MUSIC INTERVIEW: Creeper
Photo Credit: Andy Ford
“Dark, dramatic and bloody,” says guitarist Ian Miles with a laugh, as we ask him to sum up Creeper’s brand new album Sanguivore in just three words. “That’s bloody hard.”
Creeper are a band who don’t do anything by halves. They love a dramatic exit, a sabbatical of deathly silence before a glorious musical rebirth in a style unlike anything they have done before.
This time around, after frontman William von Ghould’s on-stage decapitation, the band are back with their most flamboyant, ambitious, riff-laden and dark narrative to date – set in the underworld of vampires Spook and Mercy. The band’s chief axeman Ian Miles sat down with Bring The Noise UK to lift the lid on their new album, which is something that has been a long time in the works.
“We always know where we plan to go before our exit,” smiles Miles. “We are usually about five steps ahead. It’s a lot of fun. We like pushing ourselves and defying expectations so to speak.
“The vampire theme we started talking about just after Eternity in Your Arms, mid-campaign for the record. We knew we really liked it and we are horror nerds and wanted something all tied up with vampires. The plan was to take it a lot lighter then go darker again, so it would be all the more impactful. Like those stark differences in tone. So we went away and did a glam record and came out wearing white for the first time, so all very much leading up to the next moment and thinking forward.
“The moment we stop thinking forward we will have run out of creative juice and time to call it a day.”
Sanguivore follows a clear narrative and listeners can follow the story of the two central vampire characters on their journey through an album full of bangers, dripping in bombastic, over-the-top theatre, as the band embark on easily their most daring and ambitious lane change in their career to date.
But it works. It’s a home run. A bullseye. A slam dunk and any other analogy you want to muster up.
Miles is let loose on this record, as he takes a deep dive into his childhood guitar influences and shoots some Redbull in his fingertips, to gallop up and down the fretboard in true metal shredder style.
“I was a little bit out of action in terms of the songwriting process on the last record, so it was good to be back at full steam for this one,” explains Miles infectiously.
“After the last record and all the chaos going on – as Will was in a really rough place, I was out of action for a bit and flying back and forth to LA to record bits. This time for this record we went back to what it was, the absolute basics. Will and I in a room with an acoustic guitar and that’s what we did. I took my recording equipment up to Manchester to work through demos, but we didn’t full click or decide on what we wanted from the record musically for a little while. We did flirt with a bunch of ideas and references until we met Tom Dalgety and we then started talking about the narrative of the record and thought of it as writing a score for a movie.
“When we reframed it that way, all the ideas started flowing and it was so organic and a really nice and comfortable creative environment, and allowed us all to put a bit more into it. This time round with the style of the music and the era, I was able to lean a bit more into the guitar influences I had growing up like Metallica and Danzig, so a lot more solos and riffs. It all just came so naturally and a breath of fresh air.
“There is a song on the record called Spook And Mercy which is very gory and straight out of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I love it, right up my alley.”
Creeper‘s vampire pair have a fascinating dynamic, with Miles revealing that Mercy presents as quite a young innocent female “but she is anything but.” She is actually centuries old, aggressive with her kills, and Spook is an older man, physically looking, but younger in comparison.
“Mercy sees Spook as her little project,” laughs Miles. “She hunts him down, turns him and walks him through his first experiences of being a vampire. That’s about all I can say without giving too much away.”
Both Miles and frontman Ghould have openly admitted their love for Jim Steinman and the odes to legendary songwriter and composer are obvious. The pair’s love for Steinman goes back years, with Ghould even presenting Miles with an engraved lighter referencing the American composer on his wedding day.
“Yes, I’ve never shown anyone this before but I’ll send you the pic,” said Miles excitedly. “He got it for me and it’s really cool. I collected Zippo’s for a bit. Another friend got me one with Young and Numb, the Creeper lyrics, on it. I got one from the Kerrang awards.
