Songs in the Key of Creep


Ever notice that certain words pop up more often in songs than in real life? I’ve long thought of “creep” as one of those words.

I first encountered it with Social Distortion’s “The Creeps” (1982). On the surface it’s like the soundtrack to a low budget horror film, but underneath is the fundamental punk rock need to make the mainstream feel uncomfortable. In this case, “creeps” is a physical sensation akin to spine-tingling fear or revulsion. The word was used in a similar way at the dawn of Seattle’s grunge scene with Nirvana’s “Negative Creep” (1989). Of course, other bands used the word “creep” in the 80s. One of my favorites is That Petrol Emotions’ “Creeping To The Cross” (1987). And Luther Vandross got in on the action with “Creepin'” (1985). In both instances, the word “creep” is used as a physical act similar to skulking, prowling or sneaking.

But it wasn’t until the 90s that we reached peak “creep” with Radiohead’s 1992 classic. Although the word “creep” is used in a similar way to their punk and grunge predecessors, Thom Yorke’s professed “creepiness” is delivered as more of a lament about loneliness and isolation. Stone Temple Pilots followed a year later with their song “Creep,” and pop trio TLC released a song with the same title in 1994. But it wasn’t just mainstream acts that waved a “creep” flag in the 90s. Guided By Voices got in on the movement with their lo-fi “Fantasy Creeps,” while Blue Meanies gave “creep” the ska-core treatment with “Creepy.” White Zombie even used the word in their 1995 album title, Astro-Creep 2000.

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My 29 Favorite SoCal Punk Songs

My debut mystery novel may be named after a fictional SoCal punk band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music that influenced this murderous story is very real.

Up above you’ll find a playlist including 29 of my favorite punk songs by SoCal bands from the 70s to the 2000s. I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara for the purposes of this playlist. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody who uses it. So save your aggression for the pit, bro.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-09-08_at_101842_am-2The list currently includes Descendents, Red Cross, The Dickies, The Runaways, Circle Jerks, The Gun Club, Black Flag, X, Pennywise, The Bags, Unwritten Law, Minutemen, Face To Face, Agent Orange, War Called Peace, Lagwagon, Simpletones, Social Distortion, Adolescents, Black Randy & The Metro Squad, Wasted Youth, Germs, Rocket From The Crypt, Fidlar, Smut Peddlers, The Vandals, D.I., The Leaving Trains and Fear.

There are, of course, hundreds of other songs I could have included—and my “favorites” change from week-to-week—but I think this list would make my protagonist, Greg Salem, proud.

Take a listen and let me know what SoCal punk songs you would add in the comments below.

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books on November 3, 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.