David T. Chastain Interview 7/22/2000
Interview by Fulvio Trinca from Flash Magazine(Italy)
Fulvio: When did you start to work on this material and with what purpose then the previous works?
David T. Chastain: Actually I have been recording this heavy blues rock material on the side for at least 10 years. I just always did it more for fun. However a couple of years ago I decided it was time to really release a Cd of this style. Everyone I played the demos for kept saying "You have got to release this!!" I was always a little unsure since I was doing the vocals. So I brought it a couple of "name" singers to try out the stuff and for some reason my voice just sounded more in tune to the vibe of the songs. So I got the drummer and bassist from Chastain together and we recorded the Cd. It was released a few months back here in the States and it has received universal raves! We have been very pleasantly surprised. The band has such a good buzz that numerous major labels have contacted us about the availability of SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN. It really has been a wake up call. Nearly all the major press in the US have given the Cd the utmost praise. It is a unique band for today's times and I think the music brings back fond memories to the listener of their earlier days.
Fulvio: Can we consider this album like a solo project or more like a band?
David T. Chastain: SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN is a band and I hope to use the same musicians on future recordings. With that said since I am the guitarist, vocalist, producer and songwriter and it is definitely my musical vision. Hopefully we will have the same line up unless I decided to use people who live closer to me so that I can tour more easily. I get along great with Dennis and Kevin who are both seasoned professionals from their earlier bands such as Trouble, Stygian, Damien and of course Chastain.
Fulvio: You come from a very prestigious musical-school, how did it influence the songwriting process?
David T. Chastain: I am not sure where this rumor came from as I am a totally self taught musician. Although in my earlier days I studied music theory extensively I learned most from hearing other musicians and incorporating that into my style. Plus hard work. I have never even had a guitar lesson as I am stubborn and pretty much insist on doing things "my way." I went 18 straight years where I practiced at least one hour a day EVERY DAY!! But if the question is "How did your extensive musical training influence the songwriting on the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues" the answer is simple. Sometimes less is more. More notes does not necessarily mean better music. Obviously when I was first learning to play guitar the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN style of music was an influence as it is easier to play that style than the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Musical knowledge can also tell you when to play and when not to play. But the bottom line is I write all styles of music and I just never know what I will write until I pick up the guitar and the music flows through me.
Fulvio: This new album sound like a mix between warm blues solutions and what we remember from the '70; how can you explain this mix?
David T. Chastain: What I was trying to do was to capture the vibe of the early blues rock such as early ZZ Top, Free, Trower, Hendrix, Skynyrd but do the music heavier and a little more modern sounding. To me that music has a lot more emotion than most of the stuff that has been released in the 90s. The music is not that complicated, it is more just to have fun. Most of my other music is pretty dark and serious and this was a way to play something that I wouldn't have to think too much about. I sing a lot about women on this Cd which really has barely showed up in my other Cds. They are usually about world hunger, animal cruelty, war, racism and other things I want to change. The SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN ideology is "Have some fun and check out the women!!" There really is only one serious song on the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN cd and that is "Madness in the Dark." That song is about a very special friend who was killed in a car accident coming to one of my concerts. A horrible event that will haunt me forever!!!!!!
Fulvio: In some months, here in Italy, two album from DT Chastain have been released: Acoustic Visions and Southern Gentlemen. Two very different musical approaches, indeed. Where do you feel more confident?
David T. Chastain: I feel more confident in a band situation. Acoustic Visions is a Cd I love but it was a very nerve racking situation to have to play solo acoustic guitar. I love both Cds. Acoustic Visions is a very relaxing deeply moving Cd that people have told me things such as it helped them through a major crisis to the opposite extreme that it is a great Cd to sleep to. Certain tracks on that Cd are very emotional to me. It was recorded live and so therefore there are a few things I would like to have made perfect but I didn't want to risk the Cd sounding sterile. I consider myself a very versatile musician. I may not be the master of any particular style to have a godlike stature but I don't think any guitarist has put out as many diverse style Cds as I have with the end result as accomplished as my catalog. I will let my record stand for itself. I am just a fan of numerous styles of music and I don't want to force myself to choose one style. Career wise it would have been better to choose one style but money has never been my driving force in creating art. Hopefully it never will be.
Fulvio: The modern definition of the guitar-hero label brings to mind musicians like Malmsteen, Satriani and Vai plus the new lines like Timo Tolkki or Michael Romeo. What do you think about them and where would you like to put yourself?
David T. Chastain: As I mentioned previously I have released a much more diverse catalog of music than all of the above great guitarists. Malmsteen, Satriani and Vai I like their music but there is not necessarily any of their records I couldn't live without. I like Malmsteen's instrumental stuff more than the vocal. Satriani's early stuff was pretty good. I appreciate Vai but I have not particularly been a big fan of his style although I admit he is an innovator and is very talented. In regards to Tolkki or Romeo I have not heard their solo Cds but on their band Cds I would say they have what I call the 90s syndrome. They can play fast but their emotional content is lacking. Maybe their instrumental Cds show that side but I have not heard those Cds. Malmsteen created a lot of younger guitar monsters who can play fast but not much else. While I have been guilty of that in my metal bands to some degree I always tried to incorporate some feelings. Now days I feel kind of silly just to play fast scales as it really doesn't say anything to me other than "I can play fast scales." There has to be more to music than that for me at this point in my life.
Fulvio: Which are your favorite bands and artists?
David T. Chastain: I have a vast list of bands and artists that I like. It also depends on the day of the week you might ask. There is no one artist that I could not live without. I do think that the new Iron Maiden Cd is the best thing for metal in a long time. Finally one of the old bands has put out something that is very comparable to metal's great days. I produced a new band called VAINGLORY that I really like. Of course since I am doing the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN thing I still listen to a lot of old stuff such as Stevie Ray, Trower, Hendrix and others. It may surprise people to know that I like artists such as Shania Twain, Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera. Not necessarily every song they do, but some of their songs. Their vocal abilities are immense. Of course I have a history of being partial to female singers. Just the other day I listened to the CHASTAIN "In Dementia" Cd for the first time in a year or so. The Cd is a great Cd. Kate French is a great singer/songwriter who doesn't get the credit she deserves. There are very few great new singers in rock. To be quite truthful I have the ability to appreciate just about all styles of music and can find something positive out of all. (EXCEPT RAP and all of its' bastard offspring!!!!!!!!!!)
Fulvio: What can we expect in the very close future from David T Chastain?
David T. Chastain: I have a brand new CJSS release that is coming out this summer called "KINGS OF THE WORLD." It is with the same original band members that did the classic releases "World Gone Mad" and "Praise the Loud." We are also finishing up the new ZANISTER that should be out in late 2000 or early 2001. Then I will return to the studio to do a new SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN Cd. I have so much material for that Cd that is going to be very difficult to decide which songs to record. Right now I am really tuned into the SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN style and every day I pick up the guitar I write a couple of new songs. It is a blessing and a curse. I can literally write a Cds worth of material in one day. You pick the style and I will have it completed tomorrow. I usually just end up recording on Cds what I have written most recently. I have a creative river I can not turn off except not to pick up the guitar. I probably have at least 50 Cds worth of songs sitting around at this very moment that will never be released. It is insane!! I need a situation like Frank Zappa had where he just sits around all day and records Cds and someone else mixes and releases them. Unfortunately at this time I don't have that luxury. Maybe one day.
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