After chatting to Creeper’s frontman, Will Gould, this transcription could have been written up into a feature that’s main aim would have been to implore you to listen to a band who for some people’s money are the most exciting band on planet Earth right now. But rather than that, Will’s words have been left to do the talking. He’s an incredibly inspirational man with his heart firmly in the right place. So stick on ‘The Callous Heart’ EP and read an insight into your new favourite band.
Quench Music (QM): To start with, the EPs are so musically diverse and it’s amazing how different each of the songs is whilst still maintaining a narrative. Who would you say are your personal influences? And more broadly, Creeper’s influences as a band?
Will Gould (WG): I guess the songs are quite diverse because our influences are quite diverse as well. We all come from hardcore punk, that’s how we all met in the first place. Me and Ian used to play in a hardcore band when we were kids called Our Time Down Here and Sina used to play in a metal band called Hang The Bastard. We grew up doing DIY shows, so our roots are punk rock and the DIY punk scene. But growing up I listened to David Bowie and a lot of the glam rock stuff my Dad liked, whilst Ian grew up listening to Metallica. Both of those are very different musicians and very different styles, but the bombastic and grandness of the ideas is what really excited us at quite a young age.
When we’re writing we’re trying to get that loose sense of melody that The Bouncing Souls and punk bands like that had in their songs, but infuse with really over the top drama. We’re trying to fuse all the stuff we loved as kids with all the stuff we learned about as we got older. So yeah, it’s a kind of weird fusion.
I’d say as a band, we take a lot of influence from bands that came before us like AFI and Tiger Army; the 2000s kind of goth punk. That stuff was exciting to us. But, you know even now there’s bands that excite us, like the Hostage Calm record was something we listened to a lot when we wrote our first EP. This last EP has got a lot more cues from musicals. There’s a film by Brian De Palma, ‘The Phantom Of The Paradise’, that I obsess over and the songs from that were a massive aid to our writing. Also we listen to this guy Jim Steinman a lot who wrote songs for Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler. His records weren’t punk records at all, but the ideas and the scope of them and the storytelling were something that we took a lot of cues from. We try and temper that with punk. It’s kind of weird, it shouldn’t work on paper, but we try out best to fuse them.
QM: There’s a fair amount of well-deserved press hype around the band. Do you feel that there’s something special and distinct about Creeper compared to other bands you’ve been in?
WG: It’s really odd. We don’t think a lot about the way it’s all being perceived. There’s a really great story from Jim Steinman; he had this interview that we were watching the other day. He was talking to one of his producer friends and he was saying that he always writes songs for one kid in Connecticut. So Jim Steinman was asking, “what do you mean one kid in Connecticut?” and he was like, “in my head I’m writing my records for one kid in Connecticut who buys my records when they come out, on opening day, takes it home and listens to it on a Discman at night under his quilt in his Mum’s house, really takes it in and listens to all the ideas that are buried in there. So every time I’m writing a song, I’m writing it for this kid in Connecticut, who doesn’t exist”. It’s all about writing for the listener.
So all this awesome stuff that’s happening to us, we try not to concern ourselves with it too much. We’re more focussed on our songs. We try not to take too much notice of what other people are doing or saying. As shitty as that sounds, you tend to lose your focus and you can lose your muse really quickly when you start concerning yourself with what other people are saying. As nice as it is to hear that people are hearing it, and it is overwhelming, but I don’t want to get caught up in that. I never want to feel that I’m beginning to write songs for anyone other than that kid in Connecticut.
QM: You guys quite openly describe your band as a cult. What’s the thinking behind that?
WG: When we were first putting the band together, we never though it would be like this. We never thought that any of this stuff would happen. We thought we’d do a record and stuff, maybe a couple of local gigs, but certainly not a band that would have a blueprint of trying to have a successful career.
We kind of treat it like an art project a lot of the time. The coolest thing about this band is that we kind of appeal to death rock kids, to hardcore punk kids and to pop punk kids. There’s just a little piece in all these people that seems to bind them together and they connect to something they wouldn’t normally connect with, something that might be a little too flamboyant in their everyday lives, but because it’s connected with punk rock it’s ok. The more glam kids and the goth kids might not listen to something as hard as what we do sometimes, but because it’s connected with that, they do.