“Will and I have been listening to, loving and referencing Jim Steinman to each other since the very first day we met. I think that’s where a lot of interests kind of cross over. In terms of drama, being pompous, story telling. I remember first time I heard You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth. There is a spoken word bit by Jim Steinman before it and I remember hearing it and closing my eyes and thinking, this is music but I’m seeing a movie in my mind. You can hear him creeping up the foot of the bed with the Fender guitar above his head.”
What would Steinman make of Sanguivore, we ask?
Miles answers: “Oh, I don’t know. He was quite eccentric but you never know. But I’d like to think he would enjoy it but he might say, who are these dumb kids ripping me off? But that would be amazing as well and so flattering, so I couldn’t lose either way.”
One of Steinman’s greatest strengths was his ability to take listeners into an alternate world within the songs he wrote, something Creeper have always strived to do and something which Miles insists is very much deliberate.
“Absolutely it is. From day one literally we had these big ideas of creating worlds through music. Almost like when you listen to an audiobook or even read a book, you conjure up the images in your mind. It is something with the ability to take your mind’s eye to work and it’s something I’m glad you and people who listen to the band find – and it is very much intended.”
Although the tracks on Sanguivore tell an overarching story and journey for the two central characters, the band insist the songs also stand alone and can be listened to out of context – a skill they have been working hard to craft.
“In the past, on Eternity in Your Arms, we went very indepth with the narrative, so parts of the record rely on listening to earlier songs if you want to follow the story,” he admits.
“But we think a little of that may have gotten lost in translation, so creatively we really wanted to make something with a bit more ambiguity. We want to think people can enjoy things as a standalone, as we will have some people who are casual listeners and don’t feel the need to delve into the creative and storytelling.
“We realise that and didn’t want to alienate people who don’t dive into the narrative, so moving forward we consciously thought about making sure we let things be both, and work as a standalone and as part of the narrative, which required a new skill set to learn as it was kind of writing two kinds of lyrics.”
Cry To Heaven was the band’s first single from the new record, landing on streaming services just hours before a secret headline set at the summer’s Download Festival. Perhaps tentatively, Creeper opened their set with their new banger for what quickly became one of the highlights, and surprising moments, of Miles’ entire career.
“Honestly it blew my fucking mind,” he recalls. “I was genuinely not expecting that. When we play we have little in ear monitors to hear what we are playing and I could the crowd singing it back to us over my in ears, so I took it out and thought holy fuck, this song has only been out for a day.
“It was one of those moments which is a standout in my career. Definitely on the list and something I will never, ever forget.”
Creeper continue to raise the bar and propel themselves through new genres and ambitions, and it is clear they are having some of the most fun of their lives, making and promoting this new record. It’s a labour of love and a slice of musical mastery, wrapped in a fistful of fearlessness and dripping in gloriously dark pomp and theatre.
A far cry from the first time Miles and Ghould met, as he reflects on with a laugh.
“Will is a fucking incredible lyricist though and from the first day his old band played with my old band, I’ve thought his lyrics were so good and they have been since he was a teenager,” he says.
“I was in a band called Phoenix Down and he was in a band called Little Girl Lost, they were gaining traction in the local area and they invited us to a gig at the Winchester Railway Inn. I was a fucking dick because I was really into metal and hardcore scene and Will was too, but in my mind they weren’t my thing and I was thinking who is this guy?
“But he was so kind and he liked our band and invited us along, but I thought I didn’t like him. But honestly, the next day we started talking and that was the beginning of it all. We didn’t write together for a while after that, until we joined another band called Tight Like Strings a long time ago. But just look at us now!”
Interview by: Eric Mackinnon
Creeper‘s new album Sanguivore is out now via Spinefarm, available to stream or purchase HERE.
See Creeper live on their Sacred Blasphemy tour at one of the following dates:
Sun 5th – BRISTOL – O2 Academy
Mon 6th – GLASGOW – Clyde Room
Wed 8th – NOTTINGHAM – Rock City
Thu 9th – MANCHESTER – Academy
Fri 10th – LONDON – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Tickets are on sale HERE.