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The Creepshow Rising

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Thursday, 27 November 2008

There is both an up and a downside to being in a band with a distinct look and sound. On one hand, being unique means that your music and image are instantly synonymous with the name which ostensibly means that there is an instantly recognizable brand in play that means even those unfamiliar with your music can figure out what you’re doing and thus make the decision if that kind of show fits in with what they like; that’s a sort of unwritten advertisement in itself. The downside is that, as a musician, the implication is that you’re tied to that sound and image and that can be creatively stifling; after all, other than AC/DC or The Ramones, who wants to make the same record over and over? This is the hurdle that The Creepshow found themselves working to overcome when it came time to make their sophomore album: they were faced with the challenge of balancing creativity and an established audience that the band did not wish to alienate.

And now, according to bassist Sean McNab, the band has done exactly that.

With Run For Your Life, The Creepshow has returned whole and hearty with just one thing on its mind: To rock the Hell out of audiences and do it with a series of double entendres that will allow the ghoulish audience that the band won with Sell Your Soul to still get their freak on, but also allow the band to grow as a band and not just continually retell the same series of tales from the crypt. The idea of holding on to the band’s established audience while simultaneously expanding the scope of the band’s messages is a very exciting one to the bassist and while the hectic, continent-jumping work schedule leaves little time for anything else – including sleep – for the group’s members, there’s little doubt in conversation with the bassist that the band is intent upon showing the world that ghosts, ghouls and goblins aren’t the only residents of The Creepshow’s bag of tricks.

Bill Adams vs. Sean McNab, bassist of The Creepshow

SM: Hello?

BA: Hey Sean, it’s Bill Adams calling. How’re you doing?

SM: I’m good, how’re you?

BA: I’m not bad. So what’s up are you really good and jet lagged?

SM: Totally. We got home last night at nine-ish, and somehow I couldn’t sleep so I was up until five in the morning and then I got up at 7:30.

BA: [laughing] So you’re walking wounded today.

SM: Yeah [chuckling], pretty much. I’ll probably pass out at some point.

BA: Please don’t do it during the interview?

SM: [laughing] I’ll try.

BA: So how was the tour? You were in Europe right?

SM: Yup, we did twelve countries in four weeks and it was our CD release tour over there.

BA: Really? How was it received?

SM: It was amazing; Europe’s always been pretty good to us, but now we have a label over there – People Like You Records – and they did a really good job of promotion and they did a great job of promotion. They were small to mid-sized clubs and almost every show was sold out – it was about double the attendance of our last headlining tour. It was awesome. The sets were pretty much half-and-half of stuff from Sell Your Soul and Run For Your Life.

BA: Oh yeah – before I forget, I did want to say congratulations on the new record, it turned out remarkably well.

SM: Thank you – was it you that sent me a review?

BA: I did indeed.

SM: That was a great review – thanks for that.

BA: Don’t mention it; the pleasure was mine. I don’t want to say that the verdict was out but it was one of those things that you did have to wonder about because all of a sudden your singer was gone and I know people were speculating on how it was all going to work and you wound up getting two different fan bases at one point.

SM: Yeah.

BA: Is that still the case? Are you still getting asked where Jen is and how she’s doing?

SM: Not really, especially in Europe Sarah has always done most of the touring – Jen did the first tour, but that was only six or seven shows – so we never get that over there at all. Even on our first Canadian tour, the odd person would ask, but that’s more rare now because most people know what happened.

BA: That’s understandable. Once in a while, oddly, I get asked because you guys and I have danced this dance so often if I’ve heard what happened or what’s new in The Creepshow. Overall though, the reception for the record has been good?

SM: Yeah – it’s been a real surprise. Not that I expected the record to do badly or anything, but there’s always the lag when you’re a band that has had two singers.

BA: Sure – like AC/DC.

SM: Or The Misfits or Black Flag. I can say that I have my favourite singers for those bands but I actually haven’t gotten any emails and haven’t had much in the way of people walking up and asking me at shows. Everything has been super positive and I’ve yet to see a bad review for the new record. I’ve heard people contend that one singer isn’t better than the other, they’re just different.

