Creeper: Ronan Creeping And The Cursed Album
Last month the UK Top 40 Album Charts hosted a titanic scrap for a place in the Top Five spots, between everyone’s mum’s favourite boyband crooner Ronan Keating and Southampton’s finest export since walking goal of the season highlight reel Matt Le Tissier – Creeper.
Not that Keating knew much about it, as the battle for a place on the Album Chart podium was very much done with Creeper’s tongue firmly in cheek, as their ever-growing army of dedicated fans created all sorts of memes and hashtags on Twitter to ensure Creeper, who did, secure this coveted Top 5 chart place.
But while the chart scrap with the former Boyzone man was definitely a fun few days of light-hearted online jabs, make no mistake, the band themselves are thrilled with the reception and chart placing of their second record Sex, Death and the Infinite Void.
“It was so funny, I couldn’t believe it,” beams guitarist Ian Miles. “It kind of happened by accident but it was fun. I was hoping Ronan (Keating) would notice and we could have got a little back and forth. I’m not sure if he runs his own social media or not but I’d like to think if he did he would have picked up on it, but he probably has a team doing that for him.
“To get knocked down to fifth in the charts it would have actually been because of Juiceworld but that wasn’t the scary part, it was Ronan in sixth just below Juiceworld so if he sold more records than us we would have been pushed out of the top five.
“I tweeted hashtag Creeper vs Keating and that was the beginning of it and it snowballed from there.”
Creeper’s sophomore record thundered into the Top 5 three years after their maiden album debuted just outside the Top 10, but Miles jokes there was a good reason they narrowly missed out on a top ten debut spot.
“On the last record we got to No.12 but we were screwed over a bit as it came out on Mother’s Day weekend and we didn’t realise Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble both had new albums come out that weekend,” he grins. “Every middle aged women’s dream, so their sales went through the roof and we were knocked out of the Top 10. “So this time around we were hoping for the Top 10 and when the midweeks came out and we were at No.2 we couldn’t believe what was happening. It was crazy.”
For axeman Miles this lofty album chart position is justification and a reward for surviving, quite literally for both him and his band, the worst year of their lives.
It was late 2018 when Creeper dramatically announced the end of the band, live from the stage at KOKO in London, and so began more than 12-months of … silence from the band.
As frontman Will Gould made the shocking announcement, fans in the front rows were visibly sobbing, shocked, and in disbelief before the band ripped into their final song, the poignant Misery. A hasty getaway followed for the band, who seemingly had broken up for good in front of their devoted fans.
It was a break the band desperately needed. Creeper have openly spoken of how they couldn’t continue as they were and even while on their break, their lives off stage were falling apart and they almost weren’t here to tell the tale today.
And reflecting on the past 12-months and their top five record, Miles reckons Sex, Death and the Infinite Void might even have been cursed.
“So much stuff happened during the process that Will (Gould) and I started to think the record might be cursed, as so much terrible stuff happened from the beginning of the process to the end of it,” he explains.
“I went through a bunch of shit, Will had a relationship fall apart and a family member died, one of the guys recording in the orchestra fell and broke his leg the day before the session, Graham Humprhies who was designing our tour poster fell down an escalator and broke his ankle.
“Our producer went through a lot in his personal life and then the plant that pressed the record burned down to the ground just after they pressed our record. This all happened so I feel like it’s cursed. I feel like we should have put a warning on every record that this record is cursed, buy at your own risk.”
Miles did indeed ‘go through a bunch of shit’, as he was sectioned in hospital after suffering a distressing psychotic episode in which he believed he could kill others purely by blinking.
Prior to his breakdown, Ian had been working on the new record with his band mates and even while in hospital he continued to play his part with FaceTime sessions with frontman Will in LA.
“Will carried on going to America by himself and Hannah went to help him while I was helping write songs from hospital which was a really weird set up,” he recalls.
“I wasn’t in my right mind but we managed to get things done. When I got out of hospital and recovered then Will was sort of worn out as he had carried the whole weight of the band on his shoulders while I was away, so he tapped out and asked me to carry on – so I did.
“We recorded the rest of the record in the basement of the Warner Building, and in London we got the whole band in to record the record. I had just come out of recovery, but I was the one constantly in London for weeks on end and we rotated the other members in and out for a few days at a time to get the instruments done – it was chaos.”
The new album was completed and it is BIG. A grander, more epic and more theatrical album than their debut, it’s as if the entire band were plugged directly into the national grid; but that was always the intention.
Of course one of the most exciting things about dropping new songs or a new record is plugging in the amps in arenas, bringing the songs to life in a live setting and hearing the reaction in live and living colour.
Coronavirus and the global lockdown has meant the new Creeper songs have been confided to stereo systems and ear buds for the time being, but it won’t be long until Ian and co can unleash them onto the masses – and he can’t wait.
“I’m so excited for that,” he says. “This record has been a step-up in terms of the theatrics, the aesthetics, and the story so we have loads of cool plans to transpose it to our live performances. We have loads of cool ideas we have had for a long while, but we haven’t had the chance to put into practice yet. Like I can’t wait to play the solo to Thorns of Love live. It’s our Meatloaf moment.”
Miles says lockdown hasn’t been all bad for the band, who have been able to use the time to get their creative juices flowing – although it has taken some adjustment. “It’s been good and bad,” he muses, “but not being able to promote the record in the traditional sense, going out touring and doing instore signings and that sort of stuff, until you are in a position to not do that stuff you don’t realise how important that is to the beginning of the campaign.
