Crawlers on going viral, touring the world, and their debut album 'The Mess We Seem To Make'

Interview Crawlers: Strength In Numbers

After a dizzying few years of viral hits, sold out tours and huge festival spots, Liverpool’s Crawlers are finally ready to dive headlong into their ambitious, heady next chapter. It’s time to join them for the ride.

It’s no secret that Liverpool’s musical river runs deep, but even on the first bleary Monday morning of January, the city wears its fandom proudly on its sleeve. From the blue-haired teenagers wandering around town sporting Witch Fever t-shirts, through to the choir performing a rousing rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Rebel Rebel’ a stone’s throw away from its main shopping centre, it’s clear this is a city for music lovers.

It feels somewhat apt then, to be sitting down with Crawlers on home turf ahead of their next big chapter. Gathered in their favourite cafe, 2024 might have barely kicked into gear but the quartet are already casting their minds forward to the middle of next month, and the release of their debut album.

“It’s quite a scary period,” nods guitarist Amy Woodall, in between sips of matcha. “Some days you’re like, ‘This is the best album in the world!’ and the next, you’re like, ‘Ohhhh my god, we’re literally gonna get dropped’.” “Some days you think it’s gonna take the world by storm,” vocalist Holly Minto chips in, before pulling a face of fear, “and then you’re like ‘Argh!’” “Girlhood is a spectrum,” bassist Liv May adds with a metaphorical wink.

For the band - completed by drummer Harry Breen - this next step has been a long time coming. Having formed back in 2018 after various connections were made during their school and college days, their life as a group began in the typical fashion, “fitting everything into Amy’s Corsa, travelling to any gig that would have us, where we’d lose all our fucking money,” Holly nods. It was during the pandemic, however, that things took a different turn, when their blistering breakout hit ‘Come Over (Again)’ would blaze a trail across TikTok (the track has had over 53 million Spotify streams to date), and propel them into a new space entirely.

What’s followed since has been a series of bucket list moments. In early 2022, the band signed to major label Polydor, before releasing their ‘Loud Without Noise’ mixtape later that year. They’ve since completed two sold-out headline tours of the UK, and embarked on both European and US tours to boot, as well as a series of huge support slots and festival appearances along the way. “I’d never even been on a long haul flight before,” Holly laughs. “The longest flight I’d done was half an hour to Dublin!”

But after such an intense year (in our December 2022 cover feature with the band, Amy described the period as “chaos, but good chaos!”), Crawlers decided to take a gamble in 2023. “We were like, ‘We can either go hardcore again this year, and beat what we already had, or take a step back, work on the album, work on new things’,” the singer nods, “and we kinda did that. We went, ‘Let’s put everything into this because there’s no point in half-arsing your first album’.”

Crawlers on going viral, touring the world, and their debut album 'The Mess We Seem To Make' Crawlers on going viral, touring the world, and their debut album 'The Mess We Seem To Make' Crawlers on going viral, touring the world, and their debut album 'The Mess We Seem To Make'

“You can do it for the money or the fame, but you kind of forget the innocence that music can give you.” - Holly Minto

If one thing is immediately clear from talking to Crawlers, it’s that there was no chance of their debut being half-arsed. In the course of today’s conversation alone, there are references to a series of pitches and presentations made to their label and management during which Holly recalls writing in bold: ‘In this era, Y2K is dead’. Amy descends into fits of giggles. “You said it like, 12 times in the speech…” There was also an ambitious Venn diagram drawing, which Holly recently unearthed during a spring clean. “I really wish I’d brought it so you could see it,” she laughs. “It had ‘dark side’, ‘lighter side’, ‘the middle’, ‘how do we connect the line?!’ There were 55 songs on there! It was like, dude, what were we writing, an opera?!”

Instead, ‘The Mess We Seem To Make’ is a meticulously crafted full-length that sees the band build on the no-holds-barred ambition of their mixtape, crafting their sound into something equal parts emotive and intoxicating. Inspired by the sounds of ‘90s grunge legends Nirvana (particularly ‘In Utero’), Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies, alongside the evocative nature of artists like Lorde, Halsey and the early work of The 1975, their record is a heady sonic journey that delves into sexual politics, anxiety and self-worth, while showcasing just how much they’ve grown as musicians.

