The Creeping Nobodies

Liam Colle

Doing it all for the love of the music, Toronto-based band the Creeping Nobodies keeps the romantic dream alive while diligently slogging through the dirty work, finding themselves on the cusp of expanding both their territory and their audience's horizons.

Pushing Borders

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.

Poster by Katie Muth
The Creeping Nobodies
"Treachery": MP3 from Sound of Joy, 2006
"The Sound of Joy": MP3 from Sound of Joy, 2006
"Your Likeness": MP3 from Half Saboteur EP, 2005
"Intent": MP3 from Stop Movement Stop Loss, 2004
"Quarantine!": MP3 from Stop Movement Stop Loss, 2004
"State": MP3 from I-X-U, 2002

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).

[band website]





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.