More about: Creeper
Everyone has had a different experience of the last year and a half. While some of us sat at home, endlessly scrolling through Twitter, others were releasing a near-constant stream of new music. And by ‘others’, I mean Will Gould. After the critical acclaim and soaring success of last summer’s Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, the Creeper frontman gave some time to his latest goth-punk project Salem, with whom he has put out two EPs since last October. We spoke with him over the phone a few days before Creeper made the surprise announcement that they were back for more with their upcoming EP, American Noir. That’s an awful lot of productivity for such an unpredictable time, so my first question is a simple one: is he okay?
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“No. No, I’m not,” Will jokes, quickly clarifying that although it’s a novel experience to be working quite so much, he has had a good time of it. “I’ve actually quite enjoyed the process of putting lots of releases out. It’s been a challenge [but] it’s been fun being creative. I’ve got to work with a lot of different people I wouldn’t typically have worked with because I would be on tour”.
American Noir acts as an epilogue to the story of Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, which Gould describes as a “really lavish love letter between Roe and Annabelle”. It isn’t a lockdown album, and while all the songs were recorded at the same time as the last album, they felt that now was the right time for them to see the light of day. “We’re coming back, the world is reopening and it’s the perfect time to be reborn in some degree. Something to christen this new era of live music” he says, “And I had this wonderful title!”.
One major difference between American Noir and Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is that the new EP features more of keyboardist Hannah Greenwood on vocals. She and Gould previously shared vocals on the Nick Cave/PJ Harvey style duet ‘Four Years Ago’. Here, she reprises the character of Annabelle on ‘Midnight’, ‘America at Night’, ‘Ghosts Over Calvary’ and ‘Damned and Doomed’. It turns out that Gould had done a lot of writing for her, and he gets particularly animated when he talks about seeing her flourish as a singer. “I’m very proud of her on this EP. I know she’s anxious about it coming out and it’s the first time that she’s been thrust into that position” he enthuses, “She’s always had the talent, so it’s cool to see her come out of her shell even more”.
Much of Creeper’s recent music revolves around religious imagery, perhaps unsurprisingly: Will Gould is a former Catholic school student. But what fascinates Gould the most is the contrasting relationship between faith and belief in the supernatural. “I’ve been fascinated by the idea that these things could be real; the blurring of fiction and reality is really interesting to me. Why we would take less seriously something that is I guess rooted in science like UFOs and UAPs, but we take more seriously a religious text from a long time ago that there’s not a lot of grounding in”. The result is an album that tells a classic story – a man sent from above who becomes a martyr for the sins of the people - interwoven with the supernatural imagery that defined his childhood.
He tells Gigwise about his childhood obsession with UFOs, searching the library for books he had seen advertised on TV: “I was, like, a little baby, looking for Alien Base, this hardback book!”. An X Files fan, perhaps? “When I was a kid I used to dress up as an FBI agent all the time and carry round a little badge I made for myself because of The X Files”.
Alongside the truth that may be out there, the band are heavily influenced by musical theatre – the campier the better. Gould is starting to see Creeper the same way he sees The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment and Little Shop of Horrors. “It’s too campy, it’s too over the top for some people, and I kind of relish that”, he admits. It’s not unthinkable that this era of Sex, Death & The Infinite Void and American Noir could hit the stage. Green Day and Meatloaf have seen their concept albums turned into stage sensations, so could Creeper be next? “It’s always been a dream to take it to the stage. But I wouldn’t want to sing it myself in that position, to be singing on a stage like that. But I like the idea of someone else doing the singing and being able to sit in the back and work on projects from behind the curtain a little more. That’s something I’d really like to do”. Always full of surprises, it wouldn’t come as a shock if Creeper moved into the world of theatre.
When Gould describes the band’s music, the words that most often come up are ‘camp’, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘silly’. But that doesn’t mean that Creeper are superficial. When they supported pop-punk acts over the years, they didn’t always gel with the crowd with their Rocky Horror numbers and dramatic ballads. But instead of trying to fit in, they forged their own path, one of magic and theatricality. “That’s the way the show is going and that’s the way I really want it to be. Something that when it comes to town, you know. Like when the Rocky Horror Picture Show comes to town. When I was a kid, very effeminate, very unsure of my sexuality, going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, being able to dress up and go out and be whoever I was without being judged was such a powerful thing for me as a young man”.
It would be easy to think that Creeper had created their magnum opus with this era, but the truth is that they’re going to keep pushing forward, reaching new ambitious heights and plummeting “further and further down the ridiculous hole”. Maybe it is too campy and too over the top for some people. But for others, it might be everything you’ve ever needed.
American Noir is out now. Buy a copy of the Gigwise magazine, featuring this interview and tonnes more.
More about: Creeper