45 GRAVE BIOGRAPHY
please see the other 45 GRAVE page above or contact me at RozzRemembered@yahoo.com for rare 45 GRAVE dvd and cd information
45 Grave, formed in 1979,
is an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, CA,
noted for their influential roles in both the horror punk
and deathrock genres. The original group broke up
in 1985 but vocalist Dinah Cancer has
revived the band in recent times.
The band was formed in Los Angeles, California
during the punk rock movement. The original lineup
consisted of Dinah Cancer on vocals, Paul Cutler on guitar,
Rob Ritter (also known as Rob Graves of The Bags)
on bass, and Don Bolles (of The Germs) on drums.
The band evolved out of an industrial music band
called Vox Pop, who recorded two singles and
played around the Los Angeles area,
specifically in the punk institution the Masque.
Vox Pop contained all of the members of
45 Grave as well as others, such as Jeff Dahl.
Vox Pop continued to coexist with
45 Grave until early 1981.
The band's name, despite rumors to the contrary,
was lifted from a button.
In 1980, 45 Grave recorded their first song,
"Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood",
included on the LAFMS (Los Angeles Free Music Society)
art rock compilation album, "Darker Skratcher".
The song is a cover version of the cult favorite
originally done by "Don Hinson And The Rigamorticians"
on their 1964 album release "Monster Dance Party".
Don Hinson at the time was a popular radio personality
in Las Vegas, Nevada (and later for 20 years in Los Angeles, California).
Mr. Hinson recorded the song in the wake of Bobby "Boris" Pickett's
1962 novelty song hit "Monster Mash" hoping to emulate
the latter song's success and have an international hit record.
Both "Monster Mash" and the Don Hinson original recording
of "Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood"
were produced by noted novelty song record producer Gary S. Paxton
of Skip & Flip. The 45 Grave recording went on to achieve
cult status and is a signature song during the bands live shows.
45 Grave members appeared as extras
in Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott.
Early on, the band were playing The Consumers
songs that Cutler had written, with lyrics changed
to fit Cancer's singing style. They then wrote the
songs that would be released on their first 7",
"Black Cross", and a fast paced punk song called "Party Time".
Return of the Living Dead
In 1984 a slowed down version of "Party Time"
was featured on the soundtrack to the film
Return of the Living Dead along with tracks
by bands such as TSOL and The Cramps.
Another track, "Evil", was featured on MTV.
The band then recorded their one studio album
to date, "Sleep In Safety" and then in 1985, broke up.
The band reformed in 1989 for a brief tour, which was
recorded and released as "Only The Good Die Young".
However when Ritter died in 1990,
from an accidental drug overdose,
the band broke up yet again.
In 2004, to commemorate its 25th anniversary,
45 Grave reformed with a new lineup,
Dinah Cancer being the single remaining
member from previous incarnations.
Dinah Cancer posted on her MySpace blog,
"I'm building this to keep the spirit of 45 Grave alive,
introduce its magic to new fans, and as a personal
commemorative of my best memories being the
driving force and front person of 45 Grave.
This is a part of my life that indeed changed me forever."
One of the touring members involved in this line-up was
Rikk Agnew, formerly of Christian Death,
the highly influential deathrock/goth band who
shared stages with 45 Grave in the
early '80s LA punk scene.
I credit two bands with essentially creating L.A. Deathrock in the late 70s, Christian Death and 45 Grave. Kommunity FK and TSOL deserve a lot of credit for their contributions as well, and Mighty Sphincter was doing wild stuff in the same vein in Phoenix, Arizona as early as 1980. L.A. Deathrock was a movement that has been incredibly influential to this very day. Below is a 2005 interview with Dinah Cancer, vocalist of L.A.'s 45 Grave....
Tell us something about the birth of this new project “Dinah Cancer & the Grave Robbers”...
Dinah: I started to think about forming a band around October 2003. It was more of a dream than a reality. I was toying with the idea for a while. Soon after that, the band I was in Penis Fly Trap, had some problems and we were ask to leave Penis Fly Trap politely. Playing with them was hardship and a bummer. So in January, we started to look for people to play with. February we added to guitar : Daniel De Leon, from the bands the Rezurex and the Deep Eynde. Also from Die Young came Chris Gultch on bass. Hal came with me from Penis Flytrap. We started to play and it jammed. This is to be the living tribute to 45 Grave. The ghost of 45 Grave. I wanted to play some old songs that lots of people have asked me to play. Give the fans what they want!! So now you get US!! The line-up is Dinah Cancer on vocals, Daniel De Leon on guitars, Hal Satan on drums, and Lisa Pifer on bass, from the bands D.I., Nina Hagen, and Snap-her.
For people who have been buried in a crypt for years, can you give us a Dinah Cancer timeline?
