Introducing: Creature (An Interview with Dan, James and Tom)

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You’ve read the live review. You’ve read the HOUND review. Now it’s time to meet the men that make up the fearsome triumvirate, CREATURE. Speaking with Tom Bradshaw, the drummer, Dan Willet, the bassist and James Thompson, the guitarist and vocalist, we found out everything you would want to know about all things CREATURE past, present and future. Turning their eyes to the future, they reveal that the third EP in their trilogy of debut releases will “begin with an H. And be four tracks [long]”. They keep their cards close to their chests on that one, and with good reason; why spoil the surprise?

On the subject as to why they decided to release a trilogy of EPs rather than an album straight out of the traps, Tom says; “I think to be honest there were quite a few factors. Basically we, in terms of the basic fundamentals, our song writing as a band progressed as we started working together more and more and the first EP actually, […] with the exception of Cold Man’s World which was the very first song that James and I wrote before Dan was in the band, the first four were very straight up hardcore bangers and we started adding more dynamics and, like anything, as you get to know each other better as a band you do start to find your own kind of voice. So, I suppose we were conscious of not putting an album out that didn’t sound totally cohesive and I think this set of EPs will hopefully take the listener on a journey with us as a band.” As Dan succinctly puts it, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The band talk of the rule of three. Being a three piece, releasing three EPs with three distinctive pieces of artwork is an important factor in their decision to eschew the album as a starting point. This doesn’t mean however that they will stick rigidly to releasing EPs as a format, though they will “never say never” to this formula going forward. On the subject Tom says “It’s a funny dynamic in the music industry at the moment, now we’ve moved more towards a streaming model, even though there are fans who still purchase and listen to physical products, and that’s something we wanna see continue. I am a huge Spotify user, and with that you do see people release more little and often, but personally I love albums and as an art form it’s something that should be continued.” James agrees stating “there’s great value in the ebb and flow of an album in respect of dynamics and transitions from one song to the next and having the listener experience that as one whole.” So it seems that we are just getting a small taster of what it is CREATURE have to offer with these releases; a frighteningly exciting prospect. The band’s evolution is being charted before out very eyes. It’s a candid look into the inner workings and growth of an outfit that we shouldn’t take for granted and will pay dividends when a full-length record materialises.

The EPS have been produced by the fabled Steve Sears, and when asked why they decided to go with him the answer was simple; “He’s got a style that [they] really respect”.

D: “Obviously, he’s worked with some amazing bands, Gallows, Krokodil, and he’s got a phenomenal ear. Creatively he’s superb.”

J: “We have this thing, as a band, where we shortlisted a number of names and his style meshed with ours. Before you work with someone, before you get into the studio you never know what to expect but as a producer, he is brilliant.”

T: “I think, there is one particular track called Cross of Lorraine, off the self-titled with Wade, and that song sounds huge and monstrous and so energetic, but so authentic. You can hear the room sound of the drums and the guitars and everything sounds meaty, but really real. For me that was exactly what we wanted and so that really was a big factor. The other big thing was that Steve treats bands on their own merits. So, a Krokodil record doesn’t sound like a CREATURE record and that’s important. Some producers, while they’re amazing and really talented, have a stamp that they bring to everything, and that was one of the amazing things about Steve was that he recorded us as CREATURE. He didn’t have any pre-sets. And as James says, creatively in the studio, were well rehearsed of course, we went in really well prepped, and we recorded the twelve songs for the three Eps in sessions over ten days. So, it was intense. But yeah, it was really cool that even then he would add in little atmospheric ideas on the guitars. Things that you wouldn’t pick up on the first time you listen to a track, but that really come together.”

J: “It’s also great to have that other set of ears. As Tom says, we demoed the songs and you play them and play them and play them and end up sat on top of them, so for someone to hear them from a fresh perspective and then go ‘Okay this sounds great shall we add… ’ for instance in the track Black Dog he suggested using the acoustic guitar in the other room and adding it under a section to make it pop. It was something I’d never thought of and it sounds sick. It’s not very high in the mix but it just adds a texture, so I think a lot of it is that we put a lot of faith in. It’s your baby and you put it in someone else’s hands, and he was great.”

