does the Monster Mash!
left the building — and the Earth plane — a long time
before the guys in the Cryptkeeper Five were born. But
that doesn't stop the band from worshipping the King
and his ethos. The group will be touring the South in
the near future and has already set aside a day during
its whirlwind schedule to make a special trip to Graceland,
near Memphis, Tenn. "I fell in love with Elvis when
I was 12," says drummer and founding member Dave Graves,
who also names the late Roy Orbison as an influence.
early rock and pop stars are very important to Mr. Graves
and the rest of the band, who say they picked up their
musical tastes through their rockin' parents and older
siblings. "I have an older sister and brother, and parents
who turned all of us on to music at a young age," says
Johnny, lead singer and graphic artist for the band.
"My dad had a jukebox in the basement and there were all kinds
of records in it — everything from the Ronettes to Santana
and Black Sabbath." "James, another one of our members, has
a father who was in a traveling band in the '60s called The
Echomen, who played what you would call surf music," Mr. Graves
fact, they (were on tour with) Jerry Lee Lewis for a while.
It's important for us to know our rock roots. Every great
band in history can trace their lineage back, and they all
pay homage to their rock forefathers. To cut that off — to
be unaware of the history — is what makes things so bland
in music today."
Cryptkeeper Five will host and perform at an event that is
anything but bland: "The Festival of the Dead 777: A Rock
and Roll Costume Party" will take place Oct. 29 at the VFW
Post 148 in Hightstown. Costumes are not required, but there's
a bit of a discount on the admission price if you come "not
as you are." "This is the seventh event we've put on," says
Mr. Graves. "We actually started about nine years ago, but
skipped a couple of years. But it's been enough times so that
it's become an annual event.
try to put as much into it as we can. It's like the Asbury
shows at Christmas time — it's something fans look forward
to. That's what we're hoping for. Right now, (the Rock and
Roll Costume Party) is one of the only shows in the area like
that." The CK5, as they like to abbreviate themselves, choose
only bands from the area to play at the Halloween event —
friends and colleagues who play the same kind of high energy
year, The Riotones, The Checkers, Skullitor and Triple Threat
share the bill at the all-ages event. "They're all independent
(bands) and they're all amazing," says Johnny. "We won't just
book any band, we're pretty picky." The CK5 is also stoked
to be performing tunes from its new CD, Trenton Makes the
Cryptkeeper Five (Peephole Records), which blends '70s punk
rock (heavy on the Ramones), the twang of early country music,
Phil Spector's "girl groups," and rhythm and blues from the
in 1997, CK5 evolved from a hard-working teenage punk band.
The original members, including Mr. Graves and Johnny, met
at Steinert High School in Hamilton. Beginning as a quintet
about 10 years ago, CK5 evolved from a stripped-down style
into a sound the members call their own. They perform regularly
around Trenton and the Jersey Shore and have been recognized
by the Asbury Music Awards nomination committee for three
consecutive years. As Johnny's skills at songwriting grew,
CK5 knew it needed to flesh the band out with keyboards and
Mr. Graves' favorite old-school instrument, the tenor sax,
giving the band a Springsteen-esque flavor and instrumentation.
about three years ago, CK5 added Nick on piano and Blue Madigan
on reeds. Suddenly there were seven members, which is a little
confusing, but adds to the mystique. "Writing just plain punk
was kind of limiting," says Johnny, who does most of the songwriting.
"But as we grew up, our tastes changed.
got more open-minded about our overall sound and instrumentation."
"It's sad that you can't have horns at all unless you're a
ska band or something," says Mr. Graves. "Nothing beats a
sax and it bothered me that the sound of a sax was gone from
rock 'n' roll. (Doing away with horns) left a big hole in
live music. Unless you're someone like Clarence (Clemons),
it's hard for a sax player to make it in rock. But Blue is
an integral part of the band." Incidentally, if the band's
name has a certain Halloween ring, it's because of a line
in Bobby "Boris" Pickett's seasonal oldie, "Monster Mash."
describes a happening graveyard party scene with a vocal group
"The Crypt-Kicker Five." The group moniker is actually an
homage to an homage, suggests Johnny. The punk group The Misfits
did a cover of "Monster Mash" and mistakenly called the vocal
group from the song the Crypt Keeper Five.
name and the association with Halloween might make the uninitiated
think the group is a novelty band or associated with Goth
stylings, but CK5 is really just a straight forward rock 'n'
roll band — much more cheerful than the average Goth offerings.
The group's Web site talks about CK5's mission to make authentic
rock 'n' roll, something to warm the hearts of fans discouraged
by boy bands and the other manufactured, pre-packaged "music
product" that seems to be blandifying the airwaves.
the band draws from so many influences, CK5's Utopian vision
includes everyone: "...refugees from all walks of life — the
jock, the freak, the prom queen, the nerd — freed from the
shackles of musical genres and enjoying the sights and sounds
of a truly phenomenal act," they write. "We never really fit
with any one genre totally, we fall into so many," Mr. Graves
says. "So there's something for everybody."
Cryptkeeper Five perform at and host The Festival of the Dead
777: A Rock and Roll Costume Party at the American Legion
Post 148, 895 Route 130, Hightstown, Oct. 29, 6 p.m. Tickets
cost $7; $5 in costume. The Riotones, The Checkers, Skullitor
and Triple Threat also will perform. For information, call
(609) 259-0383. CK5 on the Web: www.cryptkeeperfive.com
Source: Princeton Packet)