Columbus is getting tight. No matter how fly-over the city may seem to the coasts, things are kinetic on the streets. Seeing Grave Blankets grace a Hozac single or Columbus Discount “selling-out” brings a tear to the eye of any enthusiast. Those who plan on living here (moving from Little Rock) beware, as there are just as many, if not more, “college” bands mucking up the ratio and you could have your choice of bar to yourself on a Tuesday night sometimes (most times). After all, we ain’t Portland.
Day Creeper is patiently sitting on deck, restless in their seats. Once a tour and a full-length come your way we’ll rarely see them around. And in these tough times, while others are sipping Pernod and devouring black licorice, they are best representing the thrifty, ramshackle grandiosity of Columbus music. Fitting that Aaron Troyer and Shawn Campbell, guitarist/vocalist and drummer respectively, are the spawn of a Thin Lizzy cover band (and an amazingly accurate one at that). Day Creeper’s recent split with equally unapologetic punk-by-default Night of Pleasure is classic in a Live and Dangerous back-pocket boogie, just guided by ‘70s power-pop and K Records’ rickets. Even better is the recent CDR that is the prized possession of a few. Here on songs like “Problem at Hand” and “Drive Through” plenty of quizzical head-bobbing occurs, a jerky itch that’s begging for Exile on a pauper’s penance. Troyer crams in the ordinary Columbus fables as if it’s they’re part of a personal conversation with the listener. (Drunk on that Tuesday night in town, these conversations exist).
Dive bars and video crack breed this type of band. There’s purity in Troyer’s pop mission—like Jonathan Richman with the Modern Lovers, or more mistakenly with Jad Fair and Half Japanese—it’s just that they’ve got peer pressure, and that influence is pouring cheap beer down a golden throat. Add a bass player in the venerable Laura B. and the whole two-man Who goes out the window. You’ve been warned about the infection.
Can you tell us all of the bands you’ve been a part of in the past (all of them)?
Aaron Troyer: After Malabar Brothers stopped playing, I had a bunch of short songs stored up that we never used. Those ended up being the first Day Creeper tunes. Shawn and I were both also proud members of the Mansfield Senior High Jazz Band. In addition, I currently play drums in Outer Spacist.
Shawn Campbell: Starting off in 2004 when I first moved to Columbus, a few of my friends had the genius idea of forming a Thin Lizzy cover band called Black Rose which went on for two years. While that project was still going on the guys decided it was time to form an original band since all of us clicked so well. So along came The Malabar Brothers which involved everyone from Black Rose minus the bass player who went on to join Skeleton Witch.
Laura B.: Night of Pleasure, and numerous forgotten other bands.
What made you start Day Creeper? Was there a strict aesthetic you wanted when you began?
AT: There wasn’t a specific sound we were going for, really. I kind of just wanted to play in a punk band again, but we don’t really sound that “punk.” Basically, we want to sound tough, even though we’re a bunch of pussies.
Can you think of any of the records you were listening to before Day Creeper, where you said to yourself, “That’s what I want this band to sound like”?
AT: Nothing in particular. I think when we first started I was listening to a lot of Neil Young, but we don’t sound like that at all. I’ve always liked the late ‘70s pop stuff—Real Kids, Nerves, Richard Hell, and Johnny Thunders. There have been a bunch of great bands coming around lately as well, too many to name. Oh, also, Bruuuuuuuuuuce!
The first time I saw you, probably one of your first few shows, you were a two-piece. What encouraged you to get Laura to join up?
AT: I’ve always been a bass enthusiast. When we first started playing, Shawn was living in Mansfield (our hometown), so we had minimal practice opportunities. Once Shawn moved down here, Laura joined and really helped solidify everything with her sweet bass licks and strong feminist perspective.
LB: Actually I cornered Shawn and Aaron several times when they were drunk and forced them to admit that, number one, they really needed a bass player, and number two, that I was the man for the job. Then Aaron’s girlfriend, Bonny, pointed out that a female member might boost the band’s sex appeal and Aaron agreed. It was all very calculated.
Fill in the blanks: So it’s ___ and you’re in the tenth grade listening to _____ doing ____ in ___. Are you any closer to what you thought you’d become at that age?
SC: 2000, NOFX, bad stuff, the garage. Nope.
LB: 1993, Leonard Cohen, way fewer drugs than I should’ve (none), an adolescent funk. I’m now in a band, which is all I wanted to do at that age and all I want to do now. However I’m also now closer to cranky old age and alcoholism, neither of which was on my radar at 14.
AT: 1998, Stiff Little Fingers, drawings of naked ladies, my underwear. I have since seen a naked lady in the flesh. It was cool. I play in two bands and have a job that requires little responsibility. I also have a degree in drawing, which is good because I like to draw a lot.
What’s the inspiration for most of the songs? It seems like most of the time you’re telling a tiny story. Are these fact or fiction?
AT: Good question. I like to make up little vague stories. Sometimes they are inspired by actual events, but usually I just make them up. It’s nothing to deep. Mostly they’re about hillbillies and perverts.
SC: Aaron makes all of it up.
What are your plans for the future?
AT: To play and record a whole bunch and hopefully do some touring in the spring and summer.