Creeper discuss next era: “There are no fast songs on this record”
Creeper vocalist Will Gould marvels about how strange it is to try to describe their impending album to us, throwing out a list of influences as scattered as a string of whats-its in a Dr. Seuss poem.
In the new Creeper era, Roy Orbison will meet David Bowie and Type O Negative to have a cocktail with Suede by the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. There will be angels and aliens and small towns in America, and for some reason, a love triangle? And that’s only the surface of what Creeper’s impending new album promises.
There’s no hint of arrogance in his voice when he tells us, “No one will put a record out like this next year. You won’t hear anything like it.” It’s simply a fact.
Also: There’s not a single fast punk song on the new record, but don’t take that from us. Read on to hear it straight from Gould’s mouth.
Why did you come back under the name Fugitives Of Heaven?
WILL GOULD: The idea was that the show would bookend the year. We ended with a show that was very conceptual about the death of the old band, and the rebirth was a year to the date to represent a new beginning of sorts. I didn’t want to do it under Creeper. I wanted it to be an experience for people, so even when they were at the venue, and even when all signs pointed to it being Creeper, I wanted them to have a bit of doubt in their minds until the grand reveal.
The name itself is a line from a song on the album called “Cyanide.” It sums up the new record as this narrative that goes alongside it, which is based on a doomed romance—a term that Roy Orbison used to describe it is “apocalyptic romanticism,” and I always loved that phrase. I thought it was so beautiful and kind of sexy, as well. The themes on the record surround these two characters, so it was a great way to introduce some of these new themes. It just felt like it tied everything together in a nice little bow.
I think that’s been one of the really fun things [about] it: To announce a new logo and a new band name all at once and do a show under that pseudonym. It seemed quite fitting considering we were rebirthing the band in terms of sound and look.
You’ve said the new material is very different from your past releases. How so?
Well, it’s unrecognizable, I’d say. It’s changed forms quite a drastic amount. For instance, there are no fast songs on this record. There are no double-time beats on this record.
[Laughs.] I know! We haven’t made a punk record at all. I wasn’t inspired to do that. It didn’t seem relevant to be doing that at this exact point for us. So, when things are punk here, it’s in a more aggressive delivery, perhaps, rather than a double-time beat. I feel like we were using that as a crutch sometimes when we were writing. Listening back to the other records, I’m very proud of them, but I felt like every time we started trying to make something that was a little bit more challenging, we would deliver it, but then we would immediately feel like we’d need to do a standard punk song to make up for the fact that we had done something that was challenging our listeners. I just don’t want to do that anymore. I want to make a record that’s exactly in the image of these challenging ideas.
The record starts with a song I wrote with Hannah [Greenwood, vocalist/keyboardist]. I don’t want to give away too much, but in terms of references, we’re pulling from all over the place: British rock, lots of Americana like Roy Orbison. There’s a Portishead kind of guitar sound in some of the songs. There’s a lot of drama in terms of string arrangements [and] electronic strings. There is some synth on the record. One of the songs has an almost Type O Negative vibe. There is a real range of influences on it. Some of the songs are kind of decadent, ’70s-leaning rock songs, and then other ones are kind of croony. I’m singing in baritone for a lot of the songs. There’s a doo-wop song.
I’m really pleased with it, and people around us are really excited, but—ultimately—I know some people aren’t going to get it, but that’s the magic and the wonder of this thing. Rather than us putting the same record out over and over again like some bands do and then slowly fading into irrelevance.
I keep being told all the time that bands should only change their sound and experiment by 20% than what they’ve already done, and I was just like, “That’s not me. That is not what I’m about.” In terms of how my mind works, it had to be something completely different.
Do you want to hear something exciting? I’ve not told anyone this…
I recently made friends with Dave and Patricia Vanian...
Yeah, so Patricia from Sisters Of Mercy came in and recorded a bunch of spoken word for the record.
It’s so sick. It’s so, so cool. Our record is going to open up with Patricia, which is very exciting. She’s an amazing woman. We’ve been friends for a minute now because their daughter Emily comes to see Creeper, and her mum would take her, and I met Dave at an awards show, as a massive the Damned fan, and I met Patricia afterward through him and kept in touch with them. They both came to the [comeback] show and brought Emily along, and they came backstage, so they’re just lovely, lovely people. I wanted this sort of Annabelle to have an American voice on purpose obviously because of the themes of the record, and I started thinking about my American friends.
Then when I met Patricia, I thought, “She’s a performer already.” She’s going to completely understand this, and she’s also one of the biggest goth icons from the Gun Club to the later part of the ’80s, so it was amazing to have her and really professional and really fun, and we had such a laugh. She’s such good fun. So, that’s my English voice versus her American voice. It’s quite good fun to put beside each other. She reminds me of Madame Leota from The Haunted Mansion for a bit of the performance. It’s very cool.
She also spared you the need to do an American accent.
I know. Can you imagine that? It would have been a female American accent, as well. There’s one thing having an American twang in a song, but trying to speak in an American accent is terrible. I’m not good at accents at all.
Now, the important questions...
[Laughs.] What have you got for me, then? Go on.
Do you regret telling people about “On the bonnet of his automobile?”
Oh, my God! I don’t know why I feed them. I regret so much. We’ve had fan art already with that. We’ve had an edit [of the video] with that bit in the song at the middle. We have a group chat called “Creeper: Lords Of Chaos,” and Ollie [Burdett, guitarist] put in the group, “Guys, everyone’s saying ‘on the bonnet of his automobile.’ Who’s told them?” Me and Hannah were like [Hums suspiciously.] So funny. The first time me and Ollie said that, we were laughing for so long, and then no one could stop saying it. Every time there was any silence, someone would say “on the bonnet of his automobile!” [Laughs.] It was a nightmare, and now it’s a meme I have to live with forever. It’s the new “Fucksake, Creeper.”
How did it feel to be upstaged by MCR for your return?
[Laughs.] Oh, God! I was like, “You’ve had your turn, mate!” No, I don’t mind in the slightest. I am a huge My Chemical Romance fan. I was overjoyed as much as anybody else was, so I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to be into goth shit. If you’re a mosher right now, you’ve got Rage Against The Machine coming back. You’ve got MCR coming back. We’re back—on a smaller scale, obviously. [Laughs.] It’s exciting [regarding] the gigs you’re going to get to see now. There’s going to be some dream shit happening.
It’s difficult to be mad about the timing of that situation because I’m a massive MCR fan, and I haven’t seen them for a very long time, and I wanted them back just as much as anyone else did. So, we’re all just really excited. We do share the same PR [with My Chemical Romance], so I called her up, and she was like, “Well, I couldn’t tell you!” We were laughing about it. I think it’s incredible. Imagine the potential of playing with one of your favorite bands if you got the opportunity. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And also, we owe so much to My Chemical Romance in terms of inspiration and ideas and the cultural movement that spawned us. It’s like bringing my dad back, isn’t it? I can’t be mad. Dad’s home. [Laughs.]
My weird uncles! They’re back!
They left for work one day and didn’t come home!
They went out for a pack of cigarettes.
[Laughs.] That’s probably accurate, as well. Gerard [Way] does like smoking, doesn’t he? So, he went out for a pack of cigarettes and didn’t come home. In the meantime, we had to grow up and teach ourselves how to make pasta and how to shave. And now, uncle Gerard is back. It’s great! I’m stoked, honestly.