Q&A with CREED BRATTON from TV’s THE OFFICE – Talks New Album + Tour Shenanigans!
Posted On 13 Jan 2016
Tag: Africa, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, All The Faces, AllAccess.com, allaccessmusicnicole, Allison Krauss, Allison Krauss and Union Station, Angela Kinsey, B52's, Black Cadillac, Black Out, California, Catholic school, Coarsegold, Coldwater Canyon, College of the Sequoias, Connecticut, Creed, Creed Bratton, Dan Schwartz, Dave Way, Diana Krall, Doors, Doris Day, Dunder Mifflin, Edith Piaf, Eight Is Enough, Emmy Award, Europe, Feather Peak, Gibson guitar, GUSTER, Heart like a Wheel, Highland Ballroom, independent film, Jesus, John Coltrane, Julian Lennon, Laurel Canyon, Let's Live for Today, Los Angeles, Mark Twain, Melanie Gardot, Middle East, Miles Davis, More Than You Know, Mulholland Drive, Nancy Sinatra, Napa, NBC, New York, New York City, Norte Dame, Northwest, NYC, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Palm Springs, Paolo Nutini, Pittsburgh, Portland, Quincy, Ray LaMontagne, Rosanna Cash, Rubber Tree, Sacramento, Sacramento State College, SAG Award, Santa Barbara, Satellite, Sooner or Later, The Bernie Mac Show, The Doors, The Grass Roots, The Grassroots, The Office, The Raiders, The Waystation, The Whisky A Go Go, The Young Californians, Two Divided By Love, With Six You Get Egg Roll, Yes Indeed, Yosemite
CREED BRATTON‘s talent for acting and music began at a young age. Born in Los Angeles, he grew up in the small town of Coarsegold near Yosemite, California. He attended the College of the Sequoias and Sacramento State College as a drama major. He began playing the guitar professionally as a teenager followed by a whirlwind travel experience throughout Europe in his twenties with the band The Young Californians.
As a member of the popular rock group The Grass Roots in the 1960s, Bratton appeared on numerous television shows, as well as in the Doris Day movie, “With Six You Get Egg Roll.” He parted ways with the band in 1970, but continued his passion and has released six solo albums up to the present day.
While honing his acting career, Bratton also worked in front of the camera and behind the scenes as prop man, boom man, composer and grip. His film credits as an actor include “Terri”, “Mask” and “Heart like a Wheel.” On television, he has appeared on hit shows such as “The Bernie Mac Show”, “Eight Is Enough” and “Quincy.” He was cast in “The Office” doing a parody of his life as a former rock star. During his years on the series, he also appeared in several short and independent films which were accepted in numerous festivals.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had the pleasure of meeting up with Creed to share a bite at one of his favorite breakfast spots. Creed chats with Nicole about his musical adventures, crazy tour shenanigans and his current tour. Enjoy their interview below!
What else is on your agenda today besides sharing this ridiculously delicious breakfast with me this morning?
I’m just running a few errands around town and then heading up Coldwater Canyon to my friend Dave Way’s recording studio which is aptly named, The Waystation!
For those that are not as familiar with you and your music career aside from your success with the NBC Emmy and SAG Award winning series, The Office, what made you want to live the life of a musical gypsy traveling the globe to Europe, Africa and the Middle East over the years?
Well, I was a drama major in college and those around me thought I had a natural instinct and talent for it, but music was definitely always my passion. I also enjoy making people laugh. There is nothing better than making people laugh.
You broke big musically in 1967 as a member of the folk rock band The Grass Roots, having huge hits like “Let’s Live for Today,” and “Midnight Confessions.” How was that experience?
The Grass Roots was a trip for sure! Within a week of forming the band, we were playing at a topless bar in Los Angeles. (laughs) I did four albums with The Grass Roots. I played on “Let’s Live for Today” and all of the Feelings album.
What instrument did you start playing first?
I always loved the guitar and I realized I could play it by ear. I used to play with my good friend, P.F. Sloan (who recently passed away) and my buddy Willy Niles when he’s out here in Los Angeles. The joy for me is playing my own songs though, not covers.
How has the tour been so far?
Great! I sold out in Connecticut and Pittsburgh and I had a really great show at the Highland Ballroom in New York.
Can you share with me a particular venue or tour memory that stands out the most for you?
About three tours ago on my Northwest tour in Portland, there is this hotel that is owned by the McNeminens with a speakeasy down in the basement. It’s one of my most favorite hotels. This is one of those places where gangsters would stay out and enjoy. (laughs) I’ve been going since the 1960’s. Anyway, in the hotel, all the rooms have song lyrics written on the walls. I remember I was staying there when it was the day marujuana became legal there and people were running up and down the streets! It was wild! It was the last day of my tour and I sat up on the balcony on the roof and joined everyone with my guitar.
So your a big fan of Portland, I take it?
I love Portland! It’s just so outlandish…people are wonderfully weird. They embrace me. They get me. 🙂
Where did you feel most particularly at home with the crowd?
