Everyone’s favourite glam goth punks are back, and – if possible – CREEPER are embracing weirdness more than ever before.
Words: Ali Shutler
Photo: Frances Beach
“We’re a weird band, and we do everything a weird way,” explains Creeper’s vocalist, the newly christened William Von Ghould. Despite being beheaded onstage at the band’s November headline show at London’s Roundhouse, he seems to be in good spirits. The band have just announced new album ‘Sanguivore’, laid waste to both Slam Dunk and Download and shared sultry, outrageous new single ‘Cry To Heaven’.
While last year’s ‘Ghost Brigade’ confirmed the band’s new in-universe gang, it sparked rumours within the fanbase that Creeper were settling down or playing it safe. The horror. “We wanted to release something because we knew we’d be away for a little while finishing up the album,” explains Will. By contrast, ‘Cry To Heaven’ is a statement piece that shows the band’s “intent to keep moving forward and aggressively progressing”.
“We probably would be twice the size we are now maybe if we kept giving people exactly what they wanted, but that was never what we wanted to do with the band,” he adds.
According to Will, the epic, bombastic track “sums up a lot of the record”, but if people think they’re going to get a load more tracks that sound similar, they’ll be mistaken. “It keeps people guessing, and that’s the fun of it,” he says about the song. “Plus, it’s just really fun to dance to.”
At recent shows, ‘Cry To Heaven’ has been Creeper’s opening song (after Hannah holds up Will’s decapitated head), and the band were all taken aback by how quickly the audience has embraced the new, flamboyant sound. “We honestly thought it would take people a while to get their heads around this new sound, which is basically a love letter to lots of the bands we were influenced by when we first started Creeper.”
“‘Cry To Heaven’ is sexy in the same way that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is sexy”
The band have always worn their influences on their sleeve, and ‘Sanguivore’ is no different, with Sisters Of Mercy, Metallica, and The Damned all making their mark across the record. Creeper have always been a fan of the gothic glam of the 80s, and working with producer Tom Dalgety allowed them to lean fully into that world. “He’s got this vast knowledge of how to make something sound real, big and immersive,” Will says.
There’s a lot going on with ‘Cry To Heaven’, with the brooding harmonies, sultry lyrics and *that* guitar solo making it easily the sexiest song Creeper have ever put their name to.
“A big part of goth music and that subculture is that it’s sexy, but in a very camp way,” explains Will. “’Cry To Heaven’ is sexy in the same way that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is sexy. Sleep Token’s ‘Take Me Back To Eden’ is a super sexy record, whereas our song is sexy in a silly way.”
“The biggest thing people get wrong about Creeper is thinking that there’s no humour in it,” he continues. “We take this band seriously because it’s our baby, our community, and it offers people a safe place, but we’re in on the joke,” says Will, pointing to their new head of social media, Darcia, who teased this new era by promising “it’ll be time for new music as quickly as you can say ‘I preferred the first EP’.”
Will goes on to describe the lyrics of ‘Sanguivore’ as “overblown to the maximum”, with nods to Depeche Mode and American Nightmare. “It’s a conceptual fantasy, which is what we’ve always done, but this is the most out there we’ve ever been.”
“Each time around, Creeper feels like a different band,” says Will, with ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ feeling like a grand departure from everything else that had come before. “Again, this feels different to either of those two bands,” he adds.
So, why has it taken Creeper so long to make the 80s vampire record?
“We couldn’t have started this way because the songs would have been sketchy,” explains Will, with the group needing the experience of making ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ behind them. “We wrote over 80 songs for that record, and we scrapped most of them because they were dogshit,” he laughs.
“This has been the quickest record we’ve ever made by a considerable margin, but they’re harder songs than we’ve ever written before,” he continues. “’Cry To Heaven’ might seem simple, but it’s so reliant on that hook, you have to build the whole song around it.” And be confident in your abilities to do that. “We’re very comfortable playing this music because we grew up with it,” adds Will.
Following the emotional and personal struggles that dominated the recording of ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’, ‘Sanguivore’ saw Will and guitarist Ian Miles back together in a room, throwing ideas around between them. “It kinda felt like it did at the very, very, very beginning,” says Will before going on to call this era “a rebirth in the truest sense we’ve ever done it so far. It’s not been scary; it’s been pleasant… which is weird,” he adds.
Previous Creeper albums have dealt with religion, shame, belonging and grief. Will is hesitant to get too in-depth about what ‘Sanguivore’ has in store for people but does say the record reflects that feeling of rebirth. “The metaphor with the vampire is kinda obvious.”
“This record has layers, and it sent us in a really weird direction,” he continues. “The first song is nine minutes long, talks a lot about the main character’s sexuality and is absolutely fucking outrageous The conclusion to the record is a song called ‘Modern Death’, which is about dying and being happy with who you are. This album corrects past mistakes and is very much a new lease of life for the band. We’re so excited about this one; it feels like there’s a real fever in the air,” he adds.
Despite the hype of debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ and the continued success of ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’, Creeper weren’t worried about living up to what’s come before with ‘Sanguivore’. “You make these things for yourself, and you hope people like them. If you start making records to try and please other people, though, you’ll end up with something awful.”
“Creeper exists in its own little world,” he continues. “That’s never more evident at somewhere like Slam Dunk. We are strange theatre people, wandering around a festival full of people who fit into certain scenes a little easier. We’re far too panto for a lot of people in that world. I’m not trying to say we’re reinventing the wheel by any means on this album, but we are still the weird kids at the table. If we were in The Breakfast Club, we’d be the kid with the dandruff,” he grins. “I don’t worry about it too much.”
“People look at Creeper and see the surface-level pantomime and assume the whole thing is one-dimensional, but we tell you it’s insincere from the offset,” Will says, pointing to the massive vampire on the album’s artwork. “We’re presenting this story as something that’s fantastical and otherworldly, but if you look past that and spend some time with it, you’ll probably see it’s far more sincere than you first thought,” he explains, a balm to the countless bands trying to constantly force sincerity down their audience’s throats.
“There is a deeper meaning behind what we’re trying to say, but it’s wrapped up in this wild story. As with all the records we’ve made, you come for the fantasy but stick around for the crisis in the middle. It’s a very emotional record,” says Will. “It’s the most dramatic thing we’ve done as a band, and it’s also the darkest. There’s campy gore, but it has heart behind it.” ■
Taken from the July 2023 edition of Upset. Creeper’s album ‘Sanguivore’ is out 13th October.