I tried to mix sensuality
and passion with strength. Kind of like Dio meets one of those phone sex women.
Heavy meats seductive and breathy, it's hard to imagine, you just have
to hear it, it's unique. Musically, this one is definitely the best CD I've
done with Chastain.
2.) Why is it the best musically?
We are honored to have the former rhythm section from Vicious Rumors on this
one. My husband Larry Howe, and Dave Starr on Bass. Larry is the best drummer
I have ever heard, and that's not because he's my husband. He adds A LOT to
the music with his nuances...he's very creative. Dave Starr uses an eight
string bass on most of the tracks which gives the songs a different sound.
David Cs tone is a little heavier this time. Everyone will just have to
buy it and see.
3.) What's taken you so long?
Well, I had my son Trevor in 98. I believe if you make the choice to
bring a life into the world that life comes first. I wanted to be there for
my son....I think it's really important to be there for your kids as much as
you can....especially in the beginning. David has been kind enough to be
understanding through everything. Then when we went to do the actual
recording for the CD I got really sick. David has been supportive through
4.) What happened?
After I had my son was born, I became obsessed with loosing weight. I was
using a diet supplement with Effedera in it at least twice a day, drinking
coffee, exercising A LOT....and when I did eat, it was very little and
not good food. One day I guess my body just had enough and I started to loose
control of functions that where normal. My heart would race out of control, I
would get rushes of adrenaline sitting at the dinner table, I could not hold
food and everything seemed strange. I thought I was checking out. The doctors
gave me all these different diagnoses from Superventriculartaciacardia (heart
dysfunction) to chronic anxiety...to a pinched nerve from back
strain. They put me on medications that made me really sick. Then one
day I just decided I was going go with the natural way of making myself
better....cause after three months I just kept getting worse, I had to go
through a horrific withdrawal stage from the drugs....and now I'm fine. I eat
right, exercise, and take vitamins everyday. Effedera is now in the news all
the time for deaths....it has been pulled by the FDA. I wrote a song about it
on the CD it's called "Lucky to be Alive." It's funny how we sometimes take
the simple things for granted like your health, when you loose it you realize
how lucky you are to have it. Everyday is a day I'm Lucky to be Alive.
5.) Wow, so are most of your songs written from experiences in your life.
Yes, things that happen, or people that effect me I'd say 90% of the time are
what I write about. I release my emotions through my songs. When your writing
about personal experience it gives the listener a chance to relate. I think
a lot of people will relate to the subject matter of this CD. Most of the
concept of the CD has to do with overcoming adversity and how it can make you
stronger. I wanted to give the listener strength and something to really
6.) Give us a short overview of the songs and their meanings.
Haminaptra - Love between two people that is immortal.
New Beginnings - When there is a tragic end there is always a New Beginning
to look forward to.
Souls the Sun - The concept of no religion and life coming from and returning
to one energy....whatever you want to call it.
Rule the World - That anyone can make anything happen, they just have to
Tortured Love - Ending a love relationship and never knowing if that love was
Bullet - Going for what you want and letting no one and nothing stop you.
Lucky to be Alive - How fortunate we all are to be.
Malicious Pigs - People who lie about hurting someone indefinitely and never
tell the truth, confess, or say they are sorry.
Women are Wicked - That the way a women is treated is the way she is.
In an Outrage - The events of 9/11
7.) Did the events of 9/11 effect you in a big way?
When my husband woke me up to tell me about what had happened I was terrified
that was only the beginning. I think having a child has a lot to do with it
too. It makes you want the world to be a better place for their future. I did
not want a war close to home when my son was growing up. I am not a fan of
war, but I am glad we have learned what CAN happen and are protecting
ourselves from it ever happening again. I want my son to have a good outlook
on life, and a good future. Even though I can't control anything, that is my
8). You record and produce the vocals yourself on all the Chastain CDs you've
done. Tell us about this process.
On the last couple of CDs I have worked out of a friends studio. I learned
a lot actually doing the recording and production of the vocals myself. There
was NO ONE there. They would say "go do your thing" and I had to patch, plug,
route, EQ, figure out everything myself. There would be times I was in there
for hours with no sound, that I forgot to push one button. I learned
it's all trial and error. I'm kind of thankful because I have learned so much
and know a lot about things I would otherwise have no clue about. Thanks Jerry
and Jane Jenninngs. These people believed in me and have been there since I
was Eighteen and taught me so much! Thank you guys!! Anyway...This time,
I own my own studio so it has been a whole new set of trial and error, It's
been tough, but I've learned a lot, new machines....new buttons. Im still
learning....there's so much. The process, we transfer digitally, download
and upload songs back and forth. I write the lyrics and melodies add
harmonies over the music David has sent....I send it back to David for
approval, if he disapproves it's a rewrite and David is really
strict...as he should be. He's really smart with what clashes or if pitch is
even a little off. It was difficult this time because I was really sick for a
while in the process of this recording so there was a lot of back and
9.) What is your musical background?
I've been involved in music since I was a baby. I used to go in my mothers
room and put on Creedence and sing to it when I was four. My Mom would sing
to me every night before I went to bed. We used to have contests on who could
hit the highest and who could hit the lowest note, I always won the high
and she always won the low. I started band and choir in school when I was in
fourth grade. I wanted to be a drummer,...but so did every guy in the
room, so the director stuck me on Baritone horn, I played that for a
couple of years then he switched me to Trombone. We competed and performed
all the time in both choir and band. When boys and parties came into the
picture in High School all that went out the door.
10.) So what got you into Metal when most women are into pop or folk?
It's funny, I was living with a friend who was a great guitarist. He
brought home this vinyl record and put it on. He said "who do you think
this is singing?" I said some dude, but the dude was
exceptional....really strong, but it wasn't a dude it was Leather.
Chastain made me sing like I sing today. It's ironic that I am where I am now
after years of trying to sound like Leather and my other main influence,
Carl Albert (RIP) was my husbands vocalist in Vicious Rumors who I was
fortunate enough to know before he died. I never thought I'd know these
people. I climbed the Metal ladder with different bands playing and writing,
worked hard, and I'm still working hard! I will never stop writing and
recording music. It's just part of who I am.
11.) Do you write your own songs or are you just a lyricist?
Yes, I play guitar, bass, keys, and attempt basic drums for my songs as a
reference for my husband (I'll leave the drums to him). My favorite instrument
is my Seagull twelve string. That's how a song usually starts for me, I'll
be messing around....hit a chord that moves me and then a lyric usually comes
to my head and I build around that. Its pretty amazing all the work that goes
into taking a song from the beginning stages to recorded and ready for
release. Lot's of time...I've been writing a lot of keyboard based songs
lately. I love string sounds. I would like to combine dance rhythms with
Metal guitars and my voice....I'm learning how to produce that now. Most of
the stuff I've done on my own are mostly ballads or folk rock.
12.) Are you planning on releasing your own material in the future?
Yes, Id like to be able for people to hear what I do independently. It's just
trying to find a direction when I write so many different styles. I think id
like to submit some music to David for production and do another Metal style
CD since I am fortunate enough to have his help. His former vocalist Leather
released a solo CD in 90 called Shock Waves, he did an awesome job
producing it. I've always wanted to do something along the lines of Rob
Halford's "Fight". War of words is one of my favorite Metal CDs of all time.
13.) Who are you listening to now?
I LOVE this new band Evanescence because I like new and unique sounds. They
are basically Lincoln Park with a female vocalist. The difference is she does
not sing hard ever....and it really works for them, she sings like Barbara
Strisand throughout the whole thing, but the lyrical content is so emotional
and well thought out that it actually works! Id like to do something along
these lines...but a little more dynamic vocally, since I love to sing
really heavy, great production. I'm sure you'll know them well by the end
of this year.
14.) How do you feel about comparisons to Chastain's former vocalist Leather?
I LOVE Leather!! I'm a huge fan. I wish I would have got a chance to meet her.
She's a kick ass lady (from what I've heard). Comparisons and opinions and
critiques are funny because the beauty in everything is so extreme from
person to person. It's like a painter, some people like Van Gogh and some
think he paints like a child....his art did not sell when he was alive, but
it has become a trend. Things usually are successful because they become
trends. On anything you do in your life people are going to have an opinion.
