Creed Bratton: On the road again
by Keenan Ketzner
You read the name, and right now you might be asking yourself: “THE Creed Bratton?” And thankfully, yes, he is, star of NBC’s award winning show The Office, but labeling him as that would be insufficient. Creed Bratton is better known as a thriving musician who’s been kicking around the music scene for over 50 years; a feat of determination that most artists could only dream of maintaining.
Born in LA under his original name William Charles Schneider, he was inspired early on by his grandparents who had a semi-successful band called The Happy Timers. “My grandfather showed me my first chords… I saved up my weekly allowance for months and ordered a Silvertone guitar from a Sears catalog.”
At 13 he started writing songs and playing in bands, and by the age of 17 he was already notorious among other local musicians, which is when he joined the band The Young Californians. They played bars, clubs, festivals, and even busked on the streets, wherever they could find an audience.
Soon Creed and his band started traveling all over the world, and from a festival in Israel he caught the attention of Warren Entner. He was impressed with Creed’s guitar playing and asked if he wanted to form a musical alliance. They agreed and became The 13th Floor, before deciding to join the other members of the group we know better as The Grass Roots.
Things were going great as they cracked the top 10 on the billboards, toured with many highly esteemed contemporaries, but Creed decided to leave during the recording of their third album Feelings. I found they were putting down tracks and deleting me off of them, and just going with the pros [The Wrecking Crew]. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the music, I just need for myself to do what I do as a musician.”
Looking back Creed realizes that if he hung on he would have had a solidly paying career to coast on for a while, but he also wouldn’t be the Creed Bratton we know and love today, so he continued on, uninhibited by the loss.
During this time (1970-2000s), Creed’s music career becomes so dense that most websites don’t even attempt to document the sheer volume of work. It is also where he began playing the field of acting more seriously. Eventually he landed the gig with NBC via a well-timed and well-played acting tape he sent to the producers himself, playing the role of ‘creepy office guy’ as an exaggerated version of himself.
So does a role in a smash-hit series end up taking time out of his musical ambitions? Of course not, because this is Creed Bratton we’re talking about! The portrayal of himself in fact lent to him finding more excuses to write music. “When we were on the set of course I had my guitar sitting behind my desk… and over the course of the week I’d go to the green room and have written a song.”
The show featured many of Creed’s musical talents, including him playing on The Office theme, and even bookending the series finale with one of his personal favorite songs “All the Faces,” which was written just a few weeks after leaving The Grass Roots.
Along with the success of the show marked a notable change in his audience, as more and more young people were exposed to the 70s minded pathos of excellent songwriting.
Creed acknowledges that times have changed, and popular music today is generally cookie-cutter dribble, but he thinks part of what keeps people listening to his music is that nothing beats the real emotion of an artist actually playing an instrument and writing songs that come from their heart.
And unlike these hordes of disingenuous and disposable performers, Creed is just one of those people who need to express themselves through music, and it is unlikely that it will ever stop.
“I don’t know where the songs come from. You could say it’s the muse or the subconscious, but I can just be walking around exercising, meditating, shopping at the store and I start thinking… The songs just all come out at once, and there’s nothing I can do about them.”
It is safe to say that he’ll be projecting his awesomeness and eccentricity for years to come, and we’ll be hearing a stunning successor to his 2010 album Bounce Back, sometime soon. Lately Creed has also been focusing on his own screen plays, with his latest project titled “Feather Peak” currently being punched up and shopped around LA. Not much can be revealed about the show yet, but rest assured, it involves a healthy dose of Creed’s wonderful music.
LIVE SHOW: Catch Creed and his band performing in all their glory at the Wild Buffalo on Sept. 27. For more about him see www.creedbratton.com, or follow him on Twitter.
Published in the September 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine