Make Alternative Weird Again – Creeper Talk Disney, Creative Inspirations,The True Origin Of The Creeper Cult & More
It’s been an eventful past year for Creeper. Their third EP “The Stranger”, which came out in early 2016, was greeted with even more enthusiasm than the previous ones and after that followed a seemingly never-ending chain of tours throughout the year supporting Neck Deep, Andy Black and Pierce The Veil and finally, at the end of last month, came the release of the band’s debut album “Eternity, In Your Arms” along with the announcement of a headline tour through Europe and the UK.
In the process of all of that, more and more people began to show interest in Creeper and went to join their passionate fan base, the “Creeper Cult”. Sooner or later, the band from Southampton, England was destined to catch our eye as well and luckily enough we were able to catch up with lead vocalist Will Gould and vocalist/keyboardist Hannah Greenwood in Amsterdam at the final stop of their headline tour.
You can find our lovely chat about life on tour, the influence of Disney, how the Creeper Cult came to be and so much more below!
How’s the tour been? Is there any major difference between going on a tour as a support act and as a headliner?
Will: We’ve got loads of crew so we don’t have to do anything (laughs).
Hannah: We’ve become very lazy. I’ve been going to load in the other day and our tour manager was just like “No go sit down and eat something” and I was like okay, I don’t have to be told not to work twice (laughs).
If you had to be remembered for only one song from your new album, which one would it be?
Hannah: I think for me personally “Crickets”.
Will: I think for me “Crickets” as well. It’s a refined song, that’s my favorite one.
Hannah, was it more exciting or daunting to get the vocal lead on “Crickets”?
Hannah: A bit of both. I think daunting because I was worried what people might think about it, but exciting because vocals is what I’ve done predominantly for so many years. So it was really nice to step forward, although it was daunting at our first show this year in Manchester. I think as I went to step down to sing it, it hit me all at once, like “wow, what’s going on?!”. But yeah, overall exciting.
Hannah Greenwood performing 'Crickets' in Amsterdam that night.
Do you consider yourselves to be impulsive when it comes to writing songs, lyrics and melody wise, or is it a much longer process of crafting the tracks?
Will: That depends on the song really. Sometimes it’s quite methodical, like we have a certain type of song that we’re looking to write, but other times Ian can just play a song and I’ll be like “play a bit like Jawbreaker” and he’ll just play a riff and so it varies from time to time what technique we’re using, but the record itself took ages.
You have said before that “Eternity, In Your Arms” is part of a trilogy as the follow up to your previous two EP’s. But when you look at the characters and the entire concept around it, it’s almost about creating an entire world actually, rather than “just” a record. Back when you started working on “The Callous Heart”, did you plan for this theme to develop into the huge concept it has become? And how did you come up with it?
Will: We came up with it when went to Disneyland in California. I’m a massive Disney guy, so I was walking around Disneyland and I was really inspired by how when you left and walked off the street into the park, you’re in a completely different world immediately and I thought to myself “why is it that I’m so obsessed with this place?
What is it about all this that does it for me?” And I realized it was the escape. That just stayed in my head for quite a bit. Then I saw that in California they had these “Gangs of Disney” where fans could have like annual passes and they would have back patches. They have like a “Main Street Elite” and then there’s another one called “The Neverlanders”. I thought it was amazing that for once in the world when you had a back patch,
it was for something positive and fun rather than like a gang-related thing. So all the ideas, originally, came from visiting Disneyland and Walt Disney’s original park, it was a very exciting thing for me. Then I started thinking about my own life and where I was in the world. So when we started “The Callous Heart”, I had all of the pieces kind of there already. We were doing Peter Pan because we felt like the Lost Boys in a sense, because when you’re on tour, you’re leaving home where there’s a set of rules and a job and life you have. And on tour it’s just some sort of fantasy world where you wake up at like 2PM every day, you’re getting drunk every day and you’re with your best friends every day. There’s no consequence for any of your actions on tour, it’s very bizarre. I’ve spend a majority of my life in touring bands and when you return home from that, everyone at home is growing up. There came a point within the first year of the band where I realized that all my friends were having kids and climbing the ladders at their jobs, you know, becoming adults and I was still drifting around, just floating through life. I was still living like I did when I was a teenager. It made me think a lot and that story of Peter Pan was very interesting to me, because I went from being this kind of Lost Boy character to actually feeling more of a connection with Captain Hook who is no longer young enough and is constantly chasing the Lost Boys, because he couldn’t understand how they were so young. He hated them for their youth and he was being chased by the crocodile who had swallowed the clock and it was time chasing him. So we decided to use that as a framework for this record. See, I’m talking a lot, because it’s a long, long process (laughs) and it was a lot of my core interests combined.
