The Creepshow's Sarah Blackwood
Published Sep 27, 2010Since their 2005 inception, Toronto ― by route of Burlington, ON ― quartet the Creepshow have become one of Canada's most esteemed, applauded and hardened psychobilly acts. Almost immediately, their 2006 Stereo Dynamite Records debut Sell Your Soul became a viral obsession, leading not only to international acclaim but also a relationship with Canuck mainstays Stomp Records who issued 2008 follow-up Run For Your Life. Garnering praise for both the album's raucous energy and the band's relentless determination, Run For Your Life led further graces including enviable tours and a notable deal with legendary international punk labels Hellcat (U.S.) and People Like You Records (Europe), making the Creepshow one of few bands of this ilk to ink deals outside of the Great White North. Not without their share of trials/tribulations however, from the inevitable tour fiascos that befall any band to the replacement of original vocalist/guitarist Jen "Hellcat" Blackwood with equally-talented sister Sarah "Sin" Blackwood for practical reasons prior to Run For Your Life, the Creepshow have been forced to reassert their power and vitality from time to time, especially with such an odd internal shift. Regardless, it was an effortless accomplishment that led not only to further global recognition but also an essential sense of self-worth, confidence and adventurous spirit internally. In turn, these triumphs and epiphanies have yielded their most accomplished, diverse and compelling work to date, tertiary full-length They All Fall Down. Embracing more of Blackwood's well-rounded musical background and incorporating it into their own inherent punk/rockabilly drive, They All Fall Down is a formidable pastiche of twang, balladry, fire and maturity beyond the genre's restricting horror-influenced slap-and-shuffle confines. Moreover, as its reference to a popular youthful rhyme indicates, with They All Fall Down, Blackwood, bassist Sean "Sickboy" McNab, keyboardist the Reverend McGinty and drummer Matt "Pomade" Gee are finally composed, commanding and courageous enough to bring the world to its knees.
They All Fall Down is the band's third album but it's actually only your sophomore. You're part of the band but does this record represent a new side?
Sarah Blackwood: As far as I'm concerned, we've all really come together as a band with this record. It takes a long time to do that. With the first album, it featured my sister so that was still them not really knowing what they were doing. They were trying something new. The second record was, "Ok everybody, let's prove to the world that Sarah can be in this band." It kinda sucks but that's how it was. Now, this is our band, we've proven everything we needed to with people and this is our record. We're all comfortable with our positions in the band now, we know where we stand and it's probably the most comfortable record we've done. I don't mean to take away from the passion by saying that but this is the most comfort we've felt when making a record.
It seems obvious that people can be passionate when they're comfortable, 'cause they're not worrying about proving themselves. You guys seem confident here without being cocky. That's when bands can have fun. Did you anticipate that with this album?
I didn't. I was actually dreading it, to be honest. We're a touring band. We love playing shows. When someone tells us, "Ok guys, it's time to stop playing shows and write a record," we're like kids stomping our feet. "No! We don't wanna!" Once we get into it though, we realize it will be fun to play new songs. We definitely need that shove though and it's terrifying. It was easier this time around though, 'cause of the comfort factor. We know how we want to be as a band but we hate being tied down not playing shows or on tour. It's like being grounded.
You can't go out and play until you finish your homework. But now you've got it done.
Absolutely. We can play and there's sanity in the band. We get to play new songs, which is really exciting. Just the lock-down part of it sucks but it's for our own good. It's totally like being kids and the label is our parents. "We're doing this 'cause it's good for you." "No, I don't wanna." "Trust me...you'll know when you're older." And they're always right.
At least you listen.
We're responsible children.
Hearing this album, there's a refinement. You're coming into your own sound.
I absolutely feel that way. It's funny, 'cause that's the nicest way someone's put it so far. Most people say a third record defines the future of a band. How do we feel about it? I don't know! I feel like personally, there was no pressure as to what style I had to be writing in. That was big for me. For Run For Your Life, I basically felt like I had to try and write psychobilly music whereas with this record, I didn't have to do that. I could write whatever I wanted; what sounded cool and that's the way it is. I think the guys felt that way too. It goes back to being more comfortable and it just happened that way. We were like, "This is what the album's gonna sound like," and everyone was like, "I really like these songs. They're different."
