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May 2021

Creeper: Born to do it

We've been waiting. It's finally here. Creeper have arrived. Everything is about to change.
Published: 9:33 am, March 24, 2017
Creeper: Born to do it

We've been waiting. It's finally here. Creeper have arrived. Everything is about to change.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]"We appear to be the answer to a question that we never knew had been asked,” opens Will Gould. “We seem to fill a void in people’s lives, which is incredible. It’s an indescribable feeling that we never imagined or planned for. But at the same time that comes with a responsibility to keep being ruthless with our art.”

Almost everything has changed for Creeper since their self-titled EP was released back in the summer of 2014. Two things have remained constant, though. The idea. And the excited disbelief that anyone cares about it.

“Deserved isn’t what I’d say, but we’re more accustomed to what’s happening,” continues Will. “One of the greatest things about this past year is that we’ve become more confident in our ideas. That’s one of the things the record is a really important display of. We’re a lot more confident; I don’t think we could have made this record two years ago.”

“This is a story,” promises Will, as he prepares to go off on a tangent. “This is not important, but it gets there in the end.” It’s something he does a lot. It turns out the original idea behind Disneyland Paris was that you bring your family along and see the characters from your favourite films, you watch the stories acted out on rides, and you can witness bits of fantasy in the real world. That isn’t what people wanted, though. “People who go to Disneyland Paris don’t want to watch these stories take place; they want to make their own memories.” Things changed, and now your memories are paramount. “I applied some of that logic to our music,” explains Will. “We’re trying to involve the listener and make their experience more important than whatever I interpret it as.

“With Creeper, we are always trying to interact. The idea with the record is that each person will take away something slightly different. We’ve talked about immersion and escape throughout the majority of our career. Is that right, do we have a career?” he asks, looking at keyboardist Hannah Greenwood and guitarist Ian Miles before shrugging it off and continuing.

“Transformation is a really big theme through the band in general.” From The Callous Heart jackets to the constant dress-up and ownership of self in their music, Creeper celebrate shape-shifting. “It’s about wanting to escape and be something else. It’s becoming something more than you are.” Even with the band, “it’s trying to dress our hometown up as more than it is. It’s dressing ourselves up as more than we are to try and make us something bigger and more exciting. It’s not just about being bored; it’s about being uncomfortable in your skin, being uncomfortable with your situation.”

That frustration with the world you find yourself in is threaded throughout the band’s debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ but it’s a constant struggle with hope. The belief that you can escape is always present. It stirs up memories, fairy dust and happy thoughts so you can fly yourself out the window.

“When I was a kid I liked the records that would take me another place. People seem to think everything we do is different and strange but I don’t think it is. I just think these are ideas people haven’t seen for a long time. Maybe it’s a little bit of what the world needs, and that’s what we try to do. ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is whatever you’ve listened to the record and taken from it. It could mean something different to what it meant to me. If I started telling you what it meant to me, it might ruin it. Sometimes it’s ridiculously over the top and dramatic and silly, and sometimes it’s a little bit scary, but either way, maybe we’re just a reaction to what is going on.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="39304" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Creeper have always pushed at what they’ve been allowed to get away with. Every chapter in their story has been a little more, and their debut album is no different. Finding new ground at every end of the spectrum, it’s extreme but never jarring. And as for escape, what better way to offer that than construct a narrative to get lost in? There’s a story to follow, a mystery to solve and characters to offer reflections. Of course, it’s never forced. Participation is there if you want it.

“The story itself is kinda unimportant in some ways.” Instead, says Will, “it’s how that story makes you feel. When we first started merging Peter Pan with Creeper, it wasn’t about the characters so much; it was how I attached myself to them.” One of the aims of their debut was that it worked as a simple collection of great songs. If you just want to listen passively, “That’s fine, you’re not going to struggle to do that. I’ve seen people struggle with concept records in the past because if it’s pure concept, you can’t attach yourself to it.”

“I used to dislike concept records because they were so linear,” admits Ian. “I always avoided them. This is so punk,” he continues, tongue firmly in cheek, “but I don’t want to be told what to think, y’know? I want it to be ambiguous. I want to apply my own meaning to it.”

“And that’s what we’re trying to do here. If you want to go down the rabbit hole, you can, but you have to choose where you fit in with that story and how you attach yourself to that. On the surface, though, we put these songs on the radio, and people don’t know any different. They’re songs. When you take them apart, they can serve a purpose on their own which is strange because they weren’t built like that.”

They were built with a very specific purpose, though. This isn’t just a bunch of songs following a loose theme. Every moment is scripted; the flow of the record, mapped out and the impact has been years in the making. “We figure out how we want the peaks and trough, the dynamics and where we want a fast song, a slow song, and how they all interlink.”

