“I was that kid at school who would just play with a deck of cards and do magic,” starts Creeper frontman Will Gould. “I hated how boring everything was and I didn’t like how a lot of the people at school treated others, so I’d escape into a bit of fantasy. I just loved the idea of it because it makes the real world seem a bit more magical. It makes it seem like anything’s possible.”
After the past few months, it’s an attitude Creeper must feel at home with. Releasing a self-titled debut EP last July on little more than a whim, and agreeing to play a single show to launch it, the band that today are sat on sofas at their record label HQ are in a very different position indeed. They’ve found a home on Roadrunner Records, a summer of festivals lays behind them and their diary for the rest of 2015 is filling up fast.
“I’m blown away everyday,” continues Will. “We’re trying not to let everything become a normal thing. The first time we came here it was like, ‘Why are you letting us in here?’ We don’t want to break anything. It’s just this weird little bubble and I feel like any minute it’s going to pop.”
Despite the hooks of their ‘The Callous Heart’ EP, all brash community and soaring spirit, it’s unlikely to put a pin to their world just yet. “People should beware ‘The Callous Heart’ because it’s people breaking out,” warns Will. “It’s going to a place where you’re running away from all your responsibility. In our story, it’s kids from broken homes, it’s people running away and not putting up with that anymore. It’s a mark of change for us.”
“It’s the inclusion as well,” adds guitarist Ian Miles. “It’s saying we were those kids who were in a weird place. We were anxious, nerdy kids and we can do this together. You can be part of our gang.”
“It’s a battle cry,” Will adds. “The record is five songs long and it looks at our own lives through the guise of Peter Pan and all those fairytales. It’s all very real and sincere, but it’s fantasy as well. It’s those real wishes to escape and run away but seen through a world where you can put this record on and disappear from your own life. “
“Our band’s always been about escape. Always,” he continues pointedly. “We’ve been on tour, running away from responsibilities back home our whole adult lives. Since we were 18, Ian and I have just been touring, never making any money, never advancing in anything back home, just always playing, always running away.”
“I feel like I’ve been working on this record for a long, long time,” Will explains. The ideas started forming while he and Ian were still in their old band, Our Time Down Here, and the visuals started taking shape while Will was working in a call centre. “I got thinking about ‘Bad For Good’ by Jim Steinman. It’s this ridiculous record about Peter Pan and I realised that, that story mirrored our lives so strangely yet accurately. I related to the characters so much more now.
“I feel much more of a kinship now with the idea of escaping somewhere else, out of the horrible real world, than I ever did when I was young because I was so lost in my imagination when I was a kid. The Peter Pan story is timeless and I think it’s something people need again. It’s relevant not only because when you’re having to get by, the real world is dull as fuck but a lot of other things have been mundane recently.
“Some of the heroes kids have to look up to are awful. I don’t think we’re those people to take their place but at least we can offer something that’s a bit more responsible, and offer an escape for 15 minutes so they don’t have to think about that shit. How much shit do you have to think about when you’re a kid?” he asks.
“To think you’re going through all that horrible stuff and then your role models are so shit and just want your money. That’s all they want, they want their fame and their money. I felt like it was important to remind people you can always escape in a record.”
“I just became obsessed with the idea of floating out of the window,” Will continues. “I worked in a call centre before doing this. I hated it so much, and I just wanted to escape in the most fantastic way possible. When it came to doing this record, I had the idea of these back patches. We’d make a ‘Lost Boys’ that wasn’t gender specific. I wanted to make something where we could all escape together.
“That’s what Ian and me have been doing for years and a lot of our fans feel exactly the same way. They want to escape but there are so many things we’re running from, I feel like we needed something to bind us together.”
“This is going to be our logo,” declares Will of ‘The Callous Heart’’s artwork. “It’s more than just a band logo. It’s not clever marketing, this is going to stand for something. We can make a world out of this. This is going to be our symbol. The concept itself, with all of the Lost Boys stuff, was inspired by the first few shows having such a diverse crowd.
“Hopefully for the time we’re a band and are available to do this, I hope we can be a positive force for young people. That’s what I’d like our band to be and that’s our message, I guess. It’s not so bad to escape for a little bit.”
“We’re really proud of this record and if people don’t like it, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Will says with a smile. “We’re really happy with it and we worked really hard on it. It’s something different, it’s fantasy and reality put together that we started dealing with on the first record, and we’ve gone to town on it this time. It’s a lot more of the direction we’re hoping to go in. It’s still punk rock, but tempered with bits of fantasy.
“For a long time there’s been this real lad rock thing, and people are tired and want something new. A lot of the kids that we meet were waiting for something like this. We were completely oblivious to that until they told us. The fact a band like us is being given a chance like this… It’s unprecedented for someone to give us this much rope to play on.”
As the band swells, more and more attention is being focused on the five people behind the music. “It’s difficult,” reasons Will. “You get wrapped up in stuff but the kids are incredible. They’re some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. We have a responsibility to a degree, I don’t want to let those kids down. Whether they need us or not, if they’re coming to the shows, we have a responsibility.
“We’re getting more and more messages recently about depression and self harm and that’s stuff we can really relate to. Some of our music comes from that place. You end up in a position where someone’s confided in you and you have to react. We’re not professionals so we’ve found some charities we send people to. It comes with a responsibility and we’re prepared to be that person,” says Will with determination.
“I know what it’s like when you’ve got something on your mind, on your chest and the very least we can do is listen to people. They spend the time listening to us so they absolutely deserve our attention. We try our best to help them as much as we can. We try and get out the front of every show and meet all the kids.
“It’s difficult for me because sometimes I get really anxious and awkward and I hate being in a situation like that. Most of the time it’s fine, but sometimes I’ll have days where I don’t want to speak to anyone, I don’t want to get on stage. To try and put on the sort of show we’re known for when I’m feeling like that is really difficult.
“I realised we need to go out and speak to people and be there, because they’ve taken the time to come down. They’re me when I was their age and I need to offer them the same thing that bands I really liked, did. I need to go out and say hello, irregardless of my mood. It’s a tricky thing but the fans have been incredible. It’s insane, it’s really humbling. I don’t know why we’ve been blessed with all these things. Boys like us shouldn’t be trusted with nice things,” he grins. I don’t know why life’s tossing us a bone but it’s lovely.”
There’s a growing sense that Creeper are going to be massive. Beyond the arena promise of ‘The Callous Heart’, there’s something in their chemistry that feels potent. “It’s nice that people think that, but I don’t know,” says Will, slightly uneasy with the idea. “It doesn’t enter my pool of consciousness.”
“What does, and I know this is the corniest thing ever, but what does massive mean?” asks Ian, trying to grab hold of the idea. “Because, to us massive is writing a really fucking great record.”
“Our aspirations are still to write songs, make records and cool visuals,” reasons Will. “To tell a story and try and take people from their mundane lives for as long as we can. If we broke up tomorrow, I’d be happy with that world we made. That tiny little thing we managed to create.”
“The main thing for me is hoping we can inspire somebody to make something else,” adds Ian.
As the band gain a natural traction, people are rallying behind them. There’s a movement to Creeper that feels fantastical. “We’re just ideas people, there’s no real magic to that,” offers Will. Change, difference or just a ruddy ace record. “The magic comes when you try and make something.“