A ‘Happier’ Record Created in Old Churches? Yup, Creeper Tells Us About ‘Sanguivore’

In just about 10 days, one of our favorite albums of the entire year is going to be in your possession, but until then…

Every iteration of Creeper has been some of the most genuine art we’ve ever seen from a rock band in the 21st century. Dressed to the nines in leather with addition of spooky face paint, the band is so much more than just another goth group; their songs have soul woven in. Without saying too much about the new record, we will say that their discography is astounding with not one release sounding remotely similar to the previous. 

Their new album, Sanguivore, is available this month on Friday the 13th via Spinefarm Records. The band is touring throughout the UK in November, will hit the US soon enough, and are just more than ready to kick off this new album cycle. The Aquarian is part of that, too, because we had the incredible chance to talk with Will Ghould, frontman for Creeper, about the forthcoming LP .

Sanguivore is out October 13 – how are you feeling?

I’m feeling great, thanks! It’s a very exciting time for us. Obviously every time there’s a new Creeper record it always feels very exciting. It doesn’t happen everyday! We’ve been a band for 10 years next year and we’ve only ever made three full-lengths, so it’s quite a significant time period when you’re doing these things. We are very excited for people to hear it. [There has] been an amazing response so far with the singles we’ve put out. We’re ready to get back into touring. It’s the first proper thing we’ve done since the pandemic, as well, so we’re excited to be back overseas soon next year and get back to doing this full-time!

Of course! With Creeper, every single record has pushed forward and pushed boundaries. Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void [2020] was so different from Eternity in Your Arms [2017]. Now this one is so unique in its own way. Tell me about writing this record. What was your mindset going in?

This one has actually got a little bit of a happier story than the last one. The last one was born from quite a lot of trauma, I suppose. Ian Miles, our guitar player, entered a psychiatric hospital halfway through the recording of it and left me in Los Angeles writing a lot of things on my own at times. So, this one has been really healthy. It actually feels very similar to when we first began the band. It was written and created over here in England. The last one obviously being our American record, that was the way we always saw it. It was American-produced off of Sunset Strip in Hollywood. This one? I live in this converted Church apartment here in England. We wrote a lot of it in the old church and Tom Dalgety – who you’ll know from Ghost and did Prequelle [2018] and “Square Hammer” [by Ghost] and The Pixies, The Cult, The Damned, and Rammstein – also lives in a converted church here in England. This record was written between two very old churches, so I think it had an influence on how the record sounds [Laughs]. Then, the record was recorded in Rockfield Studios, which is a very famous studio over here. You’ll know it for Bohemian Rhapsody, where they recorded that song. Iggy Pop recorded there! The Damned did an album there! It’s a very different process than the last time around. I think it’s got a very classic rock feel for that reason, as well. It was written in two very big old churches and recorded in a very famous old studio over here. 

I hear it through the record! Hannah Greenwood [keyboardist, vocalist] with the organs, pianos, and spooky background vocals makes the album feel like a performance in a gothic cathedral when you listen to it. Now, if I heard that right, you live in an abandoned church? That’s amazing!

Yeah! It’s a converted 18th century church. It’s really cool. There’s a huge old window that goes across three floors in my house. It’s very cool. It’s very spooky. Where our electric meter is in this house, it’s downstairs in a crypt. Everytime a man comes around to read the meter I have to let him down into the crypt. It’s really terrifying and haunted down there. It’s a crazy place to live.

I love the mental image of, maybe you’re running late for a show, you’re getting dressed up in the apartment but you’ve got to let the guy downstairs. You’ve got fake blood on your face telling him to go into the crypt [Laughs].

You should see it! Our house is obviously full of Halloween nonsense everywhere. There’s all these stained glass windows in the front of it. When people come over to do maintenance, they come in and it is really off-putting for people sometimes, but it is very funny! You end up in some strange situations and get some strange looks! 

I can only imagine! Diving back into the new record, I want to talk about the opening track, “Further than Forever.” It is a nine-minute epic. Tell me about how you guys went about writing that?

I love Jim Steinman, really. You know him from “Bat out of Hell” and Bonnie Tyler, and all these great massive songs that we love so much. You don’t hear very much of that around these days but it’s always been one of our favorite things. Creeper has always had a massive Meatloaf [influence] leaning on it from the very early stages. We tried to make one of these big long epics before a few times, but every time we got to the end of it, we never really liked what we made. This time around I had a piano piece I had been writing for ages. Every time we were in a dressing room and there was a piano there, I’d be hammering away playing it. Ian had this crazy intro – the Halloween-style intro at the beginning. We took it to Tom and showed him this idea we had. He had a great idea, as well, that prog-y, second act of the epic. Then it was a question of how to tie it all together. We managed to do it and the three of us found the right balance of it all. We put it on the beginning of the record because the idea was, if you’re listening to the band for the first time and you hear that as the first song from this album, it lets the listener know you can expect the unexpected. We can go anywhere! It was a statement of intent, really. It’s probably one of the most elaborate things we’ve done so far. 

It just feels so grandiose and orchestral, but also very punk rock at its core. I remember you talked about how writing this record was a happier process than previous ones, but sonically I think it’s the darkest Creeper record we’ve heard to date. What was it like going into the concept period – creating these stories, these characters, making the darkest record? 

That’s always the plan; it’s been the plan for years to make the third one a darker one. I wanted to try and eclipse everything we’ve done in the past in terms of its tone. On the last one, sonically, it was a lot brighter with joy and seventies glam and Brit-pop and even some Americana. These things aren’t necessarily darker sounding things. The idea was to make the ultimate goth record on this one – goth in an eighties bombastic way. Yeah, it’s a very violent record. It tells a story and it takes you from one place to another. The last one in terms of our real lives is probably a lot darker on the outside than it was on the inside.

Being stable around it has enabled us to tell a story that’s a lot more vicious perhaps on the inside. Sometimes when your life is shrouded in darkness you’ll find any way to look up into the light. This time around with things being a little calmer outside the art we were making it was easier to tinker around and make things sharper inside. So, yeah, this one is a lot darker in terms of its lyrical tone and what it’s trying to say, and, obviously it’s a record that’s so storied around vampires. The nature was that was always going to be quite violent, aggressive, and bloodthirsty. That’s how we ended up the way we were. It’s been a really nice process this time around. It’s odd!

You’re right! If you’re writing a record about vampires, every track can’t sound like “Thorns of Love.” It’s just not going to work!

No! [Laughs] That’s very true!

I remember the first time hearing The Ballad of Spook and Mercy. You always write these incredible concept records, but the imagery you painted with your lyrics… I feel like we haven’t heard Creeper take such a direct approach before.

Yeah, every time around it’s always a challenge of what influences we can show and what way we can expand and create new horizons for ourselves. Certainly that song is an old fashioned murder-ballad. It takes you from one place to another and it was a challenge to write a lyric like that because we hadn’t really before. There’s very little metaphor in that song; the skill on that one is to take you from one place to another quite literally without having to use too much metaphor, which is difficult when you use metaphor quite a lot! That one is a particularly violent one –quite bloody. I’m looking forward to playing it live, I think it’s going to be a fun one to perform. 

Absolutely! At the beginning of the interview you said that you “can’t wait to go overseas.” It’s been so long. I think the Neck Deep tour was the last time you toured the states, if I’m correct?

That’s right! The last time we did it was 2018. We haven’t been back, but a lot happened in that time period. We killed the band off, took a year to finish Sex, Death, and The Infinite Void, returned, had plans to return to America, but then COVID hit and we were home for two years. It’s kind of eating away! You and I were saying before we started recording that it just feels like that time has dissipated somewhere. The plan absolutely is to always come back! You know what the funny thing is? We had a really great tour and we would have been over probably right now actually, but we couldn’t do the tour because we had a personal commitment in the in-between of it. Hopefully it’ll be next year, and by then we’ll be able to play a lot more of this record. I think it’ll be a great time to see us next year – we’ll be in the stride of the new material. 

That’s got to be tough – to make a setlist. Thinking about it, two records have passed and an EP called American Noir. How do you begin to decipher which tracks to play when you do finally come over to the states?

It’s really difficult these days! I was laughing about this the other day because when we began, we didn’t have enough songs to fill a setlist so we used to cover “Sacrifice Theory” by AFI. We didn’t have enough songs! Now we have too many songs and it becomes tricky. It’s also about how many fast songs you play, how many ballads you play. We’ve got so many ballads. It’s definitely difficult. We’re doing this big tour over here in November with some larger rooms where we’re going to do some really silly stuff. How do you path out a show like that?

We were in Australia right before Christmas with Enter Shikari. Even then, we didn’t have the full album to play yet. We didn’t have “Ghost Brigade.” It was a nightmare to try and work it out, especially because we had never been to Australia before and we were playing some headline shows. Kids have been waiting a long time to see us. “Well, what do we give them?” It’s hard to structure these things and it does become a bit of a challenge. I think maybe we try to play a variety each night – have things change each day. 

You mention those Enter Shikari shows. It’s also funny to see people that don’t know Creeper and are discovering you for the first time do so. Then you have to figure out how this setlist is going to convey to them. 

It’s difficult. Some of the Shikari shows were interesting. Obviously we do a particular thing with Creeper. They were really really fun, we had a great time while we were there, but it’s just always difficult with Creeper to work on the perfect support slot with us. We’ve been in a few different boxes, but there’s never the perfect fit for us. It’s almost perfect that we did the My Chemical Romance shows last year. That was a nice fit because it was another spooky band. It’s definitely hard sometimes to work out. When you’re playing with Enter Shikari, do we just play our heavier songs? What do we do? We don’t want to chicken out and just play our more insane stuff. It’s certainly a puzzle.

Absolutely! I know you just mentioned it, but it’s in my notes, too, so we have to talk about it. You have reached the peak of the emo mountain by touring with My Chemical Romance. Playing a show with My Chem in 2022 is insane to even vocalize. If you were to go back to our conversation from the first time we met three years ago, and tell yourself this, both of us would have been shocked. 

Yeah! They were so nice, as well. They are such nice people! They were very kind to us. We did four shows with them, I think, and it was really really good. The kids were amazing and they were loving it! Gerard hung out with us a bunch. They were really, really nice guys. The thing I try to tell anyone who asks about it is that they’re exactly what you want them to be. They’re just as nice and exactly the way you’d imagine them when you grew up listening to them. They’re so lovely and so polite. It was a dream come true. We met some really lovely people at the shows and it was a blast. It’s a shame because we could have done a whole tour like that! As you said, three years ago when we spoke I wouldn’t have believed it either. My girlfriend came out, as well. Getting to watch My Chem everyday is cool! It was lovely to see them in their element. 

I also think the fans of My Chemical Romance are going to be fans of Creeper. It’s just the way it is! If you love that dark punk style, it goes so well together. It’s the perfect tour, musically. 

It felt like a really nice marriage of bands and sounds. They were so into it and so up for it. It was really nice. I would obviously love to play some more shows together. It was such a blast. I have nothing negative to say at all about any of that. It was the best!

Switching gears and going back into the new record, I’ve got a question about all of the key changes you play with on this record. You have, “Cry To Heaven,” that outro in “Sacred Blashmemy,” and it’s is one of the coolest moments in the Creeper career to date. 

These are territories we’ve never done before. They come from Tom Dalgety. He’s such a spooky guy. He loves all the eighties stuff that we love. He’s like, “We need another key change! Let’s do loads,” so we just put loads in! We have an awful lot of them. As people who have never done it before, we took to it really quickly. It’s fun! Before we knew it, we had three key changes in three songs. It adds that level of silliness… especially something like “Cry To Heave,” which is so over-the-top that it suits the vibe so much. It was really fun and it was at Tom’s direction. Ee taught us the art of the key change. I don’t think we can ever go back now! Every song is going to auction for a key change going forward. 

I get it! During “Sacred Blasphemy” when you have that vocal dialogue and then it hits… it hits like a brick to your chest. I can’t describe it. 

For ages, that part where it jumps down to the spoken passage, there was going to be a beat there. We were going to do a Depeche Mode bit. Nothing we did fit. Then we were like, “Tom, just do a key change.” That was the thing we needed. It was the missing piece. I think it’s funny, “Cry To Heaven” has a key change, “Sacred Blasphemy” has a key change, and then “Spook and Mercy” has key changes. There are three key changes in three songs. 

And they’re back-to-back, too!
[Laughs] I know! It’s a trilogy of key changes.

I do want to ask about how “Ghost Brigade” is not on this record. How come you guys didn’t put “Ghost Brigade,” which was a great release, on here.

There were three songs written in between Eternity In Your Arms and Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void in the demo session. We recycled a couple of them here and there. There was one more to go. It was “Born Cold,” what has become “Ghost Brigade,” and another song called “Death Wish.” All three of them were songs we wrote in a studio in South Hampton. We ended up using “Born Cold” because it felt like it was the perfect bridge from Eternity and Sex Death. With “Ghost Brigade,” we wanted something we could record because we hadn’t used Tom for anything before. We wanted something as a test, almost, to see how we would work together. We took that through and tied it up, fixed it together, and it didn’t feel like it was a progression forward yet. “Born Cold” was, though, because it was in that period we were pushing boundaries into the next one. This one was something from the past. It felt like a good sample track for Tom and also it didn’t feel like it felt with the cadence of the album. Even though there are punk songs on this record – even some of the faster ones we’ve done – they’re a different type of punk; something like “Chapel Gates” is a 77 New Rose thing. “Sacred Blasphemy” sounds like a Misfits song. They are different strains. We gave out free cassette tapes at the Roundhouse and there were 666. They just had “Ghost Brigade” on it. It’s the kind of thing that’s more exclusive. It’s a B-side and something we can throw in the set here and there. That’s just why, really: it didn’t fit. It was a transitional piece and it was to kill some time while we finished up the album. When we killed the band off at the KOKO before Sex, Death and took a year out, this time around we wanted to do the very opposite. Everyone was thinking we’d take another year out. Instead, I got decapitated [on stage] and then we launched straight at that very moment into the new album, a new sound, new look, new logo, everything all at once. By the time everyone got out of the venue, there was a new merch spread with the new logo that no one had ever seen before. They were giving out tapes with the brand new song. They had just watched the video and met Darcia for the first time at the Roundhouse. The idea was completely the opposite of what we’ve done before. We tried it and tried to catch people off guard. 