Fantastical and fearless, there’s still a very human element to Creeper. From vocal cracks on the record to the fact their music revolves around loss, love and regret, at no point do the band detach from reality’s bite. Flipping between poetic metaphor and honest admission, this record is real life through a filter. Creeper aren’t just offering an escape. They’re living one. Ian and Will have used music to escape real world commitments since they were teenagers and touring is like some weird, make believe world. Putting on their The Callous Heart jackets transforms Will, Hannah, Ian, drummer Dan Bratton, bassist Sean Scott and guitarist Oli Burdett into something else.

“A good deal of what Creeper is doing is character play. For the majority of the day, we’re weird cave people who smell awful, and we’re trying to eat and then at night time, we’re playing a version of ourselves that’s a little more fearless. It’s the sort of person you’d never normally be if you were just in a room by yourself. A lot of the time when we’re doing those big shows, The Callous Heart is almost like a mask to wear. It’s like a force field in a way; it protects us. It’s almost like armour, and I feel like it’s the same with makeup, we’re becoming something completely different. We’ll be grouchy and tired or whatever then, just before we go on stage, we all put the jackets on and everyone changes.

“Oli has this thing where he has a bottle of water, and he’ll pour a little bit of water on your leg when you’re not looking, and it’s annoying because you won’t notice it straight away. Suddenly everyone just starts messing around and jumping on each other’s backs. Everyone’s singing, and it becomes this thing where everyone subconsciously goes into this gang. I think it translates on stage. You could be sat on your own all day, but as soon as you put that jacket on, it transforms you.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
"This is what I was born to do."

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]True to form, as soon as they’re together, they’re messing about. Will hides in some glittery egg and pretends to be an alien seeing the world for the first time as Ian captures it on his camera (“and thus, the king of disco was born”). They lean on one another, make up songs about each other and annoy, irritate and wind up like the best of siblings. “It’s like we’re putting on warpaint, it changes you. It drastically changes you. I always think it’s funny when we’ll see a video from a show, and you’ll hear me talking to the crowd in a voice that is a much more ridiculous version of my own voice because subconsciously I’ve fallen into this role of something else. That’s why a lot of the record chops and changes so much, it’s me taking from different styles and different genres; it has lots of different voices in its head.”

Always different, from the opening twinkle of ‘Black Rain’ until the fourth wall break of ‘I Choose To Live’, every moment of the record fits together. It doesn’t matter if they’ve touched upon an idea before or not, the sparkling ownership sees them make it all theirs. “It’s all very thought out and aware because we know there’s a lot of difference on the record,” explains Ian. Even the actual voice doesn’t impact the band’s voice. “We were thinking about Hannah’s input with ‘Crickets’ and ‘Room 309’. We thought it’d be cool to try something different and Hannah was receptive to the idea, I didn’t know if you’d be cool with the idea of coming forward at first,” Will explains, talking to Hannah. “I was keen because Creeper shouldn’t be just one person. It should be a combined effort of things. Obviously, there are different songwriters, different people who work in different areas of the band, but it shouldn’t matter if I’m singing or not. It can be a song from our band without me singing, much in the same way we did the piano sessions the other night and Hannah played a song Ian had written, and it didn’t matter. It’s everyone’s; it’s a shared thing. “

And there’s a power in that connection. “When I’m not onstage every day doing Creeper, it’s a terrifying, scary thing. By the very nature of doing these creative things, it’s constant self-doubt. It’s feeling like you’re a fraud in everything and feeling like you shouldn’t be there. I very frequently feel like a fraud, but a few shows into a tour and I feel comfortable. This is absolutely where I’m supposed to be. This is what I was born to do.”

A lot of Creeper’s music ties into the aesthetic that comes with it. More than a shade or a hue, dyed black hair, skinny jeans, nail varnish and make-up litter ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ as the characters struggle to make their life their own. It’s the same with the people who listen to the music. It’s about finding an identity that isn’t dictated. It’s about feeling at home when you’re not sure what home is. It’s a counterculture you can count on. “You’re claiming your life for yourself, and I think that’s really important. You feel powerful taking on a different role. In my own life, in my day to day, I couldn’t get on stage and do a Creeper show. I just couldn’t do it. Even at this point where I’ve done it so many times in character, if I wasn’t in the mindset, and I think a big part of that comes from being dressed up and being presented in the way the character needs to be, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. I honestly don’t. I’d be a lot more terrified, and I feel like I would feel a lot more undeserving and I’d be a lot more conscious of everything that was happening if I weren’t constantly in character. It’s nice to be able to be ridiculous and not feel the consequences of it because I’m under a different guise.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="39305" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A lot of ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ feels hopeless which comes from being a certain age and doing the things Creeper do. “I don’t think it’s just me in that situation, though. I think it’s everyone our age. A lot of this record comes from being 25 and getting older. Passing that point, you realise ‘Holy shit, I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m not that young anymore.” As ‘I Choose to Live’ brings to clarity, “I thought I’d have it all worked out at my age.”

