Interview: Creed Bratton (The Grass Roots, The Office)
Published on June 18th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
From being a founding member of seminal ’60s psychedelic rockers The Grass Roots to playing himself in the hit US version of The Office, Creed Bratton has quite a tale to tell on his autobiographical new album Tell Me About It – Acts 1-3. He’s the cult hero to end all cult heroes and a fascinating character to boot, so it goes without saying that Rocksucker was keen to find out more…
Were all the songs written in close proximity to each other, and who did you collaborate with on the project?
“Unemployment Line” I wrote forty years ago when I was collecting unemployment. Written with Peter and Sarah Dixon who live in New Zealand now. “Chemical Wings” was also written about forty years ago in Malibu, California.
Dillon O’Brian – Heys, Guitars, Vocals
Dave Way- Keys, Guitars Drums/Percussion, Vocals
Dan Schwartz – Bass
Brian MacLeod – Drums, Percussion
Billy Harvey – Guitar, Vocals
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Dave Way at Waystation, Los Angeles
Mastered by Vic Anesini
How much of the album’s instrumentation did you handle yourself? Who else was involved in that regard?
I played the last little feedback solo on “One Guitar”, acoustic guitar on “Unemployment Line” and “When I Settle Down”. I also played and sang vocal at the same time to get the folk feel.
Do you have any plans to come to the UK in the near future?
Yes, I lived in London in 1965 and 1972. I love it there and I’m always very creative in that vibe. Would love to live for awhile in Scotland/Ireland and Britain. Great appreciation there for the folk scene and song crafting.
What is the strangest and/or most spiritual LSD experience you had?
I’d say it was probably the story that inspired “Chemical Wings” from the new album. I was onstage at the Fillmore West playing for the Grass Roots, when I dropped acid for the first time. I played the first chords for “Let’s Live For Today” and a vortex of color started drifting away from the strings.
Then I hear [concert promoter] Bill Graham yell, “Plaaaaay!” I hit another chord, and see cartoon staff paper coming out of the speakers. The notes on the paper are falling off and crumbling to the floor. Very concerned, I walk over and start trying to pick up the notes. There are people who are wondering, “What the hell is he doing?”
To make matters worse, I dropped my pants and sat on the edge of the stage, trying to explain to the audience the meaning of life. I consider it my quintessential ’60s rock ‘n’ roll experience.
Who conceived and/or created the alien chicken interviewer on the album artwork?
I did. For years I mused on why can’t there be more than just: “it all tastes like chicken”. So I conceived of an alien chicken that had a unique and different flavor.
Then the idea just lead me on to the album cover, where I’ve finally got close to one and I’m planning to kill the interviewer and stick her on the grill.
Do fans of The Office ever talk to you as if you’re the character from the show, and if so how do you handle that?
Yes, women in stores will pull their children away from me sometimes so they won’t catch the crazy Creed virus. Other folks are disappointed that I’m not that guy in person.
Hey, I’m an actor, I created the character myself originally. I do tell the fans I appreciate that they think he’s real. It all finally comes down to the writers who really got the character and wrote so many memorable lines.
Have you seen the English Office? If so, what do you think of it?
Yes, of course. It’s the reason I lobbied so hard to get on the show.
If you had to spend the rest of your life with the entire works of just five different musical artists, whose would you choose?
Can’t do it. Unanswerable. Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Mozart are shortlisted, though.
Creed Bratton, thank you.
Tell Me About It – Acts 1-3 is out now on Kindred Music.