“But the positives are how it gave us the freedom to be creative. One of our mottos in the band is there is always a creative solution or creative way around it, so this was the ultimate test.
“It made us be creative in a way we have never really had to before and we have stayed busy by recording some covers we have been releasing on the internet, a little series called Sounds From the Void. It’s the first Creeper release I’ve recorded and released from home. I’ve been recording music and sending it to Will who has been recording the vocals from his end then sending back to me to mix and master, so it’s been fun creatively although quite strangling as well, not being able to play shows as that’s part of the reason to be in a band, that love performance and interaction, but it has made us thirsty to perform next year.
“We are craving live shows and next year is going to be a really special year for music as everyone is going to up their ante and really, really go for it and push hard and be creative.”
Pandemic permitting the gang: Miles, Gould, Hannah Greenwood, Sean Scott, Dan Bratton and Oli Burdett, will be bringing their musical mastery to live stages near you early in 2021, with dates confirmed from Glasgow to Brighton. They have also pencilled in a handful of big festival appearances for next summer, as us music revellers tentatively cross our fingers, toes and eyes that next year’s festival season doesn’t bite the COVID dust in the way this summer did.
“We are playing the Download Festival and others next summer, and playing Download and big festivals like that always blow my mind,” Miles says. “I still get nervous before shows and it is strange though, that with the small shows the nervousness continues but if it is a big, big show like Download it feels like you aren’t playing to individuals anymore.
“The amount of people blend into a texture like a carpet almost. So it doesn’t feel as scary or pressured even though it is louder and bigger, it is strange.”
He continues: “Another thing about these big festivals is that it is only the headliners who get stage props, or have their own interludes and stuff. You are sort of just thrown up there as yourself so it is a strange thing for Creeper to do those big festivals.
“At those festivals a lot of people are seeing us for the first time and we can play the best and perform the best we can, but they are not experiencing a proper Creeper show if that makes sense, because we are not able to put on a show like we normally we would on our own tour.”
But festivals also produce moments so special, so unique and so unexpectedly glorious they can be burned onto your memories, never to be deleted. And gatecrashing Post Malone’s private compound party is one which Miles looks back on with a smile and a wry shake of his head.
“Last time we did Reading we ended up hanging out with Post Malone which was really surreal,” he laughs. “I genuinely quite like some of his music. He is kind of like the anti-pop star in the pop star world. He is not the conventionally good looking pop star who can sing and of course he covered Nothing Else Matters with an acoustic guitar, which I thought was cool as shit.”
He continues the story between loud laughs: “So we saw his backstage compound was closed off backstage at Reading, but I really wanted to meet him and hang out with him. And I’ve found that backstage at a festival if you walk quickly and with a purpose people sort of accept it and think you are important.
“It was Sean (bass) and I who were quite drunk and we saw a gap in the gate and strolled straight in. We had our stage jackets on and a guy came out and we told him we wanted to hang out and he invited us in. We were shocked and everyone was playing beer pong, Post Malone, a couple of his friends, a few guys from hardcore bands, a few rappers, it was a strange environment and then us tiny little weenie, white English kids in these stupidly over the top jackets joined them.
“We all played beer pong and flip cup and we were rubbish at it. He liked our emblem, the Callous Heart patches on our jackets, and we ended up mailing him some after the festival so he has a Callous Heart.”
The conversation returns to their infamous show at KOKO, where Creeper version one disappeared, dramatically, unexpectedly and mysteriously before our very eyes.
Was it a difficult night for him?
“Mmm, I wouldn’t say it was emotional as we are always ten steps ahead with Creeper,” he said.
“The idea to kill off the Callous Heart was made a year before it actually happened, so we had plenty of time to mentally prepare for that. On the night there was a moment when we were all just silent, and Will was especially stressed out as this was his idea, it was his child and it all had to be perfect.
“We finished the show, ran off stage and jumped into a van and drove off so people were still in the venue watching the closing video and crying while we were long gone at a house in the city.
“There was this very profound moment of silence when we got to the house where we all sat there not saying or doing anything, just eerie silence and I couldn’t tell what the other guys were thinking, but in my mind it was a flashback of the last three years,” he reflects. “Then we went onto social media and the death threats and messages began. We got a lot of emails from angry parents saying their child had been invested in us for so long and bought so much merch that they couldn’t believe we would do this to them.
“It was rough, but I wouldn’t say it was massively emotional as we were already thinking of the next thing and we had started planning the next move, the change in aesthetic and story before then, and we already had a couple of the new songs written.”
Creeper are a band who will never stand still, won’t allow themselves to become stale and who need to challenge themselves musically and creatively.
“We have always talked about records as individual projects,” he adds excitedly.
“We are not a band making records. Our career isn’t one moment. Take KISS for example, their career is based on one image and one vibe whereas we see each record as a different painting.
“You wouldn’t paint the same picture over and over again, each record is a different piece of art and it’s a progression, and it’s going to be an art project and a shapeshifter forever.
“Whether the next record will be heavier or lighter it will start to take a form when we start thinking about the next record, we will decide and we will take it from there.”
Creeper‘s latest album Sex, Death and the Infinite Void is out now, available to stream or purchase HERE.