Olivier "Zoltar" Badin of UK's Terrorizer magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Dave Chandler of the legendary U.S. doom metal band SAINT VITUS.
Terrorizer: Ironically, in between 1996 when you first split up, and 2003, the band's popularity had grown a lot. How do you explain it?
Chandler: The irony of it all is a friend whom I used to complain to that things were not happening for us in the '80s said to me that to become popular, all I had to do was to disband and reform five years later. How true. But seriously, I don't know what really happened. I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that during the time we were gone the whole doom scene was finally blossoming, at least in Europe, and a lot of those bands were mentioning us as one of their main influences. I actually want to thank you guys at Terrorizer, because when you did that doom special thing spread over three issues, I know we got mentioned a lot and that did a lot for us. Or maybe we just lucky. I don't know. But it still feels weird. I work in a head shop here in New Orleans, I sell pipes you know. And few times, some customers who there looking to buy some stuff would all of a sudden just freeze in front of me and go like, "Wait a second, are you really who I'm thinking you are?" to which I would just answer like, "Errrrrr, I don't know." Usually, they would then rave on about me being in SAINT VITUS and being some kind of legend or whatever. And the only thing I'd tell then would be, "Really?"
Terrorizer: When you started considering doing the reunion shows, did you question which version of the band you'd reactivate?
Chandler: Well, the With Full Force guys explicitly asked for the "Born Too Late" lineup so we knew straight away this would happen with Wino at the mic, yeah.
Terrorizer: But you never thought there could be more than the two shows (Chicago and With Full Force)?
Chandler: Pretty much, yeah. I mean during our lifetime, we had only played in small clubs with punk bands whose fans usually hated us. So the idea was to do one big show and that's it. Plus, everybody's got to take care of their own lives, you know? Wino had THE HIDDEN HAND going on, I had DEBRIS INC. and Armando was playing in a heavy rock outfit called DIRTY RED, so…
Terrorizer: What about DEBRIS INC.?
Chandler: Oh, this hasn't been happening for a long time now. After we released our album in 2005, we did some touring but I then realized the conditions were as horrible now as they were back in the days and since I'm not that young anymore, I just couldn't stand them, really, so I kind of put the band to rest. Since then, I've been jamming from time to time with friends during weekends, but just for the fun of it, nothing really serious.
Terrorizer: Nowadays, everybody in VITUS is pretty scattered all over the country right?
Chandler: Yeah, I live in New Orleans, Armando and Mark are in California, and Wino is either in Washington or Maryland, I don't remember. Everybody's going to come down here for the rehearsals though. We're probably going to do a show prior to Roadburn as well, like when we played in Chicago in 2003, just to make sure everybody knows what they're supposed to do.
Terrorizer: A low-key DVD from your Chicago show was released in 2007. Are you going to record Roadburn as well?
Chandler: Well, the plan right now is to record both shows and maybe put out a sequel to our '90s live album. But you'd better ask my manager the details because I'm already too busy trying to re-learn those songs I wrote over twenty years ago.
Terrorizer: What about the setlist?
Chandler: Well, I can't reveal much right now but we're going to do mostly Wino songs, including a lot from "Born Too Late". But there's also going to be some surprises, even for our diehard fans, as we're going to play songs we never or rarely did live before.
Terrorizer: Any Scott Reagers songs planned, like from your final album "Die Healing" (1995)?
Chandler: We're going to do some of them, the ones most people see as "classic" VITUS songs but none from "Die Healing", no.
Terrorizer: Wouldn't it be the right time to, at long last, finally re-release your back catalogue? Even if Southern Lord did reissue "V" (1989) and "Live" (1990), your second album "Hallow's Victim" (1985), for example, has yet to be officially released on CD.
Chandler: That's one of the reasons why we want to record those shows coming up as some of those songs might end up on some of those re-releases as yes, I can reveal to you that we just got the permission from Greg Ginn (BLACK FLAG founder/guitarist and owner of SST Records, which released the band's first four full-lengths) to do it. The details have yet to be clarified — are they going be available separately or altogether in a box set, with or without bonus tracks, etc.? But it's going to happen, yes.
For more information, visit www.terrorizer.com.