Creeper’s latest album Sanguivore is out for blood.
Known for their bombastic theatrics, Creeper is continuously seeking to one-up themselves. Ever evolving, and constantly restless, their third and latest album, Sanguivore is a testament to how far they’ve come. Bigger, bolder, bloodier than they’ve ever been, the band takes the very definition of ‘ambitious’ and leaves it at the door. Pushing the envelope and pushing themselves, this album ups the ante. With songs like “The Ballad of Spook and Mercy,” to “Black Heaven” and “Further than Forever” (which comes in at a whopping 9 minutes), Sanguivore is a film in sonic form. Every track is perfectly placed to tell the story of Mercy and Spook’s relationship, how they came to be the monsters they are, and the struggle to hold onto what is left of their humanity. Gothic and ghoulish, in the most delightful way, those looking for something to sink their teeth into will find it in Sanguivore.
While speaking with Gould, it’s immediately evident how much how much blood (emphasis on blood), sweat, and tears went into the making of the album. The goal was (and always is) to transport the listeners; to tell them a story, to take them away to a faraway land and forget the world – if only for a little while. Sanguivore achieves that within the first few minutes of listening. Will admits that he wasn’t sure if there was room for something as experimental as this album, but the risk is certainly worth the reward. Sanguivore harkens back to albums like Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, and Jim Steinman’s Bad For Good, with an emphasis on storytelling that just isn’t seen as often anymore. While paying homage to the greats, Gould takes pride in the fact that Creeper was able to turn out an album that further tests the boundaries of their musicality. Who knows how far they’ll push next?
In conversation with 1883 Magazine’s Dana Reboe, Will Gould discusses Creeper’s latest album, working in the iconic Rockfield Studios, what he wanted to do before turning to music, where he finds inspiration, why Sanguivore is the album he’s most proud of to date and so much more.
Death and Rebirth are big themes in Creeper’s music. How do you feel you’ve evolved?
I’ve always insisted with alternative music, that we have such an obsession with the finite. Often you see bands become infinitely more popular once they’ve broken up [laughs]. I’m not quite sure where we land. I think one of the things that’s always made Creeper quite an intriguing prospect to me was its fragility. There was always this feeling that made you kind of fall off the rails. You know, it was always very chaotic. It’s never been a sure bet. I think those themes have been quite constant with us, as we change as people, but that also means we wanted to change the character of the band each time around, which has been a complete nightmare in other aspects of the band because people get to know you as one thing and then you turn around and you become something else. And yet they don’t know where to place you in it anymore. We seem to keep doing it and it seems to keep working out so I mean
Did you always know you wanted to be a musician? Was that always the plan or what would you have been?
No. God, no [laughs]. I was going to make films. I guess that’s why Creeper to me feels like a band that wishes it was a film. It always wishes it was something else, something more. I think that’s why I love the idea of telling stories. I kind of fell into music because I was putting on gigs. Punk gigs. I was involved in the DIY punk community here in England, quite a lot when I was younger. One of the singers called in sick for a show, so they asked me to do it, so, I did it. I was just shouting back then, not really singing. But over time, I was like, ‘Oh, God, wouldn’t it be better if I wasn’t shouting and losing my voice at the same time.’ So, I decided to start singing and losing my voice instead. Now music has taken over my entire life. My house is full of the stuff we make. I love music so much. Every part of it. I just never really saw myself as a showman when I was younger. I always saw myself as a director and making things but never really being on a stage. I had a really bad stutter when I was younger, I struggled to pronounce ‘Rs’ very well. Now I’m in a band called Creeper so I have to laugh.
I love the irony of you having the stutter, overcoming said stutter, and becoming the lead singer of a band.
It’s a nightmare [laughs].
If you could make a film right now, what would you make? If Hollywood threw money at you and said, ‘Go make something,’ what would you do?
