45 Grave – Live At The L.A. Press Club – September 20, 1981 – band soundboard –
A dose of L.A. Punk for a Friday night by way of 45 Grave, one of the pioneering groups of the L.A. Punk and later Goth scene.
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, they 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 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”.