Editors' Notes Welcome to Calvary Falls, where the world of one quiet, snowy American town is about to be turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious man…to catastrophic results. Creeper have never been a band to accept limitations on their ambitious designs; 2017’s debut album, Eternity, In Your Arms, took broad brushstrokes of Peter Pan, weaved in the fantastical story of a paranormal investigator’s disappearance and set it, as one would fully expect, in Southampton. On Sex, Death & the Infinite Void, their second full-length concept album, such scale and vision isn’t simply confined to their storytelling. “Creating this record was about ignoring the things that had trapped us in the past,” frontman Will Gould tells Apple Music. “I wanted to ignore what had come before, and prove wrong everyone that said no band could advance their sound so dramatically without alienating your fanbase.” And so this love-triangle tale of lust, envy and wrath plays out to a soundtrack of British glam rock, Americana country, 1950s doo-wop and their stock-in-trade: emo punk hooks. A first visit to any strange place requires a good tour guide to uncover its true depths, however, so who better to show you the sights of Calvary Falls than Gould himself?

Hallelujah!
“Our opening is spoken by Patricia Morrison, from The Sisters of Mercy and The Damned, who we met at the Kerrang! magazine awards show in London last year [2019]. A little while later I had this spoken-word idea to open the record, and asked Patricia. We sat inside this studio in London and did all of the dialogue between us. I described how I wanted a sort of Madame Leota character from Disney’s The Haunted Mansion [ride], and she knew exactly what I meant. This opens our whole story, and sets up the marriage of Annabelle, who Patricia voices throughout the album’s interludes, and the villain of our piece, Buddy.”

Be My End
“It took a long time to decide what the first song proper on the album should be. It isn’t a drastic departure in sound for us, which I felt important on an album that otherwise is a big change for us, while it also lays out the apocalyptic nature of the prophecy brought forward by our main character, Roe, who arrives in Calvary Falls with the message that the world as people know it will end in seven days. The whole piece is summarised by the opening lyric: ‘Will you be my Armageddon?’ It has a very Creeper chorus—over the top and vaudevillian—while the bridge contains a theremin, which we recreated the sound of on an emulator as none of us could play the actual thing.”

Born Cold
“This was the very first song we wrote for the record—it’s the nucleus of the whole piece. I already had the narrative for this album before even writing this song, which introduces the character of Roe, a man who can’t feel and has fallen to Earth. A lot of this record in fact was based on Marilyn Manson’s interpretation of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, on Manson’s Mechanical Animals album. I was obsessed with that record when I was younger.”

Cyanide
“This song was the result of a very difficult time. My songwriting partner, Ian [Miles, guitar], was very sick for a time. He was receiving treatment in Brighton when we were supposed to be writing together in Los Angeles, so we found ourselves trying to write via FaceTime. Nothing was working. I went for breakfast one day off the Sunset Strip, and T. Rex came on over the speakers. ‘This is what we should be doing!’ I started saying. ‘People think Creeper are a pop-punk band with eyeliner, but we’re a glam rock band!’ My manager was eating his food in silence opposite me and—I’ll never forget it—he calmly put his cutlery down, looked at me and said, ‘Well, just go and do it, then.’ We went back to the studio and the whole song came together in about 30 minutes. It’s my real life seeping into this album; I was writing this song about Annabelle and Roe’s attraction to each other, but also about myself and what I was going through personally. It’s half reality, half fantasy, and that’s when Creeper is at its best.”

Annabelle
“I was obsessed with Suede when I was younger, and the opening beat here pays homage to their song ‘Trash’. It was something intentionally English on a very American record. It’s a Britpop song, yet when it comes into the first lyrics, it might as well be a Green Day song. This introduces Annabelle further, while Roe is learning that sinning is part of being human: ‘God can’t save us, so let’s live like sinners.’ That went back to when we played the Warped Tour one year and had a run-in with the Westboro Baptist Church, who were picketing the event.”

Paradise
“This is written from the point of view of our villain, Buddy Calvary. Roy Orbison was a really big influence on the country elements of this record, and when we were working on ‘Paradise’ we were watching the video to his song ‘I Drove All Night’. The visual picture of the world we’re creating is something I always have in my mind when writing music, and this song was actually born from us muting that video and saying, ‘Let’s write a song to go with this.’ I always want lyrics to give you just enough for the listener to work with in imagining the place and characters, and then the music does the rest.”

Poisoned Heart
“Ian and myself wrote a number of songs in this alternative country vein, and this one stuck due to the chorus, which I love. It’s a song that will really divide people, I’m sure. There are similarities in our narrative to the first time you meet Roe and the first time you meet Buddy, and both have a poison heart in their own sense—Roe because he can’t feel anything, and Buddy because he’s had everything given to him; he may have loved Annabelle at one point, but his controlling nature has ruined their relationship. If this was a musical—and I really wish it was!—I would have both characters sing it, one verse each.”

Thorns of Love
“A long time ago, I was writing a musical called Cosmic Love, about a woman who fell to Earth and fell in love with a man from the 1980s. Some of the lyrics in the second verse are actually from the musical I wrote all those years ago—‘Lennon was shot in December time/Curtis was hung by washing line/1980s lovers died in twos.’ This is a doo-wop song in the vein of ‘Drive-In Saturday’ from the David Bowie record Aladdin Sane. Even though I wrote this song myself, it’s the contributions of other people that really make it: Ian with that Avenged Sevenfold-style solo, Patricia’s middle section that sounds like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hannah’s [Greenwood, keyboards and vocals] ridiculous intro.”

Four Years Ago
“This is a Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra-style duet; a very delicate, feminine vocal meets the baritone male. I spent a long time trying to write a song for me and Hannah to sing, and it presents the disintegration of Annabelle and Buddy’s relationship. It’s opening up to the listener about how messed up this relationship is, after only giving little hints previously.”

Napalm Girls
“‘Napalm Girls’ is the coolest name for a song that anyone has ever come up with—and I didn’t even mean to call it that originally. This is where the road to the end of our story begins, and describes Roe and Annabelle getting together for the first time before running away to the top of a mountain for Roe to go back to whence he came. The lyric ‘She is a war in me/Her kiss is violence’ could sum up the last two years of my life, when you’re obsessed with someone and you’re first falling in love. I also hid a reference to my girlfriend’s favourite My Chemical Romance song in this.”

Black Moon
“Welcome to our album’s ‘death’ song, where Roe meets his demise at Buddy’s hands. At this point, Roe has become completely obsessed with Annabelle, and he’s a sinner now. He’s not the man from the start of the album who was ‘Born Cold’—he’s now transformed and has now become just as sinful as anyone. He is martyring himself and dying for the sins of this town—and closing our messed-up story. The title honours a long-standing tradition in our band of having the word ‘Black’ in the title of a song on each of our releases.”

All My Friends
“‘All My Friends’ is a departure from our narrative, and wasn’t meant to be on the album at all. I had originally written another ballad for this point, called ‘Shattered’, which was really dramatic and about our character’s death. But I had also written this song late one night, while drunk, after Ian had fallen very sick, and it just so happened that some other people also heard it and encouraged me to develop it. It captures the darkest moment in my life. There’s a lot of realism in this record—the main romance; reflecting my own feelings of being an alien and an outsider in the music scene—but this song is the most real Creeper has ever been.”

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