Besides Seattle, I love the crowds in Santa Barbara and Napa. Also, Sacramento…where I went to college. I just played at Norte Dame and I wasn’t even thinking of it being a Catholic school. So, I’m singing my song called, “Yes, Indeed” and I’m looking at some of these college kids who don’t quite know what to make of me. (laughs) They were a little bit more bright-eyed and not sure what to expect. Not like a New York or LA crowd…knowing that I would be a little more “blue and askew” with my humor…a little oblique, perhaps…(laughs). That’s what most people want from me, ya know?
Anyway, there is a lyric in the song “Yes, Indeed” that goes…”and all the things you want…that plastic Jesus cup. You really don’t need it all…” and there was a gasp from the crowd. I started backpedalling and spewing other lyrics because I can talk my way out of anything. (laughs) I can totally be a spin doctor. I see my tour manager from the stage and he’s laughing.
When you get booked for your shows, do they know what they are getting into with you?
I feel like they thought they were going to get Creed from The Office and that’s it…like I’m going to stand there and just be the character on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes doing one liners. That just can’t be it, ya know? I have a couple people who are surprised and say, “Oh, you play guitar?!” and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s half the show, me playing my guitar.” and they say, “Really? I thought it was all stand up.” We even advertise it as a concert and they still think it’s stand up! I don’t do stand up. I mean I sure can improvise though. (laughs) I tell stories in a Mark Twain kind of way. And the spine of the stories are how I got from A to B. Like how I started out with the band, The Grass Roots and being on The Office. The songs are my stories.
As far as songwriting goes, how do you capture inspiration as it comes to you?
The stories from my shows are going to be in a book that I’m writing as well. As far as writing lyrics go…I don’t just sit down and write. It comes in pieces. I won’t know what some of the lyrics even mean until years later sometimes!
I love these songs and they come from such a sincere place when I sing songs like, “More Than You Know,” and “Yes, Indeed”. On stage, you can hear a pin drop sometimes when I play those songs. And then for “All The Faces” and the other hits, the audience sings along with me and cries to them. They cry and they are miserable and I love that! (laughs) I have this disclaimer: You may find that my sounds are somber at times, but don’t worry, Creed will rear his ugly head!
I know it can change with ones mood and day to day, but which is your favorite song to perform at the moment?
The song “Rubber Tree” is about my friend and actress, Angela Kinsey. It is such a weird and catchy song and the audience especially loves to sing along to that one! I just finished a short film with Angela called Black Out which was fun. I play a very bizarre and weird character, which is totally out of my element and such a stretch for me. (laughs)
You are developing a new show that you are writing and acting in as well called “Feather Peak”. How did that come about?
Writing “Feather Peak” sort of just came out of me… like a song. It’s all organic. It’s honest.
How did you and your producer Dave Way meet? You guys have such a great repoire with one another.
I was apart of the show for the 35th Anniversary of The Whisky A Go Go which featured Nancy Sinatra and the remaining members of The Doors and The Raiders. This was before The Office, of course. Anyway, Dan Schwartz, the bass player is a good friend and I love to play with him. I bought his ’57 Gibson from him actually. Dan had played me this record called Black Cadillac with Rosanna Cash. I told Dan that I loved everything about the album…especially the separation of Rosanna’s voice on the album. There is a lot of “breathing room” so to speak on it…the ambience of the tones and the sweet spots.
Dan told me that if I liked the album, that I needed to meet his friend Dave Way. So, I go up to meet Dave at his studio up on Coldwater Canyon & Mulholland called The Waystation. It was formerly Julian Lennon’s studio. Anyway, I go up to the studio and we hit it off right away. We talked a lot about albums we liked and I decided that it would be a great idea to record my next album on analog. At that time, I only did vinyl, no cds.
I just love your song “All The Faces” and has a unique little story that goes along with it…care to share, Creed?
I recorded the song, “All The Faces” for The Office finale in one take. That is exactly how I want to record the songs for my upcoming show, “Feather Peak”. No big production…just keep it minimalist.
It seems like being an actor and musician is a bit intertwined, don’t you think?
Yes, acting has done that for me where I had hits with The Grass Roots then later got into acting more professionally. It’s perfect really, because I also get to share my music with my existing and new fans alike. It is truly a blessing. I don’t take it for granted one bit.
Who are you listening to these days? Which artists are in current rotation for you?
I’m a big fan of Ray Lamontagne. He has such a great voice. I also love Paolo Nutini, Melanie Gardot, Diana Krall. I also love Allison Krauss and Union Station (for instrumental stuff), when I’m traveling. And, I like enjoy the classics like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Edith Piaf.
What is one of your favorite songs?
I love the song from a few years back called “Satellite” by Guster.
What’s your motto in life?
Do what makes you happy.
Thank you for taking the time Creed and thank you for the food coma (breakfast) and chat!
Awe, right back at ya, Nicole! It was a blast!
Stay connected with CREED BRATTON via his socials below:
Website / Tour Dates / Facebook / Twitter