What’s Next For Simple Creatures?
They’re the year’s most exciting new band, and following on from a whirlwind start to 2019 that’s seen Simple Creatures – the brainchild of All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and blink-182’s Mark Hoppus – release debut EP Strange Love and headline a stage at Download Festival in June, the duo have revealed that there’s even more to come. Namely, their forthcoming second EP, Everything Opposite, which is due out in October. The news follows the release of the super-duo’s awesome single Special, which continues Alex and Mark’s foray into electronica-infused, experimental territory.
Despite being together for less than a year and only playing a handful of live shows, there’s a buzz around Simple Creatures that suggests the band will blossom into way more than a fleeting side-project. And as Alex reveals to Kerrang!, the vision he and Mark have for Simple Creatures extends far beyond that of playing a few gigs and releasing the odd song here and there. This is a proper band, and with plans drawn up to drop even more music and get back out on the road very soon, you better watch this space. As Alex and Mark have already proved, they’ve got something pretty, well, special here…
What have you made of Simple Creatures’ first year as a band, Alex?
“It’s been interesting, because the first EP dropped and we did a handful of shows to establish that this thing was ‘real’, but I still feel like we haven’t fully exposed Simple Creatures to the world. There hasn’t been a proper tour yet or even a whole lot of music out there, so I very much feel like we’re still in the birthing process of this; there’s a lot of stuff still to come and touring that will happen, which is all very exciting. Typically, in our other bands we aren’t able to slow-play things like we have with Simple Creatures, but that approach fits the mould with this.”
Has that slow-play been something that’s occurred by design, or is it a result of your schedules with All Time Low and blink-182?
“It’s a bit of both. The whole idea of this project was to be flexible and agile; we anticipated the fact that at any given moment we could drop a song, a video or announce some shows, and that’s what’s so fun about this. I see Simple Creatures as an event-based project – it’s something that can become very active at the drop of a hat, and then it goes away for a while. We definitely didn’t want to be dedicated to a six-month touring cycle or anything like that, and that goes hand in hand with what we having going on with All Time Low and blink. Obviously, blink have been on tour over the summer and that’s limited what Simple Creatures can do, but we knew that was going to happen, and that’s part of the fun of it.”
Have you been surprised by the reaction to the band’s formation and the music you’ve put out?
“Yeah, it’s been awesome to see. Mark and I have discussed how, with this being a side-project and us both coming from bands that have had a lot of success, we’ve felt unsure about the reception Simple Creatures might get. There’s obviously a built-in fan base at play, and some people have jumped on board because they’re blink and All Time Low fans, but what’s been pleasantly surprising to see is people responding positively to this because they just love the music, irrespective of our other bands. It’s been cool to have people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t really listen to All Time Low, but this is great!’ That was unexpected and a very awesome thing for us.”
You headlined the Avalanche Stage at Download Festival this summer. Did that feel like a milestone for the band, and a nice way to round-off the campaign for Strange Love?
“Definitely. It’s the biggest show we’ve played as a band, and it was a real experiment because we’ve only done a handful of live performances and we’re not used to having just two of us on the stage. Throwing it into a high-profile festival slot with a 10-minute change-over and quick soundcheck was a bit of a gamble, but it was amazing to see how it worked. It was the best show we’ve played both crowd-wise and in respect of things starting to click and feel natural onstage. It was great to play Special live for the first time at Download, too.”
What was the vision you had in mind when putting Special together?
“Special is about the desire to be in a better place. It speaks of being in a bad situation and going, ‘Fuck this – I want out. I’m going to feel better.’ Sometimes it’s about tricking yourself when you get to that point in your mind, at least that’s how it works for me, anyway. Sound-wise, it perfectly marries where we went on Strange Love with where we’re going on the next EP. It’s a really good bridge to set people up for what’s next.”
Special is the first single from the band’s new EP, Everything Opposite. How does this music compare to that of your first record?
“We’re telling a different story this time. A lot of the songs on the new EP talk about our struggles in the creative landscape. They address our relationship with creativity, how it feels to expose yourself through music and the desire to keep pushing the envelope many years into a career. I’m always wanting to try new things with my music, but then there’s that worry that you risk alienating fans in favour of scratching your own creative desires. I like how the subject matter is quite different this time around.”