Dinah: Graduated Fairfax High School, 1978. Went to first punk show "Ramones and Runaways " at the Whisky, 1978. Met Don Bolles ( playing in the GERMS) beginning of 1978. later met Paul Cutler and Rob Ritter. Recorded "Riboflavin" in 1979 for the LAFMS, under the name 45 Grave, it meant nothing. 45 Grave played first show September 1, 1979. At the same time, I was singing back up for the girl group, Castration Squad too. In 1980, 45 Grave played a lot of punk shows and recorded the single, "Black Cross" b/w "Wax" on Goldar Records. 1982- Dinah marries Paul Cutler. Vox Pop was in full swing. 1982 - the album "Sleep in Safety" was released. 45 Grave was playing on bills with the Misfits, the Damned, Specimen, Black Flag and Bad Religon. 1984 - The song, "Partytime", made it into he movie, production of "Return of the Living Dead" (released in the summer of 1985). 1984- 45 Grave went on US tour and broke up soon after the separation of Paul and Dinah. A year later, did some shows with 45 Grave for a number of years. At this time 1985-86, Dinah was in the Metal scene and hanging out with Guns and Roses. Also Dinah was working in the movie industry, working as a double in horror movies as Poltergeist 2, Fright Night 2, Necromonicon and more. She worked for the next next 5 years being the only girl that liked the ooze and blood. She just liked to get messy. 45 Grave released the 12" School's Out, and the Album, Autopsy. 45 Grave continued to tour until Rob "Graves" death, from a drug overdose in 1990. Last performance was at the Whisky saying goodbye to Rob and 45 Grave. And the release of the live album, Only the Good Die Young dedicated to Rob Graves. 1991- Dinah re-married and had two girls. The Mom next door. 1996 -joined PFT. 2003/2004- Dinah and Hal Satan are asked to leave Penis Fly Trap politely. Dinah and Hal Satan are currently working on Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers, the Ghost of 45 Grave.
Have you had any problems due to your lyrics or your image ?
Dinah: They did not like my lyrics to "Partytime". I had to change them for "Return of the living Dead". We did the "Zombie Version". The child abuse story didn't sit well with them. But then record labels never read anything. Partytime is about child abuse but it is a Tribute to the little girl, Sabine. The song is about what her family did to her and how she didn't deserve it. So I hope where she is right now is the never ending Birthday party for her. Always having fun. And at peace. There was a rumor that Motley Crue stole the infamous Baphomet logo used for the "Black Cross/ Wax". Is this true? Yes it is. Even in their book that they put out it explains that they borrowed. Also, I was dating Nikki Sixx at the time.
You always had a very strong link for all things concerning horror, like a flag for you, from the name of the band to lyrics,to album covers. You were the inspirators, together with other bands,of the genres today called horrorpunk and deathrock.Which are the reasons of your passion for macabre ?
Dinah: I love horror movies. I've enjoyed movies since I was a child of 7, watching Frankenstein on TV. That scared the crap out of me. Also watching "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters" had a definate inpact on my psyche. I was an art student for years and when I drew, everyone had blue lips and purple hair. When i heard punk rock, That was for me and I haven't look back. I guess i not changing. LOL
There is a 45 Grave song to which I am particularly bound ... "The Plan" ... well, it has a great power, a rage born from the angriest punk/core ... Which elements were there in the creation of the tracks ? Was it all suggested by spontaneity ?
Dinah: That song was written when paul was in The Consumers. Most of the early punk that 45 Grave played Paul wrote. I would changed the lyrics. The plan is who the clubs were and what was going on in the world. Being a 80's punk it describe how we were. And it was how the normals saw us. A threat. Fucking stuff up. and not giving a damn about it.
After the 45 Grave experience ... here are the Penis Flytrap ... how was it beginning again after 10 years ? What did move you and made you decide to play again ?
Dinah: Being a musician, you can't walk away for it for long. It called my name and i came back to sing. the girls were older and it was time. I’ve known Elvorian about a year before we got together and played musically and we were working on a project called “Children of the Damned: Tribute to the Damned” and I told her I wanted her to be a guitar on a few tracks and asked if she knew any drummers and she introduced me to Hal Satan (later 1995 early 1996) after that they were playing a few shows and they invited me to perform “Partytime” and “Evil” as a special guest singer. With Dukie Flyswatter as the main vocals (male vocalist). A week later they asked me to sing lead permenantly with them and that is when I officially joined Penis Flytrap. I continuted with them until last year 2003 then things were getting ugly.
Let's talk about your concerts. We hadn't got the opportunity to see you live with the Grave Robbers. What do we have to expect from your live acts ?
Dinah: That will be a surprise. But people that have seen us have not been unhappy with it. We'll be there next year....
