Interview with Arvid Filipsson of Creye

It would make things much better if each day had at least forty eight hours. Otherwise, it’s just impossible to check out every new Melodic Rock act that has emerged over the last fifteen years. And of course, the majority of them are from Scandinavia, so there must be something in the water there… However, a Malmö-based six-piece Creye compete hard for fans’ attention. First, they released an EP in 2017, followed by a full-length debut album in 2018 and an acoustic EP just a year later. Fast forward to 2020 and here comes the first single off the new Creye album, due to be released next year… I caught up with the band’s drummer Arvid Filipsson to chat about their past and future endeavours.

Creye. Photo used by the artist’s permission. Photo credits: Mikael Roos.

Alexandra Mrozowska: Let’s start with a piece of Creye trivia not everyone who listens to the band might be aware of – the band members’ education in Malmö Academy of Music. How do you think it translates into what you do as Creye?

Arvid Filipsson: That’s a great question. We’re studying to become music teachers, but there’s a lot more to our education than just pedagogics; we have ensemble playing, courses in music production, lessons on our main instruments, and so on. As for me, I’ve definitely learned a ton from my education that I can translate into what I do with Creye – I wouldn’t be this good a drummer without my education, I wouldn’t be this good at live sounds and production, and also – it’s a lot easier to rehearse and cooperate as a band when a majority of the band has a pedagogic education.

AM: What sparked your interest in playing drums? Did it start, as it usually does, with banging on your mother’s pots and pans in your early childhood?

AF: Wow, I think it begin with me seeing Levon Helm from The Band on a VHS, or maybe hearing him on a vinyl player. He’s still one of my biggest drumming heroes. I think I actually began playing on books, but I got a beginner’s drum kit fairly early in my childhood. Then I got a dip in my teens and wanted to play the guitar, which I still do – but I realized drums was the best instrument for me. I like hitting things and getting sweaty on stage…

AM: Which drummers do you think influenced the way you play?

AF: It all depends on which style of music I’m playing at the moment. When I do the Creye stuff, I’m heavily influenced by Phil Collins. When I’m playing something softer and groovier, I often try to mimick Bernard Purdie’s playing. I think one of the absolute best ways to grow your own musical identity is to imitate players that you like – I’ve learned a ton from playing along to old Hall & Oates and Steely Dan records, trying to glue on to the drummer in the song and play as similar as possible. I genuinely think that the best way to find your own identity as a musician is to imitate and learn from others.

AM: Some drummers prefer very simplistic, minimal drum kits whereas the others go big. What’s your choice in this matter and why?

AF: Well, I’m somewhere in between. I don’t really see the purpose of having a 100-piece drum kit that’s built around you, but at the same time, I’m a little allergic to people firmly saying that ’if you can’t play on a 3-piece drum kit, you can’t play at all’. Of course there are moments when you wanna have a bigger drum kit, and moments when you wanna have a 3-piece. It’s all about personal preference and nothing is universally right or wrong. When I play with Creye, I generally prefer medium sized kits. I want a lot of cymbals to hit, and having maybe an extra tom gives me a little more freedom when I do fills, but having a monster kit with 10 cymbals and 20 toms would just give me a headache…

AM: Creye has just released a new single “Face To Face”. Do you see it as a leap forward for the band, or continuity of your debut album? Why?

AF: I wouldn’t see it as a continuity of our debut album. I mean, it’s not like we’re gonna try to become a Reggae band, but we’re moving forward and we’re not trying to do what we did on our debut album over again. I think people who loved our debut album are gonna love this album as well, and maybe people who weren’t so fond of our debut album will find that the second album is more appealing to them too.

AM: Is “Face To Face” a good representative of the material that will be released on your sophomore album which is planned for early 2021?

AF: I think this second album has a little more genre diversity than our debut album, and “Face To Face” is definitely a good representative of the rockier side of the album. That is why we wanted to release it as the first single.

AM: “Face To Face” was written and produced by the band. Does it mean you won’t renew your collaboration with the producer Erik Wiss whom I believe you worked with on your previous releases Creye and Up Close?

AF: Creye and Erik go waaaay back. We’ve known each other for a long time and he’s produced everything we’ve done up to this point, but a number of circumstances led to him not being a part of this album. I can, however, assure you that these circumstances do not include us having a beef or something. We would absolutely love to work with Erik again, and speaking for myself I can say that he’s definitely one of my favourite people and musicians in the world.

AM: The band’s previous full-length album featured songwriter cameos from the outside writers, including the mentioned Erik Wiss, Ulrick Lönnqvist, Sören Kronqvist, Mike Palace or Hal Marabel. Was the songwriting process for the new album any different?

AF: I think the songwriting process has evolved for this album… we’ve done more things together, come up with things while rehearsing, etc. Everyone has been a part of everything and we’re really proud of the result. When it comes to songwriter cameos, you’ll have to wait and see!