I would try to do something with the record we’ve just done. Every time, I wish we had the money to make a film. When I was younger, I was obsessed with writing musical numbers. I had this idea for a musical as a kid called Cosmic Love; it was about a boy who fell in love with an alien. It had these really great songs that I wrote. I was going to try to sing them and make a whole production of it. But we ended up gutting the whole thing using a lot of modular parts for different Creeper things in the end. But I would love to do something like that.
Further than Forever is a nine-minute Gothic epic, which I loved. It was theatrical and grandiose. It gave me Bohemian Rhapsody vibes, mostly because of the length, but there were certainly some sonic parallels. What did the process look like putting that song together? I still can’t get over nine minutes because it didn’t feel lengthy at all.
I know and it’s so preposterous [laughter]. You know, the funny thing is, the reason it may share some DNA with Bohemian Rhapsody is we recorded it in the same room they [Queen] recorded in — in Rockfield Studios here in the UK, it’s a very famous studio. It’s known as the Bohemian Rhapsody room, but Iggy Pop has been there, The Simple Minds. We were lucky enough that our producer, Tom [Dalgety], had a hookup, to use the studio. We’ve had this idea to do a big, epic, song for ages. But they take days to write. We would get to the end of the writing process and say, ‘Well this one kind of sucks,’ and bin it and start over. This is the first time we’ve seen it through to the end. Tom just wouldn’t let it die. He wouldn’t let us give it up. So, then it became a question of where do you put it on the record? You’d be insane to put it first.
But it has to go first. It gives a feel for the rest of the album.
Exactly! Because if you can get away with that, then people know to expect the unexpected. It’s like seeing the sign on the gate of Frankenstein’s castle, ‘Do not enter.’ If you don’t enjoy the first song maybe don’t enter and listen to the rest.
Who are your major influences as a band and if you could perform with an artist living or dead who would it be and why?
Oh, that’s a really good question. My favourite artist of all time when I was a kid was David Bowie. I was a huge fan of his music and I love the fact that he changed in every record, moved with the times, and never stood still. Also, in terms of discovering my sexuality as a young man, he was a very important figure for me. But on this record, our hero is this guy called Jim Steinman, he wrote the music for Meatloaf, Celine Dion, and Bonnie Tyler and produced so much more. He was this incredible visionary, who kind of followed in the footsteps of someone like Phil Spector. He was a terrible man [laughter] but fantastic albums. Phil Spector was like the rock- ‘n’-roll equivalent where everything should be bigger and larger. I think, as a kid who felt out of place when he was younger, seeing Meatloaf, and Bat Out of Hell, this odd record in my dad’s collection, which was otherwise a typical record collection, it was incredible to be introduced to that. So, we dedicate this one to Jim Steinman who sadly passed away last year. Those two would probably be the strongest influences for me.
My favourite tracks on the album are “The Ballad of Spook and Mercy” because who doesn’t love a good tone shift? And I love “Black Heaven”. If you had to choose a favourite, which song would it be and why? I know I’m asking you to choose between your children [laughter].
Well, one of them has to die. I think “The Ballad of Spook and Mary” is one of my favourites, just because it’s something we haven’t done before. It allowed us to lead into this murder ballad and that was really, fun. “More Than Death,” maybe. I’m proud of that one. I wrote that here, in my house. We had COVID and I had no voice, and my partner was working downstairs and I was screeching that high note because I couldn’t sing it properly.
I know. Bless her for putting up with it over and over again. Which, you know, sometimes she’d have calls for work, and I’d just be screeching in the background [laughs]. That one was a very close and personal one to me. I think it’s my favourite song we’ve done. I’ve very pleased with it.
When you look back at how far you come as a band and as an artist, what is a moment that sticks out in your mind as, ‘Wow, we made it.’
