While it is indeed very sad to hear that this fantastic group is breaking up off the back of their strongest and most diverse release (their third full-length 'MATRIARCH') it seems all involved are at least parting on amiable terms.
Five Star Prison Cell are one of those bands who never received the following, respect and recognition that their immense talents, dedication and creativity deserved. They should be known as Australia's awesome answer to early-Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah and Botch. The sad fact is, it was exactly because of their creativity and originality that they never achieved the success that should have come to them. They did not fit into any specifics 'scene' - they had too many clean vocals for the metalheads (despite being heavier and more chaotic than any death metal or grind band), too metal for the hardcore faux-tech kids (and their watered down psuedo-Meshuggah ripoff breakdowns) and too technical for anyone who wasn't at least a reasonably accomplished musician to really comprehend. They made your average music-jerk feel stupiod, uncomfortable and eager to find any reason to hate them.
Five Star Prison Cell were a band that gave me faith in pursuing my own music with Ebolie and Serious Beak. We viewed them as one of the only kindred-spirits in the Australian music scene. They helped drive us on in an attempt to push sonic boundaries even harder.
On their final tour for MATRIARCH (specifically their show at The Empire Hotel with Adrift for Days) their performances were mindblowing and impeccably tight. It is not a simple thing to play the music they write as well as they do - it takes A LOT of work and practice. Those polyrhythmic nightmares are far more difficult to nail than your favourite sweep-picking death metal jerkoff. I'm glad I got to fully enjoy their music on those few recent occasions.
I won't keep continuing on. I just want to say I have immense respect for all four members of Five Star Prison Cell personally and artistically. I hope they have made the right choice for themselves and I (and many others) would be disappointed if we did not see all the members continuing to express themselves through new musical projects.
Thanks for all the awesome albums and shows guys, you will most certainly be missed. Your absence will leave a hole in Australia's underground music scene that will never be filled.
This week Five Star Prison Cell continue their 30+ date tour in support of their new album MATRIARCH.
Catch them in Wollongong Thursday at the Oxford Tavern alongside Serious Beak (ex-Ebolie) and Totally Unicorn.
Or in Sydney Friday night at CARNAGE in Kings Cross with Adrift for Days, Serious Beak and Entropy Within.
Everybodies favourite math-metalling mind grinders Five Star Prison Cell will be lighting up the androgynous emo hangout of Hot Damn! this evening on Oxford Street.
Guys, prepare to be confronted by a sea of bewildered, vacant faces.
Apparently some bands called As Silence Breaks, Safe Hands and Azlock are also playing... and it's the Against Me! album launch. That all sounds stupid. Just watch Five Star Prison Cell. They're on at 10pm and they should be flogging off their incredible new album Matriarch.
I recently sat down and interview Cam of Melbourne's incredibly talented Five Star Prison Cell a few weeks before their highly anticipated new album M A T R I A R C H drops (June 4th, 2010). The band has been one of my personal favourite Australian bands for a long, long time – Ebolie/Serious Beak can't get enough of these fools – so it with great pleasure that I present the following interview.
(Reposted from my blog at 65 Degrees Music Cafe, which covers 'good music' instead of just grindcore)
Alright first up, what influences you guys (musically or otherwise) first as a band, and then as an individual?
Haha... I hate this question… Ok, like with anything, musical tastes change and evolve. Bands you may have loved grow less and less exciting either due to listening to them too much or the whole “like their old stuff better than their new stuff” sort of thing… So what influences us as a band? Probably not sounding like other bands… Or taking what we love about various bands and music and applying that to the music we create. Is that ambiguous enough for you?
We’re also movie buffs. We all like to read and discuss nerd shit, so that may come out in our music as I guess its kinda music for music nerds.
As for what influences us individually, that chops and changes all the time. Our music tastes are different, we all sort of branch out into shit that other band guys may not like (like when the rest of the band crank fucken Guns of Roses in the van and I am the one band guy who don’t care for them). It’s hard to say anything specific. Just music in general influences us; we’re always looking for something new to listen to.
How happy are you personally with your first two albums The Complete First Season and Slaves of Virgo?