A band is the sum of its parts and with the last album it seemed as if you were pressured into fitting their tally as opposed to influencing the final outcome. Here, you bring in your own style which isn't entirely psychobilly, is it?
Exactly. I wasn't really very familiar with this scene. I'm more of a punk rock girl.
And yet your solo albums are country, which is a heavy influence on psychobilly. It's like, why wasn't that influence tapped in the past? But at least that gate is open now.
Yeah, I think it is there now in a louder, much less old country kind of way. I did get to be more poetic with this record which is a big thing for me. Lyrics are important to me and when you're not a political punk rock band and you're not trying to make any sort of statement, it's really difficult to be poetic. I could sing about the fact that I hate it when I have no food in my house or something. It's difficult to find something you can write about in a punk way unless you're a political punk band. Then you have all this aggression and passion. It did feel more like I got to do that with this record. I was in a good place doing it, too.
Does that spell out why the album features less of the overt horror referencing than its predecessors?
I did have that hand last time. I just didn't use it. I didn't feel confident enough to use it; thought that I had to write more horror-type stuff, 'cause that's the way our band is. But over the past couple of years, I've realized that yeah, people put us in that category but we don't have to be there. This time around, I wrote more from where I felt in my life at that time. It came from my heart instead of what I felt I had to do.
To use the analogy again, it's like you're becoming adolescents. You're asserting your own opinions.
It totally is and it's funny, 'cause in life you never know you're gonna have these kinds of realizations but you do. Even in the band, it's like we were really young but now we're getting older. Know what I mean? It's like we're growing up all over again but in a different job.
Here's hoping you don't go through the horrible acne stage.
Yeah, the awkwardness of having sex for the first time.
No, nobody wants to go through that again.
Certainly not. This better be a different page.
Getting into the technicalities, you've used Steve Rizun for the third time. What's the reason? Comfort? Fear of someone else fucking things up?
We really like him a lot. He gets us and our sound. We have demoed with other people but nobody really gets our sound and how we want our records to be as much as Steve. We did want to part of the record with Jim Siegal (Dropkick Murphys, The Unseen). The guys wanted to do part of it with him, while I personally wanted to use Steve for my vocals and guitar 'cause I'm not into Auto-Tune and that super-effects stuff. Steve understands that and I appreciate it. Due to the time constraints, we just went with Steve though, which is a learning curve for us. If someone tell us we have to do a record, as a band we stop and go, "Ok, we're doing the record," but everybody else has stuff to do. You can't expect everyone to be ready when you are.
It is a bit crass to expect others to work on your time, if I may be blunt.
Yep. We all realize that now. It happened and then Steve was completely available for us so we tried it again, getting the sound each of us wants. He really nailed it, too.
It does all funnel back to this album being you four striking out and finding your zone.
Exactly. We've got nothing to lose at this point.
What's life without challenge anyway?
Right. I was talking to someone the other day about critics and how they'll never be satisfied. If you do an album that's too much the same, you get shit for being too much the same. If you do something different, you get shit for being too different. We're not out to impress anyone. Whatever. People will love it, like it or not like it. We're cool with that. It sucks when they write something bad about you but you get over it.
Yeah, but I'm sure it's a boost when someone gets it.
Then we're like, "Yay! People like us!" I'm excited for everyone to hear this.
I think "Sleep Tight" is my favourite on this record.
A lot of people have said that! It's funny, 'cause I said to the guys that it would be the song. They were like, "No! It's gonna be 'The All Fall Down' or 'Dust 'Til Dawn' or something like that." I said it would capture people.
It does. It stands out, not just on the record but in general. I love the '50s ballad side to it. Now you can stick it to 'em for not listening.
No way. Then I'll just look like a bitch.
Oh, please. Any last words?
Please support your local bands. Otherwise, we'll be stuck with what you see on TV. We need to get real music back into the world. Pay attention to the little guys.