I don’t know if we’ve hit our full stride. This record is my favourite thing we’ve done, but we’ve done some incredible things recently. We played a secret headliner at one of the stages at Download Festival over here. This is crazy because you see this stuff as a kid and you never expect to do it, too. The show was amazing, and I’m still in shock anyone showed up to see us. The kids were so into it. It was a spectacle. We’ve done bigger shows than that, on bigger stages, but I always try not to take it for granted. Incredibly, people want to hear our stuff. It’s certainly music that seems like it was made for a different time sometimes. We don’t necessarily fit very easily into those established scenes where boxes need to be checked, so it’s nice that people even give a shit! [laughs]
Shifting gears, a little bit, I know we were talking about films before, what are some movies that stuck with you, have inspired you, and moved you?
Okay, so one of my favourite films is a musical by Brian De Palma called Phantom of Paradise. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it’s really good. It’s kind of a riff on the Phantom of the Opera but with rock-‘n’-roll songs. It’s brilliant. It’s got some amazing piano ballads. If it were me, it would just be ballads all the time. It’s got a great piano ballad and a great movie monster. I was just over in Florida with my partner for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal – I love all that stuff. We went to the horror and make-up show; they had Creature from the Black Lagoon costumes, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But I loved – still love slasher films. Bloody and gory stuff.
I would say if you’re into slashers, check out the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix. It’s excellent. It’s not usually my thing, but I was surprised by how well it was done.
My partner is a really big slasher fan, too. We were both obsessed with the Terrifier movies. Not sure if you’ve seen those. I’ll give her the heads-up since we’re looking for something new to watch.
What are a few songs that altered your brain chemistry growing up and you still find yourself listening to today?
Oh, my God, there’s so many. Oh, where would I begin? I was listening to Lou Reed’s Transformer the other day. I took a picture of myself in a pair of sunglasses and was like, ‘I look like this old photograph of Lou Reed.’ Satellite of Love is brilliant. It’s incredible. That moment when the backing vocals come in. I was actually at my partner’s parents’ house and that song came on and the whole family began to sing along. The Misfits were a really big influence on me growing up. They’re one of my favourite bands in the world. I remember hearing Static Age for the first time and it just blew my head off. Hybrid Moments seems like a really obvious answer, but that song is crack. It has a timeless hook and melody. Truly a fantastic song. Another one is Love Hurts by Roy Orbison. It’s beautiful. Also, off the Mystery Girl album is a song called You’ve Got It, which is brilliant. I could keep going all day.
Hey, feel free, I’m taking notes over here [laughter]. This is your most ambitious album to date. How would you describe it to someone who has never heard it before? What’s the elevator pitch?
That’s a hard one. It’s romantic, bombastic, and theatrical. It’s tragic, it’s heroic. Blood-soaked to its very core. It’s like a film for your ears. The album intends to take you from one place to another and create a fantasy world for you every time the real world gets a little too tough. You can always appear and disappear when you want. It’s about stepping into somewhere else. All the greatest records, in my opinion, always helped me travel back to another space, to another time. If you’re ever feeling a little down in the dumps you can be transported back to a simpler time. I hope this record kind of works a similar magic. Magic only music can do.
Well, last night I was transported. If that was the goal, then your audience is truly in for a treat.
Thank you for saying so!
You’re very welcome. Lastly, I have to know: what was it like being beheaded on stage? Was it an out-of-body experience? [a pause] I’m so sorry.
[Will laughs for a minute] I’m using that. It was. It was a logistical nightmare. There are lots of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes on things all the time. My partner has worked on special effects and makeup with us and for everything. She did lots of that at university but professionally as well. She was doing that and I was having my head moulded by a man called Clive in Gloucester prison, which is one of the last prisons in the UK where we hanged a person. So, I went there and had my head moulded. I had to have it completely sculpted around and it’s awful. Have you ever had it done?
It’s truly awful. It’s claustrophobic. You can’t see. You can smell via your nose, but your ears are plugged and now you have all this heavy stuff weighing you down. From the very offset, only a few people knew what was coming. During the whole gig, I was like, ‘I really hope this goes well.’ I was grateful when the trick worked. Who knew a beheading would be so much trouble?
Sanguivore is out now.
Interview Dana Reboe