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Music

Perfection doesn’t matter to Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy. She’d rather show you her mistakes

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JANUARY 03: American rock band Cherry Glazerr guitarist and lead vocalist Clem
Cherry Glazerr guitarist and lead vocalist Clementine Creevy,
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Behind a white picket fence in Highland Park, Clementine Creevy is waking up. It’s 2 p.m. — late morning for most college kids, but Creevy skipped college. Now 22, she’s fronted her rock band Cherry Glazerr since high school.

Five years ago, signed to Orange County’s Burger Records, she would take interviews after classes. While she’d bring two original bandmates — bassist Sean Redman (now in The Buttertones) and drummer Hannah Uribe (now a tattooist) — it was all about Creevy.

For the record:
12:30 PM, Jan. 25, 2019 An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Clementine Creevy was raised in Boyle Heights. She grew up in Los Angeles.

A couple years later, on 2017 album “Apocalipstick,” the act’s Secretly Canadian debut, Creevy appeared alongside a different duo: drummer Tabor Allen and synth player Sasami Ashworth. They matched her sophistication and joy, and “Apocalipstick” was an important record for the band, graduating them from lo-fi kids to anthemic punks with dreams of loftier venues.

On this day, Creevy is alone.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JANUARY 03: American rock band Cherry Glazerr guitarist and lead vocalist Clem
“Online interaction isn’t real,” says Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

A retooled Cherry Glazerr lineup will release a new album, “Stuffed and Ready,” on Feb. 1, but the album’s artwork is a portrait of just her holding a guitar, which is currently attached to a wall. Her one-bedroom apartment is generously decorated. You’d never want to leave: Vinyl is everywhere, an image of Jackson Browne looms from a bookshelf, an acoustic guitar grazes the floor, and an enormous settee eclipses the front room.

Her bedroom is behind a kitchen she never uses. “This is where the magic happens,” she jokes, pointing at the studio — her bed. In the back, she has a washer, which in 2019 L.A. is the pinnacle of aspirational rockstar living.

There are moments on “Stuffed and Ready” that are incredibly gloomy in their depiction of Creevy’s solitude. “I’ve showed it to friends who cried. They’re sad I feel this way. But I’m comfortable working through my problems publicly and I’m not looking for any particular response.”

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“Self-Explained” is her most literal song yet: “I don’t want people to know how much time I spend alone,” she sings. But there are more nuanced ways in which Creevy has experienced aloneness.

Take “Daddi,” which hollers about paternalism and having to ask men for permission.

“There’s nothing more gratifying than exploring myself in the world on my own,” she says. “Yet I feel discouraged from that all the time. I’ve definitely been told: ‘Oh, you’re gonna go by yourself? You’re gonna try to do that?’ I’m an able-bodied 22-year-old person. What else should I be doing?”

“I’ve showed it to friends who cried. They’re sad I feel this way. But I’m comfortable working through my problems publicly.”
Clementine Creevy

Since the age of 15, Creevy has evolved in the public’s eye, but “Stuffed And Ready” feels like her first grappling with major growing pains. Where “Apocalipstick” was an outward reaction to Trump, “Stuffed and Ready” is a study of her own shortcomings and society’s shortcomings. Today she offers a perspective on how we socialize ourselves now: online but not “IRL.”

“Online interaction isn’t real,” she says. “There are symbols of connection. Texting somebody a heart is a symbol of connection. It’s not real connection. It’s easier and you can’t get hurt if it’s not real. We’re aware that it’s a painful thing to navigate.”

The pain of it has not only inspired Creevy’s most emotional songs but also her most rational. “I’ve been gravitating towards rational thought,” she says. “I’m obsessed with social media. I delete Instagram every couple days, so I can remember what it’s like to live my life. It’s such a neurotic place — a string of cries for help. So I’ve been gravitating towards people who speak rationally. It keeps me grounded.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017: Clementine Creevy, singer and guitarist, of the band C
Clementine Creevy performs at FYF Fest in Los Angeles, Calif., on July 23, 2017.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Creevy feels less alone in Glazerr. She’s inviting more feedback. Creevy has always been the leader, muse and decision-maker, but she’s found people who can challenge, even educate her. “I’m questioned about my lyrics and meticulously comb through them,” she says. “I wasn’t open to that before. It takes lying on the floor in agony, but I need a hard-ass in my life, and I don’t get angry. I’m not a defensive person. I need that to write the best songs I know I can write.”

