CATHEDRAL Frontman Talks About The Making Of 'The Guessing Game'

April 1, 2010

Toby Cook of The Quietus recently conducted an interview with singer Lee Dorrian of the veteran British doom/stoner band CATHEDRAL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

The Quietus: It's been a while since the last CATHEDRAL album. What prompted a return to the studio?

Lee Dorrian: Well, after we did the last one ["The Garden Of Unearthly Delights"] we weren't even sure that we were going to do another one, for various reasons; mainly having been together for so long — we're not teenagers anymore — everyone's got their own lives and commitments. And the last album we did, we thought would be a good one to go out on; the last track is like a 28 minute track that encompassed everything that we're about and we thought, well, fuck, what do we do after that? So we did all the touring to back up the album and then just took a year off to think about what we were going to do. After a year or so, I got in touch with Gaz [Jennings, guitar] and said: "How are you feeling about stuff? Let's get together and see what we come up with before we decide what we're going to do." So he came down to London with his guitar and we started jamming on a few ideas. He only came down about three times over the space of a year, and we wrote quite a bit of stuff, which we'd record each time, and listen back to it and try to get our heads around where we were going. We came up with a load of stuff that was very much like the first album — very slow, heavy doom stuff — which is ironic because the last few albums we've done have started off that way, because that's been the intention. But eventually you get to the stage when you think, well, if we are going to do this let's do the album that we've always wanted to do - rather than skirting around or being shy of certain ideas, let's just go for it this time and just make a good CATHEDRAL album. Once we got over that hurdle of trying to work out which direction we were going to go with it, we just got on with it. We had a bunch of songs that we presented to the band about a year ago, started rehearsing a little later, and then recorded in November. That's it in a nutshell!

The Quietus: So it's fair to say that you're pretty pleased with the results then?

Lee Dorrian: Yeah! There have been times, admittedly, in the past where we've recorded records when we weren't ready to. It kind of worked on a couple of albums like "The Ethereal Mirror" and "The Carnival Bizarre", but it didn't work on some others, and after all, what you record is what you leave behind, so we just wanted to make sure that we did it right. Like I said, we're not teenagers anymore so there's no reason to rush records out in the same way that we might have had to — or record companies wanted us to — in the past. I think we're all really pleased with the performances and the diversity of it all.

The Quietus: So was it ultimately your idea to start work on a new record?

Lee Dorrian: Well really, it was both of ours [his and Gaz's]. The thing is, as soon as I sit down with him and he comes up with some riffs, it's like, aww fuck, here we go again, because he comes out with such killer riffs every time! Until his arms fall off or something, it's probably always going to be that way! But I think that with this album we sort of broke a few moulds within ourselves. I think that we had become trapped in certain characteristics, and had become caricatures of our own little selves within the band and hopefully we've managed to break out of those moulds this time, which should make it easier for us to go on from here.

The Quietus: Even if there's no specific concept to the album itself, Dave Patchett's artwork is...well, it's epic, isn't it?! Do you give him specific instructions, or images that you want included, or does he have carte blanche to do as he pleases?

Lee Dorrian: It's a mix, really. I always have an idea way in advance, before I've even sat down and wrote anything! I have, like, visions, impromptu things that come into my head, and I think, yeah, I can imagine Dave doing something like this or interpreting this in that kind of way. Mainly, they're against religion and organized ideas and establishment and authority, but done in a way that is — I don't like to use the word metaphorical — but that is metaphorical. So it's always my ideas; I usually just go down to Brighton and have a few beers with him, spend an afternoon just to get a scratch point to start working from; he'll start coming up with sketches, which he'll then send to me, and we'll go from there really. The artwork for the new album I've had since May last year — in fact, he's already started on the next one... God knows when we might record it, if we ever do! But it's always good to have the art, it helps solidify the songs a bit more when I've got something to look at that represents it all.

Read the entire interview from The Quietus.

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