I was given the great honor of being able to interview Dave Chandler of doom legends, SAINT VITUS. The forefathers of doom metal, SAINT VITUS brought a whole new sound and a new genre to metal. Starting in the late 70′s, SAINT VITUS can be placed next to bands such as Pentagram and Candlemass, delivering a sound that, as Dave puts it, “comes from your guts.” After a breakup of the band and a seventeen year time lapse in between albums Dave divulges into the details of the 2012 release, Lillie: F-65. And be sure to check out SAINT VITUS‘ first North American tour since 93′ with Weedeater and Sourvein.
Let’s talk a little bit about your most recent album release titled Lillie: F-65, that is quite the interesting title for an album, care to elaborate on its meaning?
Well I kind of wanted to do it more like a two part thing and have people sort of figure it out on their own, but what we do is we sort of take the creative side which is what I had in my head which is the troubled story of the mind of the girl which you see on the album cover really and all of this troubled stuff she has on her mind where at the end all she is left with is the dependence of her withdrawal. If you take the name literally it’s about the stuff I used to take in the 70′s. I wanted it to be sort of obscure I guess and to sort of confuse the fans I guess. Hopefully give them something to think about since most of the time they are just seeing around smoking dope. [haha]
So in a way it does have some personal meaning behind it?
In a way yea because I had the title of the album long before the artwork or anything and I just wanted to call the record that for some reason, sort of just got stuck in my head to call it that.
Lillie: F-65 is a product of a 17 year gap in album releases, why such a long span in between albums? Surely you had material written?
Well actually no, there was no material written at all. ‘Die Healing’ was written to be the last Vitus album and we didn’t really plan on anything, I was working with a band called Debris, Inc. which was kind of punk and kind of metal and was a lot of fun really, and when we did Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany people started asking me when Vitus was going to get back together. So I just started talking to the guys and they were like ‘Ok we’ll do it once.’ And that was back in 2003, and we said ‘Ok that’s it.’ Then in 2009 Roadburn Records gave the ok, and the guys gave the ok, it sort of just fell into itself. We sure as hell didn’t plan a new record.
So while you were playing new material back in 2010 it wasn’t even in the back of your mind to create a new album?
Well we only really had one new song that we were playing on the road and it was basically a sound check, and the guys were asking if this was a new song. And I thought ‘could be,’ and it turned into the song “Blessed Night”, and so we were playing that on the Metal Alliance Tour and the European Reunion Tour before that. And people were asking if this song was going to be off the new album and that’s what really led Vitus to doing it was the people and how many of them were asking. So I figured I might as well try writing one.
What was the greatest challenge you and the rest of the band faced heading back into the studio after such a time lapse in records?
One challenge for sure was not knowing that we were going to record it the way we did which turned out to be pretty cool. But the biggest challenge to me wasn’t about going into the studio with the guys because we had been touring so everyone was getting along, and I knew Henry from before because he was my last drummer and I knew he would be good in the studio and we’re the type of band where if the take is good then just save it. The biggest problem for me with the record was trying to make it sound old and new at the same time, which I think we accomplished. But also we wanted to have the same vibe in the lyrics and stuff because years ago when I wrote Vitus’ ‘Born Too Late’, I was really really angry at pretty much everything, and I’m not now, I’m happy. So I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it, so that was a bit of a challenge but basically the album wrote itself.
With trends and fads coming and going and new genres of metal popping up every five minutes, and you yourself saying how you used to be so angry and now you’re a happy guy, how have you managed to stay so true to the doom metal roots and creating the music?
Well I always tell people that doom metal always comes from your guts and certainly isn’t a learned process, so we just go out and please the fans like we used to and make everything feel like it used to because that’s what we do. And we really don’t try hard we just go up on stage and just play and the one thing we try to not do is mess the songs up.
With you and Saint Vitus being the forefathers of doom and having such a long stretch of time in between albums did you feel any pressures or apprehensions on what fans might think of the new material or were you confident that the old and new Saint Vitus fans alike would still enjoy the tunes?
Well I definitely wanted to make sure that the fans that liked us before would like us again after we quit, and I wanted the newer fans, which is basically the older fans children, to enjoy. Just like what mom and dad used to listen to and that was my goal in writing this one and I think it came out good in that sense. And I’ve had a lot of fans tell me that and it’s like an old Vitus album, it’s the same length of time and it kind of messes with your head a bit.
Yea and you guys have been getting a lot of positive reviews for this album which is great.
Yea I think the only thing people are mad about is the length. The album is only thirty four minutes long and some people may have wanted it to be a bit longer. But ‘Born Too Late’, only has like five songs, six songs, so what the hell.
Yea I’ve noticed in reviews the mention of the album being too short, any reason for not making it longer?
Well yea, like I said before, when I started writing it everything just kind of flowed together and it had the concept that I wanted. And I did think about it, I thought ‘maybe we should put in a fast song.’ Just to have a fast song, but I thought it would just mess up the whole concept so let’s just leave it at that and at that point in time I didn’t even know the length of it and all of us were like ‘this is great, this is perfect, this is the normal Saint Vitus album.’ And then when a lot of reviewers were saying it was too short I started checking and saw that it was within one to two minutes of every other album that we had done. So I knew it was just done, it is a Saint Vitus album.
Do you feel like this album differs greatly than the rest?
Yes definitely. I think we’re more coherent and we’re more together, and I think this album gives off almost a happy vibe which I obviously did not strive for but it kind of does and you can kind of tell when you listen to it and the band is really enjoying what they are doing with it. Also the addition of Henry [Vasquez] was really good, of course everyone hates the reason for changing the lineup, but Henry just fits in so well as the drummer and he is just a great assimilating guy.
You’ve toured a bit already this year in Europe promoting the new material, would you say there are more fans now than there were even ten years ago?
Definitely, with all doom metal bands the scene has finally become a genre in its own. And I’m not going to sit here and blow my own dick and talk about how popular we are, but there are definitely a lot more fans than there was. And it’s especially cool to have a guy come up to me and show me a picture of me and him partying back in 89′ and then introduces me to this tiny little girl that happens to be his daughter who is like six years old. So that stuff is really cool.
Are there any places in particular where the scene is especially thriving?
Yea well Europe obviously and we did the tour on Metal Alliance last year that was really good in America. This is actually going to be our first American tour since 1993, so we shall see how it goes. But Europe has always been really into doom and there were a few stops that we had never been to before like Sweden and even though you’ve never toured there it’s cool to see that they know all the lyrics to the songs and that’s the only English they know, so that is a cool feeling.
You will be touring very soon in North America with Weedeater and Sourvein are there any stops you are especially excited to be playing?
Well we are doing a show with Down in NYC and we’re kind of excited about that because the venue is a big place that we don’t normally play, but the cool thing is we are playing at the Saint Vitus bar. So we are really excited to be playing there because we were told that they named the bar after us, not sure if that’s true or not, that’s just what I was told, it could be a lie. But no matter what we’re really excited to play there.
Great, well congrats on the success of Lillie: F-65, I look forward to seeing you live when you tour through Los Angeles, thanks again for speaking with me.
My pleasure, I’ll see ya at the show.
Interview conducted by: Stacey Heath