Crawlers: “The most traumatic thing can get turned into such a positive thing”

Rising fast, despite the leather pants, CRAWLERS are quite probably your new favourite band.

Rising fast, despite the leather pants, Crawlers are quite probably your new favourite band.

Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Em Marcovecchio.

It’s been a matter of hours since Crawlers made their first ever appearance on a festival main stage, and let’s just say it’s been a memorable one. “Honestly, I think we’re still sweating from that show,” declares lead singer Holly Minto, as the band gather around a picnic table following the sort of storming set at Community Festival that’ll mark them out for many as a new favourite band. “I wore leather pants today… LEATHER PANTS! It was fucking moist up there, I’ll tell you that – I actually just had to change.”

While the weather may change, Crawlers’ ascent up the bill of festivals like this is something the world should be getting used to fast. In just over a year, they’ve grown from a buzzy word-of-mouth sensation into a force already surrounded by a fanbase full of dedication and admiration. With the sort of soaring anthems made to be blared at the highest volume and lyrics born to be inked onto skin – they’re not just another band bringing the fire. They’re ready to burn down any preconceived notions and form something new and more refreshing from the ashes.

“It’s been weird and surreal,” explains Holly – possibly the best way to describe the reaction Crawlers have seen stepping out onto the road over the past year or so. For the band, it’s a response both mind-blowing and wild to see play out in front of them. “When we first got this reaction and a following, it was right during COVID, and we couldn’t really see those people in real life. As things got bigger, it was like just before things opened up, so we still hadn’t really done a show. Then when we did our first tour in March and April. Seeing people know the songs was so odd.”

The small matter of opening for childhood heroes My Chemical Romance was “nauseatingly insane”, and the accompanying run of dates darting across the world has cemented that indisputable fact: Crawlers are your next phenomenon. “Doing these festivals like Community, hardly anyone knew us, but they’re jumping up and down and reacting to everything we do, and it’s just like… THIS IS IT! We’re getting to do things that before COVID, we’d watch other bands do and be like, ahhh, we’ll never do that. Yet here we are.”

Throughout their turn on the Community main stage earlier, it’s easy to see why Crawlers are quickly becoming a big deal. With an infectious energy that rides through the crowd like a tidal wave, it’s a storming, in-your-face call to arms that’s fresh, vital and powerful all at the same time. Crunching riffs meet tender singalongs, fizzing pop meets moshpit-starting grooves – a Crawlers show is a showcase of every twist and turn that makes up their DNA as a band, and one that’s always ready to surprise. “There’s always something for everyone with our set,” nods guitarist Amy Woodall. “There’s at least something that will tick the box a little bit for someone, which isn’t a bad thing at all.”

“I think it’s what has made this all so much fun,” picks up Holly, “because we’re all into so many different things. Music is run by playlists, but also run by feel and vibe. It’s what makes it more fun at festivals, too, when we play. We go from this kind of lighters-in-the-air moment to me just screaming about how much Donald Trump is a dick, know what I mean?!”

A look through their journey so far can best explain the Crawlers we see before us today – a band thriving with the here and now while also fully aware of the importance of the stories they’re telling in their music. When Holly joined Amy and bassist Liv Kettle to form a new band, they bonded over the sounds of Queens Of The Stone Age and Nirvana before more influences and tastes poured into what they were doing. “Liv went even more metal-y, Amy went really pop-y with like Charli XCX and ABBA, and I got really into songwriters and songwriting as a whole,” explains Holly. When drummer Harry Breen joined, those punk influences made their way into the Crawlers’ sound, and before they knew it, they were asking: “How are we going to satisfy ourselves? It’s just writing good songs to the vibe we think goes best with them. We definitely started saying we’re a rock band, and then we’ve ended up going – we don’t really know, we’re Crawlers, I guess?’

After initial first impressions that can be summed up as everyone thinking everyone else was too cool for each other (“I was very intimidated by all of you to be honest,” cracks Liv. “That’s it, we’re all either really anxious or really horrible – one of the two,” laughs Amy), Crawlers found their home. One of best mates living life and channelling their experiences in every unflinching moment. They couldn’t even think about the idea of heading their own separate ways when university came calling.

