Creepoid's Anna Troxell Never Gets Tired of Touring.
Philadelphia quartet, Creepoid, churns out a haunting brand of '90s revivalist punk. The band's third full-length, Cemetery Highrise Slum was released a couple months back, amid what seems like an endless touring schedule for the band.
While its sound is somewhat difficult to exactly pinpoint, Creepoid's oft-loud and shoegaze-esque output seems to most frequently draw comparisons to Nirvana. There are worse fates, we suppose. But it's not an entirely accurate association, either, as Creepoid's not driven by a sense of angst or depression. As individuals, the band's members are outwardly positive folk, excited to jump back in the van again following big tours with Against Me! and A Place to Bury Strangers in the past year or so. More recently, Creepoid's been hitting the road with Los Angeles post rockers Marriages, which will bring both outfits to The Foundry this Friday for a free show.
Ahead of the aural assault that's sure to ensue, we had a moment to speak with Creepoid's singer and bass player, Anna Troxell and drummer Patrick Troxell on the band's never ending tour, those endless Nirvana comparisons and getting misinterpreted by your critics.
According to your website, your tour is “forever.” Where is home for you?
Anna: Our van is our home. We were out for a few months and decided we needed a change of pace, and we wrote and recorded there, in Savannah, Georgia, and then we felt like we were ready. We put our stuff in storage for the most part. I thought if we're gonna do that, we might as well see our friends and family, so we moved back up to Philly. But because we're on tour so much we don't have any other place besides the van.
In the last year-and-a-half, you guys have come through Dallas four or five times.
Anna: Well we've been in that area a lot, like Denton and Dallas. Last time we were in Dallas we played Club Dada with A Place To Bury Strangers. It was a great show.
What keeps y'all coming back?
Anna: Well we like Texas a lot. My husband Pat, who's also the drummer, lived in Austin for a few years, so we really love coming through Texas. If you're gonna go all the way out there, you might as well play Denton too.
Ideally, how long do you plan on keeping the endless tour schedule going? Forever?
Anna: I guess, because we enjoy touring a lot. People say, “Oh my god, you work so hard, you're always on tour.” A part of that is also enjoying it and liking it. We probably won't be on tour every month of the year. For now, it's kind of like we need to do this. We want to be in front of every kind of crowd as possible — even if you're playing in the same city and you're reaching a lot of new people. We'll play the same city three times, and people will have never seen us before. We just need to keep hitting those markets as much as we can.
It sounds like it's working for sure.
Anna: I think we've been working this tour a lot. We realize it's going to get our name out there. It's, “Oh we noticed you.” Our first real tour was a three-month tour. So at least people started paying attention, and we're like, “OK, let's check this out, and if I don't like this, it at least puts our name out there.”
Now, do you wish you had done this sooner, or does everything feel right at this point?
Anna: See, obviously we would have had, sort of, a head start, but I also think how we were all totally ready. So we quit our jobs and all the comfort and everything. I think it was, as we got closer, we saw all our friends play this festival because of touring. It was frustrating not getting press and not getting things that were happening to them. And we're like, “Well, because they did it and were totally committed to it.” We're all still doing this because we have time, so if we really want this to work, it has be something we really enjoy completely and have faith in it, and have trust in it. Like why else would anyone have any trust in it, if you don't, y'know? I think it was the right time. Everyone was in the right headspace.
What's it like touring with Marriages compared to, say, A Place To Bury Strangers, for example?
Anna: I've been really gracious for the Strangers and the Marriages tours. Strangers and Marriages have been bands a little bit longer than we have. We look at them as very much our peers. We're very much into working together, sharing and we're both in bands. Whereas when we're touring with Against Me!, they've been professional for so much longer. We learn from those tours and stuff like that. We were just starting out and they had been professional for so long. Whereas now, with bands I think we're more on the same level, like with Strangers, we didn't do it in Dallas, but toward the end of that tour, we sort of did songs where we'd join their set and play together as “A Place To Bury Creepoid,” so it's more collaborative. Like with Marriages, we've been talking about playing together. So it's much more like a collaborative feeling. It's been really awesome. We would play our set, we would move our equipment, then they (A Place To Bury Strangers) would play their set, and for their last song we would sort of push our equipment out and just start to play with them. It was very loud.