Allen, whom she calls her “ride-or-die homie” with a smile, is one of those people who challenges her. Her third member is now bassist Devin O’Brien, who’s toured with Glazerr for years. Ashworth has her own solo career. Creevy is as measured explaining her departure as she has been with others.

“I didn’t need a full-time synth player any more,” she says. “Sasami is killing it. That makes me real happy. I hope she’s happy.”

Still, Creevy struggles. “I struggle with loneliness.”

::

Music-making keeps Creevy secluded, but it’s her best pal. Her days are taken up by writing. She does pop out from time to time, though. “I love walking down York [Boulevard],” she says. “That’s what I do for fun. I go walking.”

Every night, she hangs at local spots. She’s been known to break conversation and sing into her iPhone when ideas come to her. “I’ll be at the bar, drunk, doing that. Then I’ll go, ‘So anyways…'. Whatever. Writers deal with that.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JANUARY 03: American rock band Cherry Glazerr guitarist and lead vocalist Clem
“I’ve been gravitating towards rational thought,” says Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
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Creevy’s workmanlike approach is at odds with early descriptors of Cherry Glazerr as some ‘fashion’ band. Creevy grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of parents who are artists and writers — her father, Nicholas Wootton, is known for his work on “Scorpion” and “Chuck” — and she dabbled in modelling and appeared in Amazon’s “Transparent.”

Now, she has tunnel vision. She wants to set the world ablaze with guitar. “I’m a guitar freak.” She takes the Stratocaster off the wall to finger-pick her way through her answers about making this record.

“I try not to worry about whether a new direction would be harmful to my popularity,” she says.

“Stuffed and Ready” is not a drastic departure, but it’s slicker and more widescreen. They made an album with musician-producer John Vanderslice last year. At the last minute, they hired Carlos de la Garza, who worked on “Apocalipstick,” to redo everything.

“I wanted an album of bangers, not an art-rock record,” said says, adding she cared not “about the label’s money.”

“I wanted it to sound massive in an arena where it could stand the test of time,” she says. Her simple, punchy guitar lines are among her strongest. She was listening to metal: Ozzy and Unwound. “I really got into the Cure too.”

Creevy once rejected pop hooks. She thought that made her smarter. “A good song is a good song,” she says now. “If it sucks, throw it away. Don’t try to put harmonies on it. I hate harmonies. You’ll write another song; you’ll be fine.”

I’d rather have a public fumble than be stagnant. I set my expectations low; otherwise, you find yourself in an ego loop not doing anything with your life.
Clementine Creevy

In the past, she’s been anxious about creative dry spells. “Oh my God, what if I don’t write another song?” she says. “I struggle with that every day. All the time. I constantly think about it. Then I always end up doing it in the most unexpected times. I write like a mad man.”

This self-checking mechanism is part of Creevy’s defiance of her own generational tropes. She has no problem being an unfinished article or putting out music before she’s fully realized.

“My philosophy is that you can’t,” she says. “Constantly seeking perfection is not as smart as just working. You’re not gonna get good at anything if you sit around and wait.”

There’s a refreshing lack of validation-seeking too. “I’d rather have a public fumble than be stagnant,” she says. “I set my expectations low; otherwise, you find yourself in an ego loop not doing anything with your life.” Privacy and routine have allowed her to escape the outside noise. “It’s cheesy, but the most important thing in combating self-doubt is being nice to yourself.”

In an ego-driven age, Creevy is pleasantly transgressive. On “Stupid Fish,” she shrieks: “I see myself in you and that’s why I … hate you.” The song concludes that we’re all just hairy people trying not to die. “I don’t know anything more than anybody else,” she says. “It might seem like I have my ... together, but I’m just shooting in the dark, trying to be happy. We’re always putting on this mask, not admitting that we don’t have the answers to happiness. That’s interesting.”

Her philosophy is to say “yes,” Say yes to everything.

That’s why they’ve never canceled a show. Is that hard? “No,” she scoffs. “No, no. It’s so easy.” She starts effusing about celebrity chef Christina Tosi. Creevy doesn’t know how to use her own stove, but Tosi is her hero.

“She moved to New York and didn’t see her family for years. She was busting her ass trying to open up a shop. It can feel lonely. It’s an aspect of drive, and it’s complicated, but it rules.”


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