Zanister 2000 Interview #1
Interview by Gabriel Ramovecchi for EPOPEYA MAGAZINE
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID T. CHASTAIN
Gabriel:(1)First at all, congratulations for your exciting new release "Symphonica Millennia"....how was the production and composition work with your partner Michael Harris?
DTC:Thanks, I am glad you like it. I came up with the basic ideas for the songs and then I sent them to Michael for him to add his touches so it would sound like a joint venture instead of just me. I came up with the song structures and he added most of the harmony guitar parts.
2)It's unusual to see you working with another guitar player in a band..... why did you join Michael for this project? Who had the idea to form Zanister?
DTC:Michael and I had worked together before in the early 90s on the Chastain Harris project. We did 2 tours and 1 live Cd in that band. It was a lot of fun and we worked good together with no ego trips. Last year I decided I wanted to do a 2 guitar metal band and Michael was my first choice. When I discussed the idea with him he was very enthusiastic about everything and then we went about finding the right musicians to finish the band. Since he had not ever played in a band with his brother, Brian Harris, I checked him out and we added him on drums. Then we added Michael's bassist James Martin who plays live with Michael in Dallas. We auditioned many singers and we choose Brian Sarvela who I had heard before with one of Joe Stump's bands.
3)By the way... what means "Zanister" and why did you choose this name for the band?
DTC:It was a name I had made up years ago and was waiting for the right moment. Originally we thought of using Saint Savage but there were too many bands with similar names. Since I made up the word Zanister I also made up the definition- Sophisticated Intensity.
4)"Symphonica Millennia" seems to hide a concept behind, not lyrically but musically speaking... is there a musical concept where you're trying to mix a new age in mankind history with classical music and heavy metal?
DTC:Something like that. We wanted to tap into our old influences and bring them into the new millennium. Metal music into the new millennium. Of course a Metal Symphony would also be cool!!
5)Talking about your history.... what did happen a long time ago with C.J.S.S.?... the band was great...
DTC:Believe it or not, the band has just signed a new recording contract with Pavement Music and we are currently recording a new Cd for release next year. Leviathan Records reissued the bands first 2 albums World Gone Mad and Praise the Loud on one Cd, 2-4-1 during the summer. We sent that out to labels to license and I also put a message in there that the band would be willing to record a new Cd for the right deal. I immediately had 3 good offers and we eventually signed with Pavement Music. We also did a couple of shows in August to promote 2-4-1. The band really never broke up, we just never put out any new Cds after 86 and never played any live shows after 92. I pretty much concentrated on the Chastain and instrumental stuff. However the new Cds is sounding great so far and it is a lot of fun working with those guys again.
6)You're the owner of Leviathan Recs....why did you create a label in a first place? There wasn't any label that wanted to release your stuff?
DTC:After the release of the first Chastain Cd, many labels contacted me about signing that band. However it was already signed to Shrapnel and Roadrunner. I told the other labels about CJSS and we signed the band to other labels outside of the US. A friend of mine and I decided to start Leviathan Records so that we could control the destiny of the release in the US. It has been a lot of work over the years but also a lot of fun.
7)How is your job as a producer? Do you ask to other musicians the same things you ask yourself?
DTC:It depends on the artists. Some you can ask more of than others. I try to shape the songs to the best of my abilities keeping in mind the artists vision. It is something I enjoy doing when I can find the time and the right artists. Sometimes I hear a demo tape and I think I can put the person together with some other musicians to form a real great group. This is what happened with Kenziner.
8)How do you feel it will be the music of the new millennium? You think heavy metal will remains or it will pass the way as another genres?
DTC:Heavy metal will remain. There seems to be a resurgence of traditional metal and I think that is good as it will bring back more melody and musicianship. Who knows if it will ever attain the stature of the mid to late 80s but I am not a believer in just because something sells more it is a better product. I think there has never been a time where there were more great metal bands than now. Unfortunately most people don't realize that!
9)If you have the idea that H.M will be alive.... what bands will rise the flag of the style?
DTC:I think that all styles will survive, but depending on the time, certain styles will be more popular with the masses for certain times. Then another style will take over for awhile. It is the way it has been in the past.
10)What do you think about sub-styles as black, thrash, death or power metal?
DTC:I like all metal that has good singers. I can't enjoy the very heavy gravel death metal voices. No melody. However some of the music is great. My personal favorite is classical influenced metal and progressive metal.
11)About your work as guitar player .... what equipment do you use?
DTC:Kramer and Yamaha guitars. Lab and Marshall amps. I am recording the new CJSS with a new unit called a POD that is working out great.
12)In the 80's there was a lot of "guitar heroes" as Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and yourself.... why do you think people doesn't pay attention to guitar starring anymore?... at less, guitar heroes are not so popular as they used to be in my opinion...
DTC:It is true that the guitar hero thing is not nearly as big as it used to be. I never considered myself part of the guitar heroes since I was always in bands that featured songs and not just guitar solos. However I enjoy the music of most instrumentalists. I think in the early days a lot of guitar players led the way but now it more of a band thing.