“It’s that feeling of being my age and not knowing what’s coming in the coming years. I’ve got no qualifications apart from some film studies stuff from college, but I didn’t attend college very much ‘cause I was in bands. I stole my art teacher’s photocopy card to photocopy Tight Like Strings flyers [Will’s old, old band]. I feel like I have no handle on anything. And I think that’s a natural feeling as well. I feel like it’s the way a lot of people feel at our age, but we just have the extreme version of it because it’s all heightened. We spend all our time in really loud clubs with people who are drunk all the time, and often we’re drunk all the time, ‘cause there’s nothing else to do.

“Every day we have coping mechanisms for getting on stage and living like this, it seems easy on the offset, you don’t go to work, you’re just on tour all the time, but at the same time, it drives you crazy. Everyone goes mad. We can all vouch for that; it can be damaging. Coming home, and everyone else being a grown up still and having a proper life, it makes it hard to adjust. Ian and I spent last night in a carpark. Literally, in a carpark, just sat in a carpark. It was all stuff to do with Creeper, but it was weird.

“It’s frequent for us not to know what day it is and I worry about all sorts of things. How’s my girlfriend going to put up with me being away over summer? She’s got to put up with me going away all the time, how the hell’s that going to work? Is it going to fall apart? I hope not. What can I do in the mean time to worry about that? But by the time I’ve had that thought, we’re back out on tour somewhere. It’s just crazy,” Will continues, as Hannah and Ian agree. “It’s mad, and you have no control over anything. You have no control over how anything goes. All you can focus on is that your output, and that what you’re doing is the best that it can be and you’re expressing yourself properly, and you’re fulfilling your creative aspirations. I feel like I have no real handle on what’s going on but the nature of it is, we’re in a wonderful position, and I have no ambition to stop, but it’s hard to keep on top of, and I think we can all vouch for that. But in the meantime, you have to watch the world burn around you.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As much as ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is content to sit and watch the end of the world, or pour petrol on the fire to hurry it along, the straight-laced closer of ‘I Choose To Live’ offers a powerful moment of peace and acceptance. It’s “the only song on the record that doesn’t have anything to do with the narrative, as such. It’s probably the most important song on the record regarding its theme.” It’s why the record closes on it.

Creeper are painted, and indulge, in this idea of being doom and gloom, but black’s never been their only colour. There’s shade, sure, but they also offer light to those who need it. There’s a story behind ‘I Choose To Live’, but there always is. The band have long received letters from people, opening up to them about the struggles they’re going through, but it got more and more intense over time. On the one hand, it was fucking awesome that people were coming to Creeper shows because they felt at home, but on the flip side: “I’m in the same boat as most of the kids most of the time. When I was that age, I went to gigs because things were weird at home or school or college and you go there because it’s a sense of home.”

Will still gets that feeling every time he returns to The Joiners in Southampton. “But we didn’t know how to deal with it.” First, they’d reply via Twitter, but that felt like it trivialised things because it didn’t offer them the ear they were after. “I thought about it for a long time, and I spoke to a few people about it, and everyone’s solution seemed rubbish.” As always, though, music had the answer. He was inspired by ‘Diamond Dogs’, the David Bowie song where he speaks to the audience for the first time. “It felt like this would be a nice moment for us to do that on our record. It’s the first song in a long time where there is no dress up on it. It’s very straight, and it’s a song to our audience. That’s why it’s quite a personal thing; we haven’t got any flamboyant lyrics for that song, the song itself isn’t very flamboyant, but I’m pleased with how it came out.

“I feel like it was a really important one for us to get right. That was a way for us to address our audience and give something back, to let them know we’re in the same place. Going to the gigs, it’s as much as a catharsis for us as it is for them. ‘Misery’ was our last song, and “misery never goes out of style” was a lyric that completely made sense as part of that song. It’s a very honest song as well in a lot of ways, but I didn’t like the idea of that being our tag line. When kids come and see us, our tagline shouldn’t be us fetishising that sort of thing, so I wanted to make the opposite, a resolution song for that. It doesn’t stand much in the narrative of our storyline, but it’s an important song to end the record on.”

