WORDS: TATE POWELL

Lockdown has undoubtedly been a difficult time for most – so to spice it up a little, the Creeper frontman returns, along with Matt Reynolds a.k.a ‘Southampton’s best guitarist’, with his next musical endeavour; Salem. Now there’s always been some sort of mystery behind anything Will Gould has done, musically that it. So when the announcement came along and a debut single dropped out of nowhere, it was a bit of an unexpected surprise to say the least. Never-the-less, it’s something you need to wrap your ears around now.

“The creeper album was more complex and a little more sophisticated than we’d done previously. It was kind of like a headache; It became quite stressful. I was flying out to Los Angeles all the time, but when I came back, I’d go for coffee with Matt Reynolds, who was a friend of mine for a long time. I’d tell him what was going on and I said to him ‘there is something I miss about putting something together quite quickly’. He said ‘well why don’t you come over to my house, it might clear your head to write some punk songs’. The two of us just wrote.” So that how Gould’s and Reynolds’ latest project kicked-off. Something that is so prevalent with this release, as well as the way Gould described the project with glee, is the absolute freedom of creativity. There’s an understanding of the complexity of his previous works and an appreciation for something much simpler this time round. “We didn’t think about it too much, all the songs on the EP were written in about an hour,” he adds.

He said ‘well why don’t you come over to my house, it might clear your head to write some punk songs?’

“They’re like sweet-evil love songs. That’s what a lot of it’s about. It’s not as incredibly complex as the creeper record. It’s a lot different. This is really about love, and these songs are about the feeling you have when you fall in love. The first song is like a warning about that feeling. It’s sweet in a way. Most of my songs are about despair and sadness, so this was a bit different for me. And that’s why it’s fun, it’s something that’s from the heart. These aren’t songs that dwell as much. They’re happy songs about falling in love and what that means.” he reiterates. It’s obvious that the new dynamic has really improved the frontman’s spirit, as he adds, “For a number of years I was in a really dark place, but I’m in a really positive place at the moment.”

The EP encompasses a riotous energy that will replicate itself flawlessly at any live show; it’s brash punk rock with a romantic twist. They also take reference from the punk scene that dominated the noughties. Bands such as Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion and Jawbreaker played an important role in this record.

Salem, along with their rip-roaring sound, are accompanied by a ‘sweet-but-deadly’ aesthetic, ‘We had HE Creative draw up my girlfriend, who a lot of the songs are based around, in the style of the ‘Archies’ comics and ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, and we were going to use the cat from Sabrina as the band name, it’s spooky but cute, it’s more aesthetically led than the name.’

“it’s spooky but cute, it’s more aesthetically led than the name…”

He explains that if it hadn’t been for lockdown, we wouldn’t be hearing what we are quite so soon. It gave him a time-out from the restrictions and rules he set himself for Creeper. As well as a break from the ‘constraints’, Salem has given him another outlet for creativity, and that’s great for someone who’s doused with artistry.  “I’m obsessed with being in control,”  he jokes, “(Salem) allows me to do things different. Creeper have a very strict set of rules that I always set for each record. We stick to them on purpose – it’s why the record looks the way it does. But sometimes it can be quite restrictive, you end up using one part of your brain throughout the entire campaign.”

Their self-titled EP is released through Roadrunner Records, whom Gould is signed with as part of Creeper. He talked of his efforts when trying to get the attention of labels as a youngster and the difficulty he found it to be. “They (Roadrunner) loved it straight away and they offered the deal immediately. All my life when I was younger I tried to get signed, it was difficult. I sent demos out to everybody with my old bands music, no one ever responded. Now it’s lovely because people seem to want to work with me,” he laughs, “It’s weird because you go so long where you can’t get anyone to respond to you and now I’ve been signed for two projects on the same label.”

“I’m always constantly humbled by the way I’m supported by people who believe in the things I make. I want to hear more. As long as people want to hear stuff, we’ll be making it I think.” So, this is just the beginning for Salem. With four socially distanced gigs on the horizon, what else could possibly be in the pipeline for Southampton’s next proper punk band?

SALEM IS OUT NOW VIA ROADRUNNER RECORDS.

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