13)In this way, what do you think about Mike Varney?
DTC:Mike gave Chastain their first record deal and I am thankful for that. He has discovered a lot of great guitarists. However he was one of the reasons of the backlash against all of the instrumental heroes. His label was putting out too many of the same sounding guitarists and Cds. It was an example of greed and overkill.
14)About your influences.... tell me three guitar players from the past that you like and why....
DTC:Allan Holdsworth-simply put the best guitarist on the planet. Way ahead of everyone else.
Randy Rhoads-Heavy as hell and still classical. Too bad he didn't have more time to develop.
Uli Roth-the Yngwie before Yngwie. His work in the early Scorpion days was excellent and also had that classical style with some Hendrix thrown in.
15)Can you also tell me three new guitar players that you like and why?
DTC:Petrucci in Dream Theater helped make playing intelligently cool again.
Jarno Keskinen (Kenziner) a guitarists on our label who to me is writing the best classical metal around. Some of the musical passages in the middle of those songs are as good as Mozart!
Corbin King- another guitarist we have just signed who is a heavier style guitarist but still have some very cool solos and riffs.
16)How do you see the metal scene in the States.... is it growing up or MTV keeps on lead with rap stuff?
DTC:Unfortunately as long as MTV avoids metal it will not be popular in any big way. They control too much power in regards to the musical tastes of the US. Someone should bomb their headquarters. (Just joking!!) Maybe it will catch on fire instead!
17)If you have the opportunity to choose a band to play with (beyond Zanister, of course)...what band do you choose and why?
DTC:Old Metallica because they really rocked and took no prisoners. They did it their way. Unfortunately their way now is not very good.
Also Maiden during their glory years and I would have been a perfect match for Dio in the late 80s.
18)What are you doing at this time?.....composing, playing alive, producing or resting?
DTC:I am currently in the process of many projects.
Recording and producing the new CJSS
Writing and recording the new Zanister
Producing the new VAINGLORY Cd. (Featuring Corbin King on guitar and also Stephen Fredrick from Kenziner on vocals.)
I also have written the next Chastain Cd and I am waiting on Kate French to work on the vocals.
And of course the 10 hours a day in the Leviathan Records office!!!!!
19)What are you planing to do the rest of the year and after?
DTC:Pretty much the same as always. See above.
20)2000 year means something to you or its just another year? How do you see the world in a near future?
DTC:I wrote a song once called 1999 that seemed like to me some far off mythical place and now were are here. Strange!! It is amazing to me as we approach the year 2000 that there are still numerous wars around the world and people are still killing each other at an alarming rate. It is just ignorant. We are suppose to be civilized but in reality we are just a step up from some violent animal. Hopefully at some point in the future all people can live together peacefully.
21)Please (if you want) define "Symphonica Millennia" song by song....
1)Fighters from the Sky-An uptempo track that showcases everyone in the band. Michael wrote and recorded the intense intro.
2)We will Bring Glory Tonight-One of my favorite tracks. About defending one's territory against tyranny.
3)Save Me Now-Basically about the greed of many religions. Michael wrote a great harmony guitar part in the middle.
4)Searching For Freedom-The music to this song was actually a CJSS song back in the old days and I resurrected it for Zanister. Song is about minorities standing up for their rights and standing proud in the face of bigots.
5)The Edge of Sanity-A song written by Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) and myself back in 89 or so. I wanted to use it in Chastain but Kate didn't like the story. I love the story. It is about the curse of the Pharoahs! One of Brian Sarvela's best vocal tracks.
6)Let Them Live-One of my major concerns. Millions of animals are killed in the US every year by animal shelters and the like. It is murder plain and simple. I only support no kill animal shelters. They all should be. Once again how can a civilized society allow the wholesale slaughter of other creatures to make their lives more comfortable. As you may have guessed I am a vegetarian. I recommend everyone to research the benefits to such a lifestyle and the negative impact of eating the decomposing corpses of animals.
7)Born in Cold Blood-Sounds like a Chastain track to me. It is about how the US was born and expanded due to very horrific means. The US government are hypocrites and its' history is tainted with blood.
8)Downfall-Actually I wrote this song in support of Bill Clinton when the assholes in the US Congress where trying to throw him out of office. He eventually won and they lost a couple of their leaders.
9)Children of the Gods-My song in praise of the ancient Egyptians. Their society had some amazing things that even today are unmatched.
10)The Evil Will Survive-It always seems that the Evil does survive in one way or another. A cool heavy track that once again showcases Brian Sarvela's amazing vocal range. The ending is just fading into the intro again and we have come full circle.
Please, send a message to the argentine fans (there're a lot of them!!)
DTC:Thanks for all of the e mail and letters. Please spread the word on Zanister and tell your concert promoters: Bring ZANISTER to Argentina or DIE!!!
Well, that's all. Thank you very much for your time and for your music. I hope you like these questions. I hope to meet you someday. Bye. Gabriel Ramovecchi EPOPEYA MAGAZINE
DTC:THANKS I enjoyed it!!