Also it’s taken on more of a meaning as we’ve gone on because of the ethics that we’ve learnt from being involved with DIY punk; all of that stuff still resonates with us quite a lot. We take great care over every little detail, all the t-shirts designs, everything; I’m meticulous with detail. We try and keep it all together, so when people are into our band, it’s more than just liking a record. We wanted to find a way to connect everybody and that’s what we’ve done with the new record and ‘The Callous Heart’ patch is all an embodiment of that same idea.
QM: It’s really interesting that you use the phrase ‘art project’ and mentioned how important the visuals are. Do you feel aesthetics are something that can really drive a band and a fan base together?
WG: I don’t know, it’s really difficult to answer that. I’ve found out over the course of this year, which is my first ever dealings with the music industry, that a lot of bands are more like small businesses than they are bands. It’s really difficult to describe, but we’ve noticed that a lot. We’ve noticed that bands will get their promo shots done with the same person, or they record with the same dude; it’s all so formulaic. So for us, visuals are extremely important because we are presenting the whole piece to everybody, every time. When we play on stage, we’re in character and are playing those parts, so we do things that we couldn’t normally do because we use that to our advantage, as a storytelling technique. The whole aim is to try and take people from one place to another, to escape for a while. We find that the aesthetic is a big part of that and of who we are as people. It’s all part of the project. It’s all part of what we do and how we think. When we’re writing records we think very visually all the time. We’re writing at the moment actually, so we’re always thinking about stuff. So it’s really important to us. I’m not sure how important it is to other bands, but I try not to worry about that too much.
QM: You’ve mentioned how theatrical and fantastical your music is, particularly the latest EP. The lyrics are quite abstract across the songs, but you deliver them in such an emotionally intense way that it feels like they have a more literal meaning. Is there any truth in that view of your lyrics?
WG: The lyrics are something I think has progressed in the time that we’ve been playing together. When I started out, I used to sit down and think about a topic and write about it really literally. I’ve found over the time we’ve been doing Creeper that using story mechanisms to express how I feel has been a lot easier. ‘The Callous Heart’ has a lot of references to Peter Pan, to The Lost Boys and all these things in it because I used that as a storytelling guise. Running away is a really powerful thing for the five of us; you know, flying out the window is a really powerful image for us. It perfectly represents what we’ve done with our lives all these years; running away from responsibility and trying to escape. It seems to be inherent in everyone as well. A lot of people that come to our shows are feeling quite lost and like they want to escape; so we try and offer that to people.
But, the lyrics themselves; normally we’ve read a lot of stuff before. For instance the Peter Pan thing, I got some books from the library, some J. M. Barrie, a book called ‘Tigerlily’, which was a book written from the focal point of Tigerlily the character from Peter Pan who was his other love interest. So we kind of used the crux of that, but threaded our own lives through it. So they become songs that bind us all together. The songs are about us as a group. So everything we sing about is from a very real place.
I always try and explain it like when you see a hardcore punk band a lot of the time their telling you it’s sincere, but they give you pantomime. I feel like the difference with our band is that we promise you pantomime but we actually give you something quite sincere. We try to do it with our videos too. We try to take our hometown on the coast here in Southampton and make it into that fantastic place that the songs live in. We’re always trying to take something and make it more than it is to try and drain how dull things are. I feel that the UK has had so much straight up stuff for such a long time that I’ve missed all the thrills, the bells and the whistles from the stuff I grew up with. So yeah, we always try and take something mundane and make it into something more.
QM: You said you were already writing. Does that mean that you’re starting to form ideas of what a full length might look like?
WG: We’re always writing. We’re always working on the next thing in some way. The sort of people that we are, it’s always in our heads to move onto the next thing. At the moment we’re getting some ideas together, but we like to do everything kind of quietly. ‘The Callous Heart’, we recorded in secret between tours. We kept getting booked for things when we were recording at the same time, so we’d do a day of recording then go play a festival and come back to do some more recording. We try to keep it as quiet as we can so there’s no pressure. When people don’t know something’s coming, you can really think. Before we started doing this, on our first EP, no one had any preconceptions of us, so we had all the time in the world to work on stuff.
My biggest nightmare is if we started compromising what we were doing for time or to please somebody, like if we did something that wasn’t true to what we want to do. So we try not to worry about when we’re going to put something out. Obviously our label does have some kind of timeline for us, but we try to do it in secret and just work on it so that when it comes to it we have everything ready to go; the songs, the art, the name and we can really present a final piece.
Creeper are a band that has the potential to mean a huge amount to an army of fans, affecting them all positively to no ends. Check them out supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes at Clwb Ifor Bach on 28th October, or in support of Neck Deep at The Great Hall on 5th February.