Creak, Head Management Report
(From L to R above: Douglas Black, Kit; Ben Heaney, Voice & Electric Violin; Howard Jacobs, Bass; Richard Waldock, Guitar)
Creaky Info#7 ::: Update ::: 2017
Sparkly, bionic, rude, fat rock, pop and punk. Millions of pounds worth of riffs. Widely influenced… bound to suit you all sirs!
“Rips your ears off and beats you to death with them” – Dave
Not sure whether it’s fair or simple enough to say Creak didn’t quite manage major success. From the first :::Powww::: cassette, the :::mighty Creak::: may rarely have ever been a publicly advertised :::gig of the week::: no matter how much effort the group put towards trying to do the right thing; or being a group who have received just a moment of national air-play and have sold barely any records to date… But what is the measurement of success? Twenty years on since inception, the sound of Creak is as fresh as the day it was made. Fashions and Styles come and go but there’s something instant and true about Creak. It is music made to be music at its most thrilling, engaging, challenging, exciting, aimed at perfection.
First, Creak set out to make the music right and from the absolute earliest days (April 1995) Creak can boast to have achieved an instantly scheduled debut broadcast on National Radio at the time when the group were yet to even have a line-up to gig with. Creak envisioned stepping out at the top of the infamous ladder of success; fully formed and developed but from an invisible elevator parallel to usual route. And then they found they possibly may have gone and done just that! Maybe this is just fancy pie-in-the-sky dreaming, awful hankering after the past; even, that Creak is yet another never-has-been-band languishing on the fading memory of having approached that first well-worn lowest rung of the ladder but actually having failed to grasp it at all and even then missing all further opportunities …
Creak’s first recording:::
the Powww Demo (original artwork by Andrew Linsell) was written, recorded, mixed and produced on 4-track cassette; mastered to DAT and duplicated in a short run edition of 50 cassettes at Courtyard Studios, Stockport. From the outset, Creak took complete control of the creative process and without compromise ventured out with the courage of their convictions.
Compelled to do and make it themselves on their own terms and in their own considered way, Creak were immediately noticed and encouraged by some to step up to the mark by broadcasting their first recording across UK airwaves. This was an amazing opportunity and timed deliberately and exactly to be the moment Nick Ingram was put to death by electrocution in Georgia USA, 1995. A sick publicity stunt or an artist’s repsonse to Execution? Lyric writer, Ben simply wanted to highlight the moment of execution as a point to think and reflect upon.
Certainly, the cut, “The Chair” was entirely fresh, recorded that day just hours before the scheduled execution. The lyrics finalised from a weird inspiration near to sheer mental horror, terror and fear of the imagined prospect facing the person receiving a death-penalty that very day. Thoughts stimulated from words gleened from the newspapers that morning; the lyrics recorded actually dramatic, improvised and hyper-theatrical style. It was only listening back to it and noting the length, being about the time it takes on average to die by electrocution, that prompted an idea of phoning up Talk Radio UK to see whether they’d consider broadcasting it being played down the phone at the allotted time of execution. They said “alright, yes”, “get your stereo ready and phone back just before the show goes out”. However, as it turned out, the Live “Execution Special” didn’t happen, the show was dropped as the prisoner received a last hour stay of execution… Creak adding their voice to a very public outcry at the time. But then, the execution did happen, swiftly the next day and without Creak’s soundtrack.
“He died despite a passionate international effort to save him. British Telecom operators said today they had been “inundated” with calls from people wanting to ring the prison and ask for the electrocution to be halted… Ingram had been taken from the holding cell to the chamber adjacent to the room where the electric chair is kept. He had made the same journey on Thursday before the original stay of execution… he would be re-shaved to remove any remaining stubble which might hinder the electrocution – 24 hours after he was shaved in preparation for execution on Thursday” – The Independent, 8 April 1995
Following a concerted mailing campaign to well considered record companies, Creak began the well-worn path of hawking the product around to garner any interest. Nothing about Creak was run of the mill, not even rejection letters! (“That guys a cyclops” – read one from Blanco Y Negro; “So incredible my stereo spat-out the tape” – Creation Records)
Then a raving letter arrived from Flat Records’s director, former King Kurt band member and punk hero Dick Crippen, expressing real positivity for the group. Creak were very quickly invited to record three cuts at his studio in Surrey. So, Creak almost became a real band, enlisting Douglas Black on drums and thinking about who might play bass. In the event, the three-strong group set off to Flat Records and in the space of two days recorded and produced a second demo, “Warp Driven Frizzle”. This time, the recording was to 1/2″ reel using a classic piece of 8-track technology. The results, three songs, two of which were reworkings from the Powww demo and the addition of a deep powerfully rocking song, “Valentine Shine Time”. Again, a short run of 50 cassettes were duplicated at Courtyard Studios and quickly passed on to the interested…
Until this point Creak weren’t really a band, the recordings were impossible to reproduce live as there was still no bass player, they hadn’t even gigged yet! Despite this obvious flaw in the ointment, Flat Records wanted to help develop and promote Creak promising much including in writing that they could come round and shag the Director’s “bird” anytime. The heat was on to get the band properly formed and adverts were put out for the suitable bass candidate. Little did anyone know that actually the would-be bass player had already pledged life-long allegiance to the band in an ridiculous filmed oath months before in the summer of ’95… However, before the penny dropped that Howard Jacobs was going to be the perfect candidate; Ben, Richie and Dougie went through some pain inviting complete strangers into Red House Rehearsal studio only to discover they were no way suitable for the job. Then after much heartache wondering what could possibly be done and probably during some late night moment of clarity, good friend and ace musician Howard was asked and took no time in accepting. Things almost felt complete, but Richie had his mind set on a second guitarist to complete his vision of a totally perfect harmonic spectrum and the search continued. With a booking to perform at the end of the year in The Phoenix, right next door to the Royal Nothern College of Music, the pressure to form the band was on.