Obviously when your name is spelled, it recalls the name of 45 Grave.What did that experience give to you ? What are you missing of that period? How was the relationship with the other bands of that scene ? 45 Grave, Christian Death, Voodoo Church, Super Heroines, Kommunity Fk ... well, great names that impressed the history of deathrock ... What did it change in 20 years? What remains interesting today?
Dinah: At the time when I was performing 45 Grave, we were just playing music and we didn’t consider ourselves a pioneering movement. We were playing with Christian Death, Black Flag and TSOL to name a few. And it wasn’t until later that we were the pioneers of the Deathrock culture. It wasn’t until recently until performing with Penis Flytrap that I realized my influence and 45 Grave’s and influenced a wide range of Deathrockers. I'm still pretty down to earth. I have my daily life in a band. I don't have a limo. Don't really want one. Now in a hearst, that's traveling in style. The first prowlings of deathrock came in the early 80s before we were labeled as our other counterparts - the gothic movement. There were no Goths.The Deathrockers were splintered off from the punk/hardcore scene that was going on at the time. We played punk rock but we loved Halloween and we looked like vampires. So the phrase, Death rock was born. Basically, we enjoyed listening to black flag, the misfits, the cramps, Alice Cooper and other bands of that nature. We had a deeper appreciation of the darker side of slice o’ life. It was our way of giving back to something we enjoyed. The performers that I drew inspiration off of would be Joan Jett, the Runaways (as far as a band goes), the Ramones, and the Damned. And from then on, I decided singing was my calling. It made me want to go out and put together a project and that was when I found Castration Squad (singing backup vocals). that was my first band. My stage name at that time was Mary Bat Thing. Then 45 Grave and Vox Pop were born too. This was 79'. You can never go back. You can only make a better future. I think about the old days and people that aren't around( RIP Rozz). You can only move forward. I do miss the unity of the old scene. Back then, there were no Goths, Deathrock, etc... We were just young and having fun. And all scenes hung out together. Because back then if you look us, you were beating up, attacked and spit upon. It was about survial and staying alive. And looking pretty while you did it too. I hope by doing this project it will let a new generation of fans see what it all was about back in the 80'S. And that they can keep the spirit alive. It was all about have fun, listening to good music and getting drunk.
If I tell you names like Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Ruggero Deodato, Dario Argento ... what comes to your mind ? Do you still like Italian horror cinema ?
Dinah: My all time fav is “Susperia”. Argento is one of my horror gods. I saw that in the theatre out here in Hollywood when it was released here in the states in the 70's. WOW!! And it was brillant. I love Goblin too. At that time 45 Grave was going strong so we took a little bit of that influence to our project. Bava is also a fav of mine. I grew up watching movies like "Black Sabbath", "Black Sunday", "Hatch for a Honeymoon" and more on our horror afternoon. I have a number of them on DVDs and play them for my children. Giving them the proper horror schooling. Growing up in Los angeles in the 60's, my weekends were filled with Hammer movies. They were shown on Creature Features on Sat. night and Sunday afternoon. I was 7 when I first Christopher Lee. But then Ingrid Pitt and Barbara Steele came on the screen and that was it. I wanted to be like them. The beautiful Hammer brides. So for the earlier part of 45 Grave i did the long dress and veils...
How is Dinah Cancer away from the stage? What do you do when you are not in tour ? Which are your hobbies?
Dinah: Mmmmm, so many things have affected or infected me. Eh eh... Vampira. I have a very eclectic musical background and my tastes change daily to what I listen to. It can be anywhere from AC/DC, KISS, the Weirdos, Christian Death, Dead Can Dance, Ghoultown, Betty Blowtorch, Goblin and even the Misfits. I like it all and a couple hip hop stuff. I like Pink. She's cool. I have a fixation for my Living Dead Dolls and my second love is anything relative to the Nightmare Before Christmas or DVDs. I also collect the Movie Maniac figures. I live in Halloween town. The girls have their stuffed bats and black cats. My home is 24/7 Halloween 365 days a year. I have a full sized coffin for my table. Even at Christmas, I put my living dead dolls and bats on the Xmas tree. Heh Heh. I love horror movies. My all time fav is “Susperia” - it’s from the Italian horror director Argento. I also like the old Universal classics. I like some of the newer horror that out there, like Ginger Snaps, May. Heh. As long as it's disturbing and gory, it makes my collection. My day is get up with the kids. It depends if i go to the studio to work on a recording or i might be on the internet emailing about shows, booking tours, following up on venues, and interviews. Also i build websites so that takes up some time too. I'm lucky if i sleep longer than 3-4 hours lol. I have several photographers that i work with and just got done doing 3 shoots. mailing out the demos. So much fun crap. Dressing up!! ROCK N ROLL.
Have you got the intention of recording some albums with the grave robbers, or for now do you only want to destroy everything with your gigs?
Dinah: Yes, right now the Grave Robbers have a three sing demo and is in the planning stages for more recording. Some of the songs will be coming out on computations next year. If you want to hear them, they are on the website. So this is all in the works and will be put out next year.
I hope to see you soon in Italy, taste the magic madness, go deep into the great horror theatre that you represent. What would you like to tell to all the italian undead that are reading this interview ?
Dinah: In some circumstances, death is not a pretty thing to look at. If you would actually look at a dead body after a traffic accident. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight made of white faces and beautiful clothes. It would be red and torn up thus influencing my tastes of Deathrock which reflects how I am on stage. Death is a violent act. The lucky ones get to die in their sleep. It’s not always a pretty sight. And we all die at some point. Everyone have a ghoulish night. Keep the spirit alive. The ghost of 45 Grave is coming. Yours in blood, Dinah Cancer..... www.dinahcancer.com
Below are the lyrics to 45 Grave's classic "Bad Love":
"To you, the deception is clear the time has come to relize your fear hating you as I surmize the pain of it all isn't worth the prize loving you wasn't worth the pain but I've really done some stupid things meeting you was a stupid mistake but right there you were on the make. * Loaded with dough, waiting for me thought it was cool, I thought it was free I can see things in a different light born too late, to see things right To you, here's the prize this gun barrel in between your eyes I see you, shake in fear With those those words, i say my dear under the covers, under the light cover your head with the sheet tonight No control, the piss runs out defication runs in my mouth Killing you, is such fun shooting darts is just half the fun Your blood is red, your skin is white Is the rope a little bit too tight I love you, that's the truth That's why I am killing you there is blood on your sheet I bet you feel really neat When you are loaded with dough waiting for me thought it was cool, I thought it was free I can see things in a different light born too late to see things right to you....."
The band was formed in Los Angeles, California during the punk rock movement in 1979. The original lineup consisted of Dinah Cancer on vocals, Paul Cutler on guitar, Rob Ritter (also known as Rob Graves, R.I.P.) on bass, and Don Bolles (of The Germs) on drums. The band evolved out of an arty-industrial band called Vox Pop, who recorded two singles and played around the Los Angeles area. Vox Pop contained all of the members of 45 Grave as well as others, such as Jeff Dahl. Vox Pop continued to coexist with 45 Grave until early 1981. The band's name, despite rumors to the contrary, was lifted from a button. 45 Grave's first show was at the Hong Kong Cafe in downtown L.A. in late 1979. Early on the band also played the long-gone L.A. clubs like the Starwood, Fender's Ballroom, the Fleetwood, Stardust ballroom, the Whisky a Go Go, Godzilla's, Vex, Happyhaus, and Scream.
In 1980, with a little TEAC 8-track recorder, 45 Grave recorded their first song, included on the LAFMS (Los Angeles Free Music Society) punk rock compilation album, "Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood". The song is a cover version of the cult favorite originally done by "Don Hinson And The Rigamorticians" on their 1964 album release "Monster Dance Party". Don Hinson at the time was a popular radio personality in Las Vegas, Nevada (and later for 20 years in Los Angeles, California). Mr. Hinson recorded the song in the wake of Bobby "Boris" Pickett's 1962 novelty song hit "Monster Mash" hoping to emulate the latter songs success and have an international hit record. Both "Monster Mash" and the Don Hinson original recording of "Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood" were produced by noted novelty song record producer Gary S. Paxton of Skip & Flip. The 45 Grave recording went on to achieve cult status and is a signature song during the bands live shows.
Early on the band were playing The Consumers songs that Cutler had written, with lyrics changed to fit Cancer's singing style.
Dinah basically replaced the original singer of the Consumers David Wiley (R.I.P.),
who appeared on the Consumers "All My Friends Are Dead" classic 1978 cd,
after which Paul B. Cutler and Cancer focused on their new sound as 45 Grave.
They then wrote the songs that would be released on their first 7" released on Goldar Records,
"Black Cross" and "Wax", recorded at SOS Studios in L.A. in 1980, and a fast-paced punk song called "Party Time".
Incidentally, bassist Rob Graves played on the Gun Club's "Fire of Love" (1981) and "Miami" (1982) lp's,
as well as the Gun Club's live "Sex Beat '81" lp, which was released in 1984.
Return of the Living Dead
In 1984 a slowed down version of "Party Time" was featured on the soundtrack to the film Return of the Living Dead along with tracks by bands such as TSOL and The Cramps. Another track, "Evil", was featured on MTV. The band then recorded their one studio album to date, "Sleep In Safety" and then in 1985, broke up.
Guitarist/producer Paul B. Cutler went on to join the Dream Syndicate for their album "Out of the Grey", released in 1986.
The band reformed in 1989 for a brief tour, which was recorded and released as "Only The Good Die Young".
