Friday, September 8, 2017

Femme-Metal Friday: Chastain “I Live for Today”

Band photo

If you have been visiting this blog over the last few weeks, then you probably read my feature on Chastain vocalist Leather Leone. If so, then you probably also know that I have the utmost love and respect for Leather, and that she is one of my most favorite people in the world; not just in the music biz, but as a person.

While I never aspired to become a musician or to form a band, I often think that when it comes to strong female role models, the 1980s was a great time in which to grow up. The landscape of heroines to emulate was vast, and so diverse: from cartoon superwomen like Jem, and She-Ra; television characters from The Golden Girls to GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling); pop music idols from Madonna to Cyndi Lauper, rock stars from Pat Benatar to Heart's Ann Wilson.

If you were a little metalhead, like me—9 years old, reading Rip magazine and watching Headbanger's Ball—even the ultra-macho metal scene was not bereft of female role models. There was Doro Pesch, Lee Aaron, and Betsy Bitch, to name a few. And then, of course, the bad-ass that is Leather Leone: a no-nonsense woman that refuses to play by the rules and hates the gender divide within music so much that she probably would not like it very much if she were part of a feature called “Femme-Metal Friday”! But, whether she has wanted the title or not, she is considered a pioneer for women in metal, and many women who came of age in the ’80s and ’90s consider her as much of a metal icon as Rob Halford or Ronnie James Dio.

However, the band's name is Chastain, and there has always been the silent partner to Leather's visibility; the yin to her yang, the quiet force that drives the engine: David T. Chastain, a guitar genius whose name should be spoken with the same honor as the likes of Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, or Tony Iommi. Yet unlike most guitarists, he prefers to work behind-the-scenes and let the music do the talking. He is the anti-“guitar hero”, so to speak—Chastain has no inclination for noodling intricate riffs for its own sake. You won't find him up on a stage, executing 30-minute solos every night (in fact, you would be hard-pressed to find the reserved Chastain on a stage at all!).

It has been this ability to stay low on the radar that has afforded them the good fortune to remain relevant in a time when many of their contemporaries struggle to maintain their identity without painting themselves into a corner. It has also been their polar opposite dynamic that has kept the music fresh and exciting, while other bands are clearly showing wear and tear.

For their video “I Live for Today”, Chastain incorporates imagery of the rat-race business world: towering skyscrapers, visions of Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, and piles of money. “It's all just a Ponzi scheme...your money is an illusion...betting on numbers and letters, sleight of hand creates confusion”, reads one of the lyrics that show up on the screen. Towards the end of the video, the song's message is clear when, very faintly, words such as “bankruptcy”, “dividends”, “stocks”, “bonds”, and “income” flash across the screen.

For more information on Chastain, visit the Leviathan Records official site.

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