David T. Chastain was born in Atlanta. David is a prolific and versatile song writer, guitarist, and record label executive with a discography of over 95 projects since 1983. He is the force behind his bands CJSS, Chastain, and Southern Gentlemen, as well as the developer and promoter of many other bands.
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David moved from his hometown of Atlanta to Cincinnati on the invitation to join Spike, a successful regional touring band. The band's highlight was opening for Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult's Black 'n' Blue Tour in Cincinnati. They released The Price of Pleasure in 1983. The next year, David T. Chastain and other members left Spike to form CJSS.
Among David's early favorite bands were Black Sabbath, Cream, and Hendrix. Others inspirations were John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth.
In 1985, David started Leviathan Records, his own record label based in Cincinnati, in order to have the freedom to record as he pleased. He has always valued producing the music he wants over commercial success. David released albums with his own bands CJSS, Chastain, and Southern Gentlemen, recorded solo albums, and contributed to the albums of others. David signed other bands to Leviathan, such as Kenziner, Event, Michael Harris, Candlemass, Manilla Road, Imperium, Firewind, Zanister, Kinrick, Reign Of Terror, Vainglory, and Joe Stump. Leviathan has since moved to Atlanta, and David now owns a second music label, Diginet Music.
David describes his early career in an interview with Tone Slave.
Back in the old days of Spike we were mainly playing clubs doing both covers and original songs. In those days there were rock clubs all over the country so you could make a decent living and have some pretty good times. You certainly couldn't get rich but at least you didn't have to do anything else.
Then around 1984 I decided I was going to make it on my own music one way or another. I quit Spike and started up CJSS. Fortunately CJSS became a big local band right out of the gate. We were making enough money playing a show or 2 a month to survive on. At the same time I began contacting record companies around the world. I received a record deal for my band Chastain.
Once the Chastain band CD came out in 1985 I became a professional recording artist and could make a meager living doing that. Then in 1986 Steve McClure and myself started Leviathan Records for the purpose mainly of putting out the CJSS CD in the states. That became a pretty successful enterprise in short order. When Leviathan Records started 90% of my time was still my music. As time has gone on, unfortunately Leviathan Records takes up 90% of my time.
In 1984, dissatisfied with their new contract offer, Spike members David T. Chastain, drummer Les Sharp, and bassist Mike Skimmerhorn left Spike to form CJSS with a new band member, vocalist Russell Jinkens. CJSS comes from the names of the band members: Chastain, Jinkens, Sharp, and Skimmerhorn. They were an immediate regional success. CJSS produced albums World Gone Mad and Praise The Loud in the 1980s. The band recorded a new "reunion" CD in 2000 called Kings of the World. Two more albums, Embryonic Animation and Sands of Time, came out in 2001 comprising songs from the band's demo studio sessions recorded in the 1980s. 2-4-1 was released in 2006, remastering on CD the 1980s albums previously available only on cassette and LP.
Chastain was created to showcase a more pure, less commercial metal sound. As David was auditioning various male lead voices for the band, he encountered Leather Leone, a lady vocalist. Her position as a woman vocalist in the band made it somewhat unique in the metal industry. Their first album debuted in 1985. The music of Chastain is serious, deals with social issues, and is sometimes a little dark. The band has had considerable impact on the metal world. Significant bands have covered Chastain songs on their albums, such as Hammerfall (Angel of Mercy) and Powergod (Ruler of the Wasteland). So far, Chastain has released five albums with Leather Leone and three with Kate French, the last being In an Outrage (2004) (see video).
Southern Gentlemen is an outlet for another side of David T. Chastain--blues rock. The music is a marriage of the two genres, and though the music is still heavy, it is lighter and less technical than Chastain and deals more with love and relationship themes. The first Southern Gentlemen albums featured David's own vocals. He feels that he does not have the right range for metal, but was happy with his vocals on these albums. The first album, Exotic Dancer Blues (2000), was the best reviewed CD of David's career up to that time. It reached out to a broader fan base than metal albums. It was followed by Double Your Pleasure (2003) and Third Time Is The Charm (2006). Southern Gentlemen will release its fourth album, Valley of Fire, on May 13, 2008 through Leviathan Records. The CD's title cut and three other tracks are currently available for streaming on the group's MySpace page.
In addition to his work with the three bands, David has released a number of solo albums. You can view his entire discography.
Leather Leone was in the San Francisco band Rude Girl before becoming an original member of Chastain. Leather was considered one of the preeminent female heavy metal vocalist of the 1980's. One reviewer states that her work with the metal band Chastain produced five of the best releases in metal during that era: Mystery of Illusion (1985), Ruler of the Wasteland (1986), The 7th of Never (1987), The Voice of the Cult (1988), and For Those Who Dare (1990). She received rave reviews from magazines worldwide and is still mentioned as one of the most powerful voices in female metaldom. She released Shock Waves, a solo album, through Leviathan Records in 1989. After the For Those Who Dare tour ended in 1990, both Leather and David needed a break, having done five CDs in five years, numerous tours, and an MTV video. They felt they had done all they could do at that point.
When Leather left the band, she was replaced by powerhouse vocalist Kate French, whom David had met in LA in 1994. She was in a band called Machine Gunn Kelly, which played the Northern California club scene. She gave David a demo, and he brought her into the Chastain band. She is featured on the last three Chastain albums: Sick Society (1995), In Dementia (1997), and In An Outrage (2004). When Kate was asked in a February, 2005 Tartarean Desire Webzine interview which singers had influenced her over the years, she replied, "The singer that influenced me the most is David's previous vocalist, Leather." Kate wrote the lyrics to the more recent Chastain albums, including the song In An Outrage, which is a response to the 9/11 attack. Since 2004, Kate has also been the vocalist for the rock band Vainglory, which is on the Leviathan label. David, himself, referred her to the band. And she is the model on two Southern Gentlemen albums, Exotic Dancer Blues and Valley of Fire.
Though eschewing big labels in favor of independent control, David T. Chastain, as an independent, has become a legend among those who know his work as a musician and producer. However, Chastain albums are distributed on a major label in Japan (Toshiba-EMI). Germany's independent label Massacre Records releases his albums in Europe.
David has interest in several styles of music like Metal, Hard Rock, Fusion, Blues Rock, Acoustic, and Improvisational. In developing new material, he often picks up his guitar and plays and records whatever comes to him at that moment, regardless of style. Later, when planning an album, he goes through his recordings and collects those songs that fit well together. The music almost always comes before the lyrics. Over 350 of his songs have been released on CD.
Even though his reputation is heavy metal, David Chastain listens to classical music to relax.
David is not enamored with touring, preferring instead to produce excellent albums. In a May, 1987 interview in Aardschok America about the release of The 7th of Never, Aardschok asked him about it, pointing out that most groups are the opposite. David replied:
I enjoy being on stage and playing. I don't doubt that. But I am kind of a perfectionist. In the studio you can get things really close to perfection. There's no mistakes in the studio. You don't hear mistakes on records, not on our records anyway...I have 2-3 recording projects a year I like to get out and there's just no way you can do that with touring.
We have this place in Cincinnati called Bogart's and we keep breaking attendance records. It's up to 1450 how. It's like a perfect job for us. We know the room, the PA, the lights. The crowds go absolutely bonkers, they know every word to our songs.
His attitude has not changed much since then. He has toured a good bit with his various bands, but is very selective. While he enjoys the actual playing on stage, he does not enjoy the traveling so much, and he prefers using the time working in the studio on the next project. He says his mantra is "More music is more important than more money."
According to an article in the July, 1987 Musician magazine, though David's recognition at that time was really building in the United States, most of his fan mail was from France, Germany, England, and Holland. The article also pointed out that some of David's band members had gone on to hit the big time with other groups. For example, Ken Mary was then drummer for Alice Cooper's comeback tour. Other Chastain band members have played with such notable groups as Cinderella, House of Lords, King Diamond, and Cannibal Corpse.
He has a great deal of respect for many heavy metal musicians, whether older or newer, but he has no appreciation for those vocalist he calls screamers, some of whom cannot even carry a tune. He believes voice is very important.
David's music has been used on the following networks' shows over the past few years: NBC, ABC Family, Discovery, USA, MTV, VH1, A&E, Biography, National Geographic, History Channel, Discovery, Discovery Health, CMT, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, Bravo, HGTV, VSPOT, Disney, SCI-FI and Spike TV, plus a few foreign networks and a Nike commercial.
David was featured with his Kramer guitar on a very nicely done Kramer Guitar ad, which also spotlighted his albums Exotic Dancer Blues and Rock Solid Guitar. A different version of the ad ran in Southeast Asia spotlighting Zanister.
David T. Chastain's birthday is August 31. Some may be interested to know that he is a vegetarian. David married his long-time Cincinnati girl friend, Peggy Ryan, in September, 2003 at Gatlinburg, Tennessee; they are devoted to their cats.
The Chastain cats are among the subjects of David T. Chastain, photographer. In fact, pictures of his cats over the years are his favorite photos, and they have been used by the Atlanta Humane Society on their website and bumper stickers. David's photographic works are available in posters, calendars, and more.
From time to time, David works on three books he began writing a number of years ago. These are not high priority items compared to his music production, so they are all long-term projects.
Heaven's Savage is a story about a guitarist and his band. The band wants nothing more than to become rock stars. However they are faced with overwhelming obstacles including greed, jealousy, lack of reality, a United States Senator, deceit, drugs, crooked agents and managers, record company politics, and an overabundance of sex-crazed women. He insists the book is not about him!
Annemoragan is more of a murder mystery based in the Atlanta area, and Dark Images is a collection of all of the lyrics, poetry, and observational prose he has written over his life. We look forward to these tomes!
Bullet From a Gun, with Kate French 4:07
For Those Who Dare, with Leather Leone 4:06
Spontaneous Combustion (Live), instrumental 3:46
Photo and Data as of 2004
David T. Chastain on MySpace
Chastain on MySpace
Southern Gentlemen on MySpace
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Sample Cuts-Southern Gentlemen
Based on information provided by David T. Chastain, we were able to search our resources and found a very likely match to Pierre Chastain. If our connection was correct, then David's descent from Pierre is 1. Pierre, 2. Pierre, Jr., 3. Rev. James, 4. Stephen, 5. John, 6. Stephen F., 7. Amos Calvin, 8. Balus S., 9. Floyd T., 10. David T.
Subsequently, we submitted our findings to Jimmy Chesteen, genealogist for the Pierre Chastain Family Association, and he confirmed our findings and was able to supply much more. Thanks Jimmy! His message follows without some of the technical details. His submission goes back to Pierre's grandfather, which would make David T. Chastain tenth generation from Pierre and twelfth generation from Jacques Chastain.
If David is correct to Balus S. Chastain then you have the right track for him on back. I've attached the "spool out" from the database on Amos Calvin's descendants on Word format.
Amos Calvin9 Chastain (Stephen F.8, John7, Stephen6, I, James5, Pierre4 Chastain (Peter), Pierre3 Chastain, Estienne2, Jacques1), son of Stephen F. and Permelia (Hudgins) Chastain, was born on 5 February 1841 in Anderson County, South Carolina and died on 23 August 1914 in Franklin County, Georgia. He married Hannah (Martha?) Abercrombie, who was born about 1846 in Anderson County and died in Franklin County. Amos Chastain is recorded as a witness to the will of John B. Chastain in 1873. Amos is recorded on page 482 of the 1870 Anderson County, SC census with wife Hannah and child Julia A, age of 27 is apparently incorrect. The soundex for 1880 South Carolina notes Amos still residing in Anderson County, but his wife's name is noted as Martha. Descendants do not indicate a second marriage for Amos so it is likely that Hannah and Martha are the same person but with the possibility of a second marriage. He would seem to certainly be the Amos Chastain who was a private in Company D, 2nd South Carolina Rifles. Birth and death dates from marker as recorded in Franklin County, Georgia Cemetery Records.
The children of Amos and Hanna (Abercrombie) Chastain were as follows:
i. Eva Chastain. Eva married a Evans.
ii. Eula Chastain. Eula married a Sorrow.
iii. Carl Chastain.
iv. Julia A. Chastain was born about 1869 in Anderson County. Julia married a Human.
v. McDolphus Chastain was born about 1871 in Anderson County.
vi. Evelee Chastain was born there about 1874. Married a Freeman
vii. Nancy P. Chastain was born about 1876 in Anderson County. Nancy married a Fowler, family records show her birth as 3 Oct 1886.
viii. Burte R. E. Chastain was born about 1879 in Anderson County. Berte married a Bennett.
ix. Balus Stephenson Chastain was born on 2 December 1882. He died on 22 August 1922. He married about 1902, Mary Ada Bray.
Balus Stephenson10 Chastain (Amos Calvin9, Stephen F.8, John7, Stephen6, I, James5, Pierre4 Chastain (Peter), Pierre3 Chastain, Estienne2, Jacques1), son of Amos Calvin and Martha Hannah (Abercrombie) Chastain, was born on 2 December 1882 and died on 22 August 1922. He married about 1902, Mary Ada Bray.
The children of Balus and Mary (Bray) Chastain were as follows:
i. Ruby Lee Chastain was born on 2 March 1903.
ii. Bertha Mae Chastain was born on 31 May 1905. She died on 17 April 1990.
iii. James Carl Chastain was born on 7 April 1907. He died on 31 December 1989. He married Fannie Sara Brooks.
iv. Evie Lou Verba was born on 10 July 1909. She died on 1 February 1984.
v. Joseph Paul Chastain was born on 7 September 1911.
vi. Reba Frances Chastain was born on 6 April 1914.
vii. James Frank Chastain was born on 13 November 1916.
viii. Hannah Lee Chastain was born on 11 December 1918.
ix. Nina Rachel Chastain was born on 11 April 1920.
x. Floyd Taylor Chastain was born on 12 February 1922.
Are you sometimes confused about David T. Chastain and Dave Chastain, the blues musician? This is common. David T. said in an interview, "I've never seen the Dave Chastain Band personally. I'll get a call here once in a while and someone will say 'I hear you're playing down at the Rusty Nail in Blaire, Nebraska?' I say that's not me! That is the reason for putting the "T." in the name."