On 1st November 2018, Creeper "broke up" on stage after playing a sold-out gig at Koko in Camden. On 1st November 2019, they returned at London's 229. Luckily, frontman Will Gould reveals that they had "already planned that ending a long while before it was anywhere near happening". All's well that ends well, eh?
"The idea was to end it in the same way it began, and the campaign began with a disappearing act," he explains. "A little bit of continuity to put another vanishing act on stage in front of everybody. It was a reference to David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust. It was much more dramatic than I ever imagined it would be, actually.
"It was a reference to the beginning of the campaign, which was very dramatic in itself, but this time putting it on stage rather than the internet. It's difficult to get six people out of a venue when you know what they look like.
"It felt like it had a really linear motif, but Creeper's known for its dramatics; these are the kind of currency we deal in. We had to end this one on a high, but we also needed some time out. Getting some time away from everything and giving a purpose, and a reason to why we were not around rather than just going quiet.
"We're a very theatrical band, so it felt like the biggest accomplishment we could do was to try and do something like that on stage and draw an end to that chapter. It really is an end to that chapter as well, we did kill the band off. The jackets, as far as I know, are still somewhere in Koko. We shed a skin there; it was almost some sort of ceremony to close it all. I suppose the reason for that drama was that it's ingrained as part of the band's DNA."
In terms of when they decided to come back, Will admits that they had "a few good options there, really."
"Originally, we were going to come back sooner, but our lives descended into a bit of a chaotic moment. So, we had to prolong it, and I always knew if we didn't come back on 1st November - a year to the day - that we couldn't come back again, that would have to be it done. It turned out to be the correct amount of time to wait, but like originally there was a plan to come back a little sooner, but that's the way life goes, sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't."
It wasn't all plain sailing into album number two, as Will reveals he didn't know how to approach this next record for a while.
"I didn't see the value in carrying on something and making a half-arsed job of it, you know? I'm really brutal with this sort of thing. I find if there's no artistic merit or a lot of creative accomplishment to be had, I didn't see the point of beating a dead horse, not knowing quite where the band fit in terms of where I was going.
"I considered for a while that maybe I should move on and make something else. For the most part, we were on track, and when we started, it took quite some time for it all to make sense. There was some genuine concern of mine that we might be gone for a while.
"It's a hard thing in this climate to leave things for a year. Without any releases, without any music. That's not the way things are done these days. Throwing out songs week by week, that's how the music industry works these days. It has been quite a challenge coming back to it after so much time."
Of course, with new albums come new music and we've already had a taste of that in 'Born Cold', which it turns out was one of the first songs they wrote for the record. Why was it our first taste of Creeper 2.0?
"I felt like it was the perfect introduction to the record. The record is, in my opinion, quite challenging. There are quite a lot of different sounds; a whole different repertoire of genres and sounds.
"It's something we're very proud of. We aimed to try and deliver on our promises of pure reinvention for this record. 'Born Cold', in particular, felt like a great transition in from the older sound into the new one. It was written in Southampton; me and Ian had the bones of the song together, and we met with the man who produced our last record and all the Creeper records up until now, and played him the song. He wrote a bridge with us for it, and so we had basically at the very beginning the crux of a conventional Creeper song.
"Then it was taken to America, and we found a producer to work with out there, and he added the… I was about to say bells and whistles, but there literally are bells! He added the actual bells and string arrangements. There's a Springsteen quality to some of the parts and it kind of hints at where the rest of the record goes. It's a great transition sound, cos even though I don't think it sounds like our last record, it's a perfect segue between old and new."
There's a couple of small things left for Will to do before the record is finished, but he's excited for people to hear it.
"Every song is a comfortable little baby, everyone's little project, because it's just so varied. We were listening to a lot of different stuff, a lot of Brit-rock like Suede and stuff, so there are numerous difference influences on it. It all married together while we were out in America. There's a Hollywood quality to some of the theatrics this time around, so I'm very very excited."
When the comeback gig was announced it wasn't as Creeper, it was instead as Fugitives of Heaven. Will reveals that the name actually comes from a line in a song on the record.
"What I really liked about it was, in a very similar way to how 'Eternity In Your Arms' was interpreted in so many different ways, Fugitives Of Heaven meant something different to everyone who heard it. It has a very specific meaning to me, but it can be read by a fan and interpreted in a completely different way. It's actually a phrase I came up with when I was in America writing the narrative for this record, it was the term I came up with for the two main characters.
"I have this habit of putting lines into my phone into the notes section and then over the tour defining and refining, and that was one of the ones that stuck around. If I had a chance to rename the band, I probably would rename it to that I think it's essential to the narrative of the story that comes along with the record. It also set up the show very nicely, too."
It was important for Will and the band to get the aesthetic right too because it's one of the things that the band are really known for.
"Trying to rearrange and reimagine the entire thing was quite difficult. We knew that we didn't want to wear patches anymore and the jackets because we thought we'd done that to death. Then it was a case of, what do you do and how does it look?
"I remember a lot of people trying to tell us not to get rid of the patches or the logo, not to reinvent it too much. It was really important for the themes of the record to be reflected in what we were wearing. We're not a band that can rock up in plaid shirts and get on stage and play."
"My hair is completely different, as well," he adds. "It takes hours to get right every day. It's a nightmare, and I sweat it all out on stage in a second anyway. It has to have a very strong look and in terms of the makeup and styling and stuff. My girlfriend is a makeup artist and has been doing preparations of looks to try and make sure it was right, and get it perfect. She's done a fantastic job.
"In terms of the whites, the idea was about trying to do the opposite style to the last one where everything was black. It felt like flipping everything to white fits in with themes of ice and cold and isolation on this new record and a lot of songs. The white was supposed to reflect that. It's all supposed to sell the themes of the record before you even hear it."
A lot of thought has gone into the imagery of the record on Will's side to fit in with the elaborate narrative that runs alongside.
"The logo on them, of the descending angels and the lightning bolt, has three meanings. The angel itself is in reference to the character that we have; the angel that falls to earth and falls in love with a human being. He learns about the human condition, and learns how to feel and so this is a romantic, kind of apocalyptic love story.
"The shape of the logo is a very clear reference to 'Aladdin Sane', the David Bowie record. My thought was that our first record could be 'Ziggy Stardust' and when they made 'Aladdin Sane', they took Ziggy to Hollywood and made that record out there. It's the same thing, we're trying to make it this brand of rock and roll record. So, we've taken it to Hollywood as well so the lighting bolt itself is to honour the process.
"Then finally, the purple tears of the angel were to reference the very real tragedy that's happened to us in our personal lives over the last year. It's been a very turbulent year for all of us.
"The lightning bolt encases it all. The fallen angel is the fictional aspect, and the tears are the reality. It's all married together inside, so it felt like it made a lot of sense. One of the cool things when you first see the logo, you get so excited because suddenly, it'll all match up. The music, and the outfits, and the clothing; it all marries together once you've got a great logo."
Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Upset.
Featuring The Faim, Creeper, Frank Iero, SWMRS, Pup and more.