Louder Than War’s Katie Clare takes on the north west’s rush hour traffic to talk with Will Gould and Ian Miles of Portsmouth’s six piece goth punk outfit Creeper who along with releasing their third EP have recently embarked on a UK and European tour
Dystopia, utopia, illusions, delusions, passions and fears that mirror the reflections of breathlessly enthusiastic music junkies forever craving another infectious implosion of dazzling 3 minutes 30 seconds (or there about) of audio perfection; isn’t that what music should be? Enter Creeper.
There have been seismic tremors of excitement about Southampton’s Creeper since the flawless five tracks of dark hued pop punk of their eponymous début EP was released in 2014. It wasn’t a fluke their sophomore EP The Callous Heart delivered five more and with their third The Stranger (released February 19th 2016) Creeper have again provided perfectly executed extravagant crescendos of energy and romanticism. Sure there is an amalgamation of homages going on, but pure originality is at best idealistic and in reality a foolish expectation, so when some classic power chord destruction and operatic balladry is done with such deliciousness – we better damn well embrace it.
After a lengthy standoff with the traffic trickling out of Manchester arriving in Huddersfield and finding The Parish is a breeze. The rock pub with a live venue out back has a welcoming atmosphere and Creeper are at the (almost) post set up – pre dinner juncture: kindly delaying the latter vocalist Will Gould and guitarist Ian Miles chat with LTW about theatrics, psychosis’ and we started with a brief how, who and what are Creeper?
Will: Creeper are a bunch of people that met through punk and hard-core in Southampton, Portsmouth while we were going to gigs and growing up around there and many incarnations of this band has existed in some form or another for many years. Me and Ian have been playing together since we were teenagers so most of our adult lives we have been touring but not like we have over the last year or so, previous bands have for the most part have gone unrecognised. Creeper for me personally is about immersion when I was younger one of my favourite records was Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars a record that when you pressed play allowed you to escape into another word to a degree. With Creeper we want to make a record that when things aren’t going right in the real world you can put it on and escape into – we are always trying to achieve that I don’t think we have quite got there yet.
Ian: If you told me five years ago where we have got to now with the creative aspects of the band I would have thought ‘that’s it’ we’ve made a mark but whenever we get to that point we say we can do so much more let’s push ourselves.
There is a lot of style along with the substance in everything you create is that something that comes out as part of the process or something that is thought out?
Will: It is a very planned process everything is leading up to something else all the time. I was an art kid I studied fine art Ian studied film in university we are used to projects and Creeper is one big art project. Say the T-shirts there is usually an elaborate story. We first started off with tarot cards when we first started on the back of shirts now we have this tarot card character called The Stranger. That started when we had this Edward Gorey tarot card set really creepy, funny and silly and the art work is so great. So we have something as the starting reference point and then add seven or eight differing styles or ideas in there and that will form our blue print, come to my house you see I’ve got so much crap everywhere to pull from.People misunderstand us sometimes because they see the dark stuff and that is a big part of us but it is more about the idea of darkness and theatricality of that for me. Like with Bowie’s stuff the face paint and the glam is very bright however the goth thing suits us a lot more we love the style after all we are very flamboyant guys in general I believe.
Ian: An early music transition we made was going from Bowie and getting into punk as kids getting into The Nerve Agents and Tiger Army it was the coming together of two worlds the punk world and the theatrical world.
Will: The Gritty Glam thing really does for us. I’m a massive Sisters of Mercy fan and Andy (Eldritch) hated them being called a goth band as it was somewhat limiting so by being punk being gritty and being flamboyant and theatrical means the possibilities are limitless.
As well as a knowledgeable use of some dark and intensity imagery you display strong perceptively intelligent lyrics too.
Will: The people we listen is not necessarily the same artist the people that come to see us listen to… okay I love Nick Cave I love the Bad Seeds ….
Ian: … there is so much more going on with great songwriters like Nick Cave than just one thing I mean you could argue that he is a goth icon but there is more …
Will: … I would hate people to cheapen our band down to just a look.
It is clear there is more going on than just black eyeliner.
Ian: A lot of bands do just have that.
