In January of 2019, the world welcomed a brand new supergroup. Consisting of Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, Simple Creatures was destined to be a new favourite for many.
Wasting almost no time, the new band soon released their first EP, announcing a run of live dates, and soon following it up with a second EP within a matter of months.
With widespread acclaim for their music and shows, and rumours of a third EP (or possibly an album on the way), Australian fans were overjoyed to learn earlier this year that Simple Creatures would be making their local debut for a run of shows as part of the Good Things festival.
To celebrate their first local shows, we caught up with Alex and Mark to learn more about their music, their live shows, and their memories of touring Australia.
Check out ‘Drug’ by Simple Creatures:
Tone Deaf: Welcome to Australia guys, how does it feel to be debuting Simple Creatures on our shores today?
Alex Gaskarth: It feels really good.
Mark Hoppus: Yeah, we’re excited.
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AG: It’s cool to bring this thing around the world.
TD: Any fond memories of your previous visits to Australia?
MH: This is my 13th or 14th time. Australia was really the first place outside of Southern California specifically that embraced Blink-182 back in the day. We came over here in 1995 with Pennywise, who very kindly took us on tour with them when we were worth zero tickets anywhere in the world.
Punk rock in the United States had already broken in the United States with Green Day and The Offspring, but when we came over here, most of the bands of our genre were touring the US and Europe and South America, and we came over with Pennywise and for some reason got on the first wave of the mainstream of consciousness of Australian punk rock fans and just blew up here.
AG: And my band rode that wave [laughs].
MH: And we’ve just kept on coming back forever and ever and had great tours here, and people are always awesome; I love it.
TD: You’re already pretty prolific, having released your second EP back in October. Now, there’s been rumours of a third EP or even a debut album, is there anything you can tell us about that?
MH: We don’t know.
AG: It’s highly, highly anticipated and extremely speculative. But that’s kind of the nature of this project, we won’t really work in cycles or in the traditional mould of how bands often operate.
That’s been really liberating for us; we can kind of get together when the time is right and make music. And if it’s enough songs to be a record, it’s a record, if it’s enough songs to be an EP, it’s an EP, and if it’s two songs it’s two songs.
We’re just going to be dynamic and nimble, and that just keeps it feeling fun, and it keeps people really on their toes and anticipating whatever’s next.
Check out ‘Strange Love’ by Simple Creatures:
TD: How has the recording for Simple Creatures been? Have you ever found music verging too much on All Time Low or Blink-182 territory at times?
AG: When we started out, it was kind of like that. I feel like, maybe the first two songs we wrote were sort of watered-down, weird amalgamations of Blink, All Time Low songs. We pretty quickly realised that’s not what we should do, because that would be selling ourselves short. So we kind of readdressed and adjusted it.
MH: It didn’t seem fun. Those songs didn’t seem fun or new or exciting, it was kind of just like “okay, you do what you do and I do what I do, and let’s kind of combine that.”
But we sort of went, “okay, let’s do the exact opposite of what both of us do in our respective bands”, and that’s when it started feeling cool, and I think that’s when we really started firing, and those were the songs that made the EPs, and the songs we play now.
That was the change that was kind of the key to the whole thing. That’s why we named the EP Everything Opposite, because that was our ethos in the studio, to do everything the opposite of what we usually would do.
TD: Have you felt as though the work you’ve done in Simple Creatures informs your other bands at all? It also feels like Simple Creatures has informed the new Blink-182 album as well.
MH: Absolutely, I think that the idea of – for me, personally – not starting an idea with an acoustic guitar, or coming up with a chord progression, or a little line, and then transferring that to an electric guitar and then writing from that… In Simple Creatures, we would have a drum loop or a keyboard line…
I mean, literally there was a song where we were in the studio and we were checking to see if the keyboard was on. [Mark imitates the action of playing a keyboard melody] And we’re like,
“oh, that’s actually kind of cool.” And that was a great little riff, and we ended up using that as the basis of a song
AG: That became ‘Special’.
Check out ‘Special’ by Simple Creatures:
TD: Speaking of live shows, what have the live shows been like?
AG: Super fun, weird dance parties. We’re just trying to make them like as off the wall and celebratory as possible, I think that’s the biggest thing for us.
At the end of the day, it’s the two of us up there with like every instrument imaginable and a laptop. And so we don’t necessarily have the things that we’re used to resting on to rest on, like three or four other band members, a drummer, whatever.
So it’s kind of been like just finding ways to make it feel raw and authentic and awesome and in the moment. And people are embracing it, which has been the coolest thing. That’s the ultimate test, y’know?
Once you put it in front of people, how are they going to react? And the fact that these songs have translated in a live setting, it’s like “okay, we can do this, we’re good.”
So far it’s been like dark rooms and lasers and smoke, and all kind of crazy magic tricks, but now it’s going to be light out, and it’s just going to be the two of us on a stage, so we’re really going to see.
TD: What have crowds been like? Do they compare to what you’d see with either All Time Low or Blink-182 or is it a mix of both fan bases?
AG: It’s kind of an interesting mix, I would say. At first we were a little bit nervous, because when we first went into the shows we kind of realised it was probably going to be a lot of All Time Low and Blink fans who are curious. And we didn’t know if people were there for the music, or just to see what it was all about.
As we’ve done a few more shows, we’ve started to really see that shift, and now it’s people who really know the music, they’re into it, they’re invested… and that feels good.
MH: That’s the goal.
TD: Are there any specific bands you’ve seen at the festival so far or hope to see?
MH: I wish I could’ve seen The Veronicas today, but we were out and we just got here.
AG: It was rumoured that they did a wall of death. We had a DJ set last night and we played this little sweaty room, and we played ‘Untouched’ and it went off.
MH: People were crowd surfing in the bar.
AG: It might have been the best song of the night.
MH: I’m bummed that we’re playing against A Day To Remember because they’re such a great live band and I would love go over and watch them.
TD: Any Australian bands you guys have been enjoying lately?
AG: The Wiggles, for me.
MH: The Wiggles, yeah, we’re actually walking out to The Wiggles, to ‘Hot Potato’.
AG: I was told they were going to be here today, and I feel lied to.