However when Rob Graves (Ritter) died in 1991 from an accidental drug overdose, the band broke up yet again.
Drummer Don Bolles joined L.A.'s glammier Celebrity Skin around 1989.
In 2005, to commemorate its 25th anniversary, 45 Grave reformed with a new lineup, Dinah Cancer being the single remaining member from previous incarnations. Dinah Cancer posted on her MySpace blog, "I'm building this to keep the spirit of 45 Grave alive, introduce its magic to new fans, and as a personal commemorative of my best memories being the driving force and front person of 45 Grave. This is a part of my life that indeed changed me forever." One of the touring members involved in this line-up was Rikk Agnew, formerly of Christian Death, a highly influential deathrock/goth band who shared stages with 45 Grave in the early '80s L.A. punk scene.
Dinah Cancer- vocals (1979-1990, 2005-present)
Lisa Pifer - bass (2005-present)
Jeremy - Lead Guitar (2006 - ?)
Mike Skull - Rhythm Guitar (2006 - ?)
Mike "Thrashead" Sullivan - drums (2005-present)
Paul Cutler - guitar (1979-1990)
Paul Roessler - keyboards (1980-1990)
Rob Graves - bass (1979-1990)
Don Bolles - drums (1979-1990)
Rikk Agnew - guitar (2005-2006)
Jaime Pina - rhythm guitar (2005-2006)
Sleep In Safety (1983)
Below is the original lp track listing that was changed for the 1993 cd edition.
The lp track order made more sense, allowing listeners to "get ready" for the intense "Violent World"
1) Insurance From God
4) Dream Hits 2
5) Slice O' Life
6) 45 Grave
8) Violent World
9) Bad Love
10) Surf Bat
45 GRAVE RECORD REVIEWS
courtesy of www.trouserpress.com
Sleep in Safety (Enigma) 1983
Autopsy (Restless) 1987
Only the Good Die Young (Restless) 1989
Evil Birds EP (XES) 1985
Celebrity Skin EP (Triple X) 1990
Los Angeles' 45 Grave were the leaders of the 1981 death-rock explosion that also birthed, among others, Christian Death and Dance with Me-era TSOL. The group was a breath of fresh graveyard air and, unlike many serious gloomsters, always kept tongue firmly in cinematic cheek. Playing with punky venom and a slick metallic sound (the goth-horror edge made it an absolutely prescient mix), the fearsome foursome (later a quintet) was led by Phoenix-bred guitarist Paul B. Cutler and his vampiric inamorata, vocalist Mary "Dinah Cancer" Sims, rounded out by ex-Germs drummer Don Bolles and bassist Rob Graves (Ritter), also a member of the Bags and Gun Club.
The legendary "Black Cross"/"Wax" single and three cuts on the seminal Hell Comes to Your House compilation inaugurated 45 Grave's career in '81, establishing the blend of Cutler's crisp, offbeat riffing and Cancer's artless, icy shrieks. By the time their first album shambled in, Paul Roessler had joined, adding his effervescent keyboards into the macabre brew. The consistently creepy Sleep in Safety contains most of the band's best songs: multi-textured creations like "Insurance from God," "Dream Hits" and "Phantoms" (an '82 single), the catchy "Evil," a delightfully unexpected Ventures-like instrumental ("Surf Bat"), the giddy "45 Grave" theme song and a fist-waving anthem ("Partytime," redone the following year as the B-side to a snazzy version of Alice Cooper's "School's Out").
By '85, Cutler and Cancer had split, effectively ending the band. Cutler went on to a prominent and influential career as a record producer and session player, and joined Dream Syndicate in 1986. Autopsy was commissioned to fill in some gray areas, mainly documenting early, punky material: the first single, demo versions of later hits, a hilarious compilation track ("Riboflavin-flavored, Non-carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood") and nine previously unreleased songs.
Meanwhile, Graves and Bolles formed Silver Chalice with producer/guitarist Geza X; the group also included a guitar-playing songwriter and poppy singer Kim Komet. Despite the name and crypto-metal artwork, the quintet's one EP (released on Geza's label) is surprisingly unthreatening and unpunky, a small-scale rock-pop effort with neither style nor personality.
A few years later, 45 Grave began doing irregular West Coast reunion tours. The full-length Only the Good Die Young captures an '88 Hollywood gig with ace sound quality. The invigorated original quartet shreds through all the big numbers and a bevy of entrancing new songs, including "Sorceress," "Akira Raideen," the rib-tickling "Fucked by the Devil" and a surreal version of Dave Brubeck's jazz classic "Take Five" (the jumping-off point for a psychedelicized Cutler solo interlude). Ritter died of an OD in 1990.
