The Office’s Creed Bratton On Rock N’ Roll, Touring With The Doors & What Separates The Actor From The Character

You know him from The Office as Creed Bratton. But in actual fact, he’s an actor, one known as, well, Creed Bratton. The same name but, yes, he’s a little nicer. This Creed was in a band in the ’60s, one which jammed on the same stages as Cream, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix. After the group wound up, he caught his break acting with a small but memorable role in a 1985 film which co-starred Cher. More recently, Creed claims to have taken on a more spiritual dimension in life. But for all we know, he’s every bit a raconteur as his onscreen counterpart. And while The Office is now over, the adventures of Creed are far from finished. In fact, he’s coming to Australia to talk, sing and tell jokes on an upcoming tour.

Before he makes his way to this great southern land of ours, Music Feeds caught up with the man to find out just exactly what it was that was going on inside his head.

Music Feeds: You were in a psychedelic pop band in the Sixties. How did that come about?

Creed Bratton: [In the middle of the Sixties] I spent two and a half years in Europe. For a year and a half of that, a little over that, I was with a band called The Young Californians. I had done a show at Israel, at this folk festival. And this guy from LA came up to me afterwards and he just grabbed me and gave me his number. He said he liked the way I played guitar. So when I got to LA he and I got together and within a week we were playing in a band called The 13th  Floor. And a year later [1967] that band became The Grass Roots. Our first big hit was ‘Let’s Live For The Day’.

MF: Did you play with any of the famous LA or San Francisco bands of the day?

CB: We toured with The Doors, The Beach Boys, The Young Rascals, Cream – lots of bands! I remember seeing Janis Joplin backstage at [iconic San Francisco and hippy venue] the Filmore. We played the Filmore numerous times. Well played the Miami Pop Festival and Devonshire Downs Festival in LA where everybody, including Jimi Hendrix, played. It was a whirlwind time. We were young and, in our twenties, constantly on a bus or on a plane or in a studio. That was our life. A great life.

MF: It’s interesting how there are a lot of elements of flower power and sixties counterculture in the onscreen character of Creed in The US Office. But I think Creed has almost taken on all of the worst aspects of that culture and that time and none of the ones. Would you agree?

CB: Oh, God yes! The writers took a lot of my stories in the beginning. My rock ‘n’ roll stories, they were good stories. I’ve had a really interesting life. More than your average person, more than your average actor!

I think that’s one of the reasons they got me on. I had this strange, dangerous thing about me you know? [Office producer] Greg Daniels was a huge fan, and he’s just a genuinely good guy. He was the one that made it responsible for me to be on there. But with the writers, by the time the show was over, I was killing people. And I steal! I loved to steal. It’s just something I do. I don’t steal myself as a human being, but the character at that time started going in that direction. And pretty soon you learn he’s stealing from people who are starving, taking kids’ toys and hurting endangered species. Really bad stuff you know!? But he always did it with the little quirky stuff. He was appealing in a really dark way. And the nonsequiturs he would say! I would say, “Oh my God, where does this come from?” But I always did it with conviction, so it worked you know?

MF: Is there a Creed story that you feel is particularly true to your own life?

CB: There’s a deleted scene from ‘Booze Cruise’ where I play the lead guitar and there’s a scene where I talk about being in The Grass Roots. I know what you’re saying but I don’t know what’s the closest to home. Basically, I’m a very solitary person, I’m a writer, I’m introspective and I write very personal songs talking about spiritually and growth, emotional problems and things like that – which people don’t expect! They come to [my live] show thinking it’s just going to be Creed from The Office, but then they hear this music. So I really can’t say on that one. I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever said that’s me per se because I’m still not a comedian. I’m an actor playing a part at the end of the day.

MF: Some actors say that when they play a role like Creed’s it leads to some interesting experiences…

CB: Well, for example, [filming] the third season [of The Office] I’m walking through Trader Joe’s and I see a woman. And she looks up, and she sees me, and she has a child with her you know? I’m on this walking tour and she kind of just this little nervous type, and with a smile, she’s like, “Oh, hi.” And she pulls the child away from me!

I said, “Really!?” I said to her, “Ma’am, you know I’m an actor?” She said, “I know, I know.” She’s still not letting me get close to her child. Later I told my daughter and she said, “That’s a compliment!” I know, it’s a compliment. I did this movie in between The Grass Roots and The Office called Mask with Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliott and Cher. And I played The Ticket Taker. My daughter was in New York studying and she went out with her friends. And she didn’t tell her friends that I was in the movie. And I appeared on screen, and everyone turned to each other and went, “What an asshole!” She said, “Dad I’m so proud of you. So proud.” Ha!

MF: Where would we see Creed as being at if we went back into the world of The Office in 2019?

CB: Well he would have conned himself out of gaol. He probably would have gotten that Making of a Murderer attorney, had an affair with her. And she’d get him out of there, and he’d dump her and steal the money. [Cackles] And then he’d be off! He’d be off doing his various things again. And when he got out there he’d be up there as the godfather of some kind of scam. A grifter, an Ocean’s 11 kind of guy. In his own weird, idiosyncratic manner he would be doing it. Not in the obviously normal way but, somehow, he made it work. Maybe his synapses grew back together without drugs. Nah that wouldn’t be good for him, I think he should keep doing drugs. He’s Creed.

MF: Do you think The Office could ever return?

CB: No. I don’t think so. People ask me about that all the time. We basically all believed that the show was over when Steve Carell left. It was a good show. And we saved it, it was saved somewhat with the finale. We left on a good note. We left it good, why go back? I would do a Christmas special, sure. But I think it would be so hard to get everybody together, it would be good for us, but we’ve moved on to other things. There will never be another show like that for us. Nothing could ever happen like that. No, it’s not possible.

MF: Are you excited to be coming to Australia?

CB: I am so excited. I’ve never been down there before.

MF: What people can expect from the Australian tour?

CB: [Office fans] will be coming to expect some laughs. And they will! I’ll be telling little office stories and anecdotes and stuff. But in between, they are going to hear some interesting songs too. And they might want to check out my last album While The Young Punks Dance. I’ll be doing some songs from that and hopefully, my new album Slightly Altered will be out there [too] and they can listen to that before I get there.

MF: Tell me about this new album you’re working on…

CB: We’re almost done. We’ve got 10 songs. I’ve worked with three different bands. Part of it is just me again with acoustic guitar the old fashioned way, singin’ and playin’ at the same time. The other part is the bands. One is an amazing country band. The other is a bluesy band called Mojo Monkeys. I don’t know if you’ve seen this film that Jacob Dylan [son of Bob Dylan] did called Echo In The Canyon? Well anyway, I went to the premier and my producer Dave Way said, “I think you should really meet these guys.” And I did. And we hit it off. So they came to the studio and we recorded three songs with them. All of the bands were great. More so than ever you can really dance to some of these songs and have some fun. So that’s it. I won’t have a band with me, but I’ll do what I can on acoustic guitar to simulate the energy.

Creed Bratton will tour Australia in February 2020. Head here for details

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