Room Thirteen's interview with Dave Chandler, guitarist and songwriter with US doom metal pioneers Saint Vitus, is the final in our series of interviews with bands at the recent Damnation Festival. We had the privilege to be invited on to the bands tour bus, shortly before they took to the Damnation stage, to play a storming and iconic set.

It is also an interview infused with poignancy, as shortly after Damnation, the amazing Wino, lead singer with the band, who sung so incredibly well at Damnation, was deported from Norway for possession of illegal substances. Wino has now said he is in treatment for his 'dependency', and we hope Wino gets all the support he needs from family and friends, and helpers, to get back on his feet, and continue to share his stunning vocal talents with an appreciative metal world. With thanks to Keiran Allen who devised and asked the majority of questions

R13: It's been 35 years, too many classic albums to count, and more legendary experiences than most humans can dream of being able to gather, could you sum up what the past 35 years in Saint Vitus has been to you?
DC: It's all a marijuana haze! Seriously, it's amazing to still be known after this long. When we started everybody hated us, and when we broke up in 1995 nobody cared. It's really amazing to basically start all over again. All the generations are coming to the shows now. We would never have guessed that we would still be around and thought of in a good light, in thirty-five f**king years.
R13: Most bands can barely make it to 20 years, so you are lucky if you can make it that long and still make a living.
DC: We don't really make a living yet. We all have to go home and basically work.
R13: Have you guys all got day jobs?
DC: Wino is the only constantly travelling musician. Henry has his own business that he does at home. Mark doesn't have a day job but he owns a house that he rents out. My wife and I work in a herb store in New Orleans, which is three stores in the city, and the biggest herb store in Louisiana. We sell all natural medicines, have a room in the back that sells water pipes. We sell bulk herbs for potions, and voodoo, and some cooking ones. We have a store that's in the trendy part, that's a high-end glass pipe store; in fact the worlds largest water pipe was delivered there yesterday....twelve feet high. That's what I do.

R13: 'Born Too Late' is obviously a classic album and an inspiration to so many people around the world; outside of fan demand, what was making you want to do an entire tour playing this album in full?
DC: It is outside of the newest album the biggest seller, and its Wino's first album. Actually it was our USA booking agency at the time that had the idea, and approached me with it. They said you have just done the east coast of the United States, and for the west coast half we need to do something special, why don't we do this, as it 35 years since you did your first show. I was like, that's not a bad idea. I wouldn't have thought of it, because my first reaction was, we play the whole first side anyway, but the second side we don't play that much. Well okay, it's only three other songs; there are only six songs on it (laughs). We wondered if it would work, so far though people are really digging it.

R13: On the album you do a unique cover of Black Flag's 'Thirsty and Miserable' and really bring it into a new light. Why did you want to cover the song?
DC: Its not on Born Too Late, Thirsty and Miserable was on a separate EP when it first came out, but they never put it out in that way on CD, they slapped it on to the Born Too Late CD. We picked that song because we like it, and it represents the alcoholic side of the band. The only reason we were allowed to do it, because if you notice nobody does Black Flag covers, Gregg Ginn will not allow it. Dez Cadena wrote that song, and he said go ahead and do it. Which pissed off Gregg Ginn no end, but he couldn't say a damn thing about it because Dez wrote it. So that's how we ended up the only band that can legitimately do a Black Flag cover, and not get into trouble. We wanted to do it slow just to be weird, and then at the end go fast, just to show we can do that if we wanted to.

R13: How is your current tour co-headlining with Orange Goblin going, any interesting stories so far from this tour?
DC: Everything's been great so far. It's been so tight every night that we haven't had any time to really have a hardcore blow out party with everyone. We hang out in the dressing room together and get on great with them. I was in a semi-punk band a few years ago Debris Incorporated, and did the States with them, which is where I first met them. We have got two weeks left on the tour. I know at the very end after Hammer of Doom, there is nothing to do the next day, except drive to Frankfurt to go to our hotel, as we are flying out of Frankfurt the next morning. So I know that's going to be a blow out, as both bands will be going f**k it, it doesn't matter. They are really cool dudes, there is just no time.

R13: How does it feel to be considered the Godfathers of Doom Metal and credited for effectively kick starting the Doom genre?
DC: Godfathers is a good way to put it. We started rehearsing in 1978, and did our first show in 1979. That was the hair days of metal in Hollywood, so it was either Motley Crew or punk rock, and both hated us. We had no clue about anyone else doing it. Pentagram had been around before us, we had no idea. We just wanted to play stuff that was similar to the stuff we liked, concerts we would go to. At that time it was of course Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Blue Oyster Cult, and Alice Cooper, where I get inspiration for a lot of my creepy lyrics. It was so weird because the space between 1995 and the first reunion in 2003, that's when all of a sudden doom metal started becoming talked about. We had never heard of that term. My mom used to call it 'funeral music'...'it's so sad and you can't dance to it'. The media always has to label everything. It feels weird when people say that we are legends, as I don't consider us as that. I do though kind of agree that we were one of the first American bands to do it. To do it in the punk rock scene is really bizarre. That's why Black Flag signed us to SST, because they were like, we have to do this as it will piss people off. And it did for two years, then they got used to us and it was fine.

R13: Any major plans for Saint Vitus in the near future?
DC: More beer and pot....right now our booking agent is working on festivals for next year. He's got two German, and an Austrian one. One is brand new, the others have been around for a couple of years, and also Hellfest gave us an offer, and he is tying that up. What he wants to do is start with a couple of the festivals, and end at Hellfest. So between when we get home and then, I am going to try my best to get some new material going. We should have new songs to play at the festivals, whether an album is out or not. We can say there is one coming; here are some songs from it. Hopefully if the plan works out I should get most of it written, and then we will all meet at Henry's house and record a demo for ourselves. We are all spread out across the country, and don't have any regular rehearsals. The only way we can do it, is meet at his house, learn the songs and record them, and then practice them on our own. Then if we get to the point to where we can record before we go out, we will. If not we will try to do it right afterwards, as you are all practiced up and hot. That all depends on...we want to use the same producer and studio as for Lillie: F-65, because the sound came out exactly as we wanted. I have two songs written, there are no lyrics to them yet. Wino wants to write the lyrics to one. The other one I have ideas.

R13: What are you guys listening to on the tour bus?
DC: Actually I listen to the same stuff I did as a kid. Black Sabbath and the bands I mentioned earlier. For years and years I worked as a bartender/DJ in a strip bars, so there is a couple of not even close to metal records that I have, that I will listen to, if I am in the mood. The only thing I don't like music wise is rap and hip-hop. There are one or two things I like such as Cypress Hill, and there are quite a few rappers and hip hop people that are Vitus fans. That's cool. I am a TV person, that's what I do. The other guys have a wide range of music, but everybody will pretty much say if you ask what their favourite is, what I've always listened too. Red Fang we dig. We did Australia, and there is band called Zodiac, and we said could we get your record, and one of the guys said I haven't got it here, but I am going to see you at the next show, and will bring the record and a shirt for you. He gives me a shirt and a cassette, and my cassette player has been broken for 20 years! That's some of the new bands we dig.

R13: It's been a real honour to get the opportunity to meet you.
DC: It's our honour.

Saint Vitus are not a band to rest on their reputation, though they could so easily do that. Here at Room Thirteen we are looking forward to hearing their new material next year, and strongly recommend you catch them at one of next year's festivals. Doom metal currently seems to be coming into its own in the metal scene, and Saint Vitus remain a vital part of an increasingly creative genre.