Will Gould talks Salem, falling in love with vampires, and what’s next for Creeper

On the eve of the EP release of Salem II, frontman Will Gould tells Kerrang! about lead single DRACULADS, the band's DIY ethic, and the small matter of Creeper's UK headline tour in December…

Will Gould talks Salem, falling in love with vampires, and what’s next for Creeper
Nick Ruskell

Will Gould’s been a busy boy. Not content with Creeper releasing one of last year’s best albums, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, barely six months after the release of his other band Salem’s self-titled debut EP, they’ve done another one: Salem II. It’s out on May 7, and its lead single, DRACULADS, not only has the best title of 2021 so far, the video is an inspired goth-punk tour around ’80s Manchester.

We had to know more, so we dropped Will a line to get the story…

So, Draculads – that title came before the music, didn’t it?
“No, actually! Well, yes. My housemate Alex and I were playing [video game] Jackbox, and he named me that in the game. It was my avatar. I was like, ‘That’s pretty funny, I’m gonna use that for something.’ Anyway, I wrote the song and just thought, ‘I’ve got to call this DRACULADS. It’s too much of a good fit for the song and the vibe of it.’ Obviously it’s silly, but it’s such a good title.”

Do you often do that?
“Well, with Salem, I like to keep hold of things for use at a later date, lyrics and things like that. And that was one of the ones I knew was gonna be perfect. And that’s the thing about my other band Creeper: everything can be so serious. But with Salem, things can be so much more playful, and you can do more ridiculous stuff. Have you seen those pictures we just put out? I probably wouldn’t get away with any of that stuff in Creeper. It’s kind of funny and kitschy. And this band kind of allows us to do whatever we want – like that the video project is obviously not in the canon of storytelling, the way a Creeper video would be. So you can kind of make up a load of different worlds for each single release rather than one continuous thing.”

What’s DRACULADS actually about?
“A lot of these songs are about love. This one in particular, there were loads of pop bands that were putting records out at the time the music was written, and I always think that the funny thing about what's happened over the past couple of years was these bands always trying so hard to be sincere that it comes across really insincere to me. It feels a little bit corny. And it feels like more of a pantomime than some of the stuff that more theatrical bands do. So I thought, ‘I'm not going to write a song about hating my hometown or whatever, it's about falling in love with a vampire.’ We're taking everything to the nth degree. It's really over the top. Everything's really high end, but it’s still this kind of gnarly punk rock love story. We've taken those themes and the themes of love and obsession and turned them up to 11.”

Tell us about the video…
“Well, we haven't got a budget for anything. So it's right back to how you started doing music where it was like, ‘Okay, that's my money. And we, me and my friends, we're gonna try and find a way to spend that money to make something fun.’ We couldn’t film indoors, but then I thought, 'I live in Manchester, and there’s so much musical history here that’s outdoors.'

“Also, my girlfriend Charlotte's dad was a punk back in the ‘80s. All his daughters are really into music because of that. She’s been in loads of videos, but this one was her sister Beth, she loves The Cure, she’s a total Cure-head, and she has all this amazing stuff. So I was like, 'Let's put together a kind of This Is England-style period piece.' It’s an ‘80s-styled post-punk romance, basically. And we got some good locations – I used to live in Salford, which is right where the Lads Club was, where The Smiths were shot, and around there is [legendary club] The Hacienda, and where a lot of [Manchester music movie] 24 Hour Party People was filmed. So we filmed a bunch of stuff and had a really fun day.

“There’s a lot of detail. Charlotte’s dad gave me this old Damned poster that he’d ripped off a wall in Manchester in 1985, and we scanned it and repaired it and reprinted it. There's lots of really authentic stuff in there. It's so funny, I had loads of trouble getting cigarette packets that have don't have the packaging obscured. I had to go and look for them on eBay, so you're spending more than a pack of cigarettes now to buy an empty pack of cigarettes!”

What’s going on with Creeper while all this is happening?
“We have [a headline] tour in December. It’s completely about to sell out, which is amazing. We're so excited. We’ll be playing the Kentish Town Forum [in London], and we’ve played there before, supporting, but never on our own. It's our biggest headline tour to date. I've got this ridiculous production for it. It's the very opposite of the Salem thing – Creeper is doing this really all-out, theatrical rock’n’roll experience. We've got a lot going on, there's always stuff going on behind the scenes. And I like to keep Creeper mysterious and quiet until we've got something to say. It's gonna be really fun. We haven't played together in so long. Not playing is the weirdest thing, because I'm in Manchester and all my friends who I play music with, they’re all in the south. So I've not been able to get together with anybody. When I went to Creeper rehearsals, I had to print the lyrics, just in case I forgot them!”

Salem II is released on May 7 via Roadrunner Records.

Catch Salem at the following dates:

October 2021

10 Milton Keynes The Craufurd Arms
12 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (downstairs)
13 Birmingham Asylum 2
14 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
15 Oxford The Bullingdon
16 Swindon The Vic
17 Frome Cheese and Grain
18 Bristol Exchange
21 Leeds The Key Club
22 Huddersfield The Parish
24 Newcastle Think Tank? Underground
25 Glasgow Stereo
26 Sheffield Sidney and Matilda
27 Manchester The Deaf Institute
28 Guildford Boileroom
29 Tunbridge Wells Forum
30 London The Dome
31 Southampton The Joiners

And see Creeper live with Holding Absence, WARGASM and Static Dress after that:

December 2021

15 London O2 Forum Kentish Town
16 Brighton Concorde II
17 Birmingham O2 Institute2
19 Glasgow Garage
20 Manchester Ritz
21 Leeds Beckett SU

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