Written for Roadrunner Records UK, June 2015.
“We’ve got a really nice balance from out of nowhere,” says Will Gould, vocalist of Southampton goth-punks Creeper. “We’ve got all of the weirdos and freaks in one place.”
Creeper have enjoyed a phenomenal rise since their debut sold-out hometown show at The Joiners last August. Having subsequently blasted into London with a rammed set at The Old Blue Last, they then hit the road for their first full tour as guests to Funeral for a Friend. Less than a year later, they’d signed a recording contract with Roadrunner Records UK and played their inaugural major festival at Download.
As with most apparent overnight success stories, Creeper’s current breakthrough is the culmination of years of dedication. Inspired by the strength of their local music scene as well as the ethos and political awareness of hardcore, Gould and guitarist Ian Miles toiled in bands while their contemporaries were at university. “Our love of the DIY punk scene meant that music went from being something you heard on the radio to something that became your way of life,” states Miles.
From being spat at while playing in a squat with Discharge to sleeping in a van that was surrounded by three feet of snow, it was an existence devoid of glamour in which each night’s cathartic thirty minutes of stage-time compensated for the turmoil that surrounded the remainder of the touring experience.
The duo almost made a breakthrough with their previous band, cult favourites Our Time Down Here. As that project drifted towards a natural conclusion, they decided to work to a simple mission statement: “Let’s destroy this in the most exciting way possible,” recalls Gould. “We were doing big theatrical stuff in tiny venues.” It was an approach that would later inform Creeper’s identity too.
Afterwards, Gould was in limbo. “It felt like my whole life was crashing around me,” he sighs. “I had no band, no job and no money.” Eventually he got back to a relatively conventional reality but “there was an ache to do something creative. Ian and I would still do stuff as mates but there was something missing.”
For months the pair had been pursued by former Hang The Bastard guitarist Sina Nemati who wanted to create music with a more immediate melodic streak than his previous hardcore outfit. “Eventually we decided to meet up on Halloween, by complete chance,” laughs Miles.
From that moment, Creeper’s roots were set in stone. Gould’s housemate Dan Bratton joined on drums once the vocalist realised that his friend – experienced in various melodic rock groups – could immediately master the energy, fury and precision that their sonic attack would demand. The line-up was completed by bassist and former tech-death metal vocalist Sean Scott. “He’s the sort of guy who goes to the merch stand and asks for one of everything,” agree Gould and Miles, almost finishing each other’s sentences. “He’s the youngest and the most hyper member of Creeper.”
Creeper’s core reference points reflect their roots – The Misfits, Alkaline Trio, The Damned – but their wider influences, from the doomed romanticism of Nick Cave to the crunch of Metallica and the flamboyance of Roxy Music and David Bowie, seep into their sound. It’s an antidote to the current trend of no-frills punk and hardcore.
The band’s self-released debut EP captured their visceral blend of sweeping energy and crushing dynamics. It also captured a neat juxtaposition of uplifting sounds with bleak lyrical themes. “It’s dramatic and sad with grand theatrical tendencies,” says Gould. “The songs were about the things that were happening in my life, but with the melodrama turned up. It’s the things that everybody goes through, like rejection and how you deal with those situations. But sometimes they’re quite hopeful too.”
In addition to the music, Creeper share a unique aesthetic style which informs everything from their merch to their artwork. Visually and conceptually, their inspiration comes from old school horrors such as The Exorcist, The Twilight Zone and Phantom of the Paradise, as well as films which celebrate the outsider such as Heathers and Stand By Me. It’s a stance that can be demonstrated with the double-bill video for their first Roadrunner track ‘Lie Awake’ which tells a story of love, life and obsession which will conclude later in the year.
As the first British band to sign directly to Roadrunner Records UK in almost a decade, that deal is pivotal to helping them to fulfil their undoubted potential. As Gould explains: “Roadrunner really get our band and know what to do with it. It’s really prestigious for us to be on Roadrunner but it’s also the right label. The history of it is an absolute bonus and it’s a label that we dreamed of being on when we were kids.” Their first release for the label will come this summer in the shape of an EP which was recorded with Neil Kennedy at The Ranch.
For now, though, Creeper are pushing forward with the time-honoured tradition of hitting the road at every opportunity. In addition to recent sets at Download and Camden Rocks, their festival schedule continues with 2000 Trees, Hevy Festival and the Vans Warped Tour UK. Following that breakthrough tour with Funeral For a Friend, Creeper have played with Moose Blood and Bayside, and are now set to join their heroes The Misfits on their Static Age tour.
The foundations are set for Creeper to flourish. These five outsiders are just a step away from capturing the imagination of a legion of devotees.