“The Creeps are going, going to the gas chamber!” But before that, Skottie Lobotomy lead singer of Ottowa punk rock band The Creeps answered a few questions about his time in the band so far, which is pertinent since they are about to play a local show celebrating 15 years as a band. I will refrain from rambling on about the band and their latest LP Eulogies (I did that enough already here: https://keeptrackofthetime.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/review-the-creeps-eulogies-its-alive-records/), but safe to say I rate The Creeps up there with the best in contemporary pop-punk.
Hello Skottie! Can you introduce The Creeps to Keep Track of the Time readers?
Hi Dave. Sure. We’re a three-piece band from Ottawa, Ontario. We started playing together in 1999. This month is our 15th year anniversary as a band, which is kinda wild. I guess we play dark, melodic punk music. We grew up playing and listening to classic pop-punk, so there are elements of that sound in our songs but smarter people than me have noted that we’ve kinda shifted away from our roots to forge our own ‘sound’ in recent years, which is nice of them to say and I tend to agree.
Your new album Eulogies came out in July on It’s Alive Records. Are you pleased with how it turned out?
Yeah, we’re extremely pleased and pretty proud of this one. We hadn’t released a full-length since 2007 and I kinda wondered if we even had it in us anymore. All three of us play in a bunch of different bands now and the Creeps is less of a priority than maybe it once was, but once the songs started churning out it became an easy process. And there’s definitely something to be said for the ease of writing songs with people you’ve been doing it with for so long. We fell really easily back into things.
It has been six years since your last LP Lakeside Cabin. We have had multiple 7”s during that time, but why did it take so long for an album to appear?
Part of it is the multiple bands thing and not practicing as religiously as we used to, part of it is being busier in our personal lives and part of it is just my songwriting process. I tend to like to write pretty compartmentalized records from a lyrical standpoint – not necessarily ‘concept’ records, though we’ve done some of those, but at least records with a consistent theme – and I’d kinda exhausted some of the old stories I liked to write songs around. It just took me a while to figure out what I wanted to sing about this time around.
How was the recording process for Eulogies?
It was pretty typical for us. We’ve been recording with our friend Paul ‘Yogi’ Granger at his Meatlocker studio here in Ottawa for the past few recordings we’ve done and we’re always happy with the results. He’s got a great ear for melody and is definitely a valuable fourth voice in the room when we’re working with him.
You also released the vinyl for Lakeside Cabin through It’s Alive Recs, as well as the Follow You Home 7”. How did you get involved with It’s Alive?
We did a split with our friends FEAR OF LIPSTICK from Moncton, NB, who put out some records on It’s Alive and I think that’s how we probably ended up on Adam’s radar. I think it was a mutual admiration thing after that – we liked his label and he liked our band, so it was an easy fit. He’s such an awesome dude to work with and such a positive supporter of our music that it’s been a no-brainer to keep working with him on subsequent releases.
Looking back on your early releases, it was 2003 that you put out your first album Gamma Gamma Ray. How do you feel looking back on that album now?
I think all three of us feel strangely proud..? I mean, it’s a juvenile effort in every sense. We could barely play our instruments and fell into the obvious “pop-punk” tropes of the time, but so what? We came by it honestly and loved what we were doing then and that’s the attitude we’ve taken towards the band ever since. Most people our age still playing in bands have the luxury of no longer being attached to the songs they wrote when they were 19. We just never broke up our band when everyone else did and at this point, I think that’s kinda cool.
How was it that The Creeps formed as a band?
We met in University. I was in first year and Ian was one of my frosh leaders (a role which he performed horribly). One day he came into my room and embarrassingly caught me wistfully listening to my old band’s CD and figured out that I played guitar and asked if I wanted to start a band with a “drummer” he knew (Jordy’s drumming qualifications were that he had access to a drum kit, more or less). The next week, the three of us met in Ian’s basement and learned a MOPES song together. That was almost exactly 15 years ago today.
Considering the early stuff, how do you think you have developed as a band over the years? For me, Lakeside Cabin seemed a pretty significant shift in sound.
I’ll leave it to others to try to describe the way our sound has changed, but I think you’re right that ‘Lakeside’ represented a sort of shift away from what we were doing originally. By that point, I’d become a much more confident songwriter and lyricist and we’d at least graduated from ‘comically ill-equipped’ to ‘not horrible’ at playing our instruments, so that helped. I’d like to think that those trends have continued since 2008, when that record originally came out.
Song-writing wise, the change seems to have been from a straight up sci-fi Lillingtons-esque style to recurring themes of murder and serial killers. How did these ideas/themes develop in your songwriting?
It was actually on ‘Back to the ‘Bin’ that I feel like I started writing lyrics based around stories I had kicking around in my head, rather than just regurgitating the lyrical content of our favourite bands at the time – the Lillingtons being an obvious one, local legends the Riptides being another. I can’t really describe why I write what I do, except to say that I find the subjects titillating, and sometimes genuinely frightening. Most people find it weird that I am legitimately terrified of horror movies and never watch them. I guess one of the things that I’ve always been aware of when swimming in those lyrical waters is how easy it is to fall into the realm of schlock and it’s something I’ve tried to avoid. All of this said, I think the lyrical bent on ‘Eulogies’ is a different beast altogether and kinda represents another shift for me.
What is like to be a part of the Ottawa punk rock scene? There seems to have been a ton of good stuff coming from there in recent years.
It’s been an incredibly exciting time to be writing and playing music in Ottawa over the past 5-6 years. There’s been a friendly competitiveness that I think has forced everyone involved to raise the bar for their own bands in terms of effort and quality-control that’s been amazing to witness and to be a part of. That, coupled with the genuine support that bands in this city show for one another and the small group of committed individuals, many of whom we count as great friends, who promote shows regularly, who run affordable rehearsal spaces, who manage awesome labels and distros, who operate awesome little recording studios and who organize incredible annual music festivals like the GAGA Weekend and its older brother OTTAWA EXPLOSION – it all makes for a pretty cool time and place to be in a band.
As well as The Creeps, you are also involved in The Visitors and Crusades. How do you manage to fit it all in? Do you tour regularly or semi-regularly with any of the bands?
We’re all involved in multiple bands – I’m also in CRUSADES and BLACK TOWER, with Erin from the VISITORS and Dave from CRUSADES on drums, Jordy also plays drums in CRUSADES and Ian also plays bass in a new band called the STEADY SHAKES, who are awesome. None of our bands tour with any regularity as we all hold down full-time jobs, but we treat the bands as more than just hobbies, with regular band practices and playing shows as much as we’re willing and able.
Finally then, what do The Creeps have planned for the rest of 2014?
First, we have our local record release/15th anniversary show coming up on October 24th at an incredible new venue in Ottawa called the HOUSE OF TARG, which is operated in part by Yogi, who recorded a bunch of our records and by Kevin from the VISITORS. We’ll probably play some release shows in Toronto, Montreal and other surrounding areas in the coming months and then after that, who knows. We tend not to plan too far ahead these days, which suits us fine.
Check out The Creeps latest release here: http://thecreeps.bandcamp.com/album/eulogies