Saint Vitus
Saint Vitus Album.jpg
Studio album by Saint Vitus
Released April 23 1984
Recorded 16 and 17 August 1982 at Total Access in Redondo Beach, California
Genre Doom Metal
Length 35:43
Label SST Records
Producer Dez Cadena, Joe Carducci, Spot
Saint Vitus chronology
1983 Demo
Saint Vitus
Hallow's Victim

Saint Vitus is the eponymous debut album by the doom metal band of the same name. Released in early 1984 via Greg Ginn's SST Records it's commonly cited (Along with Psalm 9 by Trouble and Relentless by Pentagram) as one of the earliest doom metal albums and serve as an influence to a host of acts in that surrounding scene, even becoming an influence on labelmates Black Flag as indicated by their second album My War.

Background[edit | edit source]

Saint Vitus had their beginnings in 1979 and had been playing their first shows in August that year, already having a repertoire of a songs in their live sets. Gainig interest from one Greg Ginn they would be signed to SST and work with the likes of Joe Carducci, Spot, Naomi Peterson and Dez Cadena, all of whom really interested in this band that was like an antithesis to the punk rock the label was common for.

The band would record the album live in the studio on two nights in 1982 at Total Access in Redondo Beach with no overdubs. The band intended to release the album that year but a lawsuit involving SST put a halt to all releases until early 1984 with the band performing with punk bands all through the West Coast in the meantime. Once released the album was released at first on cassette and vinyl, with a CD release to follow around 1990.

In an interview with Hammer Smashed Sound, Dave Chandler explains how he got signed with SST and the recording of the first album:

“We were playing as many shows as we could at clubs, and house parties, usually for no pay. We were doing a show at a local club and the SST band Overkill came to our show to pass out flyers for their upcoming show. They were trying to be a punk /metal cross over band (they would have been one of the first). They were looking for bands to play with them and knew that we had a tiny connection to the punk rock scene because Scotty was friends with the original bass player for the Circle Jerks. They asked us if we would open for them at a couple of shows and we said ‘'Sure why not?'’ They booked a show with us, and being a Black Flag fan, I asked if there was any way that they could get someone from Black Flag to come to one of our shows. I didn’t think anyone would, but I was just curious to see what their opinion of us would be if they did show up. It turns out that Greg, Chuck and Henry came out to the show.

After our set was done, Chuck approached us and said that they liked us, and asked us if we would like to do a record with them. Of course we said yes and right away they booked us to do some punk rock shows, and the first one was with them (Black Flag). We did this, along with all the normal parties and shows we did on a regular basis, all the way up until 1982 when we recorded the first album and it was supposed to be released that year. That was during the time when Black Flag got into their infamous lawsuit (around 1982) putting a halt to any SST releases, including their Damaged album, until the lawsuit was settled. Within those two years, we just did shows up and down the west coast and Arizona with punk and metal bands. When the record was finally released, in around November 1984, we went on our first national tour supporting Black Flag (Dec. of ’84).”

— Dave Chandler, Hammer Smashed Sound[1]

In a recollection from 2010, producer Spot recalled Saint Vitus being one of his favorite recording sessions:

“When we got into the studio—the big live, cement room at Total Access -- I couldn't help think: ‘Now it's time to show BF how it's really done!’ The Vitus guys left me alone and didn't try to over-theorize anything. Aside from a few ambient miking tricks, it was a real straightforward setup. Armando's drum set looked tricky at first but was actually a piece of cake even with 4 tracks dedicated to the toms. No sonic surprises or nightmares. Only one overhead mic, and I refused to pull the front heads off the bass drums. One of my favorite recording sessions ever!”
— Spot, The New Vulgate [2]

In the same blog post by Joe Carducci he would also reminisce on the signing of Saint Vitus, Armando Acosta and the recording sessions of the first Saint Vitus album:

“Yet here was Greg and Chuck telling me I had to see this new band they’d heard over at Pax. I think this was April, 1982 and Black Flag was working Emil into the band and preparing for the Summer tour. I went over with them and met and watched Saint Vitus play their set. The first thing you noticed was Armando’s drum kit! The damn rack toms petered out to a size smaller than bongos, and he had layers of cymbals, and double-kick drums of course, but also a couple floor toms as large as most humans’ bass drums! You couldn’t even see him behind them, and he was big! The whole band looked at first glance like they might have missed that it was now the 80s! Then you’d catch the visual and audio Germs references and find out that they saw bands at the Fleetwood as well as the Long Beach Sports Arena, and they were the only SST band conversant with UK punk bands like Discharge.

