Creed Bratton from The Office Shares His Music… and His Life Story
by Chris Collette and Johnny Monsarrat
[ Editors note: I have two pairs of tickets to give away for this show. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to win! ]
Anyone who has seen the NBC television show The Office knows Creed Bratton as an eccentric, quirky, hilarious quality control director with a mysterious rock-and-roll past that includes innumerable adventures. Did you know his character is based on the real life, Billboard-topping musician by the same name? That’s right; Creed Bratton the character is played by Creed Bratton the musician. Events INSIDER caught up with Creed to talk about his music, his life and ultimately how they inspire each other. Creed will play a concert at the Wilbur Theater on Saturday, April 6th to promote his solo work and his upcoming album “Tell Me About It”.
Events INSIDER: In the past with your band Grassroots you played a lot of rock and roll, but can fans expect you to play mainly folk music at this concert?
Creed Bratton: It’s folk in that I have an acoustic guitar, but the content of the music is more poppy-folksy-jazzy stuff.
Events INSIDER: So “Poppy-Folksy Jazz” is what I’m writing down here…
Creed Bratton: Poppy Folksy Jazzy, but with a question mark. That’s going to sum it up right there.
Events INSIDER: [ *laughter* ] Is there a direct translation of your work, in the sense that, will every fan of yours from The Office enjoy your performance, which is a concert, and not comedy?
Creed Bratton: Fans of The Office will like my concert even more because I’m going to talk about [ my role in The Office ], because of this album coming out in May, [Tell Me About It], which will be my sixth solo album. And there’s an album they can listen to called Bounce Back [from 2010] that will give them an idea of the style. It’s laid-back California style music, but this album, Tell Me About It, is an audio biography. It’s like a bio … a musical bio … that tells the story of my being really down, being up with The Grass Roots, down for different things, then having The Office thing happen to me. I have Rainn Wilson on the record doing a comedy bit. I have the legendary, iconic, recluse P. F. Sloane, who people may not realize is still around. This album is a psychedelic album. Oh, maybe you should put that in the title! Add psychedelic to that.
Events INSIDER: So “Poppy Folksy Jazzy Psychedelic”.
Creed Bratton: With a question mark.
Events INSIDER: *laughs*
Events INSIDER: One of your biggest songs in the recent years is “Rubber Tree”. The song doesn’t tell a story in the traditional sense; it’s more conceptual. Walk us through the creation of that song. What does that song mean for you?
Creed Bratton: The Rubber Tree! This is a pop song. I heard that Angela Kinsey [the actress who plays Angela on the Office] grew up in Indonesia. I wanted to say something to make her laugh, so I was researching Indonesia, and found out that there are over a thousand species of poisonous snakes in Indonesia. It was amazing! Any place you walked, you could die. So I started singing this little song about how in Indonesia there are a thousand snakes that can kill you in a heartbeat… And then I heard out on the floor that there’s a brand new dance called the Rubber Tree that can also kill you. So I was going to write a song about a dance called the Rubber Tree that if you if you did it in the right way you’d hurt your spine and you’d die. That was a good idea…
Then I shift into a second verse about shape-shifting reptiles which are like politicians. Then I went to the third verse naturally about Black Death coming to families that have gay soirees with young boys when they go into town, but yet don’t consider themselves gay. And I know you guys are going to go, “This is a standard pop song, it’s a typical format for a pop song,” but I think I bring a different angle to that kind of song! [*laughs*] and when people hear that song no one gets that third verse, so maybe we should give them a heads up this time on the song, so they’ll know. I was too clandestine in my presentation of the song.
Events INSIDER: So it goes over some peoples’ heads?
Creed Bratton: Yea, I think so! I believe they should be able to get the idea, so they’re prepared. But I have to say that the people that have heard the rubber tree – at my shows, they ask for it, they love that song.
Events INSIDER: There are a lot of videos where you have the opportunity to play with Ed Helms, who plays Andy on The Office. What is it like to play with Ed?
Creed Bratton: Oh it’s so much fun because we’re right there [on set together]! So when neither of us has to be in a scene… we get together a play and just sit down, just picking up stuff. I did a couple of shows with him, and of course he did the album [Bounce Back, 2010] with me, and we’re going to do a show together in April here in L.A.
Events INSIDER: People love to hear personal stories and it sounds like your album coming up about your life must have some heartfelt stories…
Creed Bratton: Okay, I’ll end with this story here. I have song that I wrote 30 years ago… I was 40 years old. I was in a down and out period of my life and had to file for unemployment. I didn’t know what to do, and as I was walking [ on the street ] I thought I saw a woman that I had dated. My heart crushed and it was a really low point. I told my friends about it and they told me, “just keep writing songs and you keep acting and you keep doing what you do”. So I do what I’ve always done; I can’t change that, you know. So, I wrote a song about it, wrote a chorus, and came up with a melody. I sang it the other day for all the actors in the trailer and the girls were crying. So I’ll be singing this song at the show called Unemployment Line and I defy anyone to feel that they haven’t been slugged in their gut after they hear this song.
Events INSIDER: How does it feel to revisit that?
Creed Bratton: It’s painful, but nobody said that art is easy. Art is tough.
Creed performs hits as well as music from his upcoming album “Tell Me About It” (May release) at the Wilbur Theater on Saturday, April 6th at 7pm, in Boston. See more at www.creedbratton.com and www.thewilburtheatre.com. The Office, in its final season, airs Thursdays at 9pm on NBC.