Pinning down Creepoid’s music is not as easy as listening to it. 

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Sean Miller is tired of one description of the Philadelphia-based indie band he helped found.

“I know that the less I have to hear us referred to as nu-gaze, the better,” the singer/guitarist for Creepoid said.

He laughed after he said it, but his follow-up statement was more telling.

“I don’t try to pigeonhole what we do,” he said. “Other people will do that for us.”

In fact, spending any time at all reading reviews of Creepoid leads to one obvious conclusion: No one agrees on what genre they belong in. Shoe-gaze, slowcore, sadcore, psych-punk, ’90s grunge, nu-gaze — all of those descriptors and at least a half dozen more are used when describing the band, which plays in Oklahoma City this weekend for only the second time.

“I think as a band, we take great pride in that inability to classify us,” Miller said. “One of the things we get all the time is that we’re trying to do ’90s. We’re not trying to do anything except letting music come to us.”

The band formed during a snowstorm in Philadelphia when Miller got snowed in with childhood friend Patrick Troxell, who plays drums. Troxell and his wife Anna, who plays bass and sings, worked on some music with Miller to kill time. And after a couple of lineup changes, those three are still there, along with Nick Kulp on guitar.

When listening to Creepoid, it is clear why people have a hard time classifying the band. They feel completely free to improvise, combine genres, move between eerie and funny, alternate vocalists and essentially dare people to figure out what they are doing. Miller explains that they are simply being true to their early influences.

“We play music that is influenced by what we heard growing up,” he said. “For me, the first CDs I bought were bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden. But we’re not doing a ’90s revival.”

Although the majority of the lyrics are written by Miller, the songs tend to be collaborative. All four members bring different influences to the band,  including the lyrics.

The ’90s-era drone, rasp and melancholy are there, so the Sonic Youth comparisons are fair, if rather simplistic. Brighter notes, melodic music, haunting keys and pedal effects you expect from shoegaze bands are there in the music as well.

The band is an amalgam of four creative people who bring their ideas to a collaborative environment, and the result is such that some critics label them a pop act.

Not every song is perfect, but the band works well, and the music is much more listenable for fans outside the hardcore scene. Miller and Troxell have very different vocal styles, including phrasing, and Troxell’s lyrics tend to be more decipherable; her clear soprano likely helps with that.

Creepoid is touring in support of its latest project, Cemetery Highrise Slum, an album that has divided critics. But that’s no surprise. This is a band, though, that released its debut EP in 2010 after recording it on a 1950s reel-to-reel tape deck — they take chances, they work together and they are open to where the music takes them.

Print headline: Cage-free Creep, Pinning down Creepoid’s music is not as easy as listening to it.

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Greg Horton

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