Will: What we have found is that we have this strange demographic especially those that come to the shows on this tour – we have young kids, older people hanging at the back and hard-core punk kids that want to stage diver. So when we made the decision to make the back patch it reminded of the punk shows I’d go to when I was young when the lines were a little more blurred and we wanted a symbol that represented our band on a way that a 15-year-old girl might wear and an old biker might wear: inclusive. One of the things I am most grateful for with this band is the personal relationships we’ve managed to make with people.
Ian: The inclusion aspect is a very important part.
Is that why your following as increased at such a fast pace.
Ian: Honestly I don’t quite know what’s happening but I don’t even know if it’s even for us to say.
Will: I don’t think it is. It is such a hard question to answer. I have been around this country so many times with Ian playing gigs and we’ve seen so many bands that are obsessed with getting success and I know you have to have a certain sense of business acumen to run anything that involves money but we don’t have anything to do with that with Creeper we just focus on what we create all the time. You can ruin what your making really quickly if you worry about why people like it or why they didn’t like something as much as the last thing and there has been times when I have come close to worrying about that because for years we’ve had bands that no one’s wanted to touch and now sudden we have all this attention and we have to pull ourselves away from that. It has to be a case of what do I think is a good song what would I want to listen to what do I want to hear.
You get to see that other bands are just making the sound of the time and only trying to be a success I can’t understand why would you do that with music – because we are doing better than we have ever done but are still making next to no money so not doing what you love well they would be better off going to work in a bank.
So with the previous two EPs and very much so with the latest release there seems to be a character to each with the tracks being their narrative: are these all connected and if so will they link next to an album?
Will: Yes … well first of all we try to record in secret and with The Stranger we didn’t even say anything on social media that we were recording and we didn’t want people taking photos of us in the studio for Instagram.
Ian: It is a distraction when you’re in the studio trying to record a record and doing the all the creation around it we really do need to focus and we cannot have exterior distraction.
Will: When you’re trying to build a world to disappear into having someone outside of that documenting the process wouldn’t work. With The Stranger we got to do my favourite thing – launch it all at once. The record, the aesthetic. the character and we are letting out in the world.
Ian: It would ruin the illusion to see the mechanics like when we went to Disney and the Pirates of Caribbean broke down and we had to evacuate by the back it was really odd.
Will: I kind of dug it – it was kind of harrowing too. Anyway the EP characters are all very well thought out and there is a story arch with the two Roadrunner Records. We used JM Barrie’s Peter Pan as our bullet points draping over them with our own thoughts. So The Callous Heart was the Lost Boys it made a lot of sense to us, I felt that we were very much like The Lost Boys running away playing these gigs to only two people. We felt stuck and felt we weren’t growing up while our friends back home were buying cars, houses and having babies. We felt we were in one endless day going around and around, getting drunk to fall asleep so we could get up and do it again.
Ian: We are the character we are The Callous Heart when we are playing on stage.
Will: The Stranger represents Tick Tock the Crocodile who’s chasing Captain Hook. Hook is caught between The Lost Boys and death that ticking down of time. I felt he was the most interesting character he was the most human element in the story he spends his time constantly being terrified. So we were looking at things that scared us I started with the (Rodney Ascher) film The Nightmare about sleep psychosis, something I suffered with to a degree as a child, your mind half wakes up but your body is paralysed and you start to hallucinate this brings about common terrifying experiences such as the Old Hag, Black Mass and Shadow People. A lot of scientists believe alien abduction is explainable as sleep paralysis – ghosts too. Then there was The Babadook we really liked that film we thought that was real haunting born out of grief. So our crocodile was going to be things that kept us up at night.
Ian: The Babadook really hit hard it, then there was the changing face in The Exorcist, a character in Spirited Away No Face as well as the stage hands in kabuki that are all dressed in black. So these all came together and we decided to use them to make a mask. We contacted this lady who usually works creating for masquerade balls.
Will: We told her we understood this was unusual as we wanted something really scary and sent her, as we always do for things like this, all this stuff we’d pulled together and she made us this amazing papier-mache mask.
No Face is essentially a lonely ambivalence that only express other traits when he swallows them and the kuroko stagehands are meant to be invisible’s how are these merged into something menacing?
Ian: If you woke up to see The Stranger in your bedroom doorway it would be terrifying I mean he is not hurting you he’s not physically doing you harm. He is always there always waiting no matter what you’re doing he’s alarming for your mental health – fear made physical.
Okay so The Stranger EP has only been out a few days however what will we see next an EP or an album?
Will: We are always working, creating and writing. Today we were in a café in Scotland talking about an idea both musical and visual idea for something that we have already put together most off already we are just adding the finer details. I’ll give an example for us to make an EP it will take over our lives for 6 months and that is just five songs for us to do say twelve songs on a debut album it is going to take a long time to get it right as we wouldn’t put out anything that wasn’t above the bar.
Nothing less than perfection will do.
Will: We wouldn’t ever put out something we were 100% confident about and that would be all the visuals too as it is all intrinsically linked.
So back to the here and now a UK headline tour and Europe next what have you been enjoying and where are you looking forward going to?
Ian: We played this show in Dundee and we’d played never played there before ever and it was a really decent crowd and people we so excited that we were there.
Will: Last year was all support tours so we had no say in anything then.
Ian: We’ve had a lot of people come to see us off the back of the Neck Deep tour and they will say hay we saw you at the Neck Deep show and had to come see you at your own show and that is such a good feeling – really rewarding.
Will: Everywhere is so different oh we played this small show in Wrexham in a tiny room it was sold out and the show as just insane and really fun. We’re really looking forward to The Underworld show in London a place we used to go see shows at as kids…
Ian: … it our biggest show to date and it’s sold out. Non band stuff we’ve booked a day in Europe before the tour to go to Disneyland.
You have to take time out and unwind – when you do what do you enjoy listening to?
Will: I listen to a lot of weird stuff I’ve been listening to a lot of Randy Newman and Iron and Wine a bunch recently.
Ian: I can never ever stop listening to Elliot Smith a real influence on us and what we do.
Will: Tom Waits we both have got into Tom recently. A lot of classic songwriters oh Jim Steinman we really like him he wrote Bat Out of Hell 1. When Jim wrote Bat Out of Hell 2 for Meatloaf had at the time had lost his voice and was having a load of other problem so Jim Steinman was like I’ll do it myself his voice is great it isn’t quite like Meatloaf’s but its …
Ian: …its characterful!
Will: Yes, yes characterful so he recorded the vocals himself put it out as Bad for Good and it is an amazingly ambitious record … it was where we first heard a record about Peter Pan too.
Nicely tying in there – how about live artists?
Will: Moose Blood are great.
They’ve got great songs.
Will: The Winter Passing saw them the other day and thought they were really good.
Ian: We haven’t seen them yet but we talk about them a lot Old Wounds
Will: Their a really cool really good band. Oh there is a bunch of good stuff coming through like Milk Teeth. But I feel like we live in a really weird time and it is weird to be a band in this time because everyone has to network and I feel good song writing is put to one side in exchange for something that can be easily marketed. It is getting to a point were artistically it’s frustrating to see people not trying other things, I am not saying by any means that our band is any better than any other band I mean were not going to do things we suck at, but I have a disconnect with modern bands for that reason. We are not an original band by any means we constantly using what we know take Black Mass it has a Jawbreaker vibe to the verse…
Ian: An Elvis Presley middle eight …
Will: … and a Jim Steinman chorus … all are on purpose and very intentional it is a pastiche a wink and a nod to the listener.
We continue to chatter about this, that and Creeper’s support tonight Aberdeen’s Grader (all complementary) their dinner’s been delivered and the usual interview time slot has been truly stretched yet it seems that we have barely touched at the mountains of interests these guys have amenably allowed us a glimpse into.
The bands headline tour continues in March you can also catch Creeper after their European headline tour completes they return to the UK supporting Neck Deep in April.
1st March Guildford The Boileroom
2nd March Bath Moles
4th March Tunbridge Wells Forum
16th April Southampton Guildhall
18th April Newcastle University
19th April Leeds Beckett University
20th April Liverpool O2 Academy
Ticket links can be found on Creeper’s Tour Page or for further options contact the venue directly.
The Stranger EP is out now via Roadrunner Records a limited edition white vinyl with download is available from the Roadrunner Records webstore. You can also opt for download on iTunes where their full back catalogue is available also. Creeper have an official website, Facebook page and Twitter were they tweet as @.