Up Front with Danny R. Phillips: The Creeps

The Creeps next show: Friday February 17 @ Café Acoustic Concert Hall

The Creeps with Act Naturally live Cafe Acoustic 2/17/17 poster

The Creeps/Act Naturally poster designed by Bret Yager

By Danny R. Phillips

Does punk rock have a true place in St. Joseph’s diverse music scene? St. Joe resident purveyors of punk, The Creeps think there is.

On a grey afternoon, Vocals on Top spoke with Creeps lead singer Zachary Thomas and guitarist Chris Mallory ahead of the band’s February 17 show at The Café Acoustic Concert Hall (1918 Frederick). They talked of the musical prospects in our fair city, where the epicenter of a potential punk explosion could most likely be and how the right woman can show you a whole new world.

“I got into punk because of my girlfriend/now wife Clarissa.” Mallory said, “She turned me onto a lot of music.” Her taste in music wasn’t the only thing that got his attention. “She walked around school in a plaid skirt and oxblood Dr. Martens. I followed her around all day just looking at her butt.” Mallory’s draw toward punk was not only a beautiful woman; it could have easily sprung from frustration, alienation brought on by a professional wrestler look-alike ex-Marine stepfather that constantly wore, of all things, a leather fanny pack. “He used to take me to the gym to lift weights, then put me down because I couldn’t. I was a scrawny kid… and I was 8.”

As the band is recording an upcoming album with Tice Thomason, they are poised to bring the live experience of songs like “Suicide Party,” “Undead Hot Rod,” and “Bride of Frankenstein” to glorious life on tape. “We’re planning to do two records; one of our horror punk stuff (possibly to be named “Deadtime Stories”) and one of our random stuff called “Chad Sucks” (the Chad in question here is Creeps superfan Chad Porter),” said Mallory. “We don’t think Chad sucks. Chad Sucks has been his nickname since he was like, 15. He’s a great dude, goes to all our shows; he even got a Phantom Creep on his leg for the band.”

It is great to hear that my favorite St. Joe band is in the process of recording but one question needs an answer: “Why does drummer Alex Long always take his shirt off?” Mallory explained, “He just gets really sweaty. He started taking his clothes off in high school. We were in a band called EIS in high school and he used to play our shows in a mesh see through thong. It wasn’t pretty.” Surely, it was not pretty but punk is never “pretty,” you can save “pretty” for the spandex warriors and butt rockers.

The Creeps performing live

The Creeps performing live

In 2013, The Creeps came to life, as many bands do, out of friendships among like-minded people striving to carve themselves a place in a world that marginalizes them. Thomas began his time in a band the same way many in punk’s history had: with no experience. “I had never played music before I met Chris. I got a bass, learned some songs and we had a band. It just kind of fell together.” Mallory continued, “I had always been in metal bands, pop punk bands (Mallory’s first go with Trevor Phillips was One Headlight High) whatever was popular. I wanted to get back into music after the birth of my son and I really wanted to play punk rock. I wanted to sing and play guitar but I realized I’m retarded and couldn’t do both at the same time.” Bass guitar duties have since been taken over from Thomas by St. Joe music scene mainstay Drew Ellis. “It’s nice just singing but now, I don’t know what to do with my hands,” Thomas said with a laugh.

As for the drummer, Alex Long, the connection with Mallory runs deeper. “Alex’s family actually took me in when I was younger, I learned to play music with Alex, he’s like my brother.” Long brings a versatility and power to the band that allows them to grow sonically. “Alex would be a great session drummer,” Mallory said, “he can come in and play anything. If I’ve got an idea or Zach or Trevor (Phillips, the band’s lead guitarist) has one, we can just start playing and he knows what will work.” Long has won the distinction of being one of St. Joe’s hardest hitting drummers. “It’s weird, “Thomas said, “he doesn’t break sticks but he cracks cymbals, I can’t explain it.”

That brings us to well-traveled guitarist Trevor Phillips. “I’ve known Trevor since high school,” Thomas said. “He used to wear these huge Goth pants and this blonde chili bowl haircut. Everyone called him Mosh because he would come up to you in the hall and hit you, push you, trying to start a mosh pit in the middle of Central. That how I met Trevor, pushing me in the hall.” Mallory continued, “Alex and Trevor were friends so when I started hanging with Alex, Trevor was there.”

And he’s still there, they’re all still there fighting the good fight, forging a place for punk in St. Joe (the most likely physical landing pad for punk being The Rendezvous) and spreading the virtues of horror and mayhem like their heroes The Misfits before them. The Creeps are here; ready to deliver our city into the loving arms of punk rock. It is about fucking time.


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