Creeper’s Will Gould: “We’re Trying To Challenge The Audience”
Creeper may have only recently returned from their year-long hiatus, but the Southampton goth punks are more than making up for this absence in 2020. Not only have the band just announced details of their highly anticipated second LP, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, they’ve also been added to the absolutely wicked 2000trees bill.
Will Gould and co will be joined at the July bash by the likes of Dinosaur Pile-Up, Boston Manor, Knocked Loose, The Amazons, The Get Up Kids, Young Guns, COUNTERFEIT., Silverstein, Trash Boat and more, showing that, once again, the UK’s coolest independent festival has knocked it out of the park.
For Kerrang! cover stars Creeper, 2000trees is just one of many performances they can’t wait for this year, with a support slot on Japanese Kawaii metallers BABYMETAL’s UK tour next month, as well as a jaunt under their own banner in April. Understandably, then, we’ve got a lot of questions for Will…
How excited are you about the prospect of playing 2000trees?
“2000trees is my favourite of all the UK festivals. It’s really awkward saying that, because you don’t want to upset the other festivals, but it’s one of the first festivals that took a chance on us when we began. We played there in 2015 [on the Cave stage], then played the main stage, then came back and headlined the second stage in 2018. So we’ve had a long history with that festival.”
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What makes it so special?
“They help young, small bands to get a start by offering them a platform, so it’s always been my goal to come back. This year, it’s the biggest slot they’ve ever given us, second from top on the main stage. At this stage in our career – with a second album that’s not even out yet – that means a lot. I think the festival aligns with the values and ethics of the band, which is really cool.”
What are your enduring memories from Creeper’s previous appearances?
“One of the main things I remember is when we played there at the end of the campaign for our debut, Eternity, In Your Arms, and headlined the second stage. I’d always dreamed of Creeper as being this band that plays last, that everyone is looking forward to throughout the day. We ran out of time towards the end, so we had a choice between doing Misery or this special cover that we’d prepared. We asked the crowd what they wanted us to do, and because we’ve closed with Misery millions of times, they chose the surprise – which was Meat Loaf’s You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth. It was a really odd way to end the festival, but really fun.”
Jimmy Eat World are also on the bill – we believe you’re a big fan…?
“I grew up loving them. They were one of those bands I got into when I was younger, and I met my first girlfriend through listening to that band. They remain one of those bands intrinsically linked to my youth. We saw them with Biffy [Clyro] just before Christmas and they were wonderful. They always roll out banger after banger, so any time they’re playing I have to see them!”
Before 2000trees, you’re supporting BABYMETAL in February. Theirs is a very different audience for you to be playing to – do you relish the opportunity?
“With this new album, we decided to take it in a lot of different directions and try and challenge our audience. Me and Ollie [Burdett, guitar] were talking on the phone yesterday and saying how we never properly fit in on any bill ever. When we’re supporting somebody, we’re never perfectly matched – we’re there doing some weird vaudevillian ballad in the middle of proceedings. We wanted to tour with a band that was a little more outside the box, and BABYMETAL seemed like a really interesting choice. They sound absolutely nothing like us, so it’s going to be really fun. People who are fans of heavy metal always have an open mind, because it’s so different as a genre. With that kind of open mind, [their fans] are equipped to take on our ideas as well. It’s a crazy way for us to kick off the year.”
Production for the shows on the Eternity… cycle built up over time. Will that be the case on these shows, too?
“For the BABYMETAL shows, we’re going to be out in full force in terms of our sound and our showmanship onstage. With 2000trees, we’ve got an opportunity to go on that big stage and try our best to bring production with us – and some special surprises as well.”
We’ve learned a lot about your new record since you appeared on the cover of Kerrang! last year, including its brilliant title, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void. What commentary can you add to it?
“When we were making the album, I realised I was writing songs that came under three brackets, which became the dominant themes across the entire record, reflecting the real-life aspects of the band and the fictional narrative. I had a whiteboard with three columns, and when we were writing each song I’d be asking which column it would fit under. The title had therefore been knocking around for a while, and everyone really liked it.”
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Were there any others in the running?
“The frontrunner for a while was American Noir, which is a really awesome name and fits the theme of the dark America that inspired the record. In the end, though, I thought it was a little too on the nose. It felt like it was too simple for people, so we decided to go for the more interesting one.”