Bolles' current outfit, Celebrity Skin, comes on like a high-octane mix of early Cheap Trick, Hanoi Rocks and the Dickies. The three-song (four on CD) Celebrity Skin EP offers two doses of humorous hard pop with a snaky glam edge ("Monster" and Abba's reliable "S.O.S.") and a filler metallic instrumental ("Clown Scare"). Nice try, but the quintet has yet to fulfill its potential.
THE DEFINITION OF DEATHROCK
courtesy of www.wikipedia.org
Deathrock emphasizes a creepy atmosphere and an introspective mood within a punk or post-punk musical structure. Deathrock songs use simple chords, echoing guitars, a prominent bass, and drumming which emphasizes repetitive, tribal beats within a 4/4 time signature. To create atmosphere, scratchy guitars, keyboards, and experimentation with other instruments are sometimes used. Lyrics can vary, but are typically introspective, surreal, and deal with the dark themes of isolation, disillusionment, loss, life, death, etc.
However, the frequently simple song structures, heavy atmosphere and rhythmic music place a great demand on the lead vocalist to convey complex emotions, so deathrock singers typically have strong, distinctive voices and a strong stage presence.
Horror punk and Psychobilly relation
The punk subgenres most closely related to deathrock are horror punk and psychobilly. While deathrock is a fusion of punk, post-punk and horror, horror punk is a fusion of punk, doo-wop, and horror, and psychobilly is a fusion of punk, rockabilly and horror. Because of the strong influence of horror on these three subgenres, there exists considerable overlaps.
Generally speaking, horror punk sounds louder and faster than deathrock. Conversely, deathrock sounds more introspective and romantic than horror punk. Keyboards are another differentiating point: deathrock bands frequently use keyboards for atmosphere, whereas horror punk and psychobilly bands usually do not. Psychobilly, however, is easier to distinguish from horror punk and deathrock because psychobilly bands normally use an upright bass, whereas horror punk and deathrock bands do not.
Despite the similar sounding names deathrock (which is a subgenre of punk) has no connection to the similarly named death metal, which is a subgenre of thrash metal. Deathrock is also not related to any other music genre with "death" in its name.
The term "deathrock" was first used in the 1950s to describe an ulrelated genre of rock and roll called "death rock" which began in 1958 with Jody Reynold's "Endless Sleep" and ending in 1964 with J. Frank Wilson's "Last Kiss". These songs about dead teenagers were noted for their morbid yet romantic view of death, spoken word bridges, and sound effects. The Shangri-Las' "Leader Of The Pack" is arguably the best known example of the 50s/60s use of the term.
The term deathrock re-emerged 15 years later in 1979 to describe the sound of various West Coast punk bands which would later become associated with the deathrock scene and most likely came from one of three sources; Rozz Williams, the founding member of Christian Death, to describe the sound of his band. Or the less popular theory; Nick Zedd's 1979 film "They Eat Scum", which featured a fictitious cannibalistic "death rock" punk band called "Suzy Putrid and the Mental Deficients".
The earliest influences for some deathrock acts, such as 45 Grave for example, can be traced to the horror themed novelty rock and roll acts of the late 1950s and early 1960s such as Bobby “Boris” Pickett with "Monster Mash", Screamin' Jay Hawkins with "I Put a Spell on You" and Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages with "Murder in the Graveyard". These songs used sound effects to create a creepy atmosphere, dealt with taboo subjects (such as cannibalism) in a humorous, often campy manner, and are still occasionally played at deathrock clubs.
This horror influence on rock music continued into the 1970s with theatrical hard rockers Alice Cooper and KISS. Rozz Williams has specifically credited the 1970s output of both Alice Cooper and KISS as childhood influences, 45 Grave also covered Alice Cooper's "School's Out" on their debut full length album.
Other rock and glam rock bands who influenced many early deathrock artists include The Doors, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the Cramps, T. Rex, New York Dolls, the Damned, MC5, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, etc. Most of these artists explored darker themes, sometimes incorporated horror-themed visuals into their shows, or had their music used in horror movie soundtracks. (For a more complete listing of influential artists, see Punk Forerunners and Gothic Rock predecessors.)
Horror movies also directly influenced deathrock artists. According to Dinah Cancer, Italian horror movies were a large influence on 45 Grave's visual style. Zombie movies influenced many deathrock artists, especially George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) and its sequels. John Russo's Return of the Living Dead (1985) which featured Linnea Quigley and a mostly punk soundtrack influenced later deathrock bands. Horror-themed TV shows, such as The Addams Family, The Munsters, The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, etc., also provided some visual influence, as did spookily-clad horror movie hosts on TV such as Vampira in Los Angeles, John Zacherle in Philadelphia and New York,
Elvira in Los Angeles (then later nationally), and Ghoulardi in Cleveland.