BA: I can totally understand that. I mean, it is different; on a comparative scale with Sell Your Soul, I felt like the punk rock was a little higher in the mix than it had been on the previous album.

SM: Especially with the lyrics on the last record, because Jen wrote a lot of the lyrics there were a lot of B-movie references and zombies and ghouls and things. That’s part of what we’re about, but we didn’t want to be so in your face about it because we thought, if we kept doing it and made it really central to the music, it’d end up become a shtick and we didn’t want that because that’s not all we are. We didn’t want to be pigeonholed into that so with the new record, we included elements of it but that wasn’t all. Like, with the song “Run For Your Life,” there’s still the horror theme, but the song is about the people we know that struggle with cocaine addiction but if you listen to the song it could be taken as a Revenge Of The Body Snatchers kind of thing, but it could go either way. That’s what we wanted to do with the new album; we wanted to create that sort of duality that would let people take what they wanted from it. The zombies and goblins thing is fun, but you can only hear it so often before you get a little sick of it; like when we’re on the road, we’ll have people some up to us saying that they want to do a video for us and they’ll tell us the premise that mentions zombies within the first few words. It’s hard to keep from cringing at this point because we don’t want to be a gimmick band like that.

BA: That’s understandable. What was the plan with this record then? How long were you in the studio making it? You said yourself too that Jen wrote a lot of the lyrics, how did the process for this album break down?

SM: With the old record, there were a few songs where I’d have little bits of songs like melodies or choruses and things like that in mind and Jen and I would flesh them out and fill them in from there but with this record, it was more of a four-piece thing; everybody brought in the songs they’d written and Sarah had a bunch of lyrics and songs. Ginty had some pretty complete songs too and had lyrics, I had some lines done or I had a chorus written and just needed verses and we’d tackle them all together. The difference was that while a lot of the first record was stuff that Jen and I, but this one was more of a group effort.

BA: Has that been a difficult transition to make?

SM: Actually, no. When we first decided that we wanted to make the record, Stereo Dynamite wanted us to tour the first one for another year and, initially, we went along with that but, the more we thought about it, because we had a new singer, we decided that we really did need a new record so we sat down and started writing. I had a bunch of songs and they were good, but the process was just moving too slowly and it seemed like everyone was languishing and relying on everybody else to get it done and it came down to making a plan that had everybody writing; like, when you get home, don’t flip on your Nintendo, pick up a guitar and come up with a part and then bring it to practice. Some songs start as simply as that – like on the first record. “Grave Diggers” started that way and we had it knocked out in practice in about twenty minutes. That kind of lit a fire under everybody, but it came to a point where it still wasn’t coming fast enough so, in order to get a deadline set so we’d get working harder, we booked studio time. That seemed to help and it was really stressful but it ended up coming together. We were in the studio for about two weeks and we just got it done. We’ve pretty much been touring since then – we haven’t even done a proper CD release show yet. The day it came out, we went on a cross-Canada tour with Anti-Flag; we really wanted to do a tour out West but booking all-ages shows going that way is really difficult and Anti-Flag has a really young audience so it seemed like a good idea. We weren’t sure if the audience would like us because we’re not really a political band, but it couldn’t have been a better tour for us; we had our crowd there and their crowd was digging it so it worked out really well. That was a month long, then we came home and did a few shows of our own, in Ontario, then Sarah left for Europe to do her solo tour for ten days and we met up with her in Germany and did another four weeks, came home and did a bunch of CD release parties around Ontario and Quebec…

BA: Jesus! You might not like the zombie clichés, but you’re going to end up walking like one whether you want to or not with that tempo.

SM: Exactly! Then we’ve got some one-off shows in December, but we’ve pretty much got the month off and then in February 2009 we’re doing a headlining tour across Canada and down into the US and we’re heading back to Europe in May.

BA: Wow – so your year’s already booking up.

SM: Exactly – so going back to the question, we’re gone too much for regular jobs anymore.

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