Dez was of course immediately, totally into them, and possibly it took Henry, Mugger, Spot and I a split second longer. My concern was how would we budget for another album release with no cashflow, so when Greg asked what I thought about doing their album, I responded, “How about a single?” Obviously I hadn’t yet clocked the tunes’ running times, nor figured on how wide a groove those low-end rumbling progressions were going to require; they couldn’t do a 7” 45. Spot found that one of the Media Art guys had opened up Total Access studio in Redondo and he had just run the Descendents through it so he booked an overnight -- ten hours for $200 if I remember. The recording began with load in at 10pm August 16, 1982 and went til about 9am the next morning. Dez and I went in with Spot. He used the studio’s main room with its carefully calibrated angles and acousticly perfect design merely to run the amp and mic cords and power cables through to a larger raw space that Total Access rented but hadn’t incorporated into its business yet. It must’ve been about 25 x 100 feet with a fifteen foot ceiling. Cement floor, steel roof.

It took us almost a full year before we were able to spend another two hundred bucks to mix the album. We got it released some time in early 1984. It wasn’t the first album that I’d been in the studio for but it’s the first one I had some input on, plus I worked out artwork with David Chandler and Naomi Petersen. She was just becoming our go-to girl for photographs and she really clicked with them. I thought she might be disappointed to begin work on them since no-one knew who they were and they weren’t punk-looking to say the least. But they were goth in their way, and she liked them and loved having a reason to do some graveyard shoots.”

— Joe Carducci, The New Vulgate [3]

Saint Vitus Full Album 1984

Tracklist[edit | edit source]

All songs written by Dave Chandler, except where noted.

  • 1. Saint Vitus (4:49)
  • 2. White Magic/Black Magic (5:27)
  • 3. Zombie Hunger (7:22)
  • 4. The Psychopath (9:26) (Music: Adams / Lyrics: Chandler)
  • 5. Burial at Sea (8:39)

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • Scott Reagers - Vocals
  • Dave Chandler - Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Mark Adams - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Armando Acosta - Drums, Backing Vocals
  • Dez Cadena - Backing Vocals (1, 3), Producer
  • Merrill Ward - Backing Vocals (1, 3)
  • Yvonne Saxton - Backing Vocals (1, 3)
  • Naomi Peterson - Photography
  • Spot - Engineering, Producer
  • Joe Carducci - Producer

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hammer Smashed Sound Saint Vitus interview with Dave Chandler , accessed 6th January 2018
  2. The New Vulgate Armando and Saint Vitus by Joe Carducci, accessed 6th January 2018
  3. The New Vulgate Armando and Saint Vitus by Joe Carducci, accessed 6th January 2018
V·T·E Saint Vitus
Current Members Dave ChandlerScott ReagersHenry VasquezPat Bruders
Past Members Mark AdamsArmando AcostaScott WeinrichChristian Linderson
Studio Albums Saint VitusHallow's VictimBorn Too LateMournful CriesVC.O.D.Die HealingLillie: F-65Saint Vitus
Extended Plays The Walking DeadThirsty and MiserableSaint Vitus / Born Too LateSaint Vitus Live
Compilation Albums Heavier Than ThouThe Walking Dead / Hallow's Victim
Live Albums LiveReunion 2003 - Live in ChicagoMarbles in the MoshpitLive Vol. 2Let The End Begin
Associated Bands, Artists, Etc. The ObsessedSpirit CaravanThe Hidden HandShrinebuilderDebris Inc.Debris Inc. (Album)Blood of the SunLord VicarCount RavenOutlaw OrderDownCrowbar
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