The Creepshow are a psychobilly-something band from Burlington, Ontario that formed in 2005. They’ve gone from touring the GTA to touring through North America, Europe, and Australia. Now, they’re coming to Peterborough on November 7 to play at the Red Dog.
When I asked The Reverend McGuinty of The Creepshow why they’re coming to Peterborough again, he laughed and answered, “Why? Does Peterborough have a lack of self-esteem? …Fuck, Peterborough’s a great place to be… Why not go back again?”
So there hasn’t been, to my knowledge, an official announcement about the singer transition to Kenda. What happened there?
…The whole thing that happened was our old singer got really busy with her boyfriend’s band [Walk Off The Earth] and we still wanted to go on and follow the schedule that we’ve always been on, and she just wasn’t able to do that so we decided we would part ways.
People are expecting kind of a change of sound because there seemed to be a specific sound with “Hellcat” [Jen Blackwood] and then a different sound with “Sarah Sin” [Sarah Blackwood] so what can we expect from Kenda singing now?
Well in all honesty a lot of the sound did come from the band as a whole, whether it was with our first or second singer, the whole band had an influence on how the band sounded. So we’ll still sound relatively the same. In fact, Kenda’s already written a song for us and it’s a perfect fit for the band. So I think we’re still gunna sound like The Creepshow, but we’re very interested in trying out new things so if we find a new sound or a song that works for us we’ll definitely go with it, but I think people can expect what they’ve really come to love from us.
I just asked because since Hellcat left there was a progressively more punk sound and I didn’t know whether that was a conscious decision, or whether Sell Your Soul was more of her vision of the band…
That’s a good observation, but it was really just what we were into at the time. There’s definitely a bunch of songs on the second record that, at least I think, sound like they do on the first record, but we also did throw some new stuff in there. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision to sound a different way. Besides just a change in singer, we also went through a bunch of changes in our own lives, like moving different places and dating different people as well, so that’s just came out in more of a natural way. There were no band meetings that said “this album’s gunna sound more punk.”
What are the challenges facing switching a singer three times in such a short period of time?
Well, ask Van Halen. It’s one of those things where old fans can get really upset by it, and some fans won’t care, and then some fans just won’t notice. Or there’s still a lot of people who don’t know about us so they’ll come into it and see Kenda and just assume that she was always the singer and then find out later that “oh, she’s not.”
Could you talk about the element of characterization or role-playing on stage because you all have nicknames and dress a certain way…
Of course! I remember seeing interviews with really great actors and they always said that the best gift you could give an actor if you’re doing a movie or a theatre production is to give that actor a mask. Because once a mask is on, like half the job is done already, and it’s not so much a point of acting, it’s just you already are that character. I just find that on stage it’s fun to hide behind that character because then you can pretty much do anything you want and that allows you a lot of freedom that you might not employ otherwise because either you’re too shy or you think “oh I can’t possibly say that because someone might hate me for it.” So then you can say that thing and if someone gets mad later you can say “oh that wasn’t me, that was my on stage persona.”
Are the aesthetics of the band important to the image or the sound, or the band in general?
Yeah I think so. It’s important as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. We’ve always talked about how some bands will take it to the point where it’s like… KISS is sort of the exception to the rule because… actually, you know what, I take that back. KISS is not the exception to the rule. You see bands like that that really go overboard and it becomes more of a product, as opposed to music. But at the other end of the scale it’s fun to make the whole thing a show. I mean… like we’re not there to hang out, we’re there to entertain, and if we can build a whole show around the music that makes us all the more enjoyable. And if not for the audience then at least for ourselves.
So relating to my question earlier about perhaps becoming progressively more punk; do you think there’s less of an aesthetic component in the band now as opposed to originally?
We always definitely go for a look [on each album] cause it just ties everything together. On our second album we had a banner and it was essentially our album artwork. That’s sort of reminiscent of when you would put on an album and you would have the CD in front of you as you would read the lyrics. So when you’re at the live show you sort of have that CD cover in your face as you’re watching us. We used to full-on wear uniforms and stuff, and we don’t do that anymore, but we definitely have our own personal styles reflected in our on-stage clothing as well. I think we still go for that, we just do it in slightly different ways.
Personally for you—why the reverend?
It was just part of the character and it really caught on. I’ve married people at our shows, people always call me “Reverend,” it’s fantastic. It was really just because I have a commanding voice, I dunno, it all just came together perfectly.
Perhaps also because you play organ…
As well yeah. As a proper reverend should.
So Halloween is coming up and I noticed that you guys usually play Halloween shows. Is that intentional since you are sometimes referred to as a psychobilly band, and what is the atmosphere like during these shows?
The Halloween shows are the best shows! We always play… it’s like it’s this weird trilogy… it’s like we only play Toronto, Edmonton, and Heilburnn on Halloween and that’s it. But no matter which city we’re in people always come out in the best costumes and it’s awesome, but it’s embarrassing for us because we’re usually mid-tour when we hit Halloween and so we never have time to come up with cool costumes and we’re always the ones with the shittiest costumes at these Halloween shows. We made up for it a bit one year, the first time we played Edmonton, we actually came out as the Addams Family so we actually had decent costumes. But otherwise the fans have these amazing costumes and it’s always the best night of the year for us. It’s great to see all these people having a blast… Actually I remember my friend came out to our Halloween show in Toronto and she dressed herself up as a mummy. She literally just wrapped herself up in toilet paper and cloth. It wasn’t until she got to the show and realized “I have to go to the bathroom” and there’s no like… trap door—it’s just costume— so she had to unwrap herself all the way to go to the bathroom.
Are there any other memorable costumes you’ve seen?
Oh this one dude dressed up as Dr. Zoidberg and on either side of him he had cardboard cut outs of the rest of the characters of the show, so he essentially dressed up as the entire cast of Futurama. It was amazing.
Do you guys have any plans for dressing up for Halloween?
We don’t yet, but we’re brainstorming right now… and therefore I can’t give away any of our secrets yet. I have to let it happen first because it might be awesome, but it might be super lame in which case it would be bad either way.
What’s the inspiration behind the name Creepshow?
In all honesty, it was the best name on a napkin. I think we spent like five minutes going over band names and we were like “oh, Creepshow, that’s one, cool, there we go.” There’s no cool story behind it. I wish there was! I wish there was… like we were thinking hard about a band name and then we found a discarded piece of paper under a library shelf and were like “[gasp] Creepshow, that’s perfect!” But no, we spent five minutes on it.
I guess we should end the interview with a random fact about everyone from the band.
Well, our new singer is Asian. Our bass player, McNab, he used to drive a Zamboni. I went to school for massage therapy. And our drummer Sandro is from Sudbury, Ontario.