After our chat with the lovely Michelle Nocon on her involvement with her new band Death Penalty, we also jumped at the opportunity to hear what master of riffage Gaz Jennings had to say about about life after Cathedral.
Was it clear what you wanted to do after Cathedral folded or did you try out different things before settling on Death Penalty?
It wasn't clear at all what I was gonna do after Cathedral had finally been laid to rest. All I did know was that I had a ton of songs written and I somehow wanted to get them recorded and put them out on CD / vinyl at some point. I honestly had no intention of getting a band together at all. When Cathedral finished I couldn't even see myself playing another gig in my life. I thought I was finished on that front to be honest.
The so called female fronted doom metal” is quite a popular genre right now. Did you seek out to do something in this field or did you just happen to stumble upon Michelle?
Well I wouldn't strictly say that Death Penalty falls into the category of a female fronted doom band at all , we are more on old school metal band which has quite a diverse range of influences , doom being one of them. I can see why people may think that especially as I was a member of Cathedral and both Michelle and Cozy were part of a great band like Serpent Cult and it does seem to be a popular thing at the present time, but to be honest when I was thinking of a vocalist for Death Penalty, Michelle was my only choice. I never ever gave it any thought that people would put us in this pigeon hole as a female fronted doom band. I can see why people do, but believe me there's more going on in what we are doing. I didn't stumble upon Michelle. I heard her on the Serpent Cult record and that album just floored me, really blew me away. Her vocals were pivotal on that record for me so when I thought about a vocalist Michelle was the only person I had in mind to be a part of these songs and luckily she agreed to do it. I'm very grateful because she has helped in the creation of a fantastic record. I'm very proud of her and Cozy and Raf for their contribution to the album. They all sound great.
How did you get Michelle and Fredrik, formerly from Serpentcult on board? Were you familiar with their work there?
As I said the Serpent Cult record was and still is an album that I hold in high regard. The sheer heaviness and the riffs floored me when I heard it. They still do. Ha ! Once I got the thumbs up from Michelle that she would like to be involved in this, it was probably about a month later that she mentioned that Cozy was available and wanted to have a jam. I was more than happy as I had spoken to Lee about having Cozy involved and Lee was full of praise for him. Lee mentioned that Cozy was a super nice guy and a real killer drummer and when I eventually travelled over to Belgium to have a rehearsal Lee was spot on. Cozy is a fantastic drummer , real solid and plays some superb stuff on the album. I can ask him to try out lots of different things and it was like water off a ducks back for him. Great drummer and a very nice guy.
‘Death Penalty’ comes of course from Witchfinder General? Are you all big fans of the early NWOBHM? It’s funny how that band has only won in popularity decades later, while at the time nobody knew what to think of them.
I'm probably more of a fan than the other guys cos I grew up and got into music around that time. I'd say the other guys musical education is a little later than mine as their a lot younger than I am but I'm sure there are many bands from that era they appreciate. Yeah, at the time, especially in the music press, Witchfinder General were ridiculed and were on the receiving end of some quite harsh criticism, I remember, I read the reviews. And I suppose the record sleeves didn't help matters but look beyond that and some of the debatable lyrics the music kills. In my opinion of all the bands inspired by Sabbath they are the closest without complete plagiarism. In that I mean they have the Sabbath sound , a vocalist in Zeeb who sounds similar to Ozzy but the riffs are theirs in there own style.
Was it an obvious choice to go with Lee’s label Rise Above or did you consider some other options?
Well of course it was an easy choice to sign with Rise Above. I've know Lee for 26 years and in all that time I've never had any issues with him at all. I have the utmost respect for him and 100% trust which in this business is hard to come by.
Will you be taking Death Penalty on tour and more specifically anywhere near here in Belgium?
Well we would love go on tour and play some more shows so let's see what happens in the future. We've only played 3 gigs so far but to tell you the truth we sounded pretty damn good.