AM: With the recordings of the new album finished around the time the pandemic hit, what was the band up to during the last difficult months?

AF: Well, we had basically just come back from our tour with DeVicious and Michael Bormann when we started working on the new album full time. Recordings for the album took place in late February and early March, when the situation was about to peak here in Sweden. We had some gigs that were cancelled this summer and fall. I think it’s too soon to tell how hard the pandemic has hit us as a band – it all depends on what happens in the next year or so.

AM: Speaking of recording – making a debut album is always a huge challenge, and there are plenty of cases in the history of Rock when it didn’t manage to show the act’s true colours. Are you still proud of what you achieved with your 2018 self-titled debut, or are there things you’d now go back to and improve on?

AF: I can only speak for myself, but I think our debut album is great. Of course there are always things you can improve (which we also have done for our live shows) but I think we’re all proud of our debut album and we love to play those songs live. We’re not gonna stop playing them just because we’ve released a second album.

Arvid Filipsson of Creye. Photo used by the artist’s permission. Photo credits: Mikael Roos

AM: A year ago, you’ve released an acoustic EP Up Close. What’s prompted the choice of reworking songs included on your debut album just a year after it was released?

AF: We thought it was fun! We wanted a challenge and we wanted to do something different with some of the songs from our debut album. We also released a new song on the EP (“Lost Without You”). Re-arranging the songs in an acoustic manner and recording them was a challenge, and it was a lovely process. The recording process was so organic, and of course, hanging out with the rest of the band and producer Erik Wiss is always amazing.

AM: Are you satisfied with Creye being signed to Frontiers? What’s the reason behind the choice of this particular label?

AF: We love the guys at Frontiers, and we know they love us back! When you’re looking for a record deal, you usually get a couple of proposals that you choose between. We thought Frontiers was the record label that could do the most for us, and that also turned out to be the case.

AM: A staple in Creye’s early career was the regular turnover in the lead singer position. Do you think you’ve reached stability now that August (Rauer, the band’s lead singer) holds the mic?

AF: Well, those days are gone (laughs) I personally have known August for six years now and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better lead singer. We’ve definitely reached stability.

AM: In the world of Rock, almost everyone seems to be constantly worried about their credibility and being labeled as “Pop” is often thought to be almost insulting. Yet, Creye describes itself literally as Pop/Rock and apparently isn’t afraid of the association…

AF: Why would you be worried about being labeled as Pop? It’s the best label there is. I wouldn’t feel particularly insulted about my music reaching a wider audience. I understand if Death Metal bands feel pride in writing songs that don’t necessarily appeal to a lot of people, but we want to write music that a wide audience can listen to and relate to. I personally would be more worried about not being labeled as “Pop”.

AM: Do you and/or your bandmates listen to Pop music at all, and if you do, what acts would you call the most influential? Can you think of any influences your fans would find to be quite surprising?

AF: I would say we are pop guys to some degree… (laughs) We listen a lot to The 1975 and they have influenced us in our songwriting. I listen to a lot of ‘80s pop, as well as newer pop bands and artists such as The 1975, Maggie Rogers, Foster the People, etc.

AM: As you’ve already mentioned, last year Creye toured with DeVicious and Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard. What are your memories of the tour?

AF: Wow, so many great things happened on that tour. We loved hanging out with the other bands, as well as sitting by ourselves in the back of the tour bus playing Mario Kart. I didn’t win a single time though, so for me, that was a nightmare. We remember the gig at Jonny’s Lion Cave in Switzerland, it was such a small, cozy venue, and it was packed with people. The feeling there was amazing and it was the last gig of the tour. We would love to come back to all these venues and we would love to hang out with DeVicious and the Bormann gang again – I just have to practice some Mario Kart first, so I don’t make a fool of myself in the back of the bus (laughs)

AM: Who would you like to share a stage with in the future, if you could pick just any band?

AF: Wow, I think we all would love to share the stage with H.E.A.T sometime in the future. We would of course also love to share a stage with just about any band that we’ve shared a stage with in the past – State of Salazar, Michael Bormann, DeVicious, Crazy Lixx, and so on. They’re all great guys and we’ve had some epic times with them.

AM: Now the very last question: with your first gig postponed until early December, what are Creye’s current plans?

AF: Spending time with each other, hang out as friends, and connect with our fans on social media. You can’t sit around and be mad at the current pandemic, you gotta make the best out of it, you know. Practice, drink beer, buy a car, start playing tennis, take care of your plants, I don’t know. Either way our schedules are packed and we’re in the middle of a launch period so we’re not too mad at the situation. And once this Corona situation is over, we’ll get out on the road like never before!

Creye Official Website

Creye on Facebook

You can check out the lyric video to Creye’s brand new single “Face To Face” below: