David T. Chastain Interview 7/1/2000

Interview by Suzanne from Echorider

Suzanne: I actually did know your work on Vainglory and Kenziner. Did you do some songwriting for "The Prophecies"? That's a great album. I have yet to hear Vainglory.

DTC: On The Prophecies by Kenziner I produced and did some of the lyrics and a lot of the melodies. On Vainglory I produced, did the lyrics and melodies. That is a new band that is a really heavy progressive metal band. Kind of like if Metallica or Testament went more progressive.

Suzanne: I will stick to your current endeavors, but I wanted to mention that my first taste of Chastain was while filling a want list for my Aussie friend Jason. He's a major CD collector and had Chastain on the list...so I came across a used copy of "For Those Who Dare". Well when I listened to it I was so impressed I ended up keeping it and told my friend to get his own *grin*

DTC: Thanks! That line up of Chastain probably had the best chance to make it "big!" That Cd will probably be a re-issue in the near future with the band's mix instead of the Roadrunner Records' mix without anyone in the band being present.

Suzanne: I knew about Zanister also, just forgot to mention it. In fact it has sold pretty well for the store and I play songs from both that one and CJSS fairly regularly on the internet radio show I DJ called Seismic. It gives the fans a chance to hear some of the songs they would never get to hear on US radio.

DTC: Thanks. Yes Zanister has received some really great reviews. For some reason that is a band that people seem to either love or hate. Some have said "It is the best heavy metal album ever released and others say it sucks!" I believe it turned out the way we intended which was a throwback to the good old days of metal when Priest and Maiden ruled the roost.

Suzanne: I've read through your list of favorites on your website and that list is almost like an echo of my own. I love Iron Maiden and think "Brave New World" is a huge improvement to their last album (my opinion). It would seem from reading about Stratovarius and Symphony X and even Kenziner that our tastes are very similar. That's what surprised me so much when you sent me the demo for Southern Gentlemen. It's such a contrast from the euro-influenced sounds of Zanister. Can you tell me how that project got started? It certainly is getting great reviews.

DTC: It is the best reviewed Cd of my career and that spans nearly 20 new studio releases. I think the music just brings back good memories for most people. I had been meaning to put out this Cd for years but I just never had the chance or the nerve. It was just put together to have fun and see what happened. The lyrical content has no real serious overtones to it. More about women and sex and stuff like that. Not like my normal topics of world hunger, prejudices, greed, animal cruelty, reincarnation, and similar topics. I just wanted to do something that we could play without thinking too much about it. SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues" music just makes you feel better.

Suzanne: I do ask this question to everyone I've interviewed so far, so forgive me if it sounds redundant... For myself the internet was like a catalyst to rediscover all the music I had missed during the 10 year era of grunge in the US. I truly did not know bands like Rage, Riot, Gamma Ray, Helloween even existed anymore. (this very interview being a prime example) What impact has this technology had on your life? How do you use it to make and promote your music?

DTC: We have had a site up since about 96 and it definitely helps spread the word. We get 60 to 70,000 hits a month which is not really a lot in the real world but we are happy with it. Leviathan Records' artists have been up at most of the download sites since their inceptions. Places such as liquidaudio, amplified.com, musicmaker, mp3.com, nordic, throttlebox and many others. Although those sites are yet to really account for much income I believe it is the way of the future. Nearly all of my business contacts are conducted by e mail whereas 2 years ago it was by phone and/or fax. Musically speaking the advent of computer programs such as protools and digital workstations have added great flexibility and options for the music. While analog recordings really sound better the digital format is just far superior in most other realms. In regards to the 90s, the decade of the ugly, in the US I knew there was tons of great music still out there in the rest of the world due to my daily contact with labels, publications and bands from foreign territories. Plus I did quite a few tours outside the US in the 90s and that also helped.

Suzanne: For someone who sells CDs, I've been watching the issue of MP3's and the raging debates over their legality with interest. What is your opinion on the Napster / Metallic issue?

DTC: Well I definitely would side with Metallica if I had to chose. Everyone should be paid for their work. However I believe that if it is set up like mp3.com where the artists and/or record company has the choice of whether the material is free or not, then I am all for that type of exchange. For instance on mp3.com SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN allows one song off the cd Exotic Dancer Blues to be downloaded for free. If the listener wants more then they need to buy the Cd or pay to download the rest of the Cd or whatever songs they wish to have. If an artists wishes to have their entire catalog available for free and they contractually have that right then they should be able to do so. On the other hand if Metallica does not want to give away their music for free then they certainly should have that right and it should be respected by all.

Suzanne: I know from talking to my musician friends around the world that you are big influence on many of them. So I will ask you who you consider to be your first influences...not necessarily only musicians either.

DTC: Well I have so many different influences when I first started that you would almost need to discuss each musical style I play.
Metal-Black Sabbath, Zep, Hendrix, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Uli Roth
Instrumental-Allan Holdsworth, Mahavishnu Orchestra
Blues Rock-Allman Brothers, Cream, Free
Progressive-Kansas, Yes, King Crimson

Suzanne: Can you give me in your own words a description of each of these projects?

DTC: Chastain:
A female fronted true heavy metal band that discusses very serious topics in their lyrics. A no compromise "kiss our ass if you don't like us" kind of band. 7 great albums with "In Dementia," "The 7th of Never" and "Ruler of Wasteland" metal classics. A great line of drummers got their start in Chastain (Fred Coury-Cinderella, Ken Mary-Alice Cooper, John Luc He'bert-King Diamond) The only one of my bands to have a video played on MTV.

David Chastain:
My all instrumental recordings. Actually "Instrumental Variations" is probably my biggest selling Cd in the US to date. If I had to pick only one Cd from my catalog to take to a deserted island it would definitely be "Next Planet Please." That Cd will still sound fresh in 20 years. The all acoustic "Acoustic Visions" is also a very nice change of pace. 5 total studio recordings.

The first two releases "World Gone Mad" and "Praise the Loud" were both originally released in 1986 to incredible response. The new Cd just released on Pavement Music is called "Kings of the World" and takes up right where the others left off. The most American sounding of my metal projects. Male vocalist Russell Jinkens has the kind of personality like Ozzy where people just are attracted to him. 3 total new studio recording with 3 "best of" releases thru the years.

Southern Gentlemen:
My current "fave" band. Just a fun band. Nothing too serious. 3 guys just jamming and checking out the women folk! As I said earlier we haven't had a bad review yet. One reviewer said it sounded "dated" which was exactly the point of the band so whereas they meant it as a cut I took it as a positive. I wanted to bring back the 70s and 80s blues rock music but do it with a metal sound and attitude. This band will have a lot of fun on tour during and after the show!

Double headed guitar monster that also features guitar wiz Michael Harris. This is my most traditional metal band. Male vocals, serious lyrical topics and top notch musicianship all the way around. Currently recording the second Cd for a late 2000 release.

Suzanne: (any that I left out?)

DTC: There are more but no need to totally confuse everyone:
The Cincinnati Improvisational Group, Chastain Harris, occasional Spike shows (features myself, 2 guys from CJSS and the singer from Kenziner Stephen Fredrick) plus there is one other project I am currently recording that might or might not see the light of day. In the past I have recorded as much as an album a month. Some will be released and some will be for my personal collection!

Suzanne: And how and why did you start Leviathan? How many bands are affiliated with your label now? Do you do any touring and are you able to send your bands on tours?

DTC: Leviathan was started in 1985 by myself and a friend Steve McClure. I had some good connections and we had CJSS who we knew would sell Cds right out of the box so we just went for it. We didn't really know a lot about the business but we made quite a lot of money up until we turned everything over to Roadrunner in 89. It is really hard for me to say how many bands I am working with at any one moment as I have my hands in a lot of different bands in different capacities. In regards to touring, no one we deal with is a full time touring band. I use to do that but I just don't have it in me anymore to get on a bus and live there for a couple of months. Most of our acts plays occasionally but at this point in time so many rock clubs have gone out of business that it is hard for most bands to get out there and actually make a go of it. Maybe things will change in the future.

Suzanne: And lastly, once again, how do you make the time for all of these projects David? As one who works full time, plus has the store part time along with DJing and promoting some talented bands as a hobby I know there's only so many hours in the day. How do you keep track of it all? and still have time for this interview! haha.

DTC: I guess you could say I am a workaholic or maybe you could say I am a fast worker. Plus it helps that my girl friend works the graveyard shift 3 or 4 nights a week and I have no children. I also can write an entire Cds worth of music in one day if necessary. I have a recording studio at my house so I can record whenever I please. Plus I try to always involve myself with serious musicians so I don't have to play head games all the time and baby-sit grown men or women. Top that off with the love of the music and it all seems to work out in the end. I usually work from 8am to 9 PM in the Leviathan Records office and then the rest of the night is for music. I sleep 5 to 6 hours a night.

Suzanne: Thanks!


Southern Gentlemen photo

Mp3 Sound Sample

On-line Review 2/16/2000