D: “Also with some of the vocal layering in, for example, Black Dog, he was really tasteful with the middle section where James and I are harmonising, and there are other layers not too loud in the mix that drift in and out and add a sense of space to that section of the song. And there are a few details like that scattered throughout the three EPs that were Steve’s suggestions you know pointing us in a direction that in many respects brings the records to life.”

T: “We couldn’t be happier with the production. I think a good example alongside Black Dog is Fool’s Curse, there’s that kind of whole interlude section with phased bass and little soundscapes going off then it goes into that frantic d-beat section before it goes into that mega riff at the end and we just couldn’t be happier with Steve and what he helped us achieve.”

J: “It’s just great to have what you have envisioned in your head brought to life and made even more awesome.”

T: “The longevity of the production was definitely a factor in our decision. You know you listen to, for example, The Shape of Punk to Come, Rage Against the Machine and System of A Down’s Toxicity, which I know was commercial bigger than Shape, but those albums all retain the same energy. You can listen to them in twenty years time and its down to the human energy. They’re not processed – I mean Refused added some electronics – but all the rock band fundamentals are very present, and it sounds like they’re playing in the room. If you listen to Toxicity, the drums and the guitar are very raw and it has that energy and that’s really cool, whereas when things are over produced within an inch of their lives, you know a certain snare sample and triggered kicks, in ten years time they’re going to sound of their time.”

J: “I think the other thing with those albums is that music is constantly evolving. Production sounds, particularly with metal and hardcore in the last decade, there’s been a shaping with the introduction of triggers, and I think every producer has been playing, trying to find the best combination of sounds.”

D: “You hear a lot of producers toolboxes rather than the bands.”

T: “That’s why we chose Steve.”

J: “He really knows how to capture and band’s sound.”

Focusing on the band’s past, James revealed he used to be a band named A Day Called Desire in around 2006. The band were emo, but he stresses “not like My Chemical Romance” and more like “Coheed [and Cambria]”. They also lacked the “MySpace hair” electing for “dirty dreadlocks instead.” On the current band’s modus operandi, James states; “I think with this band the whole idea behind it originally was to just to make the nastiest sounding, high energy music we could, because I felt that there was a lot of stuff I wanted to write about, and me and Tom, when we me up originally were just like ‘let’s do something really gnarly’, and the rest of it has just evolved really. Bringing Dan into the fold meant it just evolved from there really. So, I think the subject matter on the three EPs is liking into the darker side of humanity but trying to fathom our way through it, but the lyrics aren’t particularly negative, they’re quite reflective. Regarding our overall sound there are band that kind of crossover – like we all like – but apart from. Making it sound gnarly there want anything we thought of regarding style.”

At the beginning of CREATURE’s career, Metal Hammer likened them to Converge asking whether they were the British counterparts. The band found this humbling and exciting, but stress that “[they] are definitely our own band. We have influences, though we don’t exclusively listen to heavy stuff – I [Tom] listen to a lot of electronic music – and you know we’re all fans of Refused, Converge, Deftones, Dillinger… We’re all fans of those bands but we’re bringing other stuff in, we want it to be its own creative entity.”

Recently it seems there has been a trend in which bands are no longer afraid to talk candidly about their ambitions. I put this to the trio:

T: Well, we’re very ambitious. There’s no two ways about it, we want this to go as far as it can possibly go, you know, obviously he au music is a niche genre, but our main thing really is first of all just to be respected by our peers and people who like the music. Beyond that we’ll work really, really hard, and well, graft and gain those life experiences. Anything beyond that is just amazing.

J: From my personal perspective I just want to be true to myself and just write what I love and then, as Tom says, work hard. If we’re getting enjoyment out of that and energy from the music, then wherever it takes us well be happy.

D: I think Tom’s hit the nail on the head when he says life experiences. That’s what I want to get out of it. I mean it’s great to look at lofty ambitions, but we want to enjoy the sightseeing on the way there. And I think as well, I appreciate the fact that James writes lyrics that cover ground that mean a lot to me. He covers subjects that I find interesting and things that I care about and that people can relate to is really important. Being able to spread that around is really quite important to me.

CREATURE’s EPs, HEX and HOUND are available now, and their untitled third EP is scheduled for release in 2020.

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