Yeah that’s hard to answer… An album is a snapshot of what a band was like at a given time right? And bands move on and evolve in their craft, so looking back you kind of feel like what you do currently is better. I know I was happy as a pig in shit when The Complete First Season was recorded. We were less happy with Slaves of Virgo. There were some parts of it we would have done differently, and some laziness on the part of the producer – but now we have M A T R I A R C H we can hold all 3 albums up together and look back with a fondness for the first two that we didn’t have before…
So the answer is ‘Yes, we are happy’.
How would you compare the mindset of the writing and recording process of your latest album M A T R I A R C H (out June 4), compared to its two predecessors?
Definitely very different. I mean, first off you have the culmination of 5 years of writing, recording and doing shows together, so there is a natural evolution. There was also a huge focus on being better songwriters, letting the music breathe and build instead of chop and change riffs, or technicality for technicality’s sake…
And finally, the recording was a different experience with a different (and excellent) producer. We all had more input into everyone’s parts and we also had opportunity to take mixes home make notes and come back and get it adjusted, rather than doing a final mix and that’s it. So we are much happier with M A T R I A R C H as a band and we’re older, wiser, more jaded and our approach this time was much more focused.
The difference in production between The Complete First Season, Slaves of Virgo and now the few songs I’ve heard from M A T R I A R C H seem quite substantial. Were there any conscious changes you made for the new album?
Yeah; ‘step it up’. That’s always our conscious decision. Out do the last album in everything from production, to artwork and of course songwriting. The conscious change was to a) Spend more money and be particular about the production we want b) definitely use a different producer, just for the new experience and a fresh take production-wise on our music.
We also wanted to try hard to capture that live energy we have in the recording, that’s what we felt the first 2 lacked… that intensity of 4 dudes playing in a room, rather than being too overly produced and losing some of that.
Congratulations on the SWR sponsorship by the way. How did that come about?
Thanks man. I guess I have some folk at Fender to thank for that and the fact that they believe in and support what we do. My guy Heath came to a show in Sydney and pretty much offered it afterwards, which I was fuckin’ stoked about! The Fender (SWR/Jackson) crew have been nothing but awesome and we are honored to be their endorsees.
What guitar gear did Marek use on the latest album?
Marek used his Jackson of course. The main bulk of the guitar sound comes from a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier, but we blended in some other amps just to vary the sound a bit. Those were a Sherlock, and a Marshall JCM 800. Some parts also have some different guitars in there.
Can you promise me never to use that kick drum sound on Slaves of Virgo ever again?
So unbelievably done… Don’t worry man…
Does M A T R I A R C H have an overall concept or a theme that resonates with you?
Yeah it has a meaning to us all – It’s sort of a mix of things. The themes that run through the album are women (hence the title), but not in a pissed off we were burned by a chick sort of way. It’s more a respect thing, or the power they have over people and the world.
Then we have the Sun, which is like a sign of new life, or new beginnings… The supernova on the front represents this. A Matriarch is someone who has the power to create and control life, same with a supernova. We are all made from material that originated from a supernova. In fact everything we know is – and a supernova can take that away just as easily. Powerful shit.
We also have a thing about Airsharks which is an in joke that I won’t go into here.
Could you explain the standard Five Star Prison Cell writing process? How do you guys pull everything together?
It varies with different songs, but that main process is this:
Marek our guitarist is a treasure-trove of fucked up insane guitar parts. What that guy has running through his head always astounds me. Then he takes that to our drummer and to paraphrase our Helm friend Lucas (who used to be in a band with our drummer), he takes a song you have written then almost writes a new song on top of it with his drum parts… So you may have an idea for what you want the drums to do, but once you give something to Marc he will have an even better idea. He is a very creative drummer.
So those two together pretty much come up with most of our shit and as a team of writers they are amazing. They work and work – obviously one can’t learn a Marek riff straight away so Marc drummer will take it home and come back next week with something completely unexpected and awesome.
During all that I put in my 2 cents, especially structure wise, and my bass parts are geared around complimenting what those two do. And of course our wordsmith Adam writes his lyrics which he is more than happy to share and take our input, so it is a very collaborative experience coupled with a deep respect with what each other does but also complete honesty. There are no egos, so if we don’t like something we just say it, what is important to us is what is best for the song. That may mean playing nothing.
