Music

Saint Vitus the Band Talk About Playing Saint Vitus the Venue

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On Tuesday night, for the first time, the quintessential doom metal band Saint Vitus is playing the venue Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. For those not acquainted with the band or with the bar, this probably just sounds confusing. But for fans of both, it’s a really huge deal.

The venue Saint Vitus is a little more than one year old; the co-owners named it after the band, who in the ’80s pioneered the now-classic doom sound with down-tuned guitar and unhurried stoner pace. (The band took their name from a Black Sabbath song, so the bar’s name pays homage to that, as well.)

Over the past year, Saint Vitus the venue has quickly become a metalhead hangout and has hosted countless shows, from local acts to national tours. But Saint Vitus performing for the first time at the bar that bears their name promises to be the most significant event yet. In fact, it’s already sold out.

Founding Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler spoke to us from his home in New Orleans prior to the launch of this tour. He even gave us the scoop on the whereabouts of the untraceable original vocalist, Scott Reagers.

Many people refer to Saint Vitus as the first doom metal
band, but a lot of bands today balk at the word “doom.” What are your
feelings on that classification?

That’s just something the media slapped onto everyone. The first doom
band obviously was Sabbath. And then in the early days there was us and
Pentagram and Trouble and Witchfinder General, but no one knew about
each other, so we all thought we were on our own. But we had never heard
of [doom], ever. We never thought of it until the second tour we did of
Europe in 1989, and the posters said “Godfathers of Doom.” I asked the
record company, “What is doom?” And they said, “That’s what you play.”

I don’t really care if they’re going to call us doom, but I could
understand how now it’s almost becoming cliché, which is sad, because it
was like a super-underground thing. Then, in the 20 years we were gone,
it got big, which was good, but now I’ve met quite a few bands who say:
“We don’t like to be called doom. We want to be called metal.” Well,
whatever, man. The media’s going to call you what they’re going to call
you, and you really can’t do anything about it.

You’re touring with Scott Weinrich on vocals — the Born Too Late lineup. But your earliest albums had Scott Reagers singing. Where is he these days?

We keep in touch with him. Mark [Adams] does more than me because
they both live in California. . . . [Scott Reagers] works at a company, and
he repairs their machines. I guess that’s the best way to say it. And
when he needs extra money, he does a bartending job.

He’s not with his wife anymore, and his kids are all grown, but he has a new little kid with a new girl.

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Why does he seem reclusive? There’s hardly anything about him online.

If he’s still the same way he was, he doesn’t like stuff like that.
So he would never, ever be on a Facebook or a Myspace. There’s like no
way. When he was raising his kids with his wife, they weren’t even
allowed to watch TV. They homeschooled. So there’s no way he’s going to
get into the, quote, social network, unquote.

The first Saint Vitus album, from 1984, is considered a classic now. It’s our favorite of yours.

The first one is actually a live album. We played it live in the
studio, no overdubs, no nothing. Just like practice. We had no time. We
had, like 24 hours. We just went into this weird, giant
warehouse and put blockades between the amps and just played it exactly
like rehearsal.

How many takes did you do of each song?

One. . . . At that time, we were practicing like five days a week. The
only thing we had to do over was the one mistake on “The Psychopath,” or
something, and someone had to pop in a note.

How did the Saint Vitus at Saint Vitus show come about?

A mutual friend. . . . She lives right there [by the bar]. And she goes:
“Yeah, they named it after you guys. They would love you guys to play
there.” So I told my manager [to] talk to the booking agent, and tell
them. . . . I want to play there. He called them, and they said yes. So
it’s going to be Saint Vitus at Saint Vitus. I think that’s going to be
really cool.