“I Choose To Live” is a different song and not part of the story, which is slightly uncommon for a concept record. Why did you decide to include it anyway and how did you make sure there was a noticeable difference between this song and the others?
Will: I don’t know if it was noticeably different, but lyrically it’s a reference to a David Bowie song. There’s a song on “Diamond Dogs” called “Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me” and it was a song that he had made just for his audience. That was the first time he was breaking that fourth wall, speaking to his audience directly. We’ve been dealing with a lot of our audience coming to us with letters and going through all sorts of different problems and it was really difficult to know how to help someone, when they are reaching out to you. I personally know the effort, I know how hard it is, when you’re dealing with something, to reach out to somebody. And all these people tried really hard to reach out to me and I couldn’t help them because I was going through the same things in a lot of cases. So “I Choose To Live” was a reaction to that and it was a way of reaching out to our audience directly for a song. It felt like a really important song on the record. And well, it’s kind of a grand closer I suppose. I remembered something about this the other day, I kept saying to Hannah “Hannah, I need you to write a song like ‘Hey Jude’”, but we were so busy doing the rest of the record that she never got around to it, so I just wrote one instead (both laugh).
You guys take a lot of inspiration from pop culture and gothic horror, but are there any bands that particularly influenced you musically?
Will: Yeah, loads (pauses). I feel like I’m doing all the talking here, I’m sorry.
Hannah: Well then, go for it. I like your voice (laughs).
Will: When I was growing up, AFI and Alkaline Trio were a big inspiration, because those are two bands that combine visuals and music as well. I’m really into Wes (Eisold) from American Nightmare’s band Cold Cave, I think they’re really cool in terms of what they do. The Sisters of Mercy were a big band for me as well, obviously all the glam rock stuff was very important for me like T. Rex and Roxy Music. One of our first sessions was a Roxy Music song, we covered “Love Is The Drug”. It was all my dad’s music and I love it so much. Other than that though, bands like The Bouncing Souls and just all these melodic punk rock bands. I like bands that kind of play fast, but sing slowly like The Smoking Popes from Chicago. The Misfits were a big band for me and Ian (Miles, guitarist), one of the first bands we grew up loving together. So yeah, loads of stuff, but I’d kind of sunk my teeth into the punk rock and hardcore scene, so that’s the music I know from early on I guess.
Hannah: Mine was classical and musical theater, because when I was younger I used to do lots of musical theater productions and stuff.
Will: What were you in?
Hannah: I was in “Grease”, I was in “Joseph”…
Will: Who did you play in Grease?
Hannah: I played Doody.
Will: Are you serious? Do you remember any of the songs?
Hannah: Yeah I remember one (starts singing “Those Magic Changes” from “Grease”). I had to do that for a production with this crappy acoustic guitar, so that was interesting (laughs). But yeah, I come from musical theater. I’m a classically trained pianist and vocalist. And then I fell into Sum 41, Paramore, Good Charlotte…that’s how I came around to this world. Actually, I was going to do a degree in classical singing. I was going to be an opera singer, but I didn’t get in because my voice wasn’t mature enough. Then I had to take a gap year because I didn’t get in and I didn’t apply anywhere else and in that gap year, I went to a contemporary music college instead, did pop and rock vocals and then met Sean (Scott, bassist) and that’s how I met these guys.
Along with your new album “Eternity, In Your Arms”, you have recently released three more music videos continuing the story of James Scythe. Do these videos wrap up the story in your view or is there more to come regarding the identity of Suzanne and the connection between James, The Stranger, Suzanne and Madeline in the future?
Will: Well, we’ve given out all the clues out, or the majority of them. I always want to make more music videos because that’s “my thing” I guess, like I always wanted to make movies, so I love making those videos and we’ll get to another one I’m sure, but as far as I’m concerned, all the clues are out there. Now it’s interesting to see especially people who have been following it really intensively, some people are so close to solving it. I’m not sure anyone quite has yet, so it’s very exciting for me. But yeah, I feel like if you’ve spelled it out too much, if you’ve been over the same things too much, it will make it too easy, you know? It’s more fun having a mystery.
