Border Nightmares

The Creepshow isn't afraid to take on U.S. Customs--almost

Like the bastard offspring of Elvis Costello and Elvira, The Creepshow is a Canadian "hellbilly" (horror-punk-rockabilly) act that hits every known musical sweet spot.

Catchy, shout-along choruses delivered by singer/guitarist Sarah Sin? Check. Fast, hard-driving rhythms courtesy of stand-up bassist Sickboy and drummer Matt Pomade? Check. Creepy, menacing organ blasts brought to you by the Reverend McGinty? Check. And then there's the band's riotous stage presence, a dark, delicious treat for anyone perverse enough to imagine a tattooed, pierced Wanda Jackson fronting the Misfits.

Still, it's the songs themselves that provide late-night thrills, particularly the lethal track "Rue Morgue Radio," which on the surface tells the story of a cannibal plague wiping out humanity as related via a sketchy radio broadcast. On a deeper level, the song is the most scathing critique of commercial-music programming since Costello's "Radio Radio." "You can't touch that dial, it's no use, you're too late," sneers Sin. "The plan is already in phase. A new epidemic is lying in wait and delivered across the airwaves."

OK, drawing an analogy between rock-radio DJs and hordes of brain-eating zombies isn't the surest path to rock stardom. Then again, Sin and Co. don't seem overly concerned, since they embrace their underground status and seemingly couldn't care less about opening for Coldplay. Refusing to take themselves too seriously, The Creepshow consists of four grown-up kids at heart who love old horror movies, punk and rockabilly, and dressing up for Halloween every single day.

The only thing that might chill their blood, though, is the thought of dealing with U.S. Customs on their way into the United States this month.

"It's not the actual process of getting a work permit that's scary," explains Sin during a recent phone interview--on the day before the band was to cross over into Buffalo, N.Y. "But the process of actually getting into the States is downright frightening. We get e-mails all the time from people in Buffalo saying, 'Just come over and play here. We're right across the way.' It's not that easy, man."

Getting a van full of gear and merch through U.S. Customs is difficult, expensive and annoying, especially the first time. This year, the band relied on its manager to handle the paperwork, but not everything is in place yet. The faster you want a permit, the more you have to pay.

"But if it's gotta be done, it's gotta be done, right?" says Sin, trying to sound upbeat.

During the The Creepshow's last U.S. venture, in 2007, Sin and her Burlington, Ontario, bandmates claim Customs made them tear up all their T-shirts and CDs (product bands need to make money) with their own hands, thereby ensuring a tour of deep and dismal impoverishment.

In any case, The Creepshow will have its revenge on America, seducing its young people in bars across the country--including the Surly Wench--with the devil's music. If you have doubts about how alluring the band is, check out the YouTube video for the Dracula-lust anthem "Take My Hand," which, for whatever reason, features giant squid.

"We love watching movies that are B-grade and non-Hollywood," admits Sin. "We talked for a long time that if we ever made a video, we should employ Muppets or have me riding a shark or doing something ridiculous. Yeah, 'Take My Hand' is a song about vampires, but why not throw in some sea monsters, you know?"

Lack of sea monsters aside, the easiest part about touring the States--at least for Sin--is the ease of purchasing fishnets.

"You can find them anywhere and everywhere, including Slovakia. Five pairs for five bucks. I tend to pack lots of them, because there's never enough time for shopping before a show."

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