Something Ballsy – Creeping Ivies interview

The Creeping Ivies are another fairly new band who have been creating a fair bit of attention for themselves since their debut live show last summer (writes Andy Wood).

A duo, Becca Bomb (guitar and vocals) and Duncan Destruction (Drums) they have a raw, primal sound that mixes up influences from a range of sounds and styles, from wild 50s rock ‘n’ roll, 60s garage punk and 70s punk, throwing it all in the blend to create an enervating, exciting sound that is very much their own creation. Live they are visually and aurally arresting with both of them taking their place at the front of the stage and each song is a catchy, snappy number rarely clocking in at over three minutes.

They have just released a self-financed single, the fantastic Rock ‘n’ Roll Party E.P. which brilliantly encapsulates their sound at the moment. The three songs on the EP, ‘Buggin Around’, ‘Head To Tail’ and ‘Rock N Roll Party’ are the perfect calling card for The Creeping Ivies with their primitive, raw sound combined with a way with a cool riff and melody that makes them instantly memorable.

While there are plenty of bands around mining similar influences I think The Creeping Ivies are probably my favourite of them all, the music and live show just feel really natural and unforced. The Creeping Ivies are deadly serious but also great fun, instinctively knowing that music is a massively important form but also a source of fun and has a more intrinsic nature, that of having fun, letting go and dancing, perfectly captured on the EP’s title track ‘Rock N Roll Party’ with lyrics such as ‘Friday night / I’m feelin alive / All the kids are dancing / They’ll be waking up late’ capturing a simple but thrilling sense of energy and fun that a lot of bands fail to capture.

Huge music fans, both Becca and Duncan DJ and run occasional club nights as part of Fever! in venues around Dundee. Fever! neatly encapsulates what The Creeping Ivies are all about, playing cool tunes to get the party going without worrying about what is cool in a clichéd, hipster kind of way, crossing genres and decades and showing an enthusiasm for the music they love and a willingness to share that love and knowledge.

As well as releasing their debut single The Creeping Ivies have played in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow in recent months and have their debut London shows booked for later in the year. They have also had a song, ‘Shake It Up’ featured on two compilation CD’s before they even played a gig and have been receiving airplay on Radio shows around the world receiving positive feedback.

In conversation both Becca and Duncan are great company. However, the minute I pulled out my digital recording device, placed it on the table and pressed record, the room went quite silent. Once we got over that awkward moment the conversation ranged far and wide. Of what went on, we only have this excerpt.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present The Creeping Ivies.

Now everyone’s going to go really quiet.

Becca: I’m shy

Duncan: Yeah, right.

Becca: Duncan can do all the talking…

Do you want to tell me briefly just how The Creeping Ivies formed?

Becca: Well we’ve been friends for a while and I was in The Leatheretttes. Duncan briefly joined The Leatherettes and jammed with us for a while before we split up. None of us were in a band and we just started talking about forming a new band.

In The Leatherettes you used programmed stuff, a drum machine and so on didn’t you?

Becca: Yeah. We always used a drum machine. Then we got to the stage where we thought it would be great to have a live drummer. It’s quite rigid having to use a drum machine, a lot of cock-ups on stage when the drum machine went fucking tits-up.

Duncan, had you played drums before at this stage?

Duncan: No, no. I just literally went I’ll be in the band, I’ll buy a drum kit.

Becca: Duncan learned to play drums because we needed a drummer and he was someone into the same music.

Duncan: I just winged it basically. I just listened to some old tunes that I liked and kind’ve invented what I wanted to play.

At what point did you decide that you were going to play standing up?

Duncan: Quite early on actually. I’d seen Glasvegas and they had a stand-up drummer, just one drum and a cymbal and it sounded amazing and that was the first time I’d seen that live. Other bands I liked like the Demolition Dolls had a stand-up drummer. It just felt more kind of natural and easier to do it standing up.

Becca: I prefer it as well. With the two of us it’s like if the other person’s behind you it feels like you’re on the bus or something. It’s cool that we’re both kinda at the front.

The first ever Creeping Ivies performance was at the Fever Summer Blow Out in Soul last summer. As it was the first time that Duncan had played live, I wondered if he felt nervous?

Duncan: You were nervous.

Becca: I was more nervous than you. Were you nervous?

Duncan:  A little bit.

Becca: I can remember afterwards Graeme (Becca’s partner and former Leatherette) came up to you and said ‘Oh, you’re a proper musician now you’ve played a live gig’.

Duncan: Yeah, cos The Leatherettes had split up just literally days before the first gig I was going to play and I was more nervous about that one but it never happened so probably I was just like, oh well!

