“It’s been nuts,” states vocalist Will Gould as he reflects on a busy debut year for Creeper, the band he and guitarist Ian Miles formed after bringing their hardcore punk band, Our Time Down Here, to an end in 2013. However, rather than jumping in feet first with Creeper, the band, rounded out by guitarist Sina Nemati, bassist Sean Scott and drummer Dan Bratton, decided to bide their time until they were ready to launch.
“We knew we wanted to do a record before doing anything else. We didn’t want to throw something up. Knowing exactly what we wanted to do before putting anything out was really priceless for us,” explains Will. The end result was the bands debut self-titled EP. Released last July with no label backing and no build up, the quintet quickly became one of the most talked about underground UK bands. Within months they were out touring with the likes of Funeral For A Friend, Bury Tomorrow, Moose Blood and Bayside. The bands stature quickly developed although playing shows was never the initial plan as Will explains; “When we first started this band we had no idea if we would do a show or anything. We did some local shows then out of nowhere, it snowballed. We got asked to go away and then asked and asked, and then it got out of control.”
However living life out on the road isn’t something new for Will and his band mates; “We cut our teeth doing that when we were in other bands,” states Will before Ian interjects with, “In Our Time Down Here, we toured six months straight.” Gould continues, “I think the best bit of advice you can give someone in a band is to get out there and play because if you don’t, you don’t know the worst possible scenario. You never develop that callous or thick skin. It also gets you tighter as a unit.”
It is no doubt that their experiences from their former bands have helped shaped the way Creeper have become, Will likens his time in Our Time Down Here as his “teething period”, yet those experiences were vital to their formation; “Knowing exactly what we wanted to do before putting anything out was everything. We kind of knew what we were doing before we started doing it.”
Since embarking on a relentless touring schedule, Creeper have took advantage of playing shows they thought they would never play. “Every time we tour with a band we learn something. With Funeral For A Friend we learnt vocal warm-ups, Bury Tomorrow taught us how to play to crowds who weren’t there to see us at all because they’re a metal crowd and Bayside taught us how to be tight. We try and sponge off as much from other bands as we can.”
As their popularity has grown over the past 12 months, Creeper have had a range of incredible opportunities. Amongst them is several festival appearances including Download and Hevy Fest, where we spoke to Will and Ian. “I think it’s really cool to do festivals,” comments Will before adding, “For Creeper, people have heard about us or read about us and they get to see you in one place.”
Arguably the biggest opportunity handed to the band in recent months was the opportunity to join Roadrunner Records. “Joining them is mad!” proclaims Gould. “That is one of the mental things that has happened this year because it was the right thing to do.” It’s no surprise that Roadrunner are just one of several labels to show interest in the band, but it’s the labels influential history and personal touch that persuaded Creeper to join:
“We met Ian Dickinson (Roadrunner Records Digital & Online Product Manager) first, he was at one of our first shows, and we became mates with him before we knew he worked for Roadrunner. When it came to a point that a bunch of different labels were asking to do stuff, we knew we wanted to put our music in the hands of people we trust and invest in people. Records from our youth are on that label like ‘Famous Monsters’ by Misfits and one of the first records I ever bought was Slipknot’s self-titled. So having that coupled with people that understood our band and our direction was really important.”
So with touring and festival experience under their belt and Roadrunner Records on board, the next milestone for Creeper is their much anticipated second EP – ‘The Callous Heart’. Produced by Neil Kennedy at The Ranch, the EP takes the bands core punk sound and expands it making it more dynamic and interesting. As Will explains, the band were determined to break the mould becoming more creative along the way.
“Obviously we take a lot of cues from AFI and Alkaline Trio but we’ve tried and add our spin on it. We’ve tried to work a lot more of our influences. We don’t want to be one thing. We want to be a punk band that has a bunch of different facets to our sound, so we started working in our outside influences like some ‘doo-wop’ parts. So we’d do a really fast punk song, then you’d get to the middle eight and be like ‘ooh!’ We try and make it interesting and take you on a journey like those records did like when you listened to Fleetwood Mac when you were a kid. It would take you from one place to another. We try and mix the fantasy up with the reality. Something sincere and that takes you away from the world and the life you live at the moment.”
The aforementioned theme of fantasy, reality and escapism is intersliced with Will and Ian’s interest in Peter Pan and the work of producer Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler). “When we get into something we ‘nerd’ out about it and the more I learnt about it and the themes of that,” says Will. “I went back and read the book by J. M. Barrie and the screenplay for ‘Peter Pan’ and I realised the lot of what me and Ian had done in our youth kind of blended in with that story; running away from responsibility and trying to live a dream. We tried to fuse that, lyrically, with our own life.”
Nevertheless, Creeper still have their roots firmly in punk and the community aspect of it; “’The Callous Heart’ is the name of our non-gender exclusive lost boys. We wanted something that felt like when we first got into punk. We wanted to have a place where people felt welcomed. People who like our band are goth kids, death rock kids, hardcore kids, pop punk kids. I wanted something that would banner them all together and that reflected the (Peter Pan) story very well.”
It is no doubt ‘The Callous Heart’ captures Creeper at an exciting time. From start to finish, the five tracks on offer thrive with passion and energy that demonstrate the bands musical and lyrical growth. With a mix of soaring choruses and stripped-back elements, ‘The Callous Heart’ is a superb follow-up to their debut EP and one that supports their quick growth.
In addition to their music, Creeper have (accidentally) developed a visual identity that plays into their punk beliefs; “All of our favourite bands did that. Every band when we first got into punk did that; the old punks with the patches on the jackets,” explains Will before suggesting, “The visual side comes hand in hand with the music. We think about that alongside the music.” Ian adds, “We spend as much time thinking about everything round it along with the music.”
However, the unintentional goal of blending the band’s music with their visuals has paid off. It is reminiscent of influential bands such as the Misfits, something that is instantly recognizable and connects with fans; “We wanted something that is a little bit timeless, not just one thing that you would see around and register with you.”
Now with a second EP release and more touring in the works, the name of Creeper is certainly going to be a name that leads a new crop of exciting and vital underground bands up from the underground and beyond. However, don’t think the Southampton quintet will be “selling out” any time soon, Creeper are a band with their feet firmly on the ground as Will parts with, “Nice things don’t happen to boys like us, so we’re very grateful to be here.”
‘The Callous Heart’ by Creeper is released on 18th September on Roadrunner Records.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)