Almost two years ago, Creeper seemed to announce their split as they walked off stage at London’s KOKO. Laying down their then iconic jackets with frontman Will Gould reciting David Bowie’s words when he bid farewell to Ziggy Stardust, thus signifying the end of an era.
Today begins a new chapter. Releasing their highly conceptual sophomore album, Sex, Death and The Infinite Void. Following a show where the band re-incarnated themselves as ‘Fugitives Of Heaven’, the album sees Creeper stretch themselves past the sound of a pop-punk band in their most exciting offering yet. Speaking on the phone with lead singer Will Gould a week before release, we delved into the albums influences, lore, and was could be the next steps for Creeper.
I just listened to Sex, Death and the Infinite Void and I absolutely loved it, congratulations on the band’s growth and development! Are you excited for its release?
Oh my God, I’m so excited about the release! I feel like I’ve said it a lot, but this record has been cursed. Making this album has taken such a long time, it’s been two years in the making. A week today it will be out in the world and that is a bizarre thing for me as it’s like Chinese Democracy by Guns And Roses – we have been making it for such a long time.
This record feels incredibly pensive and reflective of turning 30 and analysing where you are in life, what sort of things have you been going through during the writing and recording and what did you want to project onto the album?
A lot of it comes from where we are at in our career. We spent so much time in America and that influenced us to make an “American” record. This was then influenced by elements of Brit-pop and the 70s rock ‘n’ roll from England to make a hybrid of English and American recordings. But Sex, Death and The Infinite Void are all things that people stare into the abyss of over the course of our lives and getting older. That’s just something that you have to think about.
As for sex being part of creation and death being part of the end and the void being in between or after they’re topics on their own, y’know? Like how you’ll die or what will it mean to have something leave you – these are things that you find yourself thinking a lot. In our story it’s an awful lot about where we are now as our first record was about being “the lost boys”, and growing up whilst this album is more reflecting back on that in a lot of ways. All we really know is what is happening in our lives at the time.
Is it bold to say Sex, Death and the Infinite Void is a concept album? How did everything come together?
This is absolutely a concept album. Y’know what Chlo, I was saying this the other day, when I was younger I never thought I’d be in a band, I thought I’d be making movies! I love music but I always wanted to tell stories and create a visual world. I ended up falling into a place where I was in Creeper and I was using those elements of screenwriting and storytelling in my music. So the concept thing came naturally as albums work like little films to us and come as second nature to me. I wanted it to feel like when you listen to it you escape into some other place and see something visual. Like with ‘Paradise’, I imagined a car, and you see us driving along and whilst we were in America it was really easy to do. We were recording in the heart of Hollywood and seeing muscle cars driving around and I was like, “what does that sound like?” I had a picture in my head and worked backwards from that.
This record’s about alienation and the sins of man, I mean, it’s a redemption story in a lot of ways and all those things kind of reflect what was going on in our lives, it’s strange how these things have all interconnected.
On the note of things being all interconnected, you are known for, of course, having the previous story with James Scythe and the death of the band. Are those entwined with the new plot or have you started from a fresh new place after the “death” of Creeper?
It’s a fresh and new story. I think the reason we were killing off the band was to close the chapter on what had come before and to open a new world. We took what we had before as far as we could and reached the end of the story with James Scythe. We had done things I was really proud of at the time- but now we are looking for a new challenge.
Creeper was threatened to just become a job, a way to pay bills, and with this album, we have stepped away from that with the threat of starting anew. The reason we started in the first place was a gamble. This time around I knew in my heart we had to tear everything apart and start anew again as that’s how we made things in the first place. It’s more daunting once you’ve done it all before- you’ve got more to lose after the first one. We said let’s just do it anyway and rebuild it in a different image!
Creeper for sure has always felt like a passion project. You put so much work into it and so many special details. I noticed in the album a lot of references to alcohol and being drunk, is there something metaphorical within that or just commentary on being young?
In our story, it’s about a man coming from another place who finds himself in a very strange town, from out of this world. He’s learning about being a man and the beauty of those things too but of course with any reference in the record there’s a real-life counterpart. There was a real place and time that I was really battling with alcoholism and keeping control over that stuff. It was a really difficult record to make as we went to so many dark places while we were doing it. Ian, my guitarist, was really sick last year too. Luckily we are all in much better places now.
It’s funny, Ian doesn’t really drink anymore and I went through a very dark period but I came out the other side. I don’t know. I like to think of it as a bunch of things that happened. They’re not necessarily positive things to reflect upon but they’re reflected in our work. You can’t really help yourself, even when you’re trying to write these fantasies and build these worlds you can’t help but to write what you know.
