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Rock Reunion: Cortland metal favorites Creeper return after a 25-year hiatus

Sep 27, 2019

Creeper will reunite this weekend for a pair of shows in Cortland and Syracuse.
Credit Jim Catalano

This weekend, Creeper – the Cortland metal band that gained widespread popularity across upstate New York in the early 1990s – will play their first shows in 25 years: Friday at the Cortland Beer Company and Saturday at Syracuse’s Lost Horizon.

Bent Peg – another local heavy rock band from the 1990s and 2000s – will reunite for the first time in more than decade at the Cortland show, which also includes Hurtin’ Units, the local punk-pop band marking its 20th anniversary, Ruination, and Pisfóm. Hurtin’ Units also will play the Lost Horizon show, along with Syracuse’s own Dracula Jones.

Creeper’s founding members – guitarist Marc Ryan, bassist Dameon Torrey and drummer Patrick Pascucci – have been rehearsing all week in a garage in Cortlandville.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Ryan, who still lives in Cortland and plays with classic rock band Tribal Revival. “We really didn’t know what it was gonna be like, since it’s been 25 years since we’ve played together – and for or some of us, since we played this type of music. But it’s come together really fast. It was really pleasant reminder of how much chemistry there is between the three of us – and how truly chemistry never dies.”

The band credits Hurtin’ Units singer Robby Petrella for instigating the reunion.

“Robby is the main reason why this happened,” said Pascucci, who now lives in Austin, Texas. “We’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, and this time all the chips fell into place this time around for this to happen. We tried to figure out if there was even any interest out there in us doing it, so we started this Facebook group, and the next thing we knew, more than 500 people liked it. So we thought that it was worth playing a show now.”

This month actually marks the 29th anniversary of Creeper’s first gig, noted Torrey, who has lived in Atlanta since 1997. Before Creeper, he and Pascucci had played together in another local metal band, Milktoast.

“That was the band we cut our teeth in and learned how to play music,” Torrey said. “It made us a lot better musicians playing with those dudes five days a week, and then we carried that over when we started Creeper and practiced six days a week.”

A Creeper promo photo from the early 1990s

All that hard work back then has made it much easier to relearn the songs.

“It was just like hopping on a bike with a new pair of pedals,” said Ryan, who graduated from Cortland High School in 1991, a year after Torrey and Pascucci.

The band’s set list for this weekend includes Creeper classics such as “I Am The Snake,” “Enslaved” and other riff-heavy tunes.

“We went through our five demos and listened to everything, and picked what we remembered our crowd favorites were, and the ones we really liked to play, to come up with the set,” Ryan said.

“I think we can play the songs a bit better than we used to,” Pascucci noted. “Before, we were just like, play as fast as we can.”

Creeper also will be paying tribute to its missing member – keyboardist Bill Rettie, who passed away in 2015. “We’re going to have his lovