Doom stalwarts Saint Vitus begin their North American tour tomorrow in San Antonio. I spoke with Dave Chandler from his home in a New Orleans graveyard (really) about getting back on the road, the recent Season of Mist reissues of C.O.D and Die Healing, and briefly, Don Dokken.
Justin Gish (JG)- Can you tell me about the tour?
Dave Chandler (DC)- Yeah, the tour starts soon, I believe the first show is the 4th or 5th of October, and I’m not really sure, it got changed around a bit, so I’m not exactly sure on the dates of where we’re hitting you guys (Grand Rapids Oct 9th) and where we’re hitting other people. But it’s gonna be a lot of fun because the opening bands everybody says they’re really good- we got Pallbearer on some of the shows, and Zoroaster, and The Hookers are opening every show, supposedly they are a really fun party band. So we’re looking forward to it. It should be cool, we’re doing a lot of places that we missed on the last tour North American tour, and some places we haven’t played since like 1987 or before so I think it’s going to be interesting.
JG- Season of Mist just reissued C.O.D and Die Healing, will you guys be playing tunes from those albums?
DC- Actually, we already had our set doled out and planned so I don’t really think so. There’s something I have in mind that I think we can work out, cause we don’t live near each other, so we can’t practice like a regular band, so what we do is we rehearse for like three days and then we go out. So I’m thinking about something but we’re not really sure yet. But on the next tour after this one we will be doing stuff from those albums. But I’m not sure about Die Healing, we have to figure out songs that Wino is comfortable with. We don’t want to have him do a song that he’s not comfortable with, cause that’s not cool and that’s not fair. But I think there’s a couple off C.O.D we might be able to pull off. I’m not sure if we can do it right now though. They kind of threw us for a loop actually when they re released those albums, we were like, “Oh shit” people are going to want to hear songs off those now.
DC- Yeah we hadn’t played any off either one of those since we’ve been back together, so we were like, “hmm” now what.
JG- Yeah, why would you practice those albums because Wino isn’t on either of them.
DC- Right, and Die Healing is a little bit of a sore point because that was the last record and C.O.D none of us are really jazzed with because of the production, but you know, it’s like what the fuck, people like the stuff so we’ll try. But I don’t know if we can pull something off on this tour, because we would rather play an older song that sounds good than try to jump into something off those albums and have it sound shitty. We’d rather wait until we have it rehearsed.
JG- You said you weren’t happy with the production on C.O.D, was that Don Dokken’s fault?
DC- No no, actually he was our choice. He was friends of ours, he grew up with Armando our drummer. In the studio it sounded good, but when it came out all the low end was gone. It’s like you can’t hear Mark and you can’t hear the bass drum, I was like, “what happened?” and it was too late then. And that just happens, that happens with a lot of bands, it was shopped off to a mastering studio where nobody was there and the guys in the shop were like “I don’t know” and they just, yeah, so the low end was lost.
JG- Did you catch any flack for having Don Dokken produce the album?
DC- We got a little, but it was more confusion than flack. People were like “how in the hell do you know him?” was basically the question that we got, and we’d just say Armando grew up with him, and they’d go “okay”. And that just kind of settled everything right there, ya know. Cause it is a weird thing, and he was at first, like “I don’t know” if I want to have you guys put my name on there. And I said, “Dude, it’s already done, don’t puss out.
JG- So he was reluctant to be associated with you?
DC- No, he just wanted to be a silent partner type thing. He gave us his studio for practically nothing, we used all his gear, he was really super cool, and he just kind of wanted to be in the background and not really have any acknowledgement, and I said no, you’ve done all this, we’re going to acknowledge you, and he said okay. Cause it was mainly us producing it and he would come in and do some little fine points and stuff, but he was there through the whole thing, but he just kinda wanted to give us a break, he didn’t want to really get involved, but we wanted to out his name on it and he said okay.
JG- He might as well have his name on it.
DC- Yeah, and I’ve read interviews where people have asked him about it and he doesn’t deny it, he’s not like one of those weird people that says, “that’s not me.” He just says Oh, yeah, yeah, it was fun.
JG- Yeah, I mean you are musicians, you’re all in the same business.
DC- Yeah, and he’s actually, he’s got a bad reputation, but he’s really not like that, he’s a nice guy.
JG- He just came through Kalamazoo, I just saw him with Sebastian Bach, Lita Ford, and Ratt, and then C.O.D comes out and his name is on it.
DC- Whoa, what a weird hair band show.
JG- Enough about C.O.D. As far as Die Healing goes, you’ve said that was your favorite Saint Vitus album, right?
DC- Yeah, before we did Lillie, people would ask in the random interview or something what my favorite Saint Vitus record was, and I would always say Die Healing because of the production, and the very first album because it is actually a live album, we just set up in the studio and played like rehearsal, it’s all one take. The only thing missing is two or three people cheering. And those were always my favorites, but I would always say Born too Late is the best album, because it has the best songs, and it has the best feeling, I’m just not super happy with the production on that one either.
JG- Could you fix any of the albums production wise on any future reissues?
DC- We could, and I was approached about it and I said no. I kinda don’t like it when bands go back in and remaster. I don’t really like that. If we’re gonna re release it let’s just put it out like it was because some of our records are hard to get. The reason that we agreed to have Die Healing and C.O.D put back out, and I made sure that they were not to be remastered, even though I would have liked the production to be different on C.O.D, is because both those records got very little distribution and like no ads for anything and those are the most sought after records. So I said okay, but if we’re going to put releases out let’s do those two first and leave them exactly as they are, because people want the one they can’t get, they don’t want a new version of it.
JG- They want the one they remember,
DC- Yeah, exactly. The one that their friend has that they can’t find. So that’s why we didn’t touch those, and like I said I kinda don’t really dig that. It’s like if you want to put it out again, put it out again, you don’t really need to be like “oh, we’re a better band now”, no you’re not, it’s the same fuckin’ record.
JG- So Lillie is your favorite record now.
DC- Yeah, totally, not because it is the newest one, but because I think the songs really put out how Saint Vitus is, on par with Born too Late. And I think the production is extremely great. Tony Reed did a really really good job on it. I said “damn, you made this sound like a fuckin’ record I would buy when I was a kid”. And that really impressed me, when I put that thing on, I have to turn the volume down, usually on a Vitus record you got to turn the volume up.
JG- It’s a great album, and I know that having Wino back, I know it’s pretty much your band but-
DC- No, not necessarily, it’s basically me and Mark, because we’re the original people, but yeah, I mean it was a really good feel because Wino played with Henry live a few times before we recorded the record and he realized what I said, "this dude can play all the shit and he pounds it loud". At the first rehearsal Wino just looked at me and grinned, like “I like this guy." And you know, when everybody is happy you get a really good feel and that was really nice. We went in the studio which was kind of in the woods and everybody went in and did their parts and then people who had to overdub went in and did that and everybody else sat outside and smoked weed. So it was really cool.
I'll post the second half of the interview tomorrow at 4:20 am. The second half will give you some insights into the European Festival Scene, Dave's favorite television shows, and why Saint Vitus is Punk rock. And if you're around Grand Rapids and want to win tickets to see the show at the Pyramid Scheme, tune in to my radio show at 11pm this Friday!