Monday 18 March 2024, 7:30pm - 11pm
tickets subject to 10% booking fee
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Epic Studios, 112-114 Magdalen St, Norwich NR3 1JD
14+ (under 16’s to be accompanied by an adult over 18)
UK rock heroes Creeper have been resurrected with a hugely ambitious, Americana-tinged sophomore effort, ‘Sex, Death and the Infinite Void’ – a nostalgia drenched story about love, loss, friendship, and an Englishman in LA.
At approximately 10.30pm on 1st November 2018 at London’s KOKO, the curtain came down on the UK’s most exciting band. Enigmatic Creeper frontman Will Gould gave a speech that echoed the late David Bowie’s infamous farewell at his Hammersmith Apollo gig in 1972. “Of all the shows we’ve played in this last four years, this one will remain with us the longest,” said Gould before launching into the final track of their set, “because not only is it the last show of this album, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do”. Distraught fans wept in disbelief, confused at why, at the height of their powers, their favourite band would disappear.
Creeper had formed in 2014 in Southampton, each of its members influenced by their mutual involvement in the town’s hardcore scene and a love of punk and glam rock. Oliver Burdett and Hannah Greenwood soon joined founding members Gould, Ian Miles, Dan Bratton and Sean Scott in 2015. “Creeper was born out of wanting to bring a fantasy element to punk rock, something we believed had been lost as we got older with all the plaid shirt-wearing emo bands,” says Gould proudly today. “We wanted to create something flamboyant, that had pomp,” They achieved this in spades with EPs that immediately garnered an obsessive fan-base of outsiders and lost teenagers affectionately dubbing themselves the Creeper Cult. The band were hailed as the best new rock band of recent times by critics, receiving a Kerrang! Award and Metal Hammer Golden Gods Award in 2016. Debut album Eternity, In Your Arms (2017) aimed to heighten their hometown by the sea to a place of mystery and grandeur; to echo realisations about growing up and out of your old, younger self. It debuted at number 1 in the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart and in the top 20 of the UK Albums Chart. Rarely does a new band break through into a scene where the majority of groups achieving those feats are 10+ years into their career, especially with a debut album.
Masters of play and pastiche, the six-piece had always planned to disappear - albeit temporarily - once they’d finished touring their debut, but suddenly it felt like they’d have to disappear from the music scene for good. Guitarist Ian Miles was extremely unwell and about to be hospitalised, Gould was burnt out and exhausted. The pair had supported each other through mental health struggles in the past but this was altogether more serious and unknown territory.
The worst year of Gould’s life was about to begin. The week after Miles was sectioned, the pair were meant to fly to LA to write the second album; Creeper’s leader had to go alone. Over the next 12 months, his mum’s partner unexpectedly passed away and his relationship with his fiance was on the brink of collapse. “I’d really hurt people but was running away from that as well. Every part of my life was affected.” Unsure of what else to do, Gould threw all his focus and emotional energy into the album. He knew that everything had to be different – in both his own life and with the band. He wanted to build on the glam, goth-leaning rock they were loved for but push through to create something far more ambitious. Indeed, as Gould admits, “The only way to make another Creeper record, as difficult as it was, was to smash Creeper to the ground.”
This would be a total rejection of the generic big-production pop punk direction they could easily take. Instead Gould wanted fans to see the pomp, joy and spirit of Creeper through the lens of the colourful and sentimental Americana of Bruce Springsteen and Roy Orbison, with the theatrical glam of Marc Bolan and T-Rex.
Gould would sleep all day in his Hollywood apartment and at night emerge into the seedy, flashy underbelly of Los Angeles. Partying, exploring and attending fetish clubs, the Englishman in LA quickly felt at home among the goths, punks, misfits and reprobrates of the city. Although he was having a wild ride, it wasn’t without challenges. “My alcoholism had veered massively out of control,” he remembers. “I’d swing from optimism about the band’s future to conversations with Ian that made me believe he’d never get better, and recovery wouldn’t happen.” Gould wrote some of the album alone but some he and Miles wrote together over a webcam – Gould on a mini keyboard in his rented room in the States and his musical partner with an instrument from the Priory hospital in England.
Created amongst this emotional turmoil under the hot LA sun, Sex, Death & the Infinite Void is a concept album that loosely mirrors Gould’s life. Boy moves to new city, goes off the rails, meets new girl, falls in love and the world as they know it ends. It’s what Gould calls his take on “apocalyptic romanticism.” Never has there been a more appropriate time for riotous end-of-days anthems as we edge closer to the infinite void ourselves. Through rousing gang choruses, sharp rat-pack style and a golden touch of modern country, the journey is a cinematic adventure through Gould’s extraordinary mind. “Modern love can feel like suicide,” he promises on ‘Cyanide’, inviting listeners to join him boldly “kissing in the acid rain” – a track bourne from the singer’s experience falling in love with his now-girlfriend. Multiple tracks feature vocals and spoken word from Gould’s personal friend and Sisters of Mercy goth legend Patricia Vanian (stage name Morrison). Together she and Gould banter, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Meat Loaf’s high energy back-and-forth choruses. It’s glamour, laughs and love right until Gould sings his character’s swan song (“let love kill me”) on penultimate track ‘Black Moon’.
The album finishes on a personal, painful note. The frontman steps out in front of the curtains for an honest comment on the band’s trials and triumph. “After numerous interventions for my alcoholism, I’d sit at the piano and drink a bottle of scotch a day at the studio,” Gould remembers of his LA days. “Everyone had gone home bar the assistant when I wrote this final song on the record. The assistant said I had to record it. I thought it was too personal but I played it to the rest of the band – including Ian – and they said it had to go on the album.” The resulting piano ballad ‘All My Friends’ is a timeless ode to his dearest friend and Creeper guitarist, Ian Miles. “It’s still a song I can’t listen to, but it wouldn’t be the album without it.”
Sex, Death & the Infinite Void exceeds any expectations the band and their hardcore fans could have dreamed for themselves. In 2020 we welcome a new, high-drama Creeper: bigger, better and taking risks like no band in the UK has dared to for at least a decade. If you’re brave enough in these dangerous times, join them to kiss, dance and survive in the acid rain.
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