They’ve opened for My Chemical Romance and, now, Liverpool four-piece Crawlers (Holly Minto, Amy Woodall, Liv Kettle and Harry Breen) are playing Soho gay club Heaven. Following “the most treacherous drive” of their lives from Glasgow, the Merseyside gang are gearing up for soundcheck when lead singer Holly Minto pops up on Zoom. It’s only a few hours until doors open and, as Minto shares, the band are getting things prepped for opening. “It’s nice to be back and seeing why we do it all – seeing people scream and all that stuff,” she says.
Emerging on the scene in 2018, Crawlers became a name to watch after their single ‘Come Over (Again)’ went viral on TikTok. Pulling in over 50 million streams, the band’s track broke into the UK top 100 cementing their name as next-gen artists to watch out for.
Now, with a new full-length debut album, The Mess We Seem To Make, ready to drop early next year and a global tour scheduled, Crawlers are busier than ever. And, today in London, the band are eager to share themselves with the queer community. “It’s a very special show. Obviously, there’s an amazing queer scene in London and that’s something we’ve always wanted to be a part of,” Minto explains. “The first time we got signed, we went out in London, and it was like our first-ever London night out. We had such a great time. We’re doing it for the gays!”
Plenty of alternative LGBTQIA+ acts are breaking through right now and Crawlers are the latest collective to break through. With three out of four members of the band identifying as part of the queer community, the band are ready to speak out. We catch up with Minto, from Heaven, to chat about their creepy Crawler industry takeover and more.
You’re playing Heaven today. A lot of alternative acts have rocked out here — Fall Out Boy, Ethel Cain, Nova Twins…
It’s so amazing. It’s been a weird experience jumping in and out of the closet and, being in an alternative band, our fans are what were were like as teenagers discovering our own identities. I felt so open to expressing those feelings of first queer love because of these alternative communities. I was big into My Chemical Romance and those fan bases. As an artist, you don’t get to choose your fan base. It’s down to who responds to your music, but it seems we’re making what we were seeking when we were 14 and that’s a special thing.
There’s a huge intersection between the queer community and the alternative music scene. Do you think fans have been able to find that in your music?
I’m very aware that we have to use our voice for the queer community. Our platform was built upon young queer kids using our music to talk about their queer experiences. When ‘Come Over (Again)’ blew up, that song (about a toxic ex-partner) not was not originally written about [queerness] but that [song] was used in such an amazing way. All we can do is help raise those voices and be grateful, for our fanbase, that they’ve helped me feel like I can be outwards with my queer experience alongside them.
You’ve just announced your debut album and released a new single, ‘Would You Come To My Funeral’. What has the response been like for the band?
We did our debut EP ourselves and it blew up, and shit got crazy. Then, we got signed to a major [Polydor Records] and released Loud Without Noise. All of us were very working-class and it was about understanding, as a group, that we had something special without [industry] people chucking anything at it.
As we’ve come on, we’ve become more vulnerable. This album is so raw but it’s also our proudest work as a collective. We’ve worked tirelessly to create something that, we hope, can soundtrack a lot of younger kids’ lives because that’s what alternative music did to me when I was growing up. It’s made me so excited to share what we’ve got.
Do you have a favourite song or anecdote on the album?
It’s a storytelling album and it’s all very personal. As the person who writes the lyrics, a lot of the themes of the album have become about my relationship with sex. It’s about how I overuse sex for the sake of feeling better about myself, how I felt unlovable without that, and how I’ve not necessarily understood that love and sex are very different. As someone who is feminine-presenting, in my twenties, you can’t help but think you’re being liberated, but then, you realise it’s other people using your body and not you.
I’m drawn to the song ‘Kiss Me’ which originally had this storyline of being aware of my use of sex in a way that I didn’t enjoy it. I overly feminised myself to feel love and respect. I remember bringing it to the band and Liv, our bassist, called it a gay love song, highlighting the lyrics: ‘then when we kiss sex has never felt like this’. It’s [a song] embodying the queer experience of being with someone you really like and you taking that heteronormative lens off for the first time.
That was not the initial lens that I wrote the song about but it summed up my first girlfriend, my first relationships, and the way I view everything. I’m bringing in this kind of positive spin on the song, which I thought was really nice. What’s so special about being in the band is you’ve got four different brains, which are all wired very differently, and you get to hear everyone’s thoughts
This album is a mash-up of alternative styles. How would you describe Crawlers’ genre?
I truly believe there is a song for everybody. We first attached ourselves to a very nineties alternative sound. It was something we were inspired by, via all of our guardians, and now we’re exploring more modern and contemporary sounds.
We’re not very in the box, producing-wise. We explore all of our instruments and it takes ages to fine-tune a sound to suit the subject of a song. ‘Call It Love’ sounds like an eighties song from Tears For Fears. Whereas other songs, like ‘Better If I Pretend’, take you into that 2000 desert rock Muse world. The way you perceive the lyrics provides catharsis for you and that’s the coolest goal while still having a catchy hook. What’s more fun than sad lyrics with a good beat?
It’s giving Boygenius and MUNA…
We are the biggest MUNA fans in the world! We have seen them now probably five times. They were the band who got us through our first tour. I love them and how they are so not rock and roll. I’m so tired of pretending that I enjoy partying because I fucking hate it. I don’t want to drink – I want to eat crisps, laugh and watch something in the back while we’re all spooning, that’s the vibe. MUNA are a band singing these amazing queer songs and not feeling like they need to go out on the lash every night.
You’ve got the big album announced and on the way. The gang is on tour too. So, what’s next for Crawlers?
The dream goal has always been that we want to be a stadium band. Has there been a queer band that can fill out stadiums and become a safe space for the community? We’re already doing that on a short scale. It sounds so embarrassing but I’ll just sit and cry and think about how much some of our fans have touched our hearts. There’s one family, who have disabilities, coming to this London show tonight and you get to watch them being unapologetically themselves. This lovely family all connect with our music.
We blew up over lockdown and we were playing in basements. I’ve always been a performer my whole life, but live music can create such an amazing community.
Crawlers’ latest single ‘Would You Come To My Funeral’ is out now via Polydor.