However, horror was not the only influence on deathrock. Film noir, surrealism, cabaret, and various religious iconography (particularly Catholicism and Voodoo) supplied much lyrical and visual inspiration to deathrock artists.
Deathrock first emerged in America in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a darker offshoot of the pre-existing punk rock and pre-hardcore LA music scene. The most active and best documented deathrock music scene was in Los Angeles which centered around the bands The Flesh Eaters (1977), Kommunity FK (1979), 45 Grave (1979), Christian Death (1979), Gun Club (1981), Voodoo Church (1982), Burning Image (1983), Super Heroines and others.
However, other western cities in the United States also had bands which would later be described as deathrock such as Theatre of Ice (1978) in Fallon, Nevada and Mighty Sphincter (1980) in Phoenix, Arizona. These early West Coast deathrock bands took the pre-existing base of punk rock and added dark yet playful themes borrowed from horror movies, film noir, surrealism, religious imagery, etc. A couple of bands blended hardcore punk with a gothic sound, most notably TSOL; and Burning Image.
These early deathrock bands were not immediately identified as part of a new subgenre of punk; they were simply considered a darker flavor of punk and were not yet considered part of a separate music movement. During this time, these bands would play at the same venues as punk, hardcore and new wave bands. A similar situation arose in New York circa 1978-79, albeit on a much smaller scale, in which influential punk rock bands like The Cramps and Misfits, as well as The Mad (fronted by future horror-film effects artist Screaming Mad George) had incorporated extensive horror themes into their lyrics, visuals, and stage show, though they did not use the term "deathrock" to describe themselves.
Around the same time as deathrock was emerging as a distinctively darker subgenre of punk rock in the United States, other subgenres of punk and post-punk were developing independently in the UK
By 1982, a wave of darker, more tribal post-punk bands had coalesced, influenced by punk rock and the first-generation post-punk bands (and specifically the noisier 1980-81 post-punks UK Decay, Killing Joke, and Theatre of Hate). The primary bands in this new movement were Sex Gang Children and Southern Death Cult. Along with Brigandage, Blood and Roses, Ritual, and others, they were dubbed "positive punk" by the UK press to differentiate them from other bands who were attempting to fly under the punk banner, such as the UK 82 and Oi! acts. These positive punk bands featured tribal drumming, high-pitched vocals, scratchy guitar, and bass as melodic lead instrument, and a visual look blending glam with Native American-influenced warpaint and spiky haircuts. Other related bands like Ausgang, Inca Babies, and Bone Orchard shared much of the tribal ethos and spiky look,
but took more inspiration from The Birthday Party.
During 1983, a related movement was brewing at a London club called the Batcave. Initially envisioned as a venue specializing in glam rock and new wave musical acts, the two main bands which debuted and performed frequently at the Batcave, Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend, developed their own different sounds strongly influenced by horror in British pop culture, which set them apart from the rest of the glam and post-punk scenes in Britain. Also in 1983, The Gun Club toured in Europe as did Christian Death which meant the European and the American deathrock scene were now able to directly influence one another.
By 1984, the term "positive punk" was outdated, and the tribal positive punk bands, the various bands from the Batcave scene, as well as the bands from Leeds (such as The Sisters of Mercy, March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and others) some of which used drum-machines, had all come to be referred to as "gothic" or gothic rock. The same year, California deathrock band Kommunity FK toured with Sex Gang Children (and the following year with Alien Sex Fiend), which continued the trend in which American and British movements intermixed.
While deathrock, positive punk and the Batcave bands were similar enough in sound to eventually all be filed as "gothic," later generations of gothic rock moved progressively away from the original sound.
The mid 1980s marked the second wave of gothic rock, when the sound began to shift away from its punk and post-punk roots and towards a more serious, rock-oriented approach. Bauhaus broke up, Rozz Williams left Christian Death, and The Sisters of Mercy became the dominant and most influential gothic act. The term "gothic rock" became preferred over "deathrock" (previously, they had been used interchangeably), a change which Rozz Williams attributed to the influence of the The Sisters of Mercy. As a result, the term "deathrock" was seldom used except in retrospective reference to the Los Angeles bands 45 Grave and Christian Death.
By the time the 1990s hit, in California a band named London After Midnight fronted by Sean Brennan emerged, playing a deathrock related style and even headlining over the band Shadow Project. But after some serious threats, fighting and other such activity with deathrock scenesters (such as Faith and the Muse and Ghastly Magazine), the band began to cut all ties with the scene, and move away from the deathrock style into something more similar to Nine Inch Nails and the like. To this day however, the band remain one of the most popular acts in the gothic subculture.
