First, thanks to Anastasia of Grand Sounds Promotion, who arranged this interview for the Italian Horror Punk Metal band 5 Star Grave, as their new album, The Red Room arrived from Sliptrick Records on September 26, 2017.
Baron Craze: Greetings, 5 Star Grave, thanks for the taking the time to answer interview questions for The Horror Times. It has been about 5-years since your last album Drugstore Hell, what has been happening with the band? Why such a long delay?
CLAUDIO: Well, we changed drummer twice and as you probably know it’s never an easy step for a band… I mean, we had a new drummer for something like 2/3 years if I remember correctly, then when we were ready to do a new album we had to change him again and start all over from scratch… But it’s all good, I mean, we’re happy about where the band is at the moment and we weren’t in any hurry at all, so we simply took our time and did things when they felt right for us.
BC: What can fans expect from the new album? New or variations in music style/ genre?
CLAUDIO: I consider every record we release an evolution of our sound and this brand new album captures extremely well where we’re at the moment. There’s a lot of horror/punk – rock’n’roll influences in “The Red Room”, some say that it’s deeply influenced by bands like The Misfits and Alice Cooper and who am I to say they’re wrong? Both bands had a huge impact on our sound for sure, but it all came out really naturally… We simply wrote new songs and that’s how they sounded like, couldn’t be more simple than that. We never plan anything first, it just comes out naturally and if it’s good we keep it, otherwise we throw it away and write some new stuff.
BC: How did you come up with the title “The Red Room” (does it reference a horror theme)? Who design the very cool cover?
CLAUDIO: We had a bunch of titles available for this release, so Alessandro (guitar player) started to think about the best association between a possible cover artwork and a title. He does all our graphic stuff, we were looking for something really simple but that could represent the overall mood of the album and the cover artwork he did just fits perfectly with the whole 5 Star Grave concept. We didn’t want the artwork to look like the one of a brutal death metal band if you get what I mean ahah
BC: Can you describe the writing process of “The Red Room”? Was there theme that flowed through the creation of this latest work?
CLAUDIO: Usually Thierry (guitar player) comes up with some new riffs and a possible song structure and then we all work on the development of the track, the arrangements etc… So it starts from his riffs and then becomes a group effort during the rehearsals. We’ve been working this way for so long that we just cannot figure out another way to do it, it comes pretty natural and keeps the tracks on a very “live” approach… We’ll never record a song that we cannot play live and that’s a pretty cool thing, especially considering how overproduced bands are in the studio nowadays.
BC: Is one person that determines the lyrics or is a group effort?
CLAUDIO: Me and Andrea write all the lyrics. That’s pretty obvious because we are the ones that have to sing them in the first place, we kinda keep things equal between us, I wrote half the lyrics for the tracks on the new album and he wrote the other half… Actually we also wrote a couple of lyrics together… Anyway, we keep things balanced and that works just fine.
BC: How do you determine the order of the tracks on the album?
CLAUDIO: It comes very natural, we just try to mix things up a little bit to change the mood of the album as much as we can. Luckily enough we don’t play the same song over and over again like many other bands do so we can actually come up with a pretty interesting and balanced track list.
BC: Where do you see the differences in how your band and writing style evolved over the past 10 years?
CLAUDIO: It became more simple and straight in your face for sure. I also changed my singing style quite a bit, trying some hybrid style that fits the evolution of our music way better than my old high-pitched way of screaming… I mean, I really like to scream a lot, but that would be quite out of place on some of the new songs, especially the more rock’n’roll oriented ones, so I had to adapt. Probably nowadays we are more focused, we know our strong and weak points and go straight for the strong ones, while back in the days it was a little all over the place, still trying to figure out the right direction to go. I think songs like “The Ballad Of The Vampire”, “Eat You Alive” or “Once Upon A Time” sum up the best parts of the 5 Star Grave sound and they are really simple and catchy songs, so… You know how they say, “less is more” and that’s fucking true.
BC: Aside from the Ramones’ Pet Sematary cover, are there future tracks your band plans on covering? Do you ever incorporate those cover tracks into your live shows?
CLAUDIO: We actually played cover versions of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC for a while at our gigs, despite never putting them on record they sounded quite good so who knows, maybe we’re gonna record them as well sooner or later. There’s actually tons of songs we’d like to cover, so maybe we should record an entire album of cover versions, that would be quite funny to do.
BC: Who created and what influence did your band have in the music video of ‘Eat You Alive’? Who is the actress/ model in the video?
CLAUDIO: The lady in the video is portrayed by Hexe from Suicide Girls, Ivan King shot both the video for “The Ballad Of The Vampire” and “Eat You Alive”, he’s gonna shoot another one for the song “Once Upon A Time” soon. He came up with the idea for the story behind “Eat You Alive”, he wanted to do some kind of twisted love story between different kind of monsters and it turned out to be a pretty cool idea considering the number of views we’re getting in such a short time.
BC: Anything you wish to share with our readers about your album “The Red Room” or 5 Star Grave in general?
CLAUDIO: First of all thank you for the interview, then I’d like to invite your readers to check our latest album “The Red Room”, it’s available pretty much everywhere so just give it a spin, if you’re into horror-themed heavy metal/punk rock there’s a good chance you’re gonna like what comes out of your speakers. See ya around!