“The mixtape was very spontaneous and we just wanted to show everyone what we could do,” Holly nods, gesturing to its all-out approach to exploring styles and genres. “We could do heavy songs, we could do the acoustic ballads. I think the mixtape almost addressed that there was no box anymore. When we first started, we were a rock band that liked playing dingey riffs and I’d talk very politically, whereas now I speak politically about myself rather than externally. I use my external observations and examine it against my own experience, which is something I didn’t really do then; I was too scared.”

There’s one song in particular from their past that Crawlers feel has helped them make sense of ‘The Mess We Seem To Make’. The only track to be carried over from their previous work, the aforementioned ‘Come Over (Again)’ - a raw but featherlight rumination on toxic relationships, which grows into a fiery beast of emotion - not only opened the door to a whole new sonic realm for the group when they wrote it several years ago, but has become, in Holly’s words, “the loose thread that ties it all together”.

“That’s why it was so important for us to have ‘Come Over’ on the album,” Liv explains. “It’s been such an integral part of the journey for so many different reasons. One, for how much it’s helped us to push ourselves as writers and musicians, then also the personal growth that has come from that. Getting from writing it to where we are now, it’s been such a massive part of our journey that it didn’t feel right to not have it on there.”

“When it blew up, we didn’t even have the tools to do it how we wanted to; we did it in a day,” Holly reflects. Now, they’ve been able to re-record the track and give it the attention it deserves. “There was this moment where we had the Northern String Section come in and play it for the album, and Liv just turned around to me, crying,” they trace tears streaming down their face. “It was really special.”

What makes the album perhaps even more special is that they were able to record it right here in Liverpool, at their adopted home of Coastal Sound Studios. “You want to return to the same space where you learned how to be the band that you are,” says Harry. “You want to protect that, especially for your debut album. We’ve been figuring out who we are for all this time, so it made sense to hone in on where we’ve done that.” “It means so much to us, that silly place,” Holly echoes wistfully, before gesturing to Harry’s arm. “Harry’s even got the window of the place tattooed on him now!” He holds aloft the underside of his right arm, where the porthole-like window of the studio is inked on him forever.

Crawlers on going viral, touring the world, and their debut album 'The Mess We Seem To Make'

“I want our fans to recognise that if, lyrically, they’ve resonated with what Holly has said, that’s coming from inside them.” - Liv May

Speaking to the band, it’s impossible not to see how much all of this means to them. Whether discussing the intensely personal themes of the record (“I love pushing the barrier too far,” Holly quips, before recounting an awkward conversation with their producer around a lyric in the album’s opener ‘Meaningless Sex’) or the connection and responsibility they feel towards their fans, the quartet care deeply about every facet of the world they are creating, and those who inhabit it.

“For me, I would want anyone listening to the album to be able to get to the end of it and recognise their own self-empowerment,” Liv offers up. “I think a lot of people give us too much credit for moments where they have pulled themselves up, and been their own support system, and been their own words of comfort. We didn’t do that. It was all them. Holly always says to our fans who come to us and say these beautiful things that we were just the soundtrack to your moments. For me, I would want our fans to recognise that if, lyrically, they’ve resonated with what Holly has said, that’s coming from inside them.”

“I want there to be some songs that kids fall in love to, I want them to be the first songs they go to see live, or they become the songs they listen to when they’re getting ready for their first emo night when they turn 18,” Holly picks up. “Sometimes when you’re in the music industry, it becomes exhausting and it becomes work, you forget the purity of what music is. The other day, I put some songs on that I hadn’t listened to in years, and I was just basking in it. I forget that people do that to our music, and that’s what makes music so special. You can do it for the money or the fame, or for the Met Gala, but you kind of forget the innocence that music can give you,” Holly concludes. “I’d love the album to transcend what we brought it into the world for.”

‘The Mess We Seem To Make’ is out 16th February via Polydor.

Tags: Crawlers, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the February 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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