Zanister 99 Interview #3

Interview for Rock Brigade by Ricardo Franzin

Ricardo Franzin:When did you guys have the idea of putting Zanister together and how was the processing of arranging the line-up put forth?

DTC:Michael and I worked together in the early 90s on the Chastain Harris project and we have been looking for the opportunity to do something again. I had a bunch of traditional metal stuff laying around and I asked Michael if was interested and he said "Hell yeah!!" James, the bassist, was already playing with Michael so he was an easy choice. Brian Harris, Michael's brother who had never been in a band with Michael before wanted the job, I checked him out and he sounded great. We then auditioned a bunch of vocalists and we decided on Brian Sarvela, who I had worked with before on one of Joe Stump's Cds.

What was the basic idea behind the musical approach of the band? I mean, what was the primal goal of the group musically, since the members came from different musical backgrounds?

DTC:The goal was to put out a Cd that was more like our earlier influences and tastes. It was more of my musical vision. I had wanted to do something more like my CJSS and early Chastain material for awhile. I just never found the time to put it together. I decided late last year to put it as my main priority. I sent the material out to Michael and he added his touches to the songs. I wrote most of the lyrics about things that were of interest to me.

Do you think you were able to accomplish the above mentioned goal with "Symphonica Millennia"?

DTC:Yes. As with all Cds there are a few things I would do a little differently but on the whole we are pleased with the results.

What would you say are the main musical influences in Zanister?

DTC:Early traditional metal such as Maiden, Chastain, CJSS, Priest, and other metal bands of the mid-80s.

What's been the reaction to the album so far? I assume its been released everywhere, so I guess you should have a fair idea by now.

DTC:The Cd has been released in Europe and South America. I have heard nothing put high praise from everyone. Of course no one is going to call me up and tell me it sucks!! The reviews have been pretty positive from what I have seen.

Is the American market reacting better to this power metal oriented-stuff that Zanister does or is it still very hard to deal with when it comes to such genre?

DTC:Although the American market is getting better we have not released Zanister in the US. Maybe in early 2000. The US scene is still not very receptive to real metal. The popular stuff still has to have grunge or rap influences to get noticed to any degree.

What does Zanister mean? Who came up with that name?

DTC:I have had that name stored up for about 15 years. It is just a word I made up that sounded cool. Since I made up the word I made up the definition. "Sophisticated Intensity." I think that was one of the goals of mine with the band. Heavy, aggressive but with some intricate musical passages thrown on top.

Why is the album called "Symphonica Millennia"? What does that title mean?

DTC:Once again, just something I made up. I define it as "Metal music for the new millennia."

There's a lot of people saying that the production of the album is not that good. Some of them even say it is its weak point. However, in my point of view, it seems the production came out that way purposely in order to catch the raw vibe a metal band should have. Am I correct?

DTC:I think both views are correct to some degree. We were trying for a rawer live sound but the end sound could have been a little better. I purposely was not at the mix of the Cd as I was afraid it would come off sounding too Chastain influenced if I oversaw the mix. The Cd was produced by the whole band which also sometimes causes problems. I will definitely produce the next Zanister Cd from beginning to end and overlook the mixing. Even with the above said I still feel some of the tracks on "Symphonica Millennia" are incredible pieces of real metal. I have done nearly 30 Cds and there is something that could be improved on every Cd. There is no such thing as the perfect Cd. The bottom line is the music.

The albums been recorded in three different studios. Why?

DTC:Actually 4. My stuff was done in Leviathan Studios in Atlanta, Michael and James recorded out at a studio in Dallas, Brian did the vocals at a studio in Boston and the drums and mix were done in a studio in Cincinnati. Everyone lives so far apart and this way everyone could take their time. If we all were at one studio, there would have been a lot more time constraints on the participants.

What are your personal fave songs in the album? Why?

DTC:I like all the songs. If had to only pick a couple it would probably be Fighters From the Sky and We Will Bring Glory Tonight. (I just noticed that it says Fighters IN the Sky on the back tray card!!)

