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Cassius King's Dan Lorenzo: "I guess I'm still "Dan from Hades" in some ways. No more thrash, but there is room to play quicker than doom!"

Interview with Dan Lorenzo from Cassius King
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 November 2022, 9:46 AM

There is never a tiring moment for busy bees, always working, creating stuff in order to be used for later, or mainly fulfilling themselves by continuously being busy. Dan Lorenzo, which has been constantly on the vibe with his creations, doesn't appear to stop, and that is good. After making moves with a variety of projects, there is one that has been around for years, and it just popped a new album, and the name is Cassius King. Titled “Dread The Dawn”, which is actually the band's sophomore, brings back good memories of old Doom and Hard Rock. Steinmetal had to chat again with Lorenzo to understand the record better, and the work with Jason McMaster.

Hi Dan, it is once again a pleasure to have you for another shop talk, this time, it is about another venture of yours, Cassius King. How have you been sir?

Lior! Things are great and I really appreciate you helping us spread the word.

Up to the point when I got word about the sophomore album, which we will discuss about, Cassius King was news to me, and good news it was. I understand that it started out as a sort of cover band / project of yours right? How did that develop into Cassius King?

Correct. I thought of the name Cassius King way back around 2002. It's different spelling of the old-time saying "Cash is King". I released a solo album in 2002 called Dan Lorenzo Cassius King and then when Jimmy Schulman, Ron Lipnicki and I would record Kiss covers we called it Cassius King. Jason McMaster sang some of those covers with us and then when I the Corona shutdown happened, I wrote the music to about 25 songs. Half of those became Vessel Of Light Last Ride and the other half became Cassius King Field Trip with obviously Jason singing.

What amazed me in all this is that you got Jason McMaster into the band. I have known him as a screaming banshee in all of his bands, From Dangerous Toys to heavier acts like Watchtower, and guest participations, but in Cassius King, it was like listening to a kind of different personality of his. I wonder, how do you see McMaster’s vocal persona as a glove fitting to Cassius King’s music?

Well, Jason has a pretty diverse voice. He just sang with Accept for 5 nights when Mark Tornillo wasn't feeling 100%. I freaked out when I heard Jason sing the song Stick It In with Broken Teeth.

Cassius King just released its sophomore album, “Dread The Dawn”, a rather fast reply to the debut, “Field Trip”. Even though we had a pandemic on our hands, along with the other bands, and projects that you lead, or participate in, coming up with the material for “Dread The Dawn” was quite fast, wasn’t it? I guess time wasn’t really a factor when it comes to the record?

I've been writing more than ever. For whatever reason it's getting easier and easier. I wrote the music to another 25 songs last winter and I actually finished all my guitar parts for Cassius King before I did the guitars for Patriarchs In Black. So Jason, Jimmy and Ron just had to put their parts to it.

From what I can conjure from most of the record, there is a form of negativity, and aspects surrounding death, but also a form of new beginnings. Two elements that are rattled together between the songs. Covering the ideas and mind wanderings of the record, what can you tell that the general spirit of it is about? Does it carry hope or rather show the door down?

Interesting. I write all the music except for Doomsday which Jimmy wrote. Jason and Jimmy wrote all the lyrics to Dread The Dawn. Hmmm….yeah the lyrics are pretty dark, aren't they Lior!?

The blazing grooves were the first to capture my attention, the classic natured Doom and Stoner metal vibes. Basically it is taking the Black Sabbath vibe and giving it a boost, and a blast, fuming a tad of Blues to the mix, and there you have it. The end result is a bowl of massiveness that sounds like it can be endless. What can you tell about the musical development of Cassius King, in particular surrounding “Dread The Dawn”?

I guess all tuned down music relates to Black Sabbath, but I honestly don't have Sabbath in my Top 10. I'm way more into old Kiss and Aerosmith and AC/DC Highway To Hell and even though my riffs don't sound like them….it's sort of Black Sabbath without the meandering. I don't do drugs! ( laughs) My songs are Sabbath like with Kiss' song structures!