That level of theatrics is why we love Creeper so much. Exiting the venue and there’s a whole new merch line versus when you walked in? Tying that into the same thing as killing off the band and getting decapitated on stage? It’s just nuts. It’s insane to see. 

Exactly! That’s it, for us – it’s always about doing more. We are supposed to be an experience rather than just a band. There’s a lot of unsung heros that work for Creeper like Beth who plays Darcia, Charlotte who does makeup, lots of our video people and our photo people. It’s a team effort, a lot of this stuff. It’s very funny when you’re backstage at one of these events and there’s something big happening and we know it’s going to be covered by a lot of different places.There is so much that can go wrong; there are vampires running around, there are severed heads, and all sorts of stuff going around. It’s a very chaotic space to get ready. 

I can only imagine what the Creeper dressing room looks like! Blood everywhere, leather jackets, etc. 

It’s like an arts and crafts space! 

Absolutely! So this is your first record with Spinefarm Records. You left Roadrunner. Why did you choose Spinefarm?

Well, we got to the end of the last record we did –Sex, Death, and the Infinite Void – and a lot of the people we were working with at Roadrunner had stopped working there. When it came time to move on, it was time to find a new home.  Our team has not really changed so much from moving… we just kind of gained more people. The reason we chose Spinefarm over other places was because I met with Dante who has been in the music industry a very long time, and he works at Spinefarm and campaigned very hard to get Creeper to come to the label. 

We met up many times. There’s a weird little tradition we have – Me and Ian Miles from Creeper love the Hard Rock Cafe. It’s so shit – I know it’s tacky and rubbish, but that’s why it’s good. I also used to love Planet Hollywood. Now they’re all gone! There used to be a Planet Hollywood in London. Everytime I did press, I made the journalist take me there if we had to go for dinner or something. No one ever wanted to go there because it smells like vomit. There were gremlins from the film and they were disintegrating behind this cabinet of film. I love those places. When we go to Hollywood, we would go to the Hard Rock because it’s really funny and touristy to do. It’s like a city joke we ended up doing all the time – just drinking at the Hard Rock Cafe bar rather than all the great bars that are in Hollywood. Anyway, we made Dante take us to the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester. He took us there loads of times! We went there so much, like five or six times. We sat underneath in a box in the wall where one of David Bowie’s suits from when he did the Serious Moonlight Tour is. The first time we met up with him, he sat across from me and pulled out a copy of Bad For Good, the Jim Steinman record. He said, “This is the record you want to make.” He gave it to me as a gift. From then on, I was sold. I still had to meet up with other people from record companies, but I was still sold on Dante because of that first experience. He believed in us so much. He got the band, he understood it. We’ve been very lucky in that transition. 

It’s so funny to think that Sanguivore in a weird way was also born out of the Hard Rock Cafe!

Yeah! The one in Hollywood is really funny! There’s a band that plays there. It’s great. I love it. I try to get my girlfriend to go with me all the time, but she never wants to go [Laughs].

I’ve got one more question for you, about this being your third record. What’s the most important thing you’ve picked up since that Creeper self-titled EP? You’ve been a band for 10 years and it’s crazy to think about all the journeys you’ve been on. If you had to summarize Creeper then-til-now, what’s one life lesson you took away from it? 

I think the thing that’s been most important for us, the thing we’ve retained and the thing this record shows, is there are lots of people trying to pull you in different directions, especially when you’ve had even small success, so you have to be ruthlessly yourself. You and I were speaking about My Chemical Romance earlier and I think that’s one of the things they always [instilled] in their audience, as well: being ruthlessly who you are. Sometimes our musical evolution will piss some of our existing fans off. Sometimes we are not radio friendly enough. This record could be too violent for some people. There is always something to somebody, but it’s important to stay true to who you are with your artistic output regardless of the semantics around you. I think that that’s the thing that is the most vital. 

There have been times where we’ve had to do things because someone told us it was the right thing to do. It never is. If someone is having to tell you the right thing to do, it’s not the right thing to do. You know inside. You’ve got a gut feeling. We’ve become very ruthless – especially in our later years – with knowing exactly what it is we want to be doing. If you fail on something you really believe in, that’s better than a failure on something someone else told you to do.