Zanister 99 Interview

Interview by Renegade Webzine - Carlos Afonso

Carlos Afonso: 1 - Only you and Michael Harris were responsible for the songwriting on the album. Why didn't the other band members get involved with it ? Did they act like "contracted musicians" or are they really on the band and, even didn't helping with the songwriting, could give their opinions about the work ?

David T. Chastain: When the band started the only members were Michael and myself. As time progressed we added the other members. The vocalist Brian Sarvela was the last person added and by that time everything had been written. Maybe on the next album the others will contribute more to the songwriting. Drummer Brian Harris and bassist James Martin did a tremendous job on the CD!

CA: 2 - How was the songwriting process for "Symphonica Millenia" ? When you started working on the songs you already had in mind the sonority wanted or was it taking shape with the development of the compositions ?

DTC: I began the songs and gave them to Michael to add his touches. Then I wrote the lyrics after the music was completed.

CA: 3 - "Symphonica Millenia" is a very traditional metal sounding album. Probably, from your past (and present) bands, the one which gets closer to this sonority is CJSS. Do you agree ? Would you consider Zanister as an updated version of CJSS ?

DTC: In a way yes. It is more traditional metal with male vocals but still lots of guitar with the David T. Chastain compositional influence.

CA: 4 - Talking about CJSS, a question that doesn't have to do with Zanister. Recently there were some reunion concerts with CJSS, right? How were them ? Did this reunion happened just to make these concerts or will happen some recording or tour ?

DTC: CJSS has just been signed worldwide to Pavement Music for some new Cds!! The reunion was more just to celebrate the release of the CJSS 2-4-1 in the US and Europe. 2-4-1 is both of the classic CJSS cds "World Gone Mad" and "Praise the Loud" on one extended Cd. The shows went great and there was still a good vibe amongst the band members. I sent word out to the record labels that the band would be willing to record some new material under the right circumstances. Immediately we received 3 offers and we choose Pavement as the label seemed to know more about the history of the band. We should have a new Cd out by the band by March of 2000. I sent the label 50 songs to choose from for the next Cd.

CA: 5 - Returning to Zanister... even sounding like the above mentioned, some things in the album remind me of your 80's works with Chastain. The first is that Brian Sarvela vocals, stylistically, remind me very much of Leather Leone. What do you think about that ?

DTC: The melodies are similar since I wrote most of both bands stuff. Therefore they will sound somewhat similar. I guess you are correct in that Leather has a manly voice and Brian has a clearer male voice so when you compare the two I could see where the similarities might be noticed.

CA 6 - Another thing: the chorus of "Save Me Now" is very similar to the chorus of Chastain's "Take Me Home," from "The voice of the cult." Do you agree ? Was that intentional ?

DTC: Yes, they are to some degree but I never noticed that until you just pointed it out. I guess it is legal to steal from yourself!

CA: 7 - The same melody is used to open and close the album. Why did you make that ?

DTC: We felt it was a cool part that Michael wrote and it helped bring the album full circle.

CA: 8 - Lyrically, "Symphonica Millenia" presents very recurrent themes in heavy metal like "power," "glory," "war," "evil," Egyptian themes, etc. Did you want to use these kind of themes to give the album a "total metal" feel? How were the lyrics of the album written?

DTC: Yes, I wanted to write more typical metal themes on this Cd. Things that interest me and/or piss me off. As we approach the 20th century the world is still pretty messed up. I can't believe people are still killing each other at such a horrific rate. Egypt has a very interesting history that amazes me. Animal cruelty pisses me off and I wanted to write about that. There are stories in some of the songs about repression in one form or another. And war stories from different points of view.

CA: 9 - How were the lead parts divided between you and Michael Harris ? And why did you and him divided the keyboard parts, as there are not much use of keyboards in the album ?

DTC: Keyboards are not a big part of Zanister. Just a little ear candy now and then. As far as solos go, they just seemed to fall into the right persons lap each time.

CA: 10- Zanister was formed because you had to take a time with Chastain as Kate French was pregnant, right ? If you could have been working with Chastain then, would some of the material on "Symphonica Millenia" be used there and Zanister could never exist ?

DTC: I have been looking to do a full time male vocal project since the early 90s and only found the right people in 98. Actually I gave Kate a complete different album's worth of material to work on but she just can't seem to find the time to get it together at this point. Babyhood has become a full time job for her.

CA: 11- This brings to another question: is Zanister a "true" band or is it just an one album project ? Do you have plans to record again with Zanister ?

DTC: The band is signed to a multiple record deal. We are already working on the second Cd which should be out next summer.

CA:12- How have been the reception to Zanister so far ? And how are the sales going ?

DTC: The reception has been very gratifying. There is really a great buzz on the band at the moment. I haven't heard anything negative at all. The sales have been very good for a new band. Everything seems to be working out just as we had planned. It is very rewarding to see people get into the music as much as they have. We have been getting tons of e mail from people in South America and Europe.

CA: 13 - You didn't make any concert with Zanister so far, right ? If yes: how were the concerts and the public reception ? If no: do you plan to make concerts or is the band just a studio project ?

DTC: There probably will not be a tour for the first Cd as everyone is very busy doing other things. Also we want to have at least 2 Cds worth of material to choose from when we play in concert. That way we can change it up often and make things more interesting for everyone.

CA: 14 - You and Michael Harris are very respected musicians; nowadays it's very rare two respected guitarists, which normally release solo albums, to get together for a band. In the 80's it was much more frequent, with bands like Cacophony, with Jason Becker and Marty Friedman and Racer X, with Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet. Would you compare your duo with M. Harris to the above mentioned ones ? How is working with another respected guitarist in comparison to be the only guitar player in a band ?

DTC: Yes I think we are a very formidable team and can compare with the bands you mentioned. However I think one difference is that Michael and I decided we wanted the band to be about songs and not guitar solos. We both have our instrumental careers if we want to show-off how much we know. We wanted Zanister to be about the songs and the band. With that said there is still some pretty hot guitar work on Symphonica Millennia.

CA: 15- You had already worked with Michael Harris, and recorded the album "Live! Wild And truly Diminished." How would you compare this work with "Symphonica Millenia" ?

DTC: Chastain Harris was put together strictly for a couple of tours and a live album. We played stuff from our previous solo records and there was no new material. It was a lot of fun but that was more of showing off our musical talents.

CA: 16- What are your future plans ? When will we have a new Chastain album?

DTC: Hopefully that will be in the future when Kate can find time to start back to work on music.

CA: 17- Do you have any plan to release a new solo instrumental album anytime soon ?

DTC: If so, it will probably be another all acoustic recording. "Acoustic Visions" went over really well with the people who heard it. It is totally different than my other stuff.

CA: 18- And about Southern Gentleman ?

DTC: That really is my favorite project right now. That should see the light of day in 2000 when it makes sense. Heavy metal blues rock!! It is just hard to find the right time to release it with all of the other stuff going on. It is recorded and ready to release. It features the drummer and bassist from Chastain, Dennis Lesh and Kevin Kekes. I do the guitar and vocals!. It should be available for full download thru sites such as and for people who want to get it before it comes out next year. On top of that I really never know what is going to strike my musical interest.