That said, Marek has written complete songs, Marc may come to us with drum parts and we build on that, Adsy has written a few songs or given us a basis and even the lowly bass player has a few songs to his name in our 3 albums. Basically it’s a complete and utter collaboration.
The girl who sang on The Rise and Fall of Red Sparrowes off of Slaves of Virgo. Who was she? She was amazing.
Haha, That’s Rebekah Chapman, my ex girlfriend, who was of course not my ex at the time (or at least some of the time). She is a very talented individual and we are of course honoured she was a part of that album. She has collaborated with Adam in the past on Coitus Bund and can now be found singing in a girl-only a-capella type band called The Nymphs.
She is also a classically trained pianist and holds a music degree. Like I said – talented.
I understand that you’re a man of fairly diverse musical tastes. So tell me, what does Cam listen to after a hard days polyrhythmictechrape to unwind?
Hahaha… Right now I’ve discovered dub thanks to a sound guy up in the Blue Mountains, so I’ve been cranking various dub albums. Alongside that Mastodon continue to do it for me as well as Midnight Oil, Queen, Cypress Hill, Fleetwood Mac, Bill Withers – I like my 80’s and 90’s pop (which you well know Lachy) – Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Candiria (who I keep coming back to, I love the shit out of them), James Brown, Michael Jackson, Parliament, The Police, Prince and of course the mighty Ween… And that’s just some of the shit I listen to.
Apart from the above world famous massive bands, plenty of Aussie cunts manage to put a lot of bands to shame. I’m talking specifically about Squat Club who blew my mind, along with Adrift for Days, and Helm.
Heard any new, up and coming bands that have blown your mind lately?
Yep. Adrift for mother fuckin Days. Bring it cunts!
Also Helm rule the world and a band called Red Bee impressed the fuck out of us when we were up in the Blue Mountains a couple of weeks ago. There is a band in Wellington called Elephant of the Ocean who were nothing short of amazing when we played with them last year and who I am personally watching closely.
You guys have been touring quite heavily in support of this new album. Tell us about the experience of touring regional NSW, and whether you’d recommend it to other bands.
All awesome. That country town thing where they don’t get heaps of bands come through seems to work in our favor. The crowd is really vocal and seem to love what we do for some reason so we have been having great experiences. I would definitely recommend it to other bands.
Make sure you play with the local bands down there as they will always put on a killer show and you are guaranteed to play in front of their regular crowd who are keen to stay and watch the interstate touring band and if you do a good job you will be rewarded with regional lovin’.
You seem to be one of the few bands to brave a trip over to our cousins to the east – New Zealand. Can you tell us about that experience?
Excellent both times we went. What caught our attention straight away was the quality of the bands there. It may be an isolation thing but man, the creativeness, especially in Wellington, and the quality of the music is world class. It saddens me that we don’t hear about NZ bands more than we do, they are also the nicest people you will ever meet… Plus weed is like running water over there and everyone is keen to “have a sesh bro” (said in a try hard NZ accent)… Awesome place man. Awesome.
When are we going to see your nice faces in Sydney again?
You will see our nice faces at the following:
- 10th June @ Hot Damn
- 17th June @ Oxford Tavern, Woolongong
- 18th June @ The Empire Hotel, NSW
- 19th June @ Hamilton Station hotel, Newcastle
- 20th June @ Lucky Australian Tavern, St Marys (ALL AGES)
Any plans to tour internationally on the horizon? I’m surprised you haven’t already.
Yes! Definitely plans. We’re looking at going over late this year or next year. There are discussions in the works and our deal with Riot!/Warner affords us some cool opportunities... so more to come, but yeah, world domination is indeed part of our plans.
Thanks for that pal. Hear these jerks at http://www.myspace.com/fivestarprisoncell and be sure to look out for the new album M A T R I A R C H which is sure to be up there with the best of 2010.
Five Star Prison Cell are finally set to release their follow up to 2007's Slaves of Virgo. Entitled M A T R I A R C H, the album is to be released via RIOT! and distributed through Warner Music from May 18, 2010.
