Heart of Steel: Interviews

DAVID T. CHASTAIN

Interviewed by JP

David T. Chastain is one of the longest standing, most respected and most prolific guitarists on the rock and metal scene today. From his early pioneering work with SPIKE to his recent ventures into the realm of internet music with Diginet Music, Mr. Chastain has always been on the cutting edge of the world of guitar. We are very pleased to have a moment from his busy schedule.

 

I believe this is your first interview with Metal-Rules.com (ed. note: it's actually his second interview for us. You can read that interview HERE.) so let's go way back into the past. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your initial interest in music and how you got started in the business? 

I was always attracted to the sound of lead guitars when I was young and I decided I had to learn how to do that. Once I started I became a fanatic about it. I played in numerous bands. The first band to make any real noise was SPIKE. That band dissolved into CJSS. When sending out tapes of CJSS, Shrapnel Records offered me a solo deal and that was how CHASTAIN was born. I also began putting out instrumental Cds in the later 80s. I had the three projects going for awhile. In the early 90s I concentrated on the instrumental stuff. In the mid 90s I reformed Chastain with new vocalist Kate French. We put out a couple of Cds in the later 90s. I also started 2 new bands in the late 90s ZANISTER and SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN. Currently I am working on new Chastain and Southern Gentlemen Cds.

 

Tell us about Leviathan Records and how you came to found what is now one of the most successful niche labels ever? What is your capacity at the label (besides owner and founder),? What is a day in the life of Mr. Chastain like? 

Leviathan Records was basically started by myself and a friend, Steve McClure, to release the early CJSS stuff but it has mushroomed into quite a little business for nearly 17 years. Some years are better than others. 2001 wasn't very good but 2002 has been great. I pretty much do everything at the label at some point or another. My days are usually spent in the office. Late nights usually go towards the studio. Not much time for anything else but that is OK.

 

Who are some of the hot new artists on Leviathan? What can the fans expect in the next year or two from the label?

We are very excited about the new FIREWIND Cd "Between Heaven and Hell" that has just been released. The guitarist Gus G and vocalist Stephen Fredrick are really 2 of the best in the world. Also last year we released a new band called VAINGLORY that was very heavy and cool. The guitarist Corbin King is also a monster player and writer. Currently CHASTAIN, VAINGLORY and SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN are working on new Cds. Also Joe Stump's Reign of Terror have just finished their new Cd.

 

Your musical career has been incredibly prolific. By my count you have appeared in some major capacity on at LEAST 30 CD's. How do you find the time and how do you manage all your various projects? The scheduling must be a nightmare!

Check out www.leviathanrecords.com/chasdisc.htm it may be up to 50 by now. Even I have lost count. However to me it is not that much. If I did not have to worry about anything but writing and recording music I could record a Cd a week for eternity. I probably have 100 hours of music laying around that will never see the light of day. I have a creative river that never stops. Of course my music is not for everyone nor do I try to make it so. I record what I enjoy and that is the only criteria I have to go by.

 

How did the reformation of CJSS come about?

CJSS never broke up. We would do a show every year or two. In 99 Leviathan Records re-released the first 2 CJSS Cds on one Cd (2-4-1) and I put out word that the band would do another Cd if there was interest. We had 3 or 4 labels that wanted the band and we ended up signing with PAVEMENT MUSIC. That was a huge mistake as they screwed us out of a bunch of money. We later found out they have done that to a lot of bands. (Any bands out there avoid that company like the plague!!)

 

If you don't mind sharing, what is your most successful project to date, in terms of sales and/or critical acclaim? 

My first instrumental Cd "Instrumental Variations" is still probably my biggest selling Cd. The SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues" was my most critically acclaimed Cd.

 

Do you enjoy touring? Many of your more specialized projects seem to be studio works and touring can be expensive and time-consuming! 

I really have not done any extensive touring in about 10 years. I will do a show every so often but it has never been my favorite thing to do. Don't get me wrong, the hour on stage is great. It is just the other 23 hours that suck. We use to tour across the US on a pretty regular basis. Now days I have too much to do at the office to leave for any amount of time. I may run to Mexico or Japan if given the chance. Those are always fun.

 

You have an incredibly diverse back catalogue, rock, blues, acoustic, jazzy-fusion stuff...what are some of your influences and have any new young artists or bands (that are not on your label) that have caught your ear these days? 

Musically I have a very diverse group of influences. Plus if you ask me tomorrow I will probably tell you different people. I guess the music of Sabbath/Maiden, the vocals of Dio, the guitar playing of Rhoads/Roth would be it for metal. In my instrumental/fusion stuff it would be Holdsworth, Dimeola and the like. Blues rock would be Allmans, old ZZ Top, Trower, Stevie Ray and the like. As far as today's bands, there are tons of great power metal bands coming out of Europe that I enjoy listening to when I get the chance.

 

Tell us about Diginet Music! 

In 2001 I also started Diginet Music (Digital Internet Music) which is a company specializing normally in rare and unreleased music www.diginetmusic.com It has done very well! We also have created some brand new acts such as the Georgia Blues Dawgs, Ruud Cooty and the very successful Diginet Guitar Masters series. It was started in theory for the music to be strictly distributed over the internet but as time has gone on we do have a few titles that we licensed overseas that we actually have Cds.

 

Do you have any last comments or statements? This is your chance to shine!

It is time we support real metal and not all of this stuff that is being crammed down everyone's throats in the disguise of metal.

 

Thanks again for your time.

My pleasure to help support any and all true metal sites!!

To order any number of Leviathan artists visit www.leviathanrecords.com and Diginet Music at www.diginetmusic.com . *************

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