Of course. I feel like it isn’t a bad thing at all. There are moments of romanticising it and then soon after are moments of having to deal with consequences and reflecting. I love that overall feeling on the album as it feels real and grounded.
Thank you Chlo, that’s very sweet of you.
I happened to be watching your stream earlier where you mentioned signing upside-down stars instead of hearts as the new character Roe, what other details should we be looking out for? How important are the details and world-building?
I think that’s all-important. You see, the reason we had to kill the Callous Heart off was to lock it in a time capsule, buried away. By the time that I get to 50, if I still happen to be doing this project I wouldn’t want to be wearing a callous heart jacket on the stage- it’s been done before. I wouldn’t want to be dressing how I’m dressing now! I want to move and be fluid. So with the things that go alongside the signatures I want people to really see that and associate it with that time period, and keep it locked in there and say I remember those shows I remember that feeling.
I don’t even look like the same person as from the first album! I spent time trying to lose weight and shape my body into a different image- my hair, my makeup as well. More than just an era of a band – it feels tacky to say era, but you know what I mean – It’s important that with each era their memories are preserved and not have them ruined by anything else. When people dive into this new album I’d love to have them jump in and forget about what happened before, they don’t have to worry about caring about anything else. There’s a new creeper record- a new adventure! This is for you to enjoy, this world is built with the listener in mind. Each song there is something new uncovered. If you’re feeling blue, you want to lay down at night time, put this record on and live in that world for a while. I think about the small things because the small things make the bigger things happen, and if you get those small pieces right and you stop thinking about the larger picture, you end up with a much better end-all product- something a lot more convincing. Does that make sense?
Of course, in fact, it makes more sense. If you draw a line you can look back almost nostalgically and there’s no way to go back and mess up a great thing.
Yes, I’m pleased with what we have done- I don’t want to perform anything that I’m not pleased with. You’ve seen them Chlo, and I’ve seen them as well, those aging rock musicians that come back to cash in on something. I mean, none of us are rich in our band but we are never going to be broken up and want to do that, I think, because it just ruins the memory. Our audience has such a special connection with those songs and they’re about to forge new memories with the new ones and I really want to preserve that for them. Locked away, in a vault, unsullied by the outside world. That’s my hope for it, anyway.
For sure! This new era is different from things you have done before. This album seems to have some surf rock, folk and theatrical influences, which is a brave step away from Creeper’s previous material. What was your intention by trying something like this? What artists inspired this and who were you listening to during the recording?
When you were younger did you ever have records? Did you get given records as a kid, Chlo?
Yeah, of course, yeah!
Mine was always like Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. They’ll always be a part of me. But then knowing I wanted to be in a band it was like… Where do you start? I remember meeting Ryan (State Champs) up in a bar whilst I was in Hollywood and he asked me about the record. I said I don’t want to make a pop punk record. I don’t want to get trapped in that. I remember at the time I was thinking we needed to reimagine the whole thing- if we can still do this to a high standard, provide an escape with different types of music, it could be really special. Then it was like, what do you do with it?
We knew this record had to be about English kids in America and our job was to work out what that sounded like. What is Americana? To me it was like Springsteen and surf rock, Dick Dale guitar licks, Motown- just things like that. I’ve been listening to them all for years and they ring as stereotypically American for me.
Then I was thinking, where can I bring the English part? I can’t just emulate an American record, that would be boring! So we just talked about our parents records- who did I grow up with that I could draw from? David Bowie, of course, that’s the obvious one, T. Rex, Mott The Hoople, Roxy Music, all those guys. I thought all those guys were so fantastic but what else is there? I started thinking about growing up in the 90s and Brit Pop- Suede, Pulp, Oasis- and realising the relationship those bands had with the 70s, it’s all interlinked, there’s just a British sound that I probably should’ve been more aware of when I was listening. It’s all just… How do I make a Hollywood film out of this English footage I’ve found?
David Bowie, I think, said that if you steal from one person it’s theft but if you steal from a hundred people it’s art and I completely agree with that. That’s what we were trying to do.
Over the last few years, the things we have been playing with have been a little tacky and have lost my interest completely. It was creatively draining to be doing the same thing.
We have been doing a lot of reflecting here it seems. Where do you see Creeper in ten years?
The thing is, life takes you down different roads all the time. If you asked me two years ago if you thought I’d be in Manchester right now I wouldn’t have known what to say. But here I am, very, very happy in Manchester. I’d like to think that wherever I am in 10 years time I will be creatively satisfied and still getting to do what I love for a living- something fun and immersive. When I was a kid I used to stay up late watching films, that’s what I loved, escapism, and it’s become a theme in my life. So as long as I’m still presenting things of worth and value to people that still listen to and look out for, and that I’m still creatively satisfied that all I can really hope for… Right? You can’t hope for much more than that.