Almost everything in the album was done either by you or by Michael Harris (or by both). Arent the other members into songwriting, composing and whatever for Zanister?

DTC:I don't think James and Brian Harris write. However Brian Sarvela is a pretty good songwriter. However all of the material was pretty much written before he joined the band.

Who is Mark Shelton, that co-wrote "The Edge Of Sanity"? How much of the song did he write?

DTC:Mark is the main guy from a band called Manilla Road. They were a pretty big band in Europe during the 80s. I wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics to that song nearly 10 years ago. I have always loved the song. Neither Leather or Kate wanted to sing it for some reason so it has been waiting for the write opportunity to appear. Mark is a very intelligent lyricist. That song is Michael's favorite track.

Should people consider Zanister as a full-time band or a part-time project? Are you touring with the band?

DTC:No tour is planned at present but you never know about the future. We were just offered a couple of major concert opening slots here in the US, but with no Cd in the stores it didn't make sense to me so I passed on the offer. Zanister is signed to Leviathan for 5 records. Of course everyone else is doing other things also.

What's the feeling of playing with Michael Harris, that's an amazing guitar player? Are there any clash of egos between you both?

DTC:No egos problems as far as I know. We have worked together on and off since 89 when he played on the Leather Cd I produced. Despite what some would think, I prefer playing with 2 guitar players. Even in Chastain when we went on tour I usually brought along another guitarist to fill the holes in the music that one guitar couldn't cover.

What are the main differences between playing in Zanister and playing with the other bands you've taken part (CJSS, Chastain etc.)?

DTC:The other bands were live touring bands that rehearsed and I saw everyone on a pretty regular basis. The recording process was also different on Zanister. However most other things were similar. I didn't meet Brian Sarvela, James Martian and Brian Harris in person until after the Cd had been recorded, that is unusual for any band!

What's happening with Chastain (the band) at the moment? Are there plans for the band to record other albums?

DTC:Kate had a baby and is too consumed with motherhood to do anything at this moment. Maybe in the future things will work out. The music is written I just need the vocals!

What about Zanister? Are you already writing new material for a second album?

DTC:I pretty much have the general ideas to all of the music written. The label in Europe wants a new Cd for a May release so we will start moving on it later this year. Currently I am recording a brand new CJSS Cd. I put word out that CJSS would be interested in doing a new Cd and I got flooded with offers. We chose Pavement Music. A new Cd should be out in the first quarter of 2000.

You are involved in a lot of activities in the musical scene. You are a musician playing in several bands, you are a producer, you have your own label, your own publishing company etc. How do you handle your time to do this whole amount of things?

DTC:I am very busy ALL OF THE TIME!! Hopefully I will cut a few of those job titles in 2000. I haven't had a vacation since 92. I guess I am a workaholic. However I want to cut back and enjoy myself a little more in the new millennium. Life is what you do away from work.

Of all the things you do in music, which is the one that brings more pleasure to you?

DTC:Probably songwriting and recording demos. By the time a record comes out I have heard the song 100 times at least. The initial creation is usual the best for me. Also certain concert dates are a lot of fun. Nothing beats playing to a packed room with crazy fans and hot women everywhere!! We played some CJSS shows recently that were a lot of fun. I am not a big fan of the business of music, but I do it well and I do enjoy helping other musicians.

As a musician, you've been always known in Brazil. Do you use to get much correspondence (letters, e-mails etc.) from the brazilian fans? How do you feel your work is accepted in Brazil?

DTC:I have received more e mail for Zanister from Brazil than any other of my releases. Of course in this age it is easy to send e mail as opposed to letters. I would do anything to tour down in Brazil with one of my groups. Hey somebody line me up a tour down there!!!!!!

Well, David, thanks a lot for answering all of this. Please feel free to add any further comments you'd like to. Thanks a lot!

DTC:We appreciate all of the positive stuff we have received on the ZANISTER release from Brazil. Spread the word, there is more magic in the future!