Through a very convoluted chain of chance encounters – a few years before, when Ben was at school in Northampton he knew a guy called Chris who now just happened to have replied to Richie’s flat-share ad and was also playing in a band with guitarist Dave and singer Juliet… Juliet’s partner, Jules Talbot was a singer-songwriter and frontman for The Panic Merchants, an excellent group gigging heavily in and around Manchester – Jules showed keen interest in Creak and offered to learn the songs to help the group discover what it would sound like live. With the offer accepted and a few rehearsals later, Creak were a fully-formed and already “signed” band.
Jules easily had the most regular experience playing and gigging in a band… Ben, classically trained violinist was behind the microphone for the first time and doubling on electric violin; Richie, classically trained double-bass player was playing electric guitar; Howard, clarinetist and percussionist was on bass and Dougie had just left the Royal Northern having studied orchestral percussion played kit. However, this was something everyone in Creak had set their sights on years ago and the opportunity was grabbed. Creak stepped out on to stage with great courage of their own convictions and set about to blast through their set. Within seconds of it starting Ben realised it was not going to be an easy ride. Eyes stared back at him, faces and bodies stuck to the perimeter of the room, fixed motionless. Mental confidence and enthusiasm drained as each song was met with polite and friendly applause. A video of the event exists showing the band ploughed headlong through the set regardless of the fairly mute response.
Early in the new year Jules left Creak. He was really too involved in The Panics for it to work both ways but in leaving he actually helped give form to the band as it was to be from that point on. As a four-piece, the group took off. Their creativity and spontaneity was infectious and they quickly spurred each other on to think of a future where the band were in control of their own destiny and would create the music as and when they wanted to do it. The deal with Flat Records seemed to be going nowhere. Despite giving the company hundreds of pounds to pay for advertising, promotion and general “development” fees nothing was ever heard from the label director Dick until Richie started to write letters demanding the master tape made for the second demo was sent back. In the end it became obvious that Creak had learnt an important lesson. If you want something done in the way you want it, do it yourself! In a rapid series of bookings Creak found themselves on the local Manchester circuit playing at the best known roots venues in the city centre. The politics of these venues booking policies soon would grate against Creak’s genuine urge to play as much as possible – none of the venues would book the group if they were playing another venue within a few weeks either side… Consequently 1996 saw just 8 Creak gigs at the University Student Union, The Roadhouse, Republica, Band On The Wall, culminating in a monthly residency at the Night and Day Cafe on Oldham Street. The most bizarre twisted logic was learnt when the band sought local radio airplay. Seemingly the band would only have a chance to be broadcast if they had a booking in one of the known roots venues in London… after a number of enquiries were then made it became immediately obvious that Creak wouldn’t get a booking in London until local Manchester radio broadcast them… More nonsense that served only to fuel Creak’s shared vision that they needed to pursue the music and making it right at all costs. This is exactly what then happened.
Later in this first year of operating as a rehearsing, gigging band, Creak attracted the attention of a local band manager, Danny ‘Mac’. Danny was already touring as manager for Rocket From The Crypt and was keen to add Creak to his books. After seeing the band gig he made a comparison to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, something Ben found very amusing as he’d never heard of them before and when Danny played them to him he rather hoped Creak didn’t sound like them! The band recognised they needed professional input from someone successfully working in the industry and took Danny’s invitation to “jump into bed together to see what happens”. Plans began to form for the band to record a single. There was no hesitation in the choice and Creak approached Tim Woodward at Courtyard Studios in Stockport. This had been the venue for Ben’s solo studio recording in January 1995 and also a previous near-incarnation of Creak in 1992 as Malice In Wonderland… Tim operated in a way that made everyone feel comfortable, at ease and also seemed to be able to voice the collective thinking of the group by an unprompted tweak of an effect, or subtle alteration of a dynamic balance between the instruments. Creak had found its home and dates and material decided for the recording session. Whilst the group prepared for the thrill of cutting a real record, they investigated the process involved of making a self-release. A label was needed and all manner of other administrative tasks followed – but it was all necessary means to the best end. Creak would make the record as they wanted it to sound and would release it following recommended tried and tested routes. It would be a registered work, The National Library Archives would get a copy and there would be a formal release date coinciding with a gig at the band’s resident venue… There was no reason not to pursue it with vigour.