As you've begun to grow as a band, do you find it important to keep up the DIY aesthetic?
Anna: Yeah, for sure. We like to be as hands-on as we can. Even as we have this growing theme around us, it's still kind of mind-blowing with people booking us shows. We still do a lot ourselves. We're still very much involved. We like to know who's opening the show. We make our own flyers, instead of having them already made. We're not so under the gun where we're doing everything, though. We still like to play a house show or a DIY show. Our record release show was sold out, but it was 21+. We have enough fans that wanna party and hang out, and can't get in. So we did a batting cages show, like at a children's batting cage. It was this free-for-all party. It's nice to have the good PA, like a show where the parents can go, too, and everything's great.
With this new record, I read that Pitchfork made a claim that Creepoid was “Devoted to Disorientation,” What does that even mean? Do you agree with that?
Anna: No, nothing is true in that article. We were sort of mystified by that review. We don't do anything where we're sitting down and say, “Hey, let's write a really sad record” or let's write any sort of record. It sort of reveals itself in the writing. Nobody's interested in writing something that's already done. Everything is about finding it in the writing process. We're all growing into this thing. I've been saying since I've been in this band I don't know what I'm doing. We're all learning. None of us are interested in alienating anyone, or hurting anyone or making anyone depressed. A lot of our record is about making assessments on our reality and our situation and our experiences, so I think some of the songs can be scheming or understanding. Our experiences are how we are interpreting our reality or fate. But none of that should depress you or make you feel like you can't participate or change. I mean, do something within that. It was a bummer that was her experience of our record. It was a little fucked up. People are entitled to their own interpretation, but it's a bummer when you're so badly misinterpreted.
Another thing I keep hearing with this record is constant comparisons to Nirvana. Is it fair to say that's an influence?
Anna: Yeah, sure, I guess by osmosis. We're all in our 30s, so Nirvana was big when we were very young and MTV was really cool. So it's hard not to be influenced by them. I mean, I can tell you why, personally speaking, when I started buying records, I did not like Nirvana at all, because my dad liked Nirvana and mom liked Nirvana. So for me, Nirvana was the antithesis of cool. My parents liked it and it was on the radio. So [instead, I listened to] whatever I could find that nobody else knew. But at the same time, I loved it when I was like 12, so yeah, sure, it's an influence. When I listen to those records now, I'm blown away. It's not that we sat down and went, “We really love Nirvana.” When you listen to a Nirvana record, there's a lot of really big differences in our styles. There's a lot of lazy journalism involved. “Someone else said they were '90s, so like yeah, I see that.” We really, really appreciate it when we see reviews where people really sat down and listened to it and could really appreciate the influence. There's good music here. But it's like a style that's purposefully not going in any one direction.
When listening, it sounds like nothing on the record is forced, which I really appreciate.
Anna: We're all open to different sound and style. But we also don't want to write a song and put it on a record multiple times. I think being very honest comes out of genuine enjoyment of writing. Some songs are written — Sean will bring some songs on his own, while some songs are totally collaborative. We'll write together. While I think we are very critical of one another, everything is given a shot. Lets see what we can do with that.
Patrick, I read that you used to book shows for a venue. How does it feel from going to booking shows for someone else to having shows booked for you by someone else?
Patrick: I mean honestly, I still do a lot. It's actually pretty funny, because our booking agent is the same agent I used to work with in Philadelphia for a long time. So it's one of those things where it was hard to let go of the reins right away and have someone else do it, but at the same time I spend more time concentrating on support, and I actually go out and listen to every band that's opening a show. So I try to know about these bands and what's going on. It loosens up my time a little bit instead of chasing emails with people. I actually have time for quality control. It feels good. It is one of those things I do miss, and I'm like, “Damn, I know I could have done better.” But there's also things they pull off that I could never do. For instance, in Europe, I could never book a successful European tour. I could string together a bunch of shows. It feels good to know it's working and also know I can spend time making shows better.
Cover photo by Karlo X. Ramos. Creepoid performs at The Foundry on Friday, August 7.