Somewhere deep in the bowels of Download, beyond the prying eyes of their adoring fans, sit goth-rock-punk superstars Creeper. Ahead of their canvas busting, tent-popping performance on The Avalanche Stage the band are going through their pre-show routine, limbering up, tuning, warm-ups. Amidst the chaos and energy Hannah Greenwood is quietly in her own world – headphones on and imagining life in the Year 3000.
“Yeah, before a show I always do my hair, make up, then throw on some cheesy pop-punk,” she told us with a warm smile. “My hype song is anything by Busted. I’m still the biggest Busted fan. Ever since I was a kid they were my go-to band. The boys will all put things on the speaker I’m not really into so I put Busted on in my headphones.
“On the tour bus there is a good crossover where we all like the same kind of stuff but on the bus some are downstairs, some are upstairs so it can be like a bit like a club night where you go up top to hear Will’s tunes then downstairs to listen to Alice Cooper or something.”
The cult of Creeper is continuing at breakneck pace. Their performance on Saturday evening at Download didn’t just add to the show, it stole the entire show of the weekend. There wasn’t even standing room only as the tent spilled way out onto the empty grass outside, with fans craning their necks, desperate to get a peek at the South Coast punks.
But are playing these packed festival sets any more nerve wracking than a traditional show, where you know everyone who has attended has bought tickets to see you directly?
“You get a nervous excitement but not so much nerves anymore,” says Greenwood, who plays keyboards and provides vocals. “I think the only time I have felt really nervous was when Will (Gould) and I did a live piano session on Radio1.
“I was terrified as it was super stripped-back, me singing and piano with Will doing backing vocals, which was weird anyway as it’s usually the other way around. So that’s the only time I’ve been so nervous I was physically trembling, as I worried that if I got it wrong then it’s there forever, but now its all pent up nervous excitement.”
The world is healing after weeks of lockdown grew into months and became years without live music, touring and a chance for bands like Creeper to express themselves creatively. “It’s such a great feeling to be back here,” Greenwood grins. “We have been away for three weeks before Download and then we go out for three more weeks after. It’s so nice to be away again, as up until this we have either been at home or a week long tour here and there.
“The first show back was Download Pilot last summer and that was such a great show. To be fair I did get a little bit nervous then, as it had been such a long time, but everyone was on an absolute high and desperate to get back to live music.”
On the setlist for their Download performance is one of the band’s cult favourites Midnight – the duet between Greenwood and Gould, as the two share the mic with duelling vocals. Greenwood is quick to pay tribute to Gould as the principal songwriter, but adds she was thrilled to be asked to join him on lead vocals for the track. “The writing process is mainly Will and Ian (Miles) and then I come in at the end for finishing touches like harmonies and occasionally lyrics, and embellish the piano a little bit,” she explained.
“But when Will approached me to do a duet I was more than up for it. We are playing Midnight tonight and I can’t wait. Will is amazing at coming up with lyrics which he puts in the notes on his phone and then he brings them out and pieces them together. He is such a good songwriter, but it’s something I’m not as good at.”
She concludes: “I don’t know what’s next for us, but we are in Europe doing some My Chemical Romance shows then we have some exciting things lined up for the end of this year – we can’t say yet, but we are always planning things in the background.”
Written by: Eric Mackinnon