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Even by Creeper’s spooky standards, there’s an unusual pallor about the Southampton crew when we find them hanging in the shade backstage at Slam Dunk Festival. Frontman Will Gould, who’s now going by ‘William von Gould’, watches passers-by with hungry eyes behind dark sunglasses, while guitarist Ian Miles picks at a mysterious red substance congealed onto the black leather jacket hugging his skinny frame. They look every inch a pack of wild animals out for blood.
It’s the beginning of the darker, heavier Sanguivore era for the goth-punk mainstays. With lead single Cry To Heaven having already opened the door to a swaggering new sound indebted to '80s heroes like Danzig and Sisters Of Mercy, we can expect the full album to take us on a “violent” adventure when it arrives on Friday The 13th of October. Their show-stealing, extra-OTT Slammy D sets suggest it could be the beginning of some very big things indeed. As Will and Ian tease, however, we’ve only had a coppery taste of the far bigger picture yet to unfold...
First up, Ian, what’s that on your jacket?
Ian: “Oh, it’s just blood. Blood from yesterday. Don’t worry about it. We were all covered in blood. A lot of blood…”
Oh. Okay. That, feeds into the vampiric concept of Sanguivore, right?
Will: “We’d always planned to do a vampire record. We’d been thinking about it for a couple of years and knew that now was a good place to go after where the last one left off. We wanted to make something darker than we’d ever made before. We have two main characters called Spook and Mercy and a gang called The Ghost Brigade. Sonically, Sanguivore takes you on a journey, with a breakaway moment in the middle that’s like a Nick Cave ‘murder ballad’. It ends with a big theatrical closer called More Than Death, which is a riff on the Morrissey line from Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together: ‘I love you more than life.’ We’re so proud. It’s our favourite thing we’ve ever done.”
What kind of vampires are we talking about here? Have you been watching a lot of Lost Boys?
Will: “And Near Dark. We’re really riffing on a lot of '80s stuff in the sound of the record. That’s reflected by how we’re presenting ourselves as ''80s vampires'.”
So, Sanguivore started as a sonic concept rather than a narrative one?
Will: “Basically, we met producer Tom Dalgety, who’d worked with The Damned, The Cult and Ghost. He loves Sisters Of Mercy. He Loves Glenn Danzig. He loves a lot of the stuff that we did growing up. It meant that this record became something of a love-letter to a lot of the music that we in the band originally met through. A big record for us was the 1981 Jim Steinman solo record Bad For Good. Like, when Ian got married, I got him a lighter that said ‘Bad For Good’ on it. It turned out it was one of Tom’s favourite records, too. We very rarely meet anyone who knows it!”
Ian: “Not only that, but we when we signed with Spinefarm Records, we found that our main contact there – Dante [Bonutto, Head of A&R] – is a massive fan of that stuff, too!”
Was that a big change to the Creeper process?
Ian: “It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to lean into my Metallica root. My favourite band. When we started sitting down, I’d write a riff and bring it to the table, thinking, ‘Ah, it’s a bit too much, a bit too far in that direction.’ But then Will and Tom would say, ‘No, that’s sick. Let’s go with it!”
Will: “We saw Metallica recently and got into the Snake Pit. I’ve never seen a man get so extremely aggressive whilst crying at the same time as Ian did that night. Growing up, Black Sabbath were my favourite band, too. They were the first band I ever saw live, at Milton Keynes Bowl in 2001 when I was 13 years old. But we’ve never really written that music together. We’re more like punk kids; it’s been a real challenge for me to adapt. Ian would be presenting me with a song and I’d have to stop to figure out, ‘How do I get around this? What do I do with my voice?!’”
There is a sort-of revival of heavier-end goth going on right now, with American acts like Unto Others, Sweden’s Tribulation and the UK’s own NAUT. How attuned are you to that?
Will: “I’m a big fan of Unto Others – I saw them not long ago when they came through with Behemoth. They’re one of our favourite current bands: not just in the music, but their style and the aesthetics that they use in their videos. They’re just a phenomenal band.”
Ian: “Tom has actually produced Tribulation, as well!”
How do you think the existing Creeper fanbase will respond to the leap into heavier territory?
Ian: “It’s really just as simple as us stripping it back to what we love. The thing that I’ve always loved about being in Creeper is how accepting our fans are, how onboard they are with everything that we do. That makes me excited to show them this. And I think they’ll be onboard with it.”
Will: “It’s almost like we’re handing down records to younger fans. A lot of younger kids have no real reference point for this stuff. They’ll say, ‘Oh, it sounds like Ghost!’ We love Ghost, but we’re really telling them to go check out out albums like Sisters Of Mercy’s Floodland or Danzig III. On the other hand, older fans have been saying, ‘Oh, this just sounds like Sisters Of Mercy!’”
What should we read into that expressive album-title, Sanguivore?
Will: “It all comes down to sucking blood. We wanted to command a sense of majesty with this record. We wanted people to understand that when you press play, it’ll take you to another place. The word is Italian and it literally means something that feeds on the blood of others. I think it’s a name that a lot of people in this country would have to look up to really understand. It requires you to do some work for it. Likewise, the record demands that you’re paying attention.”
Is there more romance in ‘exsanguinating’ someone rather than just sucking their blood?
Will: “That could be true. The record is a very romantic record in a lot of ways, even though there is a lot of violence in it.”
Ian: “Really, it is a very violent record.”
And what exactly is new single Cry To Heaven all about?
Will: “We chose that song to be the first released because I wanted to introduce the character Mercy. The song describes this female vampire who’s been around for 1,000 years, and her exploits in the night time: seducing people then killing them. If you’ve ever seen the Scarlett Johansson/Jonathan Glazer film Under The Skin, or any of the Species films, we were riffing on those. We were referencing somebody very powerful [who predates humans]. It’s the first time we’ve really outlined a character like that in the very first song. Being able to do so has been great.”
The music video established an awesome new Creeper aesthetic. Do you subscribe to Fenriz’s philosophy: ‘Big sunglasses, very important. Big sunglasses: cool band!’?
Ian: “My sunglasses actually fell off yesterday. I’d intended to wear them the whole set, but I got lost in the music, banged my head and just watched them fly off into the crowd. Fortunately, I carry three pairs, so I was able to just immediately whack them back on.”
Will: “Where most bands have guitar picks stuck along their mic-stand, we’re going to have a line of sunglasses!” (laughs)
Fittingly, the record drops on Friday, October 13. Is it weird announcing it in the summer sun?
Will: “Kinda, yeah. But we’re playing in a tent today, so it’s not so bad.”
Ian: “And we spend most of our time hiding in the shadows of our dressing room or the tour bus. We sometimes forget that the sun is out…”
What else have you got up your sleeves between now and then?
Will: “We have lots of things planned, but none that are announced yet. We can’t really talk. In keeping with the Sanguivore concept, we’ll be feeding things out bit by bit, drop by drop...”
Sanguivore will be released on October 13 via Spinefarm
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