"We took a voluntary year off from music," Will Gould states, "then to have another one stolen from you by a virus?" When Creeper announced the release of their much anticipated second record just ten days into this year, it was met with a flurry of excitement for what lay ahead. What form would this new material take? What fantastical tale would these songs tell? What spectacular stage show would we get to see on tour? Twelve months on, the world was a vastly different place. The events industry is in a period of stasis, but despite this, Creeper have had their most productive year yet.
In the past twelve months, the group have released their second album, a podcast documentary detailing the making of the record, an online point-and-click game telling the story of an angel who fell to earth, and a cover song and playlist series celebrating their inspirations. They've played arenas opening for BABYMETAL, held a virtual convention, and graced the covers of magazines (including this one). If that weren't impressive enough, frontman Will Gould has even found the time to introduce the world to new side project Salem, hold a virtual prom night, release an EP, and play socially distanced shows to celebrate Halloween.
"I didn't realise I was going to go from putting nothing out to making a million things and putting them all out. I wasn't really imagining that," he laughs. "The nice takeaway is that despite everything that's going on, we've managed to have a really productive time." It was a difficult road that brought the band here. The group have openly discussed the struggles with love, loss, and mental health that shaped their newest record, the trials and tribulations that paved the steps of their new direction.
"We've talked about it being the Creeper curse," Will states. "It felt like we were letting an entity out into the world rather than a record." It might have felt cursed to the band while they were making it, but from the moment it was released into the world, it's felt like nothing short of magic. In a year that began with a performance at the venue where David Bowie broke up with the Spiders From Mars (a concert they previously paid homage to with their own on-stage break-up at KOKO in 2018), the past twelve months also saw the group issuing challenges to former Boyzone star Ronan Keating in the charts.
At the mention of the chart battle, Will starts to cackle. "That was very funny," he declares. "When we started the band I never thought we'd be in that position." 'Sex, Death & The Infinite Void' saw the group soar to new heights and reach Number 5 in the UK album charts. "I think it was a real victory for UK rock music," the frontman enthuses. "It makes you so happy and so proud that there's a community of rock music fans out there that are demanding that something really ridiculous like a rock opera be in the charts."
"People often put that down to you and say it's your victory, but it's really not, in my eyes," he continues. "It's a victory for our fan base. That's something they did, going above and beyond." Creeper have always inspired an ardent dedication in their fans. This year simply presented the opportunity for that dedication to make its mark on the mainstream. "It was a gift from them, really, more than anything else," Will describes. "There was no way I could have done that on my own," he grins. "It's the sort of thing you can tell your mom about as well, and she can understand that one."
The dedication the band inspire in their audience doesn't stop there. Searching the band on any social network shows that Creeper inspire an energy in their fans that feels limitless: fashion, costumes, make-up, jewellery, tattoos, cover songs, art, even custom-made Lego characters – the enthusiasm and creativity is endless. "I like to think that when you listen to the Creeper record, it conjures up an image in your mind that you can see," Will explains. "You can almost imagine what it's like to exist in that world and smell that world and feel that world," he enthuses. "When you see people really responding to it and finding their place in it and believing in it, that's the biggest gift that you can get," he earnestly expresses. "In turn, that inspires us too."
Talking about the passion they see in – and share with – their fans, that enthusiasm is almost impossible to not get caught up in. "It was an amazing feeling, especially to have people get the concept and the themes and give it a shot," Will comments of the record. With 'Sex, Death & The Infinite Void', there's certainly plenty to uncover. "I like to think that with the record you have an option to dive in as shallow as you like, or if you want to swan dive in and peel back the layers of the onion, there's a whole world out there on the record that you can explore."
Mixed metaphors aside, this is the essence of what makes Creeper, Creeper. "That's the momentum we try to live by, having a really immersive universe for a lot of disenfranchised and lost young people to find themselves in," Will enthuses. Whether they're weaving a narrative through their songs, building a literal virtual world to step into in the form of a point-and-click game, or something else entirely, imagination has always been a crucial part of the band's identity.
"Life's difficult. It can be a very lonely place out there," the frontman portrays. "People need an escape. People need fantasy. That's what I do with Creeper, build fantasy worlds." After the success they achieved with 'Sex, Death & The Infinite Void' this year, it feels like anything might be possible. "What I love is that it allows me to be even more daring with the next one," he continues enthusiastically. "We've got these amazing fans that just follow you down the rabbit hole wherever you go now. That's an amazing feeling."
There are no hints. No clues. With this band, there never are – at least, not until a project is fully formed. "I think with Creeper people have come to learn that they should expect the unexpected, so to speak," Will grins. What the frontman does offer is the promise of "a lot of interesting plans for the next year" (and another Salem EP to boot, which he reveals is "basically done"). "It wouldn't have been us to have taken the safe road," he conveys. "If it's not extremely chaotic, it's really not this band. Everything has to be on fire at all times."
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Upset, out now.
Featuring... The Smashing Pumpkins, Poppy, All Time Low, Creeper and more.