CREEPING DEATH’s TREY PEMBERTON Talks New EP, POWER TRIP’s Influence, And Hardcore Roots
October 5, 2021, 3 weeks ago
Texas crossover death metal upstarts Creeping Death have emerged from the underground to become one of the ferocious forces making waves out of the Lone Star state.
Guitarist Trey Pemberton, Iranian-American singer Reese Alavi (whose pronouns are they/them), bassist Eric “Rico” Mejia, drummer Lincoln Mullins, and guitarist A.J. Ross, III make up the group Revolver called the “Power Trip-endorsed band leading the next wave of Texas metal.”
Ahead of the release of their latest EP The Edge Of Existence, Pemberton caught up with Brave Words for a deep dive into their rise to prominence, the influence of fellow Texans Power Trip, returning to his hardcore roots in a series of wild live performances and much more!
BraveWords: So we're thinking six years and the output has been pretty strong in terms of popping off EP's and the one LP, but I know you guys are looking at number two not too far down the horizon and already have some big tours under your belt. Does it feel like it's been longer than six years? It feels almost like you guys were this underground sensation that started in kind of that hardcore type world that really gained more and more momentum.
Trey Pemberton: “Yeah. For me, I don't think so because the first few years I was still in college. We were just playing shows around Texas and we were booking our own stuff. You know, typical like hardcore kid stuff. It was what I was doing with all my other bands previously. So it really didn't feel any different until we got signed around 2018. And then we started to tour more and started to take it a little bit more seriously. And so in that respect I still feel that it's relatively new and it feels pretty new to all of us. And then you add the fact that we pretty much were forced to take a year and a half off with the pandemic. So that's also time. We've really only been heavily doing it for a year and a half if you take away the pandemic time. So it still does feel relatively new. And yeah I mean, as far as the output, I get bored at home sometimes. It's just fun first and foremost. It's something I enjoy. So it's easy to do and easy to make output when you're having fun jamming and writing music with your best friends.
“We had a year and a half off, but like we didn't waste that time. We wrote a bunch of music. We wrote three of the new songs that are on the newest EP and we have about another nine or ten new songs that we're going to pick through and work through to record. Hopefully we're going to record either late this year or beginning early next year. I don't know what the vinyl situation is. Yeah, we want it to be out next year, if at all possible. So that's our goal. We're trying to get it recorded. We pretty much have most of it written and we're just kind of like hashing out some of the details, you know? So yeah, we have a lot of music coming out. A lot of stuff that we're very happy about and it's not revolutionary or anything like that. But you know, we try some different things here and there for us as a band. I think it'll be cool. We'll get to play with some guitar effects and things of that nature. Just some new stuff that as you get to, I guess, get bigger and expand, you get to try new things and new techniques and whatnot and just have fun with it. Like at the end of the day, it's fun. None of us really thought that we were going to tour and all that stuff. We were just doing it for fun and the opportunity came and we just jumped at it.”
BraveWords: It's an interesting thing, even if you listen back to like Specter Of War and then through the LP and then obviously these three new songs, it feels like you're really finding your sound and you're growing a lot in terms of the easing into what you want to be, but at the same time not really restricting yourselves. You still have that great crossover appeal and that blend of hardcore background with obvious nods to Cryptopsy, Obituary and Grave. Have you kind of felt that like in the last set of recordings that there's definitive growth with the band and your sound? It really feels like you’re tightening up and maturing across the board.
Trey Pemberton: “That was one big thing when we were like, oh, we're going to start doing this. We didn't want to half ass it, you know? So we always want to try to improve ourselves in any way possible, especially when we feel like we're still pretty new to the game. So yeah, like I would say that there's definitely growth there. I think now we're concentrating a little bit more on actual songwriting aspects like how things flow as a song and albums and things like that, just how it all is cohesive together instead of just like refresh, refresh, refresh for everything, you know?
“Actually making it a little bit more musical like a song. So that's what we've been trying to incorporate a little bit more. I think we've been able to accomplish that pretty well while also sort of keeping that feeling that we're always going to write really aggressive music. And I feel like we're always going to sort of carry ourselves like a hardcore band. So I think just naturally our music will continue to have that energy in some way, shape or form. But we're definitely trying to write more cohesive songs, more thought out songs.”