“That’s another reason why we put ‘Misery’ on the album,” continues Ian. “If it’s on a record, you’ll have ‘Misery’ on the end of one side and ‘I Choose To Live’ on the other, so the record answers itself. It’s also that the relation with the kids who are into our band is also really helpful to us as people. You know people always say that if you want to get better at your craft, one of the best things to do is go and teach it, because you learn so much more as the teacher. I feel like a lot of the times kids have come to talk to us about these things, it puts a lot of your issues in perspective, and it brings us together even more. It sounds like a weird thing, but it’s helped me put a lot of stuff into perspective and make me feel less alone because you do when you’re in that place. You feel alone but knowing all these kids have opened up to us, it’s nice in a way for them and us.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="39303" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Will and Ian took on the mantle of role models and grew into it. Hannah didn’t have to, but she’s stepped up anyway. “I don’t want to be like ‘It’s because I’m the only girl in the band’, but that does help. I have a lot of people that come to me and say ‘I love what you do and it gives me hope that I can do that in the future, and there is a place for women is this kind of music industry’.

“Obviously there was that incident of sexism in Amsterdam a few weeks ago [a local venue’s Stage Manager refused to let Hannah back in the building while the bands were loading out their gear]; that still happens, and I know it will probably continue to happen. When I first started, it’s not that I had a backseat role, but I was just quite happy bumbling along, doing what I was doing and then all these people kept coming up to me asking ‘How did you get into it?’ and saying ‘You inspire me.’ Since then, I stepped up to it, and now, I enjoy it. I enjoy that people feel they can do more because of me, which is weird,” she laughs. “It’s not even just with girls. I’ve had guys come up to me who play the piano, and they’re like ‘It’s great that an instrument like the piano, which you don’t really associate with this kind of music, is part of this.
“Apart from keytar.”
“Apart from keytar, which I’m planning on moving to at some point.”

The thing with ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is “they’re never just hardcore punk songs. They’ve got a maraca in the background or a tambourine in the chorus; they still sound musical.”
“The end of ‘Black Rain’ there’s a breakdown part, and we put the piano in it which makes it heavier, it doesn’t soften it.”
“’Suzanne’ has trumpets on it.”
“It’s ridiculous.”
They all sound really heavy, but if you compared them to an American Nightmare song, they would sound soft. I was keen to have those elements there as well, so it’s visceral and angry at some points, and it would sound like ‘Hey Jude’ at the end of the record.”

It doesn’t matter whether Creeper are being ruthless with their art or trying to find a segue between hardcore and heartbreak, they’ve always had a single idea at the core of everything; to inspire.

“I genuinely believe that there’s a solution to everything and a creative solution is often the best answer,” explains Will. “It’s much more expressive, and it builds you a thicker skin because you have to go through a lot of shit to do some creative things, the sacrifices you have to make strengthen your character. I feel very, very privileged at this point because I was working in a call centre when we started this band. I drew The Callous Heart on a bit of paper while sat at my desk, and now this is all I do. It’s crazy.

“I think when you feel really out of control, a really good way to seize power in any aspect of your life is to make something you’re completely in control of. If you have a blank piece of paper, you’re in complete control of what goes on that piece of paper. No matter what situation you’re in when you’re doing something creative, or you have a project to work on, just starting on it and having that cathartic feeling of creating and putting something of yourself out there, is everything.

“When you see a band who only care about doing their craft when it comes with some sort of financial gain or some sort of successful outcome, that does not interest me. I want to be secure, for sure. I don’t want to go back to work at the call centre, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to compromise with all the things that have got me here in the first place. That’s what makes it all go so wrong. When I see younger kids seeing our band and wanting to do it themselves, I can relate to that feeling of wanting to do something creative but not know the reason why you want to do it beyond wanting to create for the sake of creating. That is the most motivating thing about Creeper, trying to reach people on that level. It’s so cool because that’s what all my favourite bands did for me and that’s all you ever want to do, have the same effect all your heroes did.

“At the same time, what comes alongside that is you can’t start making records just for your audience. ‘I Choose To Live’ is the first song we’ve ever written like that. As much as I’m proud of that song, you have to be really cold with your audience at the same time. I think I’d feel more comfortable with releasing this record if the band were the sort of band who’ve written songs for the audience. I feel like in this instance; there are times when we’ve been very self-indulgent and served our own interests. Once you’ve heard it, hopefully, you can understand when I say it’s not an original record by any stretch of the imagination, but in the position we’re in and the year we’re in, I don’t know who else is making a record like this.”


© 2018 The Bunker Publishing