“There was one moment that you guys are going to laugh at me for bringing up as a big moment, but it was when I knew I was gonna give it all up for this band,” lays out Holly. “We were still in sixth form, and we played a local music festival, and we weren’t good, but we were so new and so different. I turned around and looked at my bandmates and was like – you guys are so talented, and I just want to grow with you guys. I think we should risk it, keep the band together and go for it – then Harry joined, and then TikTok just blew everything up for us.”

Launched into the wider online consciousness, ‘Come Over (Again)’ may have been an introduction to Crawlers for many – but for the band, it represented a bold new step. One packed with the sort of emotional meaning that has come to set them apart from most of their peers. “When we first wrote ‘Come Over’, that was like the furthest from what we had written or released so far as a band,” notes Liv. “It was quite nerve-wracking.”

“That was the song that got us signed and stuff, and it was all written in Liv’s kitchen with Liv and Harry,” reflects Holly. “I wouldn’t have been able to write that song if it wasn’t for these guys being around me. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable.”

That step into writing about life’s experiences frankly and directly is something Holly notes could only have happened thanks to the bond they all share. “When I started, I came from a bit more of a political background because at that point, it wasn’t like anything life-wise had affected me. It can be really hard to speak about some of those topics, and it’s really important to accept your privilege before talking about them, but when ‘Come Over’ started happening, it was a bit more like – oh, what’s going on here? And obviously, they all knew exactly what I was talking about. It was honestly so emotional.”

“That’s it, though,” picks up Amy, “It’s never been a conversation about being able to come and say in front of everyone what a song is about to feel comfortable. We’re all best friends, so whatever comes through, we all know about that situation already! If Holly turns around and says, I wrote this song about this moment six months ago, then it’s like – we were all there when it happened anyway, so there’s never a need to worry about it.”

‘Come Over (Again)’ helps represent something undeniable about Crawlers – that through exploring the personal and releasing it into the world, they help bring together a community looking for a place to call their own. Being able to put into words an emotion they’ve struggled to define. There may be no greater purpose to being in a band than helping change lives – an impact that isn’t lost on Crawlers and the messages they see pouring into their inbox each and every day. “The fact that our lyrics are that interpretable and so many people are embracing it with their own experiences and feeling helped by it,” opens up Holly, taking a moment to consider it all. “It’s really nice. Especially when some of these songs are about such dark things – it really means something.”

“The most traumatic thing can get turned into such a positive thing,” Liv continues. “Songs like ‘Come Over (Again)’ gave a load of listeners that space. To go like – oh my God, this song represents this to me and is about this situation to me – and then other people being like, oh I can relate to this too. Just feeling like they’re seen. It’s amazing.”

“We were in America doing our first ever – well, I’ve never been outside Europe so going to America was a bit nuts,” adds Holly. “Seeing them screaming these new songs like ‘Fuck Me’ was so insane. It’s fulfilling but also like surreal. You write these songs about horrible situations, and these people give you this amazing support blanket.”

Supporting each other at every step, Crawlers are taking in every moment. They’re the sort of essential new band that might not just change up the pop hierarchy, but change lives too. Community may be their first main stage performance, but you can be guaranteed it won’t be their last. As they chat around a picnic table in the middle of Finsbury Park, the sound of their peers playing across the site around them, Crawlers are busy plotting the next step toward world domination. “Honestly, we love just like writing music,” explains Amy. “Any time we just get to do that, as well as playing some amazing gigs, that’s the goal. It all comes from writing….”

“But you know…” begins Liv, “headlining a main stage and playing arenas wouldn’t be too bad either!”

“Why not!?” Holly adds. “What has become so special since the pandemic is just how mad live gigs are. We’ve watched some insane artists, and the way they perceive music is just fucking magic. Like, watching a Self Esteem show is amazing. Watching other artists using colours and stuff, like Baby Queen with ‘Colours Of You’ – all of these different elements we maybe didn’t think about before, we want to bring into our performance. It’s made it even more exciting for what we do next.”

Whatever it may be, the world will be hearing about it. Sweaty gigs, leather pants and all. ■

Taken from the September 2022 edition of Dork, out now. Crawler’s new single ‘I Don’t Want It’ is out now.

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