Zanister 99 Interview #2

Interview for La Gaceta Rockera by Gueorgui Lazarov

Gueorgui Lazarov 1.- David, you've been in this for what, 20-25 years? What made you start in the first place?
David T. Chastain: I was just always attracted to the lead guitar in the music I heard. I just decided I was going to play lead guitar come hell or high water. Once I started it was full tilt and dedication. 18 years without missing practicing guitar at least one hour a day!

2.- Do you think you've achieved your goals or there's still more to be done?
DTC: When I started I didn't really set any goals. Maybe to get a 4 track tape recorder and a mellotron. I think I have far surpassed by initial goals. I make music for the sake of making music. Money has really never been a consideration in any major decisions in my life. I could probably write a new album of music every week if that is all I did. I have a creative river that fortunately never stops so I just sit down and the music comes. It is nothing that I have a lot of control over.

3.- Is that why you're now in a new project called Zanister?
DTC: I have wanted to do another band with Michael Harris since we did the Chastain Harris band back in 92. However doing another instrumental project didn't make a lot of sense in this era. I had also been wanting to do another metal project with a male vocalist so I just tried to co-ordinate the two together.

4.- What does the name mean?
DTC: It is just a word that I made up. My definition is "Sophisticated Intensity." However there is a rumor that it is an Egyptian word for "men with big cocks!"

5.- Tell me the story behind the title "Symphonica Millennia."
DTC: It was a title that I thought up that sounded cool. My meaning is "Metal music for the new millennia." It has a good metal sound.

6.- Does it means that the old projects are something of the past?
DTC: Who knows what the future may hold. Believe it or not CJSS just signed a 3 record deal with Pavement Music so that band will have a brand new release in March 2000! The vocalist in Chastain, Kate French, is in the middle of raising her new son and is just not in the frame of mind to work on any new material so Chastain is on hold for the moment.

7.- How do you manage to do your work at Leviathan and have time for so many projects, tours, interviews and so on not to ask about your private life?
DTC: I guess I am efficient as hell! It really is a lot of work for me at Leviathan Records. I wish I could just concentrate on music but at this time I have too much responsibility for my own good. I really don't play live very much so that part is not too time consuming. Maybe 2-4 shows a year.

8.- With all due respect and if you don't want to answer it, I'll understand, it's OK, but, do you ever think to get married, have kids, settle down, think about yourself? You know, we all wish to be Highlanders, but reality is different.
DTC: I've been married before and had numerous live in girl friends. My current girl friend is very patient and is not demanding. Plus she likes her time alone and she is not interested in having children. We both have our cats so they are our children. I am not much into sitting on the beach relaxing. I haven't had a real vacation since about 92 and that was a disaster!!

9.- Is Zanister a David T. Chastain project or it was all under mutual interest and agreement between the band members?
DTC: It started more as a project for Michael and myself and we added members as the music progressed. The bass player James Martin was already playing in Michael's band in Dallas. The drummer is Michael's brother but they have never played in a band before so this was the perfect opportunity. I knew the singer Brian Sarvela from his work with Joe Stump. Brian and I had been working on some music also so it just worked out where we just combined everything and made it into one new band.

10.- How is your work with Michael Harris? Is not easy to have two lead guitars in a band.
DTC: Actually it is not for me. I have always preferred playing in bands with 2 guitars no matter what it may have seemed. Even in Chastain when we toured we usually tried to carry along a second guitarist. If there is mutual respect and maturity there shouldn't be a problem with 2 guitarists.

11.- Will it be correct to seek for a label for the brand of music you're playing or it is better for you to give me some sort of musical description of the material played by Zanister?
DTC: I think we play grand traditional heavy metal in the style of bands such as early Maiden, Chastain, Hammerfall and the like. However we do try to incorporate some new ideas as well. I think the correct term would be Power Metal but who is to say.

12.- Is Zanister trying to rescue all the good speed melodic metal that was so common in the '80's, in fact, rescue the high quality heavy metal that's been almost forgotten in the 90's or is it that all the band members just like to do what they do in Zanister?
DTC: A little of both. We are playing the stuff we grew up with. Fortunately we don't have to worry about making a living strictly off of Zanister so we can be a little more free in what we record. I personally have always recorded what I liked and I just hoped others would also. However if they didn't I needed to please myself foremost as that is who I live with. Hopefully one day I will hit the right button and my tastes will match the masses and everyone will be happy.

13.- Most of the songs are penned by you or you and Michael Harris, there's even one that you did with Mark Shelton, how did you two worked out the songs?
DTC: I wrote the basis of the song and Michael came in and spruced them up adding harmony guitars and the such. It was a joint effort for sure. In regards to The Edge of Sanity that was written with Mark Shelton, it was something we wrote in either 89 or 90 that I had been wanting to record since that time but I just couldn't find the right opportunity. I couldn't get Kate into the lyrical content. (The curse of the Egyptian Pharaohs.) I have always loved that song since the first demo Mark and I did. I finally am glad we found a place for it. I think it is one of Brian's better vocal performances on the Cd.

14.- Definitely there's a message or at least some lyrical meaning in almost all of the songs. Could you explain a little more on that subject, the lyrical content and where did the inspiration came from?
DTC: I tried to go for some topics that meant something to me. As we approach the year 2000 I still can't believe there is war and genocide on this planet. Let's face it, if there was any sort of intelligent life out in space they would avoid earth like a plague. The Edge of Sanity as well as Children of the Gods are about ancient Egypt. Let's face it they did some amazing things for the time. Do you know that the great Pyramid at Giza was the tallest man made structure for over 4000 years! Also the track "Let Them Live" is about animal cruelty, something that really pisses me off. That is beyond ignorance. There are a couple of tracks (Searching for Freedom and Downfall) about repression in one form or another. A couple of tracks about war coming from the viewpoints of the participants. Save Me Now is about all the crooks and con men in religion. Born in Cold Blood is basically about all of the blood and misdeeds of the US in gaining this country. Not a lot of happy songs on this CD!!

15.- Knowing you for such a long time and being familiarized with your personal taste, could I say that is a little strange to hear David T. Chastain playing this kind of metal or is it that Zanister is the band in which you let loose your metal dreams?
DTC: I like all kinds of music and people would be surprised at what I listen to in a month's time. I see Zanister as going back to my "Metal roots" for another go round. I definitely like 80s metal more than the crap that tried to pass for metal in the 90s.

16.- How do you picture the heavy metal music and scene in the next decade? How dangerous you see two of the most important factors in musical evolution: trends and generations?
DTC: Who can really say. If history repeats itself we will see a lot of the 80s recycle itself in one way or another. There will always be metal. It may be underground for a few years and then be very popular for the next few. However it will never die.

17.- To end with, the Mexican version of the CD has a bonus track. Is there a catch?
DTC: Our label in Mexico and South America wanted one extra song to make it a little different from the European version so we were happy to give them the one extra track. The song Feed The Fire was written entirely by Michael and while it is a great song to me it didn't quite fit the vibe of the other 10 tracks so it was designated as a bonus track. Free for the taking!

18.- Any final words?
DTC: I sure hope to play down in Mexico City again soon. I've done a couple of tours done there and met a lot of cool people. I had a great time both trips. Maybe again in 2000!!