April-95: “Powww” : Head Management Studio : 5 song cassette, 50 copies distributed freely
October-95 : “Warp Driven Frizzle” : Flat Records Recording Studio : 3 song cassette, 50 copies distributed freely
December-95 : “The Phoenix Night” : video of first live gig, 1 copy in private collection
February-96 : “Ground Hog Day” : live recording (MUSU) of full set from desk to cassette, ? copies
November-96 : “Studio 1 at BBC North” : commercial film recording, 4 copies in private collections
April-97 : “Restart/Wonky Pants” : Courtyard Recording Studios, Creaky Records (CR001) single, 500 copies
August-98 : “Great Office Party” : Courtyard Recording Studios, Creaky Records (CR***) EP, (now defunct) www.peoplesound.com
??/12/1995 : The Phoenix
02/02/1996 : Manchester University Students Union : supporting Whipping Boy
16/04/1996 : Band on the Wall : Showcase Well North of London – with Jinxed, Fervid, Anna Lawson
01/05/1996 : Roadhouse : Creak & guests
26/05/1996 : Republic[a] : Odd Man Out – Creak, Concrete Head – Muppet Rabies
30?/06/1996 : Castlefields : EUFA Euro96 Final Festivities
02/10/1996 : Night & Day : Manchester Festival – Fat Spiders Lunch, Creak and Breather
22/11/1996 : Night & Day : Creak
18/12/1996 : Night & Day : Day of Hate +East West Coast +Creak +Phobophilia
25/04/1997 : Night & Day : Creak
12/06/1997 : Rockworld : Carnival – Room 3
21/06/1997 : Night & Day : Polly’s Overload / Creak/ The Hum of Good Machines
16/12/1997 : Night & Day : Creak
13/01/1998 : Night & Day : Heat1
19/01/1998 : Roadhouse : Creak & special guests
::: “Sounds pretty good to me. Wild… accomplished. Liked it alot”
(Nick Abbot – Virgin Radio)
::: ::: :::
“We like Creak. We like Creak alot…”
(Dr.Crippen, Flat Records)
::: ::: :::
Waldock, Jacobs, Black and Ben-Benedicte-Ben-Benedict-Ben-Ben “Heaney are dangerous.Muso’s everywhere beware you are going to be so gutted. I’ve already heard jelous cries of fear from the musoest muso and believe me crimes will be comitted. There is no focused image. This is big. No comparisons – no other units are similar or comparible – erotic, dynamic, panic; at least! Ripped the spine from the rule book and used it to terrify Creak are breaking ground on many fronts. Fuck classlessness Creak sweat it and like it and believe me when I say they are already massive – huge – bigger than anyone including four barrys. I refuse to go to wembley, maine road or the cattle festivals to see them, I will renounce them in fame but for now – Creak are not four young twats, and are loitering with intent.
::: ::: :::
Despite the fact that the band have only played one previous gig, there were a large number of people who had come to support Creak. Although this was partly due to the fact that the members of Creak (Ben Heaney on vocals and electric violin, Richie Waldock on guitar, Howard Jacobs on bass, and Dougie Black on drums) have played with other bands on the Manchester scene such as Ancient of Daze, Slug in the Sun, Malice in Wonderland and have also guested with people like Lionrock’s MC Buzz B, it was also testament to the fact that there is still an audience for this brand of cutting edge rock. “Rock”, however, is too bland and broad a tag to put on music such as this, which draws on so many influences. Although there are elements of bands such as Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the musicianship of the band as a whole transcends the stereotypes of the genre. “Brutish” is a 160bpm ska riot; “Valentine Shine Time” is a shiny happy scary sort of an anthem; “Fandango el Diablo” a satanic helter skelter. The songs are all very original and very hard to describe. If you’re bored of Britpop and Blipblop, go and see Creak – expect the unexpectedly exceptional.
(Copyright Matthew Burman, 1996)
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Heavy Going at The Night & Day
This was the first time in the festival that we’ve seen any Rock music – pure unadulterated, loud Rock!!
…with subtle harpsichord and violin work. Now throw in a gut crunching thrash background and manic punkesque vocals, you get a sound which i simply can’t describe – “different” sounds a bit insulting, but in this case, it is definitely not meant that way!…
(Feedback Network- October 1996)
original photo by?
:::original artwork for Creak’s single, Restart:::
Restart Single Cover
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Day of Hate; Phobaphilia; Creak; East West Coast
…The high point of the set was the new song “Restart” and a near roar went up at the end… The after-glow was gratifying but as a group we were confused… To see the audience just mutely staring, some smiling… just made me realise that a band that does what we do is more than enough…
::: ::: :::
Manchester Evening News
Single Release coverage
Friday April 11, 1997
::: ::: :::
Battle of the Bands:::Friday January 9, 1998