Following the release of their excellent second album ‘Drugstore Hell’, we caught up with vocalist Claudio Ravinale and guitarist Thierry Bertone and chatted about the bands history and future plans, and their views on the music biz.
First of all, many thanks for taking time out to speak to us here at Planetmosh.
You formed back in 2008, how did you come together? Had you known each
THIERRY: We’ve known each other for a very long time, most of us have literally grown up together so in the beginning having a band was just a reason for gathering and having fun, sharing the same passion for music…
CLAUDIO: Yeah, then I in came in and ruined everything! Ha ha ha. Well, our latest incarnation as 5 Star Grave is quite young, but we’ve been playing together (taking breaks and switching names from time to time) since we were kids, well most of us, and that’s quite good because being long time friends can really make the difference during the most stressful moments.
Your debut release ’Corpse Breed Syndrome’ certainly got you
noticed, how do you feel about the album now? Anything you would have done differently?
CLAUDIO: Production-wise it could have been done way better, but hey, it’s quite easy to judge years later. It was the best we could do at the moment, the overall sound is quite rough but there’s a lot of good material in that record, it was our first step in the music biz and helped us to shape and define our actual sound, so we’re still damn proud of it.
The current album ’Drugstore Hell’ takes the band to a new level,
how did you approach the writing process this time?
THIERRY: We focused on writing more direct, straight to the point songs, aiming for solid tracks with simple structures and catchy melodies. We’ve evolved as persons and musicians, we tried to learn as much as we could from our previous mistakes to write our best album up-to-date, but it’s been quite a natural process, a very spontaneous evolution.
The album sounds really brutal but with loads of catchy melodies,
’Death Put A Smile On My Face’ and ’Daddy’ for example have great
chorus hooks, was it always the bands intention to write this way?
CLAUDIO: Yeah, but you have to thank mainly Andrea (Bass and Vocals) for that… I mean, we always tried to write catchy and meaningful choruses, but I’m most into the “if you don’t know exactly what to do, just scream and go on” thing… Ha ha ha, while he was really focused to find the best chorus possible for each song this time… And well, the record is filled with great choruses so I guess we did quite a good job.
The album benefits from some great production work from non other than
Tobias Lindell, how did you get to work with him on this record?
CLAUDIO: We wanted a solid and dynamic rock’n’roll sound for this record since the beginning and after working with bands like Europe, Hardcore Superstar and Crashdiet Tobias was simply the best choice possible. Of course our music has a very heavy, aggressive metal mood, but we wanted it to sound very natural and organic, not fake and plastic like most of the extreme metal productions nowadays. It turned out great, very reckless and wild, we absolutely love it and hope to work with him again in the future.
How long did the album take to record?
THIERRY: Not that long, we worked a lot on the songs before entering the studios and it took almost a couple of days for each instrument to record the parts properly. The long part was to manage all the different recording sessions because we worked in three different recording studios and then flew to Sweden for the mix and mastering process, but it’s been very rewarding in the end because the record sounds exactly how we wanted it to sound.
Where there any tracks that did not get included on the album? Do you
have any more new material in the pipeline?
THIERRY: No, we decided to have 11 songs on the record and we focused on writing the best 11 songs possible, once we reached the number we started to refine them, trying different solutions, polishing the parts that were still rough, adding additional melodies and so on, but no further material has been written for this record.
What are the bands plans for touring with the new material, any shows
CLAUDIO: We’re doing some warm-up shows and planning a more intense live activity for the autumn period, it takes a lot of time and money to develop a touring schedule properly, but our actual goal is to play as much as we can to promote the new album, so a European tour is in the plans later this year or at the beginning of the next one.
Musically , 5 Star Grave manage to mix a lot of different styles
together, ranging from Punk to Industrial and more. Do you as band members have different tastes in what other bands you listen to?
THIERRY: Yeah, absolutely! We all listen to different stuff and we change our minds all the time, so it’s quite a mess! We listen to almost everything, from 80’s metal bands (a very important source of inspiration for us) like Iron Maiden, Slayer, AC/DC, Megadeth to rock’n’roll stuff like Guns’n’Roses, Billy Idol, Murderdolls, without forgetting punk bands like The Misfits, The Ramones, Sex Pistols… Let’s say from Elvis to Rammstein it’s all good for us!
CLAUDIO: Without forgetting that goddamn Lady Gaga, I love that slut!
THIERRY: Yeah, this definitely reflects on our music because we bring a lot of different influences and mix them all together to create something fresh and energetic.
Although you must love being in a band, are there any bits of the music industry that you really hate?
CLAUDIO: Being in a band is great but the music biz in general really tries to ruin it time after time… You must really love what you’re doing and be prepared to sacrifice a lot of time, energies and money to keep it goin’ on, otherwise you’ll just be swallowed by a system that treats you like a whore… You’re just a product and if you wanna fit in the mainframe you’ve got to follow certain rules… But you know what? Fuck the rules and let’s have some goddamn fun!
Finally, to anyone who has not heard 5 Star Grave before, how would you describe yourselves and your music to them?
THIERRY: 80’s attitude with a modern edge, straight to the point industrial punk metal with aggressive vocals and catchy hooks… You can love it or hate it, but there’s no compromise in what we do.
Cheers guys, many thanks for your time, we’ll be keeping an eye out for those tour dates!