Last year the six-piece horror-punk band managed to whip up their rapidly expanding fanbase through a tightly-controlled marketing campaign.
After playing Reading and Leeds festivals last summer, all of the band’s social media sites were deleted and they were reported ‘missing.’ A new website simultaneously appeared tying their disappearance to the unsolved case of missing paranormal detective James Scythe.
Clues were left across the internet and in the real world, culminating in the announcement of the release of the album Eternity, in Your Arms. Early reviews in the rock press have already showered it with praise.
For frontman Will Gould, the release marks the climax of a three-year build-up.
‘It’s absolutely mad at the moment,’ he tells The Guide. ‘Going into an album like this you’re working so hard, it’s only when you get a minute to stop and reflect on how crazy it’s all gone that you think, damn, this has all got a bit out of control!
‘I wanted to do an album when we first got signed – that’s always been the way I’ve digested music while I’ve been growing up. I’m 29 years old, I’m not a young-young man any more, but I grew up with my dad’s records, and I would listen to records in their entirety. Some bands in 2017 don’t even release albums, they’ll release a series of singles instead.’
The band released their self-titled debut EP independently back in 2014. They were quickly snapped up by Roadrunner Records, now a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group. Last year they won best newcomer awards from both Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines.
‘The record label wanted to us to do some EPs first, and it turned out that they were a really good idea as it enabled us to experiment and get some ideas together and mess around with the sound a bit more. But it’s been a long, long time coming and it feels very daunting – but exciting at the same time.’
While typically pigeonholed as punk, the album is no one-dimensional beast and, as Will explains, it has some unexpected influences.
‘All my favourite records when growing up, something like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours – they’re so multi-faceted, there’s so many types of song on that record. It’s hard when you’re making an album to keep it interesting. We knew that we couldn’t just go fast all the way though or people would lose interest,
‘We were trying to do quite an old-fashioned thing – creating an album that had a narrative, it would take the listener from one place to another.
‘There’s been lots of studying of our favourite records to see how they worked and how the great put together records, for example Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars has that amazing intro and that amazing outro – it starts with Five Years and ends with Rock’n’Roll Suicide. We wanted to do something like that, so it starts with piano and ends with piano, we wanted that kind of symmetry to the record.’
But he’s careful not to put the band in the same bracket as his heroes.
‘I would never compare myself to a god like David Bowie, never in a million years. We’re very old-fashioned young people, I guess.
‘There’s something very romantic about those records we were talking about there. One of the records we’ve been referencing a lot is Meatloaf. I know they’re on the silly side and they’re not seen with the same reverence by critics, but Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling records in the world. For me they’re impressive pieces of work and (producer) Jim Steinman is a genius.’
‘We’re trying to look at the way those records were and try to apply that to our music. It’s very hard to do that in 2017. I feel like we’re living in a very soulless era where everything’s a photocopy of a photocopy, but we’re trying to reduce it back to its basics, I suppose, in the shadow of some of our heroes.’
Creative control has been key for the Southampton-based band. They have worked hard to build a world around their music – not just through the records but in videos, artwork and social media – with threads following through from their earliest releases.
But when it came to the build-up to the album, how easy was it to effectively cut themselves off online?
‘Because I was brought up in the Myspace era, narcissism is kind of built into me,’ he laughs, ‘there’s a part of me that wants to tweet everything that I’m doing, I can’t deny that.
‘The over-arching narrative is that I’m very unsatisfied with 2017 and the shape of it. British rock music, I feel like it’s going in the right direction, but there’s been a huge void in anything exciting in a while, so we decided to do things differently and we were looking at how other bands have marketed their records, and what we found was a lot of tacky oversharing online. You can find out what breakfast cereal your favourite singer likes, for goodness sake.
‘Half of the mystique of those older records is that you didn’t know everything about those artists. We felt that by going missing we were making more noise than by saying nothing at all.’
n Creeper play The 1865 in Southampton on Friday, March 31, doors 7.30pm. Tickets £13.50. Go to the1865.com
In the 30s-40s, the studio system, on the studio lot that were be the writer, director, editor, set-builder and actors contracted to the studio - they would build it all ont he one lot. And that’s basically what we’ve been trying to do with Creeper. We’re a team of six people, we’re designing these worlds, the concpets, the marketing we’re doing ourselves. Even though we’re on a record label, no-one’s doing this for us, we’re building it ourselves.
Can you imagine triyng to tell a record label like Warner Brothers that for your album campaign you want to not post on social media at all? I was telling them we needed to delete our Instagram account and we had a massive argument about it, but in the end they embraced it and let us do what we wanted it. I tihnk it was osmething that paid off because there’s so much excitement about it. The lcoal paper covered it as if it was real.
the head of our record label, Danny, had his friends mesasaging him - they’d fallen for the stunt, asking if we were ok.
It feels like in a world on fire, as we are right now, that kind of esccapism, something you can lose yourself in , that real world magic, doesn’t go amiss these days. And i think that’s our responsibility at this point.
I was actually born in Portsmouth, but I moved here with my parents when I was young.
I lvoed the idea of promoting Southmapton on our videos and it was less about promoting the city as it is, and more about reimagining it as something else. I want it like a movei set - it’s happened already. Kids have been travelling down here to visit the locations of the video and solve the mystery.
it’s trying to reimagine something that can be really quite grey and plain.
Soemthing is beautiful place and its steeped in history but sometimes it can bre buried under chain shops and this contemporary architecture that dates very quickly. to find its charm you have to dig a little deeper.
Unfortauntely we’re all nerd and artsy losers, who overthink this think that everything needs to have a place and makes sense in the narrative.
Desiigning and putting these things together is our passion, it’s something extremely iomportant to us. It feels weird talking about this, because it feels strange to think other bands wouldn’t do this. And I think that says something how music has been in the UK for some time. Gone are those amazing days in the 90s, I grew up with Pulp and I thought that was so clever. We havent’ been blessed with the most artistic or smartest artists in the last few years.
Everyeone should think about it - it’s your craft.
In a world where nobody buys records anymore, you’re surviving entirely off of merchandise and live - yso ou have to create something that people want to see and then wear proudly.
The record label tells me that they like working with us, because before they even say something’s coming up, we’ve got the answers to hwo we want to promote it or what we want to do with it. They’ve said that they have an awful lot of bands, once they’re signed, that’s it, then they expect the label to do everything for them - have the ideas for videos, the promotion and everything else.
album cover - composite of places around the city.
Everything is meticulously planned and put together. There’s a lot fo elements in there.
And the our poster, oh my goodness, we managed to get aman called Graham Humphreys to draw that for us, and he was repsosnible for a lot of our favourite 80s film posters, like the nightmare on Elm street poster - with Freddie looming over the top of elm Street. It was an honour for him to do that for us. Things like that make it all worth it, when you can have alegend like that work with you. We’ve been fans of his artowkr for a lnog time, because we’re all movei fans. Originally I was going to have someone do a Graham Humphreys=-tyle poster. We thought, you know what, why don’t we contact him and see what he says? And he said he had some time and he’d love to, so we sent him a load of photographs of actors from our videos. The level of detail is incredible.