“Eternity…” is available on CD and vinyl, but was also released on tape. Why and how did that come to be?
Will: Tapes are similar to vinyl, I suppose, that whole era of music is so much more exciting for me. I always wish I grew up in my dad’s era. I feel out of place in this time, because I love the idea of holding music, having something tangible to hold on to. So tapes seemed like fun because I used to have this little Walkman I would take to school, put tapes in and listen to stuff. I think there’s something romantic about that and you have to listen to a record all the way through. And “Eternity, In Your Arms” isn’t a record that’s supposed to be split into singles, so when the record label started choosing singles, for me it was a nightmare, because it’s all one piece of music. In 2017, trying to get people to listen to a whole record is hard because they can’t focus on one thing for long enough. But when you had a tape when you were a kid, you couldn’t just go “I’ll listen to something else” because that’s what you had. You can’t shuffle a tape, you can’t just change it over to the next band. I feel like in a world where everything is really fickle and things are exciting for 24 hours and then not any more, it was fun to make a tape, because the idea that someone would listen to the record all the way through, the way we intended for it to be listened to, was exciting and the prospect of them not being able to listen to anything else is also exciting (laughs).
You address your fan base as the “Creeper Cult”. Who came up with that and where did it come from?
Will: I don’t remember who came up with it. It was all a joke in the beginning, because we were going to call the band “Coven” originally. No one knows that.
Hannah: Honestly, I didn’t know that.
Will: “Coven” was the original band name, but we changed it for some reason and went with “Creeper” instead. So we still wanted to have something that was about a gang of people and so “cult” seemed fun. It was all about the Twitter handle or something, because you couldn’t set “Creeper” and it was just annoying. Our (former) guitarist Sina (Nemati) wanted to be called “@wearecreeper” and I hated that, it was so awful (laughs). I was just like “that’s what every band does”. I hated it. So I thought “Creeper Cult” was really fun, but what actually ended up happening was it kind of grew into this thing. And now we have a Creeper Cult Facebook page that the fans have made. They use it to communicate with each other and it’s become this larger than life thing.
Do you have artists/bands at the moment that you look up to yourself or would recommend?
Will: Puppy. They’re the opening band tonight. You should get here early and check them out, they are amazing. What I like about Puppy is they have a very clear visual identity as well. Their music videos are amazing, they make them themselves and there’s only three of them but they sound like there could be a lot more on stage. So they’re a really great band and I think they’re an example of a band that’s trying something different. I feel like over the last few years, we’ve had a lot of the same stuff in alternative music, just boybands basically, with guitars. It’s rubbish. So it’s exciting now, I feel like heavy music is getting weird again and that’s what I love because heavy music was always kind of owned by alternative people, weirdoes. And Puppy are weird dudes, they’re so great.
What can we expect from Creeper in the future?
Will: I can’t tell you. As far as our touring schedule goes, we’ll be touring a lot. We’re doing Warped Tour in America and when we come back home, we’ve got lots of stuff in the UK that hasn’t been announced yet and then we’ll be doing even more things next year. We’re a band that kind of pride ourselves in our work ethic. I grew up in DIY punk bands that were touring all the time. I’m used to touring, touring, touring, so that’s what we want to do, just be out on the road playing. We’re playing Download Festival in Paris and at home. Main stage at home which is crazy, so big stuff is happening for us at the moment but as far as what we’re doing creatively, that’s a closely guarded secret (laughs).
Last question, is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Will: I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s come out on this tour and made it so special.
Hannah: Yeah thanks to everyone that’s given us gifts and letters.
Will: And fed us, we’ve had lots of food this tour. All the vegan stuff has been great. Thank you for giving Hannah all that chocolate and making her hyper…thanks a lot (both laugh)
Creeper released their debut album 'Eternity, In Your Arms' last month!
We reviewed this record and if you're interested in reading that review, you can do so right here!
Interview contributors: Theresa Theuerkauf, Charlotte Hardman, Eva van Kuik & Glenn van den Bosch
Photos: Eva van Kuik
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