BraveWords: Thinking about Texas and heavy metal, and it's a great state for hardcore as well. Obviously the big one we think of is Pantera. That goes without saying. In the last 10 years it was Power Trip. These guys were like waving that flag hard and really all ships rise type thing with the scene. And I know you guys got to tour with them and are friends with them. Everything with Riley is like the ultimate tragedy. Thinking back on Power Trip and like kind of what they helped do for that crossover thrash death metal scene, getting to tour with those guys and how they kind of helped bring you along on those big tours and kind of give you a bit of an endorsement when you guys were just starting out. In hindsight, how instrumental were they in your rise? I don't think we can really understate the impact that Riley had and Power Trip had on Texas metal.
Trey Pemberton: “For me personally, it's not just with the band. I mean, I'm in a fantasy football league with Nick and Blake. Like, they're legitimately good friends. Like, we like each other. It's more than like a musical relationship, you know? Especially with Riley and Reese. They were basically neighbors. They would hang out all the time ... so it was definitely big, not just musically, but like personally. And I know from when I first started to go to hardcore shows in Dallas, it's like, I don't want to say intimidating, but anytime you're going to a new space and there's new people and there's more people that you don't know, I didn't want to say it was unwelcoming. Nobody was mean or anything. Riley was really one of the first people who kind of made me comfortable. It was Riley and his friend Marcus.
"Marcus, he's black and he played drums for Power Trip for a little bit, too. And so, you know, just again, I hate to keep bringing this up, but like black guy to black guy. You obviously acknowledge each other in that space. And so they started seeing me come around. So basically they made it a point to like, oh hey, here's this new kid. Let's talk to him! And they were really some of the first people that I didn't know personally to come up and talk to me and make me feel welcome in playing in Dallas. So I'll always thank Riley and his crew for all of that or for helping me kind of ease into that. I'll always definitely appreciate that because who knows, maybe I don't stick around if I don't feel as comfortable going to shows consistently, you know? After that people see that I'm talking to Riley and it's like oh, who is this kid? And then people start to warm up to you and you feel comfortable and you meet other people. Definitely I would say a big part of our journey, for sure.
“I guess on the musical stance, when we started and when we put out the demo, Blake and Nick and Riley were some of the first people to hit me up and be like this is sick! This is something different than what's going on in Texas right now. Keep it up! They've always sort of tried to help us out and put us on shows. I think it was their 10 year anniversary or they had some anniversary show and we were still pretty early as a band ... but they put us on. It was one of the first bigger shows we got to play. We played with them and Madball. They helped us get on that. So they've always sort of been in our corner and helping us out from jump street. And they're not ones to be like riding coattails and all that. There's a very big culture in Dallas hardcore, but Texas as a whole to not pull up the ladder behind you per se, but to help the people, to help the next generation. And you know, that's real. That was one thing that Riley and all of them really wanted to instill into the scene, to do your thing and also help your teammates and help the people around, help your hometown. He always said, put on for the home team, you know? So he was big about that and whether it was like Dallas or whether it was Texas, helping out the bands around that were trying to do it or bands that they thought were cool. Very good about that. And I feel like that has sort of just seeped into the culture of Texas, starting from like Iron Age, and then that seeped into Riley and Power Trip and that seeped into like everybody else. And now it's the continuous thing.
“Everyone's always trying to put on for Texas bands. Frozen Soul is always putting on for people, Scourge is putting on for people. You know, there's new bands coming up, Tribal Gaze that are really sick. They're doing the damn thing. So you're always just trying to advance the whole thing. Because I think what he recognized the most was that a rising tide raises all ships. And like if one band is doing good and getting attention, you could bring attention to all these other people who could also rise up. You can raise the quality of life for all people around, you know what I mean? That was really one big thing I think. And I just think that we were a part of that whole continuing thing. And we want to try to do that too.
“Our guitar player A.J. plays in the other band Kombat and we're trying to take them out and do stuff. They're doing the damn thing in their own right as well. It's just sick to see there's always something popping off and always somebody putting on and everybody just helping each other out. It's just really sick. I feel like, especially coming back after having no shows, the shows that I've noticed have been popping off real hard. And I think the scene, whether it's metal, hardcore, punk, whatever. I think everyone just kind of realizes that this is cool right now. Let's not take this for granted. Let's try to build each other up. And I think it's cool. I'm excited to see what's going to happen in the state, because the music right now coming out is just like some of the best that I've heard since I've been going to shows. It's just a great thing that they sort of laid the foundation for, and it's cool to see it grow from my time at the very beginning to sort of now. And I don't even consider myself like some old head. I mean, I guess it's been almost 10 years at this point. But you know, I'm still in my twenties. So I guess in hardcore terms, that is an old head, but it's just cool to see that sort of transition.