Becca: We were just dying to get out there and actually play.

Where did the name The Creeping Ivies originate from?

Becca: I just came up with it. I think, at the time, we didn’t have a name and we were just thinking of names and that came up. It’s perhaps obviously influenced by Poison Ivy (The Cramps guitarist) and creeping just sounded right, it had the right vibe. It just came into my head. I was out with my dad playing pool in the Doghouse and I texted you ‘What about The Creeping Ivies?’ and you were like ‘Fucking yeah!’.

Duncan: I loved it when you mentioned it. It’s a cool plant as well.

You said earlier that you talked about forming a band for a while. Did you have a concept for the band before you started writing and playing together?

Duncan: We didn’t have any concepts as such, just… we just really love rock ‘n’ roll and it just kind of…

Becca: It worked. We knew it would be minimal.

Duncan: Back to basics. I just see it as an extension of The Leatherettes. Just basically what we did there, just more stripped back with the one guitar. It was just more playing stuff influenced by what we love. I don’t think we ever really sat down and said let’s do this, let’s do that.

Becca: Yeah, as we always listened to records together and we DJ at Fever and that so we know what we both like and we just wanted to do something ballsy.

How did the debut single come about? It was recorded at Tpot Studios wasn’t it?

Becca: Well we knew that we wanted to record something so were looking around for studios. I think Graeme maybe mentioned Tpot and I just looked them up and noticed they had analogue equipment and things like that. It looked really cool. We just thought it would be cool going out in the country. The studio building looked amazing.

The owner of Tpot, Robin, was really enthusiastic about the session wasn’t he?

Duncan: He said it was the best thing he’d did all year. And this is in the year he did a View album and a Dodgy album as well.

A dodgy View album too. Sorry. Did you feel like proper musicians staying over at the studio?

Duncan: Definitely.

Becca: He [Robin] was telling us that it was haunted and everything.

Duncan: It was an old school house and it had burned down.

Do you have any plans to do any more recording soon?

Becca: We’ve booked into Green Door Studios in Glasgow on April 14th to record our second E.P. We’re recording with Stuart and Emily. They’ve recorded Sons & Daughters and quite a few bands. It seems like an amazing studio, just totally right up our street. But it turns out that this Stuart guy was in a band in the 90s called Geneva and Duncan was a massive fan.

How do you approach writing songs? Do you come up with the riff or the lyric first?

Becca: The riff. I’ll just be playing along and then I’ll just start singing a melody. I usually just make up lyrics as I go. Even some of the songs we’re playing live I’ve not actually written any lyrics. I’m just making it up. Different every time.

You’ve played a few gigs now in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. What kind of audience reaction have you had?

Duncan: Pretty good really. I was quite surprised at how much. Nothing too negative but a lot of people have really liked us.

Becca: Every gig we’ve done I’ve felt like a really good atmosphere. Even at the Edinburgh gig, a lot of the bands we played with weren’t really our genre, they were like hardcore punk but when we played the audience were loving it. Remember that one girl, she was like a hardcore punk and she was like ‘I loved you, bought your CD’ and everything. We thought, with the bands that were on before us ‘Oh God…’

Duncan: Let’s just do it and get out of here.

Becca: But everyone was like, oh yeah, love that and dancing away.

After a really good gig how do you feel when you come off the stage?

Duncan: It’s good. There’s nothing like it is there? The adrenaline…

Becca: Exhilarating. I usually get quite nervous before so when I’ve come off I’m just straight to the bar and celebrating.

Duncan: It’s a total release. You’ve done it, you’ve nailed it. If anyone comes up and goes ‘that’s amazing’ it’s just the best feeling ever.

How would you feel if someone came along after a gig and said ‘I’ve formed a band and we’re really influenced by The Creeping Ivies’?

Duncan: That would be totally amazing. I think that’s the ultimate tribute. Someone sees your gig and thinks, I want to be in a band.

Becca: I want kids to pick up guitars because they’ve heard one of my tunes.

Are there any gigs that you’d turn down?

Becca: Not really. If someone wants us we’re there.

Duncan: The only time we turn a gig down is if it’s physically impossible, if we can’t do it but other than that… we’ve supported a Buddy Holly tribute.

Becca: That was pretty cool.

Duncan: We’ll do anything. We do it purely for the love.

Becca: We just love it if people love us and want to do something. We find that a compliment. It’s not about how much are you paying us, it’s a compliment that people like us.

Duncan: DJ’ing or playing to people that like what you are doing is just magical, it just feels so good.

The Creeping Ivies support Vic Godard at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Sunday 25th March. Tickets on sale in Groucho’s or online here.