ZT EXCLUSIVE – SAINT VITUS Q&A: “WE’RE GONNA BLOW THE F**KIN ROOF OFF IT!”
The rest of 2012 is going to be a busy time for Saint Vitus. In addition to dropping their new album (their first in 17 years), “Lillie: F65,” the band is about to hit the road in Europe which includes a number of festival appearances, specifically at Hellfest. Recently, founding guitarist Dave Chandler spoke with Zero Tolerance to reminisce about the band’s first appearance at Hellfest in 2009, as well as to warn festival goers “We’re gonna blow the fuckin’ roof off it! We maybe in a small tent, but when we’re done, its going to be open-air.”
DC: Back in 2003, when we first got back together, that was just going to be a one-time thing, and we just didn’t bother with it anymore. Then in 2009, Roadburn asked if we wanted to do it again, and we thought that if Wino isn’t busy, then let’s go for it. Then it just so happens that one of the promoters of Hellfest was at Roadburn and one of his bands had dropped out and he wanted to know if we could do it, and we were like “Yeah, cool!” Unfortunately that’s when Armando (Acosta – founding drummer who passed away in 2010) was really bad, and we got Henry (Vasquez – current drummer). So Henry’s first show was at Hellfest. In between Heaven and Hell and Motley Crue. So that must’ve been nerve-wracking for him.
ZT: In between Heaven and Hell and Motley Crue? That must’ve been strange….
DC: It was a weird experience. And the really weird thing about it was that we were supposed to play way in the afternoon, and for some reason, when they added us on, the organizers said “OK, you’re going to play last on the second stage.” So that’s how we got stuck between them two. But Wino was missing in action. All day long, we had no idea what was going on. So we had all these people from other bands volunteering to do songs with us, for the songs I couldn’t play and sing at the same time, because we weren’t going to cancel. But we told the promoter we didn’t want to headline because it wouldn’t be a good show, so just drop us back down. So they went through all this hassle and got us dropped back down, then Wino walked in, and we were saying “Wait we want to headline again!” So it was just a huge, crazy day for us. When we finally went on, it was weird because while we’re setting up, just a few yards away, Tony Iommi is playing. Obviously because of the circumstances we didn’t get to see him, but we could hear him right there.
ZT: So during the summer, along with festival appearances, you’ll be hitting the road in Europe?
DC: We get home at the end of July. I wanted to be here for the worst part of hurricane season in case we’re evacuated, I don’t want my wife to have to do it by herself. That happened during (2005’s Hurricane) Katrina and I don’t want that to happen again. Then I think about the middle or end of September, we’re going to do a full US tour and European tour in the clubs.
ZT: Recently I spoke with Henry Vasquez about the new album and he said he has nothing to complain about. Do you agree?
DC: I’m really satisfied with it, I think it came out really well, and what I wanted, kinda up to date, but to keep the old Vitus sound. I wanted old fans to see that we kept our old sound.
ZT: Did you go in and hammer it out from scratch, or did you have anything pre-written?
DC: We had the song “Blessed Night” already written, we wrote that one on the road more or less, all together. But none of us live near each other at all, so I wrote the riffs and put them down on a disc and sent them to everyone with some timing instructions and stuff like that. So they worked it out themselves. And then a few days before we went to record, we got together and rehearsed and kind of meshed it all together. Wino and Mark live in Cali, Henry’s in Texas, and I’m in New Orleans, so we can’t have regular rehearsal time.
ZT: Is that frustrating?
DC: It ended up working out in the end. Once I started doing it, it was flowing ok. We would much rather prefer to have a regular rehearsal time, and I would come in with the riffs and we would just learn it with everyone right there. Unfortunately, this is the best way we can do it now. Its strange, but hopefully things will change.
ZT: Doom bands that were once obscure now seem to be getting a lot of focus. What do you think this is attributed to?
DC: Generations. With us, we broke up back in 1995 and we didn’t think that anybody paid any attention to us. Then we started doing the reunions, and doom metal is finally a legitimate form of metal instead of a cult thing, and I think that really helped. That comes from people playing things like Saint Vitus, Candlemass and Trouble for their kids. So when they’re kids wanted to get into music, they were brought up on that. Now its to the point where those kids have little kids. So that helps to keep everything alive, the people are spreading it themselves.
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