Cathedral interview

Cathedral band photo

Originally published in ‘zine issue #30, 2004

What should be said about Cathedral that hasn’t been said before? That they are an important doom metal band? That they started out slow and heavy as fuck and ended up rocking and heavy as fuck? Cathedral is on Nuclear Blast now, but one thing we can say is that they have a new two-CD collection on Earache called The Serpent’s Gold. Because of this, Gaz Jennings, founding member and guitar player for Cathedral, obligingly made some phone calls to the press.

He spoke [to me] on a variety of subjects. Chris Barnes, when he was in Cannibal Corpse, to begin with one point, said in this very ‘zine that his band didn’t downtune the guitars and bass, as often is the case with death metal, because with most downtuning bands, if they were to tune their instruments up to standard and play their songs, those bands would sound wimpy. Gaz agreed with this assessment. He told of an occasion where he tuned his guitar up to standard to play along with some traditional heavy metal records, one being a Saxon LP, and for the heck of it he started playing a Cathedral tune, “Hopkins (Witchfinder General).” He jovially said the song sounded “terrible” in the higher tuning.

Cathedral has recorded different records at different guitar tunings, as other bands have done, but as compared to some bands, who would in the live setting play all of their songs in the same tunings, or others who would have different guitars and basses in different tunings and would play whichever one was appropriate for a particular song, Cathedral plays their songs live in whatever key their songs are in.

The collection consists of two CDs of music, one a sort of best of and the second rare tracks. On the first appears a song or two from each album and some of the EPs, one of the former being “Stained Glass Horizon.” Gaz described the video shoot for that song as a bit of a disappointment because of a director unreceptive to the band’s ideas. The band scouted out an old abandoned castle that was overgrown with foliage, a really gothic looking structure, that they felt would be perfect. The building was the first in England to receive electricity and took a large amount of travel to visit. But instead of that rich locale, the director put the band in front of a brick wall for some of the shots, a wall not dissimilar to any down the street from Gaz’s house.

Cathedral has gone against the grain and what is expected of it many times, a good example and not the least of which being the video for “Midnight Mountain.” One of the guys who was in the band at the time was wearing a chef’s outfit in the video, as if he were cookin’ up some riffs. This is because he was a horrible cook, at least for one occasion when he first jammed with the band. The drummer at the time was dressed like Stan Laurel from Laurel and Hardy because of his personality. Then there’s the white disco outfit the singer had on, the disco ball, the dancers, the magic carpet the band was riding, and all the rest of it. Gaz chuckled a bit when recalling all of this, saying they certainly got a reaction when the video came out. People didn’t know what to make of it.

One thing you can make of Cathedral is that the band is very good at what it does, whether it be rocking or grinding out slow tempos from hell. Watch out for their new album, and look for The Serpent’s Gold. ■


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