From underdogs to pack leaders, Creeper are a force that cannot be ignored. Bassist Sean Scott and Hywel Davies talk punk… a lot of punk.
“Music hasn’t gone downhill, it just had to change. One of my favourite quotes is ‘The worst thing about hardcore is hardcore; the worst thing about punk is punk’. It’s like you’re not hardcore or punk enough to hang with us and to be in the same scene, which is total bullshit,” professes Creeper bassist Sean Scott.
Back in 2014, Creeper were still just another local band in their native Southampton. This six-piece [Will Gould, vocals; Ian Mile, guitar; Hannah Greenwood, keyboard and vocals; Scott, bass; Dan Bratton, drums; Oliver Burdett, guitar] have slogged through the music business and come out clean the other side.
With their stellar debut album Eternity In Your Arms spreading through the UK underground like wildfire, Creeper are set to be the metal kids’ next big thing. When we get chatting to Scott, the role of bass guitar in punk inevitably comes into conversation. Who were the players who inspired him to pick up the bass in the first place?
“When I was younger, I was always interested in those bands who broke through to the mainstream market. For me it was Matt Freeman of Rancid, that guy’s a machine. Chris Barker from Anti- Flag was always someone I respected too. In the punk world, bassists are often put to the side.
“Bass is supposedly only there to provide the rhythm and give that low-end bulk, so the cool thing about those guys was that they put in countermelodies within the songs that complemented the music. For me, it was those players that separated their bands from the rest. They made it so much more relatable for me, being a bassist.”
Take your pick
A popular assumption when it comes to playing bass in a genre such as punk, is that it’s simple music played with a pick.
“The argument of pick versus fingers should come down to what suits the song best,” says Scott. “As far as I’m concerned, I feel pick playing has to be respected on the same level as fingerstyle. Put it this way, when this genre started, these guys weren’t technically minded, especially in that 80s American punk movement where the East and West coast bands just picked up their instruments and played harder and faster than anyone else. Everyone was just punching their guitars, and you can’t have that aggressive state of mind if you’re relaxed and playing with your fingers. It doesn’t make sense for the genre.”
On that note, what is the secret to highspeed picking, we ask? “Forearm strength is quite vital. I make a conscious effort to specifi cally spend some time working on getting my forearm and grip strength better. Richard Boucher from Funeral For A Friend got me thinking about this: he said, ‘It’s strength, mate. You got to really work on your strength.’
“Since then I’ve been working out my arms and I’ve gotten way more comfortable with my playing. I don’t focus on hitting down much these days because I’m playing better and more naturally. It’s one of those things that’s frustrating, because I should have done it way before now. Life would have probably been a lot easier!”
For Scott, finding the right bass wasn’t as easy as walking into a shop and picking up the first four-string that caught his eye. Taking the time, patience and research, what bass did he finally settle on, we wonder?
“When Creeper started as six friends from the local punk scene who wanted to start a band, we really had to think about our tone and our sound. I invested that little bit more time in looking into my influences and what they were playing. Precision and Jazz basses come up a lot: they were the ones that a lot of people gravitated to. I almost went for the Dee Dee Ramone Precision, but I eventually bought an American Standard Precision instead. The tone sounded better for me because it has that spike, which gave me slightly more trebly bass-lines. It was just a case of combining that bass, the amp that I use and the minimal pedals that I have, and it happened to be the tone I had been looking for after so many years. It’s a wonder that I hadn’t done it before!”
Eternity In Your Arms is out now via Roadrunner.