Enter the Theatre of Fear for a triumphant homecoming
It's been a very good year for Hampshire horror-punks Creeper.
With their debut album Eternity, in Your Arms released back in spring to universal acclaim (Metacritic announced yesterday that it was the best reviewed debut album of 2017), and hitting the top 20 in the album charts, the venues they play have also been getting bigger and bigger.
Late last year they won a brace of awards from Metal Hammer and Kerrang! for Best New Band and Best New Band British Newcomer, respectively. And last week they won Best British Breakthrough Award at Rock Sound's inaugural awards.
'It's been a crazy year,' frontman Will Gould tells The Guide, 'very busy, one that's transformed the band completely. I knew the record was going to incite some big changes within the group, but I could never have predicted how much it's changed.
'We've been to AmericaÂ twice, Europe twice, and this will be our second time touring the UK this year. We've been all over the place.
'The record came out to incredible reviews. Some of the guys at the label were saying it's one of the best reviewed records they've ever released.
'I'm very proud of those accomplishments, but it's also been tough, being on the road all the time, being away from our partners and that sort of thing, I never anticipated how tough that would be '“Â especially on the Warped tour, which was two months in America.
'I can't really complain though, I'm very happy to be in the position I'm in, it's wonderful.'
This six-show run, dubbed the Theatre of Fear, sees the band play the biggest headline shows of their career, including a home town show at the O2 Guildhall in Southampton.
'We went through a period of bands before this where nothing happened, but with Creeper, I don't think there's been a week where nothing's happening, it's always so fast.
'I think what's alarming to us is the rapid growth. We were playing the Underworld last year, then we did the Electric Ballroom in March, and now we're doing Shepherds Bush.
'In Southampton it's gone from The Joiners, to The 1865, to the Guildhall. And I think what comes along with that is a work ethic that you've got to keep going and just strap yourselvesÂ in. Because of that there's not been a moment to sit back and reflect.
'We did a support slot with (Welsh punks) Neck Deep there, and we thought that was the best thing we would ever do. I've been coming to these venues since I was a baby '“ these are the places my musical tastes were formed.
'Back in the day I couldn't even imagine playing The Joiners, but the other week we played a fundraiser there for the venueÂ and we sold it out in 10 minutesÂ which is madness.
'Sometimes I forget what's happening to the band because I'm in the bubble.
'We're lucky, you know?'
That Joiners gig was a semi-secret show (word got out very quickly)Â played under the alias The Midnight Kids. It was a fundraiser to help pay for urgent repairsÂ to the venerable venue. Like at many independent small venues, money is tight.
'You're talking about a roomÂ that's more than bricks and mortar to so many people. How many places have such an iconic venue? It's like the CBGBs of the UK in a way '“Â everyone's played there, fromÂ Green Day to Coldplay, all of the biggest acts started there.
'But on a more personal level, IÂ didn't have many friends at schoolÂ and through going to gigs, it's where IÂ met all of my friends, IÂ met my first girlfriend there, and when I started playing in bands our only ambition was to play The Joiners '“ andÂ they supported us, giving us support slots in all of the rubbish bands we did as kids.
'How arrogant of us it would be then, not to help them when they needed it? It doesn't do us any harm.'
Over the last couple of years, Creeper have been running a marketing campaignÂ using social media and real-life locations relating to the disappearance of the fictional paranormal detective James Scythe, and including the band 'disappearing' in summer 2016, leaving fans wondering what was going on.
They have now published a book, The Last Days of James Scythe, which has already sold out of its initial run.
'A wonderful publisher from Scotland called 404 Ink got in touch with us and suggested doing it, they'd released this wonderful book prior to ours called Nasty Women, which is a really interesting feminist book '“Â it's very interesting for men to read in particular.
'They're music fans as well, and before our Glasgow show we met up and they said they'd love to do something with us.
'I was very intrigued straight away, because a lot of the material that had gone into the album came from the literary world, like JM Barrie's Peter Pan, which is kind of the skeleton of the story that flows through the album, and the Blair Witch Dossier,Â whichÂ was about the marketing of the film. That was a real bible to us when it came to making the campaign;Â The Last Days of Laura Palmer, that accompanied the TV series Twin Peaks, these were all things we we referencing. I was interested in returning the form back to its roots, so we started thinking if we do a book, how would it look?
'We were homaging so many different things in music and in our videos, and online, wouldn't it be interesting to make a book that was an homage to our references in this world and chronicles the mystery.
'It tells the story through a whole series of documents and images. I'm really excited about the book.I think it's something that accompanies the record very nicely, and also a lot of the kids who are coming to see us are very young, and getting people into reading from a young age is kind of important. It's cool to be a band that can kind of encourage that.'
The band haveÂ alsoÂ become renowned for their live shows, but asÂ Will explains:Â 'Every time we've done a landmark tour, we've tried to up our game.Â I remember, even at our very first shows in London, when we were working in call centres and things, we would save up and bring our own lights to these shows for 100 people.
'This next one is the next logical progression, if we're doing bigger venue than the ones in March, people are going to expectÂ a level of production and we've got a reputation to uphold.
'It's a very ambitious '“Â and very expensive, he laughs, 'I saw how much it's costing the other day for the first time and a couple of us had a bit of heart attack.
'There's a lack of magic in music these days, especially with the internet, there's no mystery. It's hard to describe it all without giving it away, I don't want to ruin it for people,Â and an incredible amount of work has gone into it, hopefully people will be impressed.'
O2 Guildhall, Southampton
Monday, December 10