CATHEDRAL Frontman Discusses Making Of 'The Guessing Game'

Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock recently conducted an interview with vocalist Lee Dorrian of the veteran British doom/stoner band CATHEDRAL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

69 Faces Of Rock: It's been five years since the last album. Why did it take so long?

Lee Dorrian: It's weird because to me it doesn't seem that long, but obviously five years is a long time, especially when you think about being a band for like twenty years. I think what happened, [it was a] few things, really. After we did our last album, "The Garden of Unearthy Delights", we were really happy with it, and we spent a lot of time promoting it. We toured for like year and a half. After we did that record, especially the last track, which was like 28 minutes long, we weren't sure where to go next. At that point we felt we've encompassed everything that the band was about. We kind of didn't know where to go next, or even if we were to go anywhere next. We had to think about lots of things. When the touring commitments were over, we spent a year not even having anything to do with the band. We just took a year off. And then I called up Gaz (Jennings; guitar) and told him to come down with his guitar to see what ideas can we come up with. In that first year, he came down about four or five times, and stayed a few days at a time. We weren't trying to push ourselves to force anything out. We just wanted to make sure that by continuing we are making the right choice. And then in that year we came out with like a whole album's worth of material which was a lot different from what you are actually hearing on the new album. We didn't use any of those songs. The material we came up with was very much in vein of our first album, really. Very slow, heavy and dark, progressive doom metal, which is obviously a lot different to the way "The Guessing Game" came out. The only song that we used from those early sessions is "Requiem For The Voiceless". In fact, it was the first song we came up with when we were writing the new material. That wasn't even gonna go on the album. It's only because our drummer liked it that much, so we kept it.

69 Faces Of Rock: Were those early songs even recorded?

Lee Dorrian: No, there is a whole album worth of stuff we didn't even record. It's still there, obviously. But I think what happened after a year of writing stuff like that, we were into it. But we thought, instead of doing something people are familiar with and treading on the old ground, we wanted to do something new. When we came to that conclusion, that's when we started to write the songs that are on the album. So that was about a year and a half that we started the writing for "The Guessing Game" as it is. I suppose at this time of the year me and Gary took the songs to the other guys in the band and started rehearsing them, then we recorded the album. That's five years in a nutshell, really.

69 Faces Of Rock: That certainly explains a lot. Is "The Guessing Game" a double album because of such long absence, or you just simple felt overly creative?

Lee Dorrian: Well, I think it's probably the latter, really. It's the same like it was with the last record. We scraped a whole album's worth of material we've written for that. It's almost like you spend a lot of time trying to find where you should be going when writing the music, and then you have to try and eradicate to find the right starting point. So by eradicating all that material, it was a hard thing to do, but once we realized that we were going to do something different the ideas started to come easier. We were still actually writing while we were recording the album. There are four songs that were written in the studio. I think, our producer, Warren Riker, wanted to kill us after about a week because we were still coming out with new songs in the studio.

69 Faces Of Rock: The album definitely has a very balanced feel.

Lee Dorrian: Gaz experimented with his guitar a lot more than he usually does. Normally when we do a record, he just plays on full at all times, but this time he played with more dynamics and more contrast to the sound. Vocally, I tried to things a little bit more experimental this time. I wanted to get away from the shouty type vocals that not necessary dominate our older records but they've been there. I just kind wanted to go for a more relaxed approach this time. Just to make the record sound a little bit heavier.

69 Faces Of Rock: One of the tracks, "Requiem For The Voiceless", which you've mentioned already shows a lot of personal awareness lyrically.

Lee Dorrian: It's an animal-rights song. It's one of those songs that was supposed to be scrapped, but our drummer liked it so much he insisted we keep it. Lyrically, it's something I've been passionate about since 10 or 11 years old. The subject of animal rights is very dear to me. I still feel about it the same way as I've always did. I think it's shameful the way man treats his fellow living beings. I do think people one day will look back at this period and be ashamed about the way they treated the animals.

69 Faces Of Rock: Why did you name the album "The Guessing Game"?

Lee Dorrian: I suppose there are few things you could relate that to. I mean people weren't sure whether CATHEDRAL was gonna continue, so it was like a guessing game if we were gonna do another album. That's kind of a silly explanation. The real explanation is the people's existence. "The Guessing Game" is the guessing game of life. People have to justify their existence through religion or wealth, or state. It's the question of where we came from, why are we here, and where do we go, and the lengths that uncertainty would draw people to some kind of extremism as oppose to relaxing and enjoying the life we have now. All they have to live for is the death because they think there is something better after this life, which to me is the guessing game. Why spend the rest of this life thinking you're gonna go to a better life, better place. That type of thinking makes this life worthless, when it's not.

Read the entire interview at 69 Faces Of Rock.

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