M A T R I A R C H (god that's annoying to type) was produced by Forrester Savell, who has worked previously with Karnivool, Helmet, Human Nature, Mammal and apparently even From the Ashes. Artwork duties are to be handled by Seldon Hunt (Neurosis, Isis, Candiria).
Can't wait to get my hands on this one. These dudes are insanely chaotic - not to mention creative, heavy and above all inhumanly fucking tight. Think Meshuggah meets early The Dillinger Escape Plan and Fantomas. IE: fucking intense. Five Star have been Ebolie's favourite Australian metal band for some time with good reason - though they never receive the credit they deserve as they refuse to produce easily-accessible or easily-categorizable music. They leave your average metalhead absolutely bewildered, which is yet another reason why I dig them.
In a related matter, Five Star Prison Cell are apparently playing in Sydney on the 18th of June with Serious Beak - the new project of Lachlan, Gene and Tim of Ebolie.
Alright, it's another slow new day/week. So here is a list of killer bands you should familiarise yourself with. Be forewarned; most of them are not metal (which shoudn't really bother you if you have a taste in music rather than a taste in one genre).
Brian Campeau: an incredible acoustic singer/songwriter originally from Canadian, but now located in Sydney. Brian has an incredible vocal range matched with a very unorthodox style of guitar playing. His recorded works are influenced by the likes of Thom Yorke and Bjork; balancing soaring emotional vocals with equal parts minimalist acoustic recordings and dreamy atmospheric textures.
Five Star Prison Cell: a totally unique Australian metal band based heavily around the polyrhythmic complexity of Meshuggah with a healthy helping of groove. These guys are further differentiated by an extremely dynamic vocalist. There is definitely no other band like them; and after seeing these guys play last Friday I have to say they are probably the most insanely tight fuck-off musicians I have seen from a band in a long time.
God God Dammit Dammit: an 13 piece funk/party band featuring members of The Rivalry, Space Bong, Robotosaurus and I'm sure plenty of others. Somebody's getting FUNKY.
Helm: I cannot say enough good words about these guys. They have taken the high points of Cult of Luna, Neurosis and Isis and transformed those elements into something really unique. Amazing clean sung harmonies accompany anguished screams and an endless back catalog of killer riffs, build-ups and meditations. Musically these guys fucking know how to structure a song. The more I listen to their debut album, the more I begin to realise that it will not take long for these guys to surpass anything Isis and Cult of Luna have had to offer - and considering my love for both those bands, that is not a small statement to make.
Hospital the Musical: the meeting of Botch, The Locust and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Insanely talented musicians making technically obscene, raging hardcore. Now that could sound like a recipe for disaster, but this bands flirtation with the experimental and dedication to constantly pushing their music in new directions make these guys Australia's best band in the genre since The Rivalry. Their new full length REDorphan is fucking amazing.
Looking Glass: these dudes hark back to the days when psychedelic rock ruled the earth with guitar-wielding gods with obscene narcotic-based diets. Without a doubt, this is THE BEST fucking band in Australia when it comes to stoner and psychedelic rock. They take the best elements of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix without ever sounding derivative. Their live presence is absolutely fucking crushing; and once more (as seems to be the theme) their musicianship is impeccable. Guitarist/vocalist Marcus is one of those rare virtuosos on guitar that makes everyone shut the fuck up and stare in disbelief at the maniac hacking at his guitar strings in total aural ecstacy. Fucking check them out.
Pirate: insane psychedelic and progressive rock. These guys are like The Mars Volta... if The Mars Volta were just 4 dudes playing intensely complex prog shit infused with such incredible groove-hooks and catchy rhythms they didn't need a vocalist to back them up. These dudes are relatively new to the Sydney scene; and fuck me if they havent got everyone's undivided attention.
Squid: two drummers, a double-bassist and two saxes busting out insanely catchy beats in stupid time signatures, and then proceeding jam and dance. I don't know what to call this other than a party jazz jam band, but that label hardly does the immensely talented band members any justice.
The Bakery: this is THE danceable funk/jazz band in Australia.