[20 April 2006]
The Creeping Nobodies. Sometimes they sleep on tar floors, and sometimes there might be someone watching man-porn while they try to. A band that endures the crap side of rock ‘n’ roll for every single right reason you can think of. Empty bars, broken-down vans, weirdo billets… Matthew McDonough, Derek Westerholm, Valerie Uher, Dennis Amos, and Sarah Richardson put up with it because it’s worth it and they love it. And despite all of the uncertainty and disappointment that comes along with the DIY music style, the Creeping Nobodies keep their sights set on stun.
Surviving the lineup changes that followed their debut full-length, Stop Movement Stop Loss, the Nobodies are now committed to a steady and collaborative relationship. Guitarist—and one of three vocalists—Valerie Uher admits, “We’re all very obsessed with the band,” and after talking to her and originating Nobody Derek Westerholm for a couple of hours, I realized the extent to which their music motivates them. They shyly admit to practicing non-stop, and when they are at their day jobs they’re either emailing each other or planning forward to the next tour. With zero trace of too-cool attitude or any sense of entitlement, this is a band that makes all the right sounds.
Channeling Wire and Pere Ubu through implosive melodies and alternately manic and seductive vocals, the Creeping Nobodies brand of dissonance is a scattershot missile. Their live show is unbreakable, so mesmerizing that it can erase the baddest of days. Haunting and striking at the same time, they leave no room for you to process anything beyond that specific moment (and if they didn’t already have one of the best band names going, they could probably prosecute the Rapture for illegal use). I hadn’t heard a single note before I saw them live (as part of multi-headed monster showcase with the Gris Gris and Wolf Parade). After the show, effectively stunned, I immediately picked up Stop Movement Stop Loss and set up to meet the band.
“Yeah, we’re very into the live show,” deadpans Val with typical blunt enthusiasm. For a band that books their own tours and risks sleeping in some unfriendly circumstances to save enough for gas, it’s no surprise that playing live is of core importance. From Toronto, Ontario, to Knoxville, Tennessee, to Washington D.C., the Creeping Nobodies have worked steadily to build a following. Reveling in the opportunity to clamor alongside likeminded touring partners like Old Time Relijun, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, or the Ex, the Creeping Nobodies savor their time on the road and the chance to tune into the music completely. Temporarily unfettered by day jobs and scene-centric monotony, touring moves their politics, curiosity, and ambition.
Aside from their chaotic and dense debut, the band has recently released a limited 12”, the Half Saboteur EP. Intercutting between frailty and fury, the EP features an even more mercurial approach than found on their first record. At one moment the Creeping Nobodies are cacophonic and cunning, and in the next, paranoid and exuberant—such are the mismatching filaments that make them such an electric force. Featuring garbage can percussion and anthemic marches, it was recorded live off the floor over the course of just a few days, and was released through local newborn Bloodworks Records as part of a series of 12” offerings from emerging Toronto bands.
The new EP marks a timeout from the band’s tenure with Blocks Recording Club. Blocks operates as a co-operative and boasts one of the most unique rosters in independent music, including Final Fantasy, Lenin I Shumov, and Barcelona Pavilion. But despite the progressive ethos espoused by Blocks, their distribution means don’t extend beyond Canada. And although the Nobodies cherish their relationship with Blocks, they relay the distinct impression that they want and need more.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Derek Westerholm is almost incandescent as he describes his band’s aspiration “to go over to the UK and tour,’’ and acknowledges, “it is somewhat of a lifetime dream.” Right now, though, Westerholm can’t really afford to trip up the Creeping Nobodies with romantic goals. But with their long-awaited sophomore LP, Sound of Joy, due out May 2nd, an upsurge might be lurking. And hell, there’s a definite growth spurt in the band’s future, with comments like the following coming from sneering Toronto music critics: “If John Peel were still alive, his next order of business would have been to make the Creeping Nobodies the art-punk superstars they deserve to be (and will soon become anyway).” Critically approved or not, the Creeping Nobodies will keep touring and keep stunning audiences. And they might be sleeping farther away from home after people hear Sound of Joy (though they’ll no doubt continue sleeping with one eye open).