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 Beginnings"?.

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 everything.

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 think about.

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 believe it.
Tortured Love - Ending a love relationship and never knowing if that love was mutual.
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 wish.

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 forth.

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 person?

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 talents seriously?

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 judgment.

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 point.

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 out. Enjoy!