AusGrind: Australian underground grindcore, punk, doom and DIY culture.

Interview with Cam of Five Star Prison Cell

Posted by Lachlan

Cam of Five Star Prison CellI 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 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 to reissue ‘The Complete First Season’

Posted by Lachlan

A young Five Star Prison CellFive Star Prison Cell are planning to reissue their incredible genre-splicing debut 'The Complete First Season'. They however, are unsure of which label the reissue will appear on (any label but DW Norton's is my guess).

Personally The Complete First Season is my favourite Five Star release to date. If you're a fan of bands like Mr. Bungle, Naked City, Dog Fashion Disco, Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch (etc) and you dont own this album, then pull your head out of the sand and experience one of Australia's most overly talented, promising and unique bands in the extreme scene!

The Complete First Season by Five Star Prison Cell


Warning: Unknown: open(/home/content/56/14012356/tmp/sess_rud1fi26ucqdgi25stbi6s47a6, O_RDWR) failed: No such file or directory (2) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct () in Unknown on line 0