BraveWords: You mentioned the fantasy football team and I got to ask if we’re talking NFL, who do you cheer for? Dallas, Houston?
Trey Pemberton: “I am a Cleveland Browns fan. My mom was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She's a diehard football fan, so I took all of her football teams. I was a navy brat, so actually at this point half of my life has been in Texas. My post-pubescent life has been pretty much only in Texas. But before that I moved. I lived in California, Florida, Maryland, all sorts of places, so I never really had a hometown team. So I just took my parents. My mom, I took her football teams. Ohio State for college because she went there. Cleveland Browns for NFL football and for baseball I took the Yankees because my dad is from New York. And then for basketball, strangely enough, since my dad was in the Navy, there's a navy base in San Antonio and he was stationed there. We got season tickets for the Spurs when I was a little kid. So I guess I just loved Spurs games. So I automatically became a Spurs fan for pro-basketball. So all my sports allegiances kind of bounce around. They don't really make any sense, but if you know me and know how I was raised and my parents, then it makes sense.”
BraveWords: Yeah, for sure. We're talking about the road and keeping that momentum going. You guys have been doing an excellent job at keeping stuff going with the EP, but you have an absolutely crazy fucking tour coming up with Exhumed, Enforced and Bewitcher who I'm really high on. That’s a face-melter of a lineup.
Trey Pemberton: “Oh yeah, I can't wait, though we've already played three shows. All of them have been three of the craziest that we've played as a band. We are so stoked. We played this festival Wrecking Ball Metal Madness, which was basically just Frozen Soul, us and Devourment. We did a livestream back in January and it was just us, and so when the shows came back we were like, yeah, make it a fest … it was just this wild fest. It was sold out, over a thousand people paid. It was bonkers. It was crazy. And then the next show we played was a surprise that we didn't even announce that we were going to play until basically the day of. And it was basically because this venue that we played in Denton, which was the college town that I was living in when we started, it was one of the few venues that would allow like hardcore shows and is a pizza shop called J & J’s, and they were basically shutting down. And so one of our friends asked us if we wanted to play one of the last heavy shows there, and we were like yeah of course. We were trying to keep it, I guess, a secret so it wouldn't get too out of hand. Just tell people word of mouth and then we'll make an announcement like the day of the show. So I guess they did, and we did all that. And this basement probably fits maybe 100 people on a good day. 100 people were slammed in there. And the guy who did this show said 450 people paid, so it was absolutely a fire hazard. I'm glad the fire marshal did not find out, but it was insane. It was honestly wild and it was sick because it was like, wow. It felt kind of good to sort of get back to the hardcore roots a little bit. A floor show, sweaty, everybody is on top of me. I can barely move around, it's loud, it sounds like shit, but everyone's super into it and like going crazy. And so that was awesome.
“And then the next show was Psycho Las Vegas, which was a festival that I've never experienced anything like in my life. It being in a casino and like all the casinos in the whole thing are connected and even the football stadium is connected. There was WWE SummerSlam going on at the same time. So there were freaks walking around everywhere, it was crazy. Three for three so far. Then we get to start on this tour in L.A. on the 22nd of October. And it's just like wow, like I'm super hyped.
“I think it's going to be a really good tour. Enforced released an album earlier this year that's been one of my favorites of the year period. Hyped to play with them. And it's kind of a weird full circle moment because one of the last shows we played before everything shut down was with them in Richmond, so that will be kind of cool to hang out those dudes again and then yeah, Bewitcher is a sick band that I've just recently been introduced to, and Exhumed is wild. They're such a fun band. It's just such a fun tour package. I just think the vibe of each show is going to be excellent. And we get to play on Halloween in our hometown with Exhumed. I feel like that is like some of the wackiest, funniest times that you could possibly have. I'm excited to dress up and play at home, so it'll be sick. I'm very excited, man.”