BY NICK BALDRIAN
David T. Chastain can be considered something of a workaholic,after being featured in the very early eighties in Guitar Player's "spotlight" section,his high prolific career kept him recording on various projects like C.J.S.S.,his own solo material,and the band CHASTAIN.
Throughout the eighties David had started his own record label Leviathian records and has signed many bands such as Kenziner,Event,Candlemass and Joe Stump.His most recent release the project Zanister with Michael Harris is at last starting to turn heads,and the news of a reformation of C.J.S.S. just around the corner is a mouth watering prospect to note in your diary,David is one of the most gifted and sophisticated players in the world of rock and heavy metal music today.So i caught up with him to discuss just what it is that keeps him playing and intrested in music.
N.B.: How have you managed to keep playing all these years,what exactly keeps your rock chops up?
D.C: Practice Practice Practice! I went 18 years without missing a day of at least one hour of guitar playing. It is something that I really enjoy and would love to be able to concentrate 100% on just playing music. However I help run Leviathan Records so most of my time now days is in the music business and not the making of my own personal music. With that said I still write about an album's worth of material a month.
N.B:How do you keep things so fresh if you are writing so much material?Do you suddendly stop and wonder which direction to experiment in?Don't you ever run out of steam David?
D.C:Fortunately I have a creative river that always flows. I wish I could be in a situation like Frank Zappa had. He would write and record the material and someone else would mix it as he was writing and recording the next Cd. I could easily put out a new Cd every month under those conditions.
N.B: My favourite "Chastain" album was "The Seventh Of Never" and your solo album "Elegant Seduction" both show a pretty diverse set of material.Do you limit yourself to any boundries in your music?
D.C: I have recorded a little of about everything. I like a lot of different styles of music and I don't really see any boundaries as to what I can and can not record. Fortunately I work at Leviathan Records so I don't have the problem a lot of musicians have with trying to please the A&R guy. I am my own A&R guy most of the time.
N.BWhat happened with the C.J.S.S. band?As i still think "Praise The Loud" is a total classic?
D.C:We have just released 2-4-1 which is both of the CJSS classic Cds "World Gone Mad" and "Praise The Loud" on one Cd. It should be out in Europe in November. At the same time the band has regrouped and has signed a new recording agreement with Pavement Music for 3 new Cds. The first new Cd should be out in March 2000!!
N.BWhat equpiment do you use?
D.C:Kramer and Yamaha guitars, Marshall and Lab amps, Art digital effects and whatever happens to be in the studio we mix at.
N.B:What happened to Leather?I always remember her as being a bit mad but at the same time she was good with your music, which i think the UK press didn't understand?
D.C:As far as I know Leather has not recorded a new Cd since the 1990 Chastain release "For Those Who Dare." We are rereleasing her solo Cd "Shock Waves" this fall. It will be remastered and repackaged. It is actually a great album and has great players on it.
N.B:Regarding Leviathan records, what do you look for in your artists?
D.C:Right now we are looking for Progressive Metal bands with classical influences, great vocals and compositions. It has to be something that I really like since I will have to hear it about 100 times before it is released!!
N.B: Why did you decide to form your own label?
D.C:I have been releasing stuff on my own or jointly owned label well before Leviathan. When you own or run a label you can pretty much record whatever you want and sign whatever you like. Unfortunately you also have to sell the stuff which is the part of the business I don't like. I enjoy the creative side.
N.B: It's good to here that C.J.S.S. is back!!! Will you be touring this time?
D.C.:Time will tell. We toured the states to some degree back in the old days. However if the opportunity arises we will jump on the next plane to anywhere!
N.B: What make of guitar do you find the easiest and most constructive to play?
D.C: I use Yamaha and Kramer guitars. Both are old models. I am not into going into music stores and worrying about the latest gear. People who spend fortunes on guitars are wasting their money for the most part. An expensive guitar is not going to make you play or sound any better. Either you can play or not.
N.B:That wierd i recently interview Perry from Firehoue and he said exactly the same thing about Yamaha basses,what do you think makes Yamaha so special?
D.C:Mine was a gift from a fan from France. It is actually a pretty cheap guitar pricewise but it just felt right.
N.B: Tell me how the Zanister project came about?
D.C:Michael Harris and myself did an album back in 92 called "Live! Wild and Truly Diminished!!" We always wanted to do another Cd together and last year was the first time our schedules permitted. We decided to have a vocalist on this release and make it a full ahead traditional metal album. Plenty of guitars but the songs are what is the most important. It is traditional 2 guitar metal in the vein of 80s Maiden. A lot of energy. Songs are the most important aspect of the band.
N.B: Tell me about Kate French and how you got involved with her?
D.C:I met Kate in September 94 and I was impressed with her talents and physical appearance.(laughs) I flew her out to my house for a couple of weeks and we worked on the material that became SICK SOCIETY. She is a great songwriter and hopefully we will do another Cd in the future.
N.B: Have you ever thought of a male/female duet within your music?
D.C:Not really. I guess that would be interesting.
N.B:Are you still in touch with Ken Mary at all?
D.C:He became more of a lead vocalist back about 5 years ago. The last I saw him was probably back in the early 90s.
N.B: I heard that your into producing other bands?
D.C:Time permitting. I produced Kenziner's first 2 Cds. (Timescape and the new Cd The Prophecies due out in about a month) I also am producing a couple of other bands at different levels of development.
N.B: Who directed the video for "For Those Who Dare"? and where was it shot?
D.C:A director named Mark Kalbfield. We shot the video in different locations in and around Cincinnati Ohio.
N.B: What bands are you currently into?
D.C:Everybody and no one. I listen to most everything I have time for and there is a lot of great stuff out, especially in Europe. However I am so busy with my and other Leviathan's releases I seldom listen to anything more than once that we don't work with in some form or another.
N.B: What would you say is your fondest memory?
D.C:Musically speaking would be listening to the demo of Angel Of Mercy. I knew with that song I had created something special. Actually a lot of the times I like the demos better than the Cd version. The demos have a newer feeling to them. By the time a Cd comes out I have heard the songs a 100 times and I am ready to hear something else. Of course for the fans, they get to hear the songs in its' final polished form. Concert wise, too many to mention but most of them would be in Cincinnati where we have legendary status.
N.B;Have you won any music awards?
D.C:Nothing major, just local stuff. Remember I am an underground musician!!
N.B:What did you think about the general guitar hero boom in the mid-to late eighties and what do you think of guitar scene today?Is it tough out there for guitar players?
D.C:It is getting better. Once Nirvana hit, if you knew how to play you were in trouble to some extent.
N.B: What do you think we can do to help this genre of music come back full cicle?
D.C:It seems to be getting close to that point everyday.
N.B:Have you thought about writing music for films at all?
D.C:I have talked to numerous companies but they just want you to give them the music.
N.B:Lastly is there anythting you would like to say to your fans over here in the UK and Europe?
D.C:Keep the faith. Real metal is just around the corner again!!
David T. Chastain Leviathan Records on-line at:
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