Carl Begai of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID T. CHASTAIN
1) Both albums remind me a lot of old Metal Church, but with a really cool progressive edge. Definitely not square headed music for the faint hearted. Having said that, what made joining a band situation appealing to you after having done so mich work without having to answer to or trust anyone but yourself?
DTC: I have always depended on other musicians for my previous Cds to one degree or another. The other guitarist in Zanister, Michael Harris, and myself did a live Cd back in 1992 called Live! Wild and Truly Diminished!! under the moniker Chastain Harris. We got along very well both personally and professionally. We did a couple of tours together and there didn't seem to be any ego clash or anything. Back in 89 when I produced Leather's solo Cd "Shock Waves" I had Mike play guitar so I knew what he was capable of with this type of heavy music. When I decided to put together Zanister he was my first choice for the other guitarist. I have always enjoyed the so called twin guitar attack and the Zanister music called for it. Zanister is more of a band than some of my other projects but I still guide the general course of the music so I am to blame or praise for band's direction. Also since I alone mixed the Cd at Leviathan Studios I could really control the sound of the Cd. This is the first time I had ever mixed a Cd entirely by myself and I am pretty happy with the end results all things considered.
2) Was it a conscious decision for you to go back to a sound/genre similar to albums like For Those Who Dare or The 7th Of Never? How much control did you actually have over which direction the music went when zanister first started?
DTC: Yes I wanted to create a more traditional metal sounding band in Zanister. I guess similar to the "good old days" of the mid 80s or so when Maiden, Dio, Chastain & Priest were all putting out great stuff. To me that era is what real metal is all about. Since I pretty much write all of the musical structures of the songs it is my baby musically to this point. I actually wanted Michael to write a bunch of stuff for this Cd but he was too busy with his solo stuff so I went ahead and did it. I am not one to wait around if I can help it. Brian Sarvela, the vocalist, wrote the lyrics to a couple of songs and Ted Brasier, vocalist of Vainglory another band I just produced, wrote the lyrics to 3 others. The bottom line was I wanted a two guitar band that played metal with integrity.
3) With all the David Chastain works I'm familiar with, it's been solely your show when it comes to the guitars. What is it like playiing off of/working with Mike harris? You obviously wouldn't do it if you didn't like it, but does it bring out any added dimensions to your playing? And what did the others, particularly Brian, bring to the table that might have influenced you this time around? He's a killer singer...
DTC: Actually I have worked with other guitarists before to some degree. In CJSS the vocalist Russell Jinkens added some guitar and the Chastain band numerous times had a second guitarist for tours. Current Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O'Brien did one national tour with us.
Michael and I have similar yet different styles. We generally like the same types of stuff in guitar playing and I am always happy to hear his playing. We are not trying to show each other up or anything. I only think on one song that I suggested that Michael play anything different than he was already playing. And that was only because I wanted him to follow a certain melodic format that was in the music earlier. In general, at this stage of our careers, Michael is playing a more progressive style than I am and that fits in well into the Zanister tracks.
In regards to Brian Sarvela he did a great job on this Cd. He spent a lot of time cutting the vocals and you can see in the end it was worth the effort. On Fear No Man Brian had more time to get into the music than on Symphonica Millennia where he was brought in after everything was written.
Brian Harris, Michael's brother for those who don't already know, is really an up and coming drummer. He seems to get better with each recording and he is very quick in the studio. I did not even make the trip to the studio and I let him cut the drums without my standing there critiquing everything. Actually everyone cut their own parts in their own hometown on their own. I just mixed the end results.
Bassist James Martin, who also plays in Michael's solo band down in Dallas, is very good at adding his own little nuances to the songs that helps make them a little out of step to the norm. I am very happy with this line up and I have no complaints that is for sure.
4) I hear some elements of In dementia and Sick Society on fear No man, moreso than on the first album. Was that a conscious thing on your part?
DTC: Well not really a conscious effort. Usually I just write whatever I write and it lands wherever it makes the most sense. I think In Dementia is a really great Cd and one of the top 2 Chastain Cds of all time. Sick Society is also excellent but maybe the Chastain Cd that is most out of step with the other 6. On Fear No Man I just wanted it to be aggressive and heavy with just the right touch of progressive influences so the music would have its' own uniqueness.
5) Whatever happened to Kate French? Any chance you'll work with her again? The song 'Angel Falls' will forever be a classic in my book.
DTC: Thanks! I agree that Angel Falls is one hell of a track! Actually Kate and I have been working on and off since the In Dementia Cd. She had some personal things come up in her life; marriage, pregnancy and then of course motherhood that slowed down her musical interests and output. I recently sent her some new music to work on that I must say is really cool stuff. Hopefully she will come through and we can do a new Cd this year. I think she did an incredible job on In Dementia. That is the only time I did a Cd where someone else wrote all of the lyrics and melodies and she proved herself in my book as a great, great writer.
6) Zanister has been dubbed "power metal" by many in the biz. Is that accurate in your opinion when you consider the other bands, like Manowar, Virgin Steele and HammerFall, that are lumped into the genre? Lyrically I think it's a label that's way off.
DTC: I usually don't write much about Battles, Kings and Queens anymore but more about social issues or things that piss me off. So you are right, lyrically we don't fit in with that stuff but musically we are in the same general ballpark only more progressive. Maybe Zanister is progressive power metal!
7) Your opinion of today's metal scene? Is it something you pay a lot of attention to? Is it a viable option, do you think, for Zanister to go on tour in America or Europe?
DTC: I pay attention to the metal scene for sure but I don't spend a lot of time really checking it out. I hear all the sampler Cds and stuff but seldom do I hear entire Cds. I am repulsed by any metal that touches the rap stuff but to each his own. There are quite a few good bands out there if you search for them. Of course nothing real popular is usually very good. I am too busy working with the bands I am associated or producing to spend much time leisurely listening to others. Let's see, in the past year I bought the new Maiden, Halford, Hammerfall and Dio and all were very good.
As far as touring goes, Zanister is interested of course. However since everyone in the band has very good jobs it would take a lot to get the band out there for any extended periods of time.
8) Any guitarists out there these days that capture your attention or imagination, metal or not?
DTC: As I mentioned earlier, I just produced a group called VAINGLORY that has a great young guitarist named Corbin King. I am also working with a guitarist named Gus G from Greece and his band Firewind that showcases his amazing playing. Leviathan Records gets Cds every week from great players but unfortunately we just don't have the resources to get them all out there.
9) And finally, do you have any other plans outside of Zanister at this point in time, or is the band your sole focus right now?
DTC: I am very busy with numerous things. Besides running Leviathan Records and producing numerous bands I have started a new internet company called Diginet Music which specializes in rare music. While many people think that my 30 Cds worth of stuff out there is a lot, I still have tons of other music that I never released for one reason or another. On Diginet I have found a way to get it out there. In the last month I have put up 6 Cds worth of stuff that has never been released or is out of print:
1)David T. Chastain's D-Daze-A New Day Very heavy stuff with a lot of D tuning. Written right before Sick Society
2)David T. Chastain's No Voices-Instatreasure Instrumental tracks that were never before released
3)David T. Chastain's Riffology-Wicked Riffs This is just rhythm guitars, bass and drums. No lead guitars or vocals. Stuff just to headbang away to.
4)Georgia Blues Dawgs-Hard Times An even more bluesy Cd than the very successful SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues" that came out in 2000.
5)The Cincinnati Improvisational Group-Aberration This is the second Cd from my live heavy improvisational jam band. This band probably features my best soloing of all my Cds.
6)David T. Chastain-Within The Heat A remastered version of this 1989 all instrumental Cd
I will also be releasing many more Cds in 2001 through Diginet.
Plus there are other artists at the site with similar rare tracks such as Joe Stump, John Hahn, Gus G and others.
The site is at
So between Leviathan Records and Diginet Music and all each entails I have a pretty full plate. As far as commercial releases go in 2001, of course we have the new Zanister "Fear No Man" that we are promoting that I have high expectations for and hopefully a new Chastain and/or SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN in the fall.