“I just like wrestling, okay? I’m not going to make any excuses about that. I really love wrestling, and the rest of the band can get fucked.” Dave Chandler clearly doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, particularly the other members of his band. The guitarist of doom metal legends Saint Vitus is at home and enjoying a well earned break from touring. The rest of the band resides in sunny California, while the band’s guitarist prefers the hot and heavy climate of his native Louisiana.
“I’m down in New Orleans at the moment, and I’ve got my feet up, watching as much wrestling as I can,” Chandler says. “Whenever we’re on tour – like the one we just came off – the rest of the band give me shit all the time because I love to watch wrestling. I just tell ‘em ‘fuck y’all. When I get home I’m gonna watch my wrestling non-stop, and there’s nothing any of y’all can do.’”
The band was formed in 1978 under the name Tyrant, with Chandler on guitar, Mark Adams on bass, Armando Acosta on drums and Scott Reager on vocals. They changed to their current name in 1980, and were soon picked up by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn, who released their 1984 self-titled debut album on his label SST Records (Bad Brains, Descendents).
After recording their sophomore Hallow’s Victim in 1985, as well as its follow-up EP The Walking Dead in the same year, Reager left the band. He was replaced in 1986 by Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich of The Obsessed, and the band commenced their most industrious period of recording. Between 1986 and 1990 they released three albums: Born Too Late, Mournful Cries, and V.
Wino left the group in 1991 to focus on his work with The Obsessed, and after a five year period alternating between Chritus Linderson (Count Raven) and original singer Reager, the band went on indefinite hiatus in 1996.
They reformed in 2003, with Wino on vocals, at a special one-off gig at Double Door in Chicago. Six years later the classic lineup again reformed, this time for a European tour that had its fair share of troubled times.
It’s something of an understatement to say the band’s career has been tumultuous. Tension within the group has been an ongoing concern, though not always about matters as trivial as wrestling and other recreational viewing preferences. Acosta left the group midway through the European tour in 2009, and was replaced by Henry Vasquez of Blood Of The Sun. A series of online outbursts from Acosta created bad blood between him and Chandler, that lasted until the former’s premature death the following November. Saint Vitus’s December Tour was dedicated in memoriam to their fallen colleague.
The band’s interest in widespread touring again was sparked when they were asked to join the Metal Alliance Tour across North America in 2011, alongside fellow legends Helmet and Crowbar. “That was a lot of fun for us,” Chandler says. “We got to watch all these great bands like Red Fang – those guys are awesome. We were watching them side of stage and just going ‘damn! This band is fucking great!’”
Chandler is the first to admit that being acknowledged by their peers, and in particular younger bands, is still thrilling. “Oh man, we love bands citing us as influences,” he says. “Especially because everything comes and goes, but there seems to be a longer future in what we do than a lot of that thrashier stuff. One thing I do know is what we do means we can have all the fun we want. When we get down there we’re gonna fuck y’all up.”
BY BENJAMIN COOPER
St Vitus play The Hi-Fi with Monarch and Looking Glass on Friday July 19.