The “sex” and “death” parts of the title are fairly self-explanatory, but what does “the infinite void” refer to?
“The name is obviously a play on the saying, ‘sex, death and taxes’. The infinite void, for me, refers to some of the things that Ian [Miles, guitar] was going through. We had these romantic goth songs about destruction and death and the end of the world – and the infinite void was the melancholy that fell somewhere in between. I remember speaking to Ian at some points and him staring off into the distance, almost as if he was staring into the infinite void itself. It’s more of a mental state than anything else.”
Ian was very open about his difficulties with his mental health in last year’s cover feature. How’s he doing at the moment?
“He’s doing brilliantly. We were communicating a lot over the Christmas period, and it was my birthday at the weekend and he sent me a massive message then, which was very sweet. We’ve been working on the record, so we’ve been organising a lot of things. He came up with the idea for the [UK] tour poster, which he suggested should be a riff on the one for the film Labyrinth. It feels like he’s completely back in the room and back kicking arse again. I’m really proud of him; he’s done amazingly.”
You’ve also just released an excellent new song, Annabelle. Which of the three headings did that one appear under on your whiteboard?
“I’m such a fan of that song! Annabelle’s place in the narrative of the record is about Roe, our character, meeting Annabelle for the first time. In the real world it was in reference to our experiences of America on the Warped Tour 2017 and our interactions with the Westboro Baptist Church. What we were trying to do with it was create the most upbeat satanic song you’ve ever heard. Satanism is nothing to do with Satan at all, but if you’re familiar with [founder of the Church of Satan] Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible, it’s about living for yourself. It’s kicking back against all of those traditions that oppress us, telling us who to love and how to live. It’s a song for the outsider that feels like it’s required now more than ever, as our politics regress back to tradition. In terms of where it fits on the board, I guess it’s under the ‘death’ category, as it’s the death of tradition. But there’s a sex element, too, as Roe is meeting the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen in his life. I’m hoping it’s a song people sing with their friends on a night out.”
Given the hardships the band came up against on the campaign for your debut album, is there any trepidation going into a new cycle this time around?
“What we’ve done is recharge so much from last time that, I hope, we and other bands can learn from. It used to be much more common back in the ’90s and early 2000s for bands to take more of a break. Because of the way the industry is now, to remain relevant you feel you have to constantly be throwing material out, so no-one has a break. When I think about our career since we started, we just didn’t stop. We were so lucky, and I’m not going to play that down, but we made mistakes. We had a spotlight on us before even had our first EP out, which was really wild. Every mistake we made was in front of a lot of people, and without a safety net. What’s interesting about defying convention and tradition, as I discussed regarding Annabelle, is that in some ways we followed a tradition ourselves. That’s why the new record’s artwork looks weathered and old – it’s supposed to reference those records of the past that our parents had. We took time out like our heroes did back in the day, so we’ve had time to heal, to reassess and make ourselves hungry to get back on the road. We’re ready to go again and we’re excited, which isn’t something I’d have been able to say when we finished up last time around. I hope other bands will see what we’ve done and maybe consider it for themselves.”
Even though you’ve only dipped a toe back into your return so far, there are many fans already embracing the iconography of the new record and getting the cover’s Fallen Angel logo tattooed. That must feel pretty special?
“It’s always an amazing thing to see that kind of dedication, though it never surprises me because our audience has always been this way, expecting and demanding the new and the challenging from us. You very rarely meet a casual Creeper fan; they either completely get it or completely hate it. I feel their incredible dedication to an ideal is what makes us different from other bands. The fact that they trust us so much already with this record is an amazing thing, and we won’t let them down. We’ve got a really eclectic, exciting, three-dimensional world coming their way.”
Sex, Death & The Infinite Void is out on May 22 via Roadrunner Records. Check Creeper out at 2000trees on July 9 – 11, or at one of the dates below. Get your tickets here.
BABYMETAL tour 2020
19 Glasgow, Barrowland
20 Cardiff, The Great Hall
22 Manchester, O2 Apollo
23 London, Hammersmith Eventim Apollo
Creeper tour 2020
12 Leeds, The Wardrobe
13 Glasgow, St. Luke’s
14 Manchester, Academy 2
15 London, Brixton Electric
17 Brighton, Concorde 2
18 Birmingham, O2 Institute
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