A part of what can be heard on “Dread The Dawn”, the vibe as overall, I also heard on one of your other projects, Patriarchs In Black. In your view, what makes Cassius King, in light of “Dread The Dawn”, a special kind of fiend in that mixture between old school Doom driven Metal and the Stoner qualities of the genre?

Lior, I leave that for you. I don't really analyse what I write. I just write.

Although Doom Metal is defined as slow, especially the classic kind of the early 80s, there are several songs that are more energetic than others. “Dread The Dawn” delivers a diverse form of songwriting, capturing moments that are set ablaze along down the mud treading. What can you tell about the songwriting process on the record? What is your perception of what is a Cassius King related material, especially since you are quite the articulate musician that did a lot in his career?

Agreed. There are some more up-tempo songs. I guess I'm still "Dan from Hades" in some ways. No more thrash, but there is room to play quicker than doom!

Another great advantage of the record, and I believe that it made its mark on nearly all the songs of the album, is the presence on skins of Ron Lipnicki. Another ex-member of Hades, but I knew him better from his days in Overkill, Lipnicki did wonders for the songs with his drumming style, taking the classical stuff and providing his signature and force to them. What is your opinion about the drumming, and lets even cross to the rhythm section, on the record?

Jimmy and Ron and I have been playing together a long time. Ron is one of my "newest" friends and we've been friends for over twenty years now. I got Ron into Overkill and I sort of left him alone when he was with them. But as soon as he left them I was bothering him to record with me and Jimmy again. Before I forget, Jimmy is releasing his old 90s band Dreams of Venus album in January on Hellven/Dyamond Roxx Records in January. Getting back to Ron, obviously he is a world class drummer. One of the best metal drummers in the world!

The riffs on “Dread The Dawn” have the 70s variations that are stellar, bringing back the glory of the Iommi days of the classic Sabbath decade into effect. Nonetheless, you perfected them into becoming relevant in our very day and age. What can you tell about the riff writing for this record?

When it comes to guitar solos, I actually like my solos on Bad Man Down, but we called in the professionals like Scott LePage when we needed that slide guitar on Doomsday plus a few other songs. Michael Gilbert from Flotsam played the solo on Abandon Paradise our video/single. I suck at most things in life, but riffs…I think I'm near the top and it keeps getting easier. I already wrote and recorded most of my guitar parts to the next Patriarchs In Black album. For this record…it's just the riffs I wrote last year. They could probably be Vessel of Light or Patriarchs In Black songs, but when Jason sings them they are Cassius King.

A cause for celebration on “Dread The Dawn” is also the sound, as it generates the feel and vibe of the music, whether it is energetic or down tempo. Who produced and engineered the album? How do you find the band’s sound of the end result?

Jon "JROD" is amazing. He's a guitar player in the thrash band Return To Darkness and he's just an amazing producer from Pomona, NY. I love working with him.

The opening statement of the record, "Abandon Paradise", is where the classics meet the present in such a tremendous finesse and rate. The main riff, on its immaculate identity, states that the old spirit is alive and well, breathing, kicking and screaming in class. To add to it, McMaster rules the day, and night, portraying the song’s feel in great quality of singing. What is your appreciation of this track? What can you tell about its impact on the record?

I remember writing the opening riff in my loft and I thought, "This is so simple, but it's kind of cool." It actually had different riffs for the chorus and Jason suggested I change it which never has happened before because I recorded all my parts first. Jason liked the "new" chorus I wrote better and we love it. That's why Jason made a video for it.

It would be interesting to know if Cassius King is also a live band, if that is the case, are there plans to support the new album?

We hope so, but Jason lives in Austin and we live in NY/NJ.

Dan, once again, it was good to have you for this talk, I would like to hear more of the Cassius King camp soon, all the best to you, Cheers

Thanks so much Lior!!



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