What matters is if YOU are happy doing what you like to do. As long as I love
doing what I'm doing opinions or comparisons do not effect me because I have
learned that what one person likes another doesn't. I am proud to be compared
to Leather, her artistry ROCKED in my opinion. I highly recommend any CD
she has sang on to everyone.
15.) One of your songs you said had to do with religion, are you a religious
My belief on religion is this, love people, care about them....respect
them, forgive them. If you have a positive message in your heart you
are doing it right. That is my opinion. Souls the Sun is the song you are
speaking of. I thought about all my radically religious friends belittling
people who didn't have the same beliefs, looked or where different without
even speaking to them, when their religions all state not to judge others.
What total hypocrisy. The concept of the song is that if we all knew we came
from and went back to the same energy, religion would not separate us as
human beings and things might be different. Everybody's fighting over what
there faith. I think it's amazing how the basic element of ALL faiths is love
and yet no one is paying attention to that. My religion is acceptance and
respect for all people without judgment. My beliefs are my own.
16.) I've seen your picture on the cover of David T. Chastain's CD "Southern
Gentlemen" do you feel that this is a distraction from people taking your
No. In fact I love it. That's the biggest attraction for me in a woman.
Strength AND Sexuality. I am defintely a woman that loves to exude sexuality.
I wont deny it, I love attention, I love to give it, I love to receive it. I'm
not going to try to be a man just because there are a lot of men that love to
do the same kind of music I do. I've watched women over the years try to be
men to supposedly compete with men, but you can't....and that's not the
point. We are two different animals. I am not into putting my life at risk
with breast implants like a lot of women do, but I do believe we all should
strive to be the best we can be health and fitness wise. When you have a life
"hiccup" like I did this last year, when you don't know if you are going to be
living or dead the coming year, you get a wake up call to be as healthy as
possible, to live. I'm proud that some people might think I'm attractive in
those pictures. Thanks. Sexuality is part of who I am, I love to feel
attractive. I will not be different because of someone's opinion of me. I
work on improving my musical skills everyday and will do so as long as I'm
alive. I love music.
17.) I know you do Photography other then your music, is there anything else
your working towards in the future?
My son is first, my music is second, photography is a hobby. This year I've
decided to start working on something I stopped in College because of music.
I'm in the process of completing two courses to get my licenses for both Real
Estate Appraisal and my Residential Real Estate license. I plan on having
both licenses by the fall of 2004 when my son starts school. I love helping
people to do something they thought they couldn't. It's actually really easy
to get into a house especially for first time buyers with families. The
government has all kinds of programs to assist. We have been homeowners since
98 and it's the best thing we ever did. It should be fun. Music will always
be what I want to do full time, I'll keep striving for that till I'm dead.
18.) In your songs you sing a lot about life trials and lessons. What is the
most difficult lesson you've had to learn in your life?
Sometimes I forget to just go with life's flow...I've tried to control where
I'm going, who I'm with and pre figure out peoples' meaning and thoughts. I
think the most difficult thing for me to do has been to understand that all
we can do is the best we can and not everyone has the same thought process.
The people that truly love us for us will be there despite our faults without
19.) Any words of wisdom for people out there.
Don't waste time. Don't hold on to conflict because of pride, be the first to
let it go. Put your pride aside. Make yourself happy. Don't think you know
what others think until you've heard it from them. Don't pass judgment. Finish
what you started. Focus. Set small goals to reach the big ones. Love
unconditionally. Do the best you can. Forgive, forget and move on. Create
happy distractions. Don't ignore it, confront it. Don't be afraid to say your
sorry. Don't dwell on negative things. Go with the flow. I should be writing
an inspirational affirmation calendar....OK, I'll shut up. You get the
20.) We are looking forward to hearing Chastain's new CD release New
Beginnings. Any last thoughts or mention?
I would like say thanks to David T for being so patient and standing by me
all these years. You are an unbelievable guitarist and I'm so glad I've had the
chance to work with someone as talented as you. To Dave Starr, Thanks for
joining us for this project, I'm glad you where a part of it and I'm glad to
have you as a friend. Larry you studmuffin....you rock. London
Starr, thanks for the time you devoted to this, it means a lot to me. You
did a great job engineering Dave. And to everyone out there, thanks for your
support and interest in Chastain. I really think this CD is worth checking