Dinah Cancer in 2007 with the reformed 45 Grave at Blue Cafe, Long Beach, CA
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Horror punk, deathrock, gothic rock|
|1979-1985, 1988-1990, 2005-present|
|The Exterminators, the Germs, the Bags, the Screamers, the Consumers, Castration Squad, Vox Pop, Nervous Gender, the Gun Club, Dream Syndicate, Celebrity Skin, Penis Flytrap, Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers, Snap-Her, the Adolescents, T.S.O.L., Social Distortion, the Dickies|
|Paul B. Cutler
Mike "Thrashhead" Sullivan
L. Ron Jeremy
The band was founded by Paul B. Cutler in Los Angeles, California during the punk rock movement, formed alongside another band with almost the same lineup called Vox Pop, which produced two singles. Its original lineup consisted of Cancer (formerly of Castration Squad) on vocals, Cutler (formerly of the Consumers) on guitar, Rob Graves (also known as Rob Ritter, formerly of the Exterminators, the Bags and the Gun Club) on bass, and Don Bolles (of the Exterminators, the Germs and Nervous Gender) on drums. The name, according to Bolles, derived from a mysterious button Cutler found at a thrift store and gave to Bolles for Christmas that said "WE DIG 45 GRAVE". Bolles stated that this needed to be the name of the band, and everyone agreed.
In 1980, 45 Grave recorded their first released song, "Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Poly-Unsaturated Blood", included on the Los Angeles Free Music Society compilation album, Darker Skratcher. The song was a cover version of the novelty song originally performed by Don Hinson and the Rigamorticians on their 1964 album release Monster Dance Party. The 45 Grave recording (as with the original, produced by Gary S. Paxton of Skip & Flip) achieved cult status and became a signature song of the band's live sets.
Early on, the band began by playing the Consumers songs that Cutler had written, with lyrics changed to fit Cancer's singing style, before concentrating on composing new material like "Black Cross" (issued as a single in 1981, featuring Pat Smear of the Germs on guitar on the B-side "Wax") and a fast-paced punk song called "Partytime" (which was later slowed down and reworked on their 1983 debut album and sole studio release, Sleep in Safety. Another signature 45 Grave track, "Evil", was featured on MTV, and band members appeared as extras in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.
Despite never achieving major success, 45 Grave were recognized as being one of the first American gothic bands, predating the formation of Christian Death. The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles listed 45 Grave and Christian Death as "early proponents of American Gothic Rock".
45 Grave's musical style was rooted in punk rock with a darker edge/horror movie aesthetic, representative of the deathrock and horror punk genres. Compared to most punk bands of the era, 45 Grave songs included stop-start mid-song tempo changes, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship accentuated by Cutler's virtuoso guitar playing. Keyboards added to the spooky atmosphere of many songs and harkened back to proto-punk garage bands of the early 1960s. The band also displayed a connection to surf rock, manifested in the instrumental "Surf Bat" from Sleep in Safety. The band's appearance drew from horror films (Italian zombie flicks in particular) to create a camp gothic aesthetic. However, the band's lyrical themes often adopted a tongue-in-cheek manner instead.
The band reformed in 1988 for a brief tour, which was recorded and released as Only the Good Die Young. However, when Graves died in 1990 from an accidental drug overdose, the band broke up once again.
In 2004, 45 Grave reformed to commemorate their 25th anniversary, with Cancer as the sole remaining member from previous incarnations. The lineup included bassist Lisa Pifer (of Snap-Her), guitarist Jamie Pina, drummer Mike "Thrashhead" Sullivan, and former Adolescents and Christian Death guitarist Rikk Agnew. 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".
By 2006, Agnew and Pina had been replaced by guitarists L. Ron Jeremy and Kenton Holmes, who remained with the band until 2010. Stevyn Grey replaced Sullivan on drums in 2007, and was in turn replaced by Tom Coyne in 2008. Brandden Blackwell replaced Pifer on bass in 2009.
Night of the Demons, a 2009 remake of the classic 1987 cult horror film, featured 45 Grave's title track. In 2010, Rikk's brother Frank Agnew (T.S.O.L., Social Distortion, the Adolescents) joined the band on guitar, replacing Jeremy. Mark Bolton joined on second guitar in 2011.
Pick Your Poison, 45 Grave's first new album in 27 years, was released in 2012 on Frontier Records. The album contained a mix of new songs, unrecorded old songs and a remake of "Night of the Demons", for which a video was produced.
Former Dickies guitarist Dylan Thomas joined in 2014, replacing Bolton.