Did the reaction to Strange Love shape how you approached the new EP?
“Not really – a lot of these songs were written around the same time as those on Strange Love. Tracks like Nevermind and One Little Lie that feature on Everything Opposite are ones we’ve been playing live since the beginning, and they’ve always existed in tandem with the material on the first EP. We did go back after we’d done the shows and got a better understanding of what this had become, though, and we wrote Special and the next single Thanks (I Hate It).”
What can we expect from Thanks (I Hate It), then?
“As artists, it can feel like every time you put something new out you get both support and this over-reactionary hate that’s like, ‘This doesn’t sound like old you – I hate it!’ That attitude continues to become more of a thing, and I think it’s a shame that you can’t release anything now without it being compared negatively to your previous output. Artists face a real challenge as to how they progress their sound nowadays, to the extent that some bands are afraid to mix things up because they don’t want to lose their fan base. Thanks (I Hate It) deals with that issue head-on.”
Would you say the broad horizons of Simple Creatures’ music has altered your approach to writing not just for this band, but for All Time Low, too?
“What’s been really good about Simple Creatures is that it’s allowed me to think more clearly about where All Time Low should go next. Before, I felt a bit lost as to the direction the eighth All Time Low album should take – I was a bit devoid of ideas, honestly – but with Simple Creatures being such a liberating experience, it’s allowed me to focus my thoughts on All Time Low, to the extent that I am now completely confident as to where the next album will go. I wouldn’t say Simple Creatures has necessarily changed my writing process, but we have been working on new All Time Low material recently, and we’ve experimented with having the four of us in a room writing together, whereas normally it’s a case of me working on something alone and taking it to the other guys later. That change has been fun.”
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How do you plan to juggle Simple Creatures and All Time Low moving forwards? It sounds like both bands could be pretty active in the near future…
“The two will run alongside one another. We’ve been able to do that so far without either project stepping on the other’s toes. It’s going to be a learning process, and I’m sure at times it’ll feel like there’s too much going on and at others it’ll feel like I’m not paying enough attention to one of them, but at the end of the day, I think we’re all up to the task. Simple Creatures is supposed to be a plug-and-play kind of thing, so I think it will work just fine.”
In terms of live shows, will Simple Creatures be on the road once blink-182’s summer touring is complete?
“Yeah, we have a lot of plans in the works. We don’t want to burn ourselves out, so touring will be done within reason and when it makes sense for us both. The most important thing with this is to have fun – playing Simple Creatures shows should always feel special. But with that being said, you’ll be seeing us play these new songs live sooner rather than later.”
Looking beyond this EP, is the next step for Simple Creatures a full-length album?
“I think so, but in this day and age it’s really hard to say. Whenever we write for this project we get into cruise control and a lot of ideas flow naturally – when we wrote for the first EP we had easily an album’s worth of material – so if we sit down and an album comes out of us then that could well be the next phase of the band, but we may also continue with EPs and limited releases, because they’re just as fun. Given the nature of music in 2019, there’s always stuff coming at you, and that’s why we split this up the way we did, rather than inundate people with 15 songs from a band they’d never heard of.”
Does that mean the future of Simple Creatures is pretty open-ended?
“This project is all about doing what feels right in the moment, and pursuing what we feel passionate about. However, there are concrete plans to take this to the next level, when the time is right. We want to continue to play for people and, most importantly, create something that’s fun. What was so notable to me about the shows we played earlier in the year was the positive, house-party atmosphere that comes with performing these songs live; with Simple Creatures, you don’t get the pomp and circumstance that comes with a blink-182 or All Time Low show. People are unsure but ready to go when they see us live, and that pure, raw energy is a great thing to feed off. Every time Mark and I come offstage we’re so enamoured with that feeling – everything about Simple Creatures is so natural. When you’ve been touring for as long as we have, you get settled into a routine. It’s nice that, with Simple Creatures, it feels like we’re in a baby band again.”
Simple Creatures’ new EP Everything Opposite is due out in October
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