The mid 1990s marked a so called "third wave of gothic rock", as the music drifted its furthest from the original punk and post-punk sound by incorporating many elements of the harsher, factory-inspired sound of industrial music and the more repetitive and electronic sounds of EBM (electronic body music). Some clubs even completely dropped deathrock and first generation gothic rock from their setlists to appeal to a crossover crowd. These changes alienated many in the goth scene who preferred the livelier, punkier deathrock sound and led them to seek out their earlier deathrock roots.
Dinah Cancer and other deathrockers at Release the Bats.
Nearly 20 years after deathrock first appeared on the music scene in Southern California, the deathrock revival began in Southern California. During 1998 in Long Beach, California, owners of the Que Sera, a local bar, to throw a one-night "old school" Gothic Halloween party. After the success of the one-off party, the event quickly evolved into a regular deathrock club called Release the Bats and a focal point in California for the reemerging deathrock movement. (The club is named after a song by the Australian band the Birthday Party.)
The current deathrock movement is similar to the original deathrock scene in Los Angeles and the Batcave movement in London. In addition to clubs, the current scene is centered around concerts, special events, parties, and horror movie screenings. The internet is playing a major role in the deathrock revival. There are websites devoted to the discussion deathrock music, bands and fashions as well as horror movies, such as deathrock.com and post-punk.com, plus mailing lists for deathrockers on various online virtual communities, such as MySpace.
The deathrock movement in England is also growing quickly, particually in London. Regular deathrock nights in the city, such as Dead & Buried (named after an Alien Sex Fiend song.
In contrast to the early deathrock movement, the current one has four additional influences which didn't exist in the late 1970s. First, there has been a shift to a more post-punk sound as a result of the influence of the European bands of the 80s. Second, there is the apolitical influence of psychobilly which discourages political debates that have the potential to fragment the scene. The Drop Dead Festival, which is similar to psychobilly's Hootenanny, gives bands with smaller fan bases an opportunity to play before larger crowds.
Only Theatre Of Pain, Christian Death's 1982 debut album, is widely held as the first purely deathrock album and cannot be easily classified as either a darker flavor of punk, horror punk, or post-punk. As a result, Rozz Williams, the lead singer of Christian Death, Shadow Project, Premature Ejaculation, etc. is considered one of the most influential artists in the deathrock scene. Patrick Mata of Kommunity FK is another influential male deathrocker.
Dinah Cancer has been referred to as the Queen of Deathrock, the Goddess of Deathrock and the High Priestess of Deathrock for her role as the frontwoman for 45 Grave during a time when female lead singers were still considered somewhat of a rarity. Other influential female deathrockers would include Tina Winter and Eva O.
Los Angeles bands were not solely responsible for the formation of the deathrock sound; many artists in the United States released EPs and LPs prior to 1982 which would now be considered deathrock such as the previously mentioned Theatre of Ice and Mighty Sphincter. British bands also made major contributions to the deathrock sound by adding a strong post-punk influence, including Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie & the Banshees, etc. Other bands from around the world added their own unique contribution to deathrock, including Xmal Deutschland in Germany, Virgin Prunes from Ireland, and The Birthday Party in Australia, etc.
However, The Sisters of Mercy, who are frequently played at deathrock clubs, are generally not considered as a deathrock band, as the most prominent example of their sound Floodland has more in common with second-wave gothic rock bands (as they were the second wave's prime influence).
THE DEFINITION OF HORROR ROCK/HORROR PUNK
Horror punk (or horror rock) is a music genre that has origins in the early works of the band The Misfits,
blending horror movie themes with early punk rock and varying amounts of doo-wop.
Bands tell tales through their lyrics, which are often influenced by horror movies, particularly those with werewolves, vampires and zombies. Some bands incorporate influences from heavy metal and gothic rock, and prefer the label horror rock (personally I consider late 70s/early 80s Roky Erickson the epitome of horror rock...more conventional rock but with horror lyrics - ed.). Other bands show heavy influences from Hardcore punk, and are often described as horror hardcore. Examples of horrorpunk bands: Misfits, Samhain (both bands created by Glenn Danzig), The Undead with ex-Misfits guitarist Bobby Steele, and the band Mourning Noise with Steve Zing on drums.
The genre has a thriving underground following, with websites and festivals.
In the 2000s, the genre has seen some mainstream success, with the bands Murderdolls, AFI, and Wednesday 13.
Horror punk fashion:
The best example of horror punk fashion can be found in the band The Misfits. While looking somewhat similar to other late-1970s punk rock bands and fans, the band took a darker approach to its style. They wore items such as black clothing, skeleton costumes, skull face paint — and styled their hair into devilocks. Horror punk style is similar to goth and deathrock fashions, in that black is the predominant color, and that individuals often incorporate "sexy" items such as fishnet stockings, corsets and elaborate make-up for men and women. The use of occult and horror imagery is prevalent on T-shirts, buttons, patches and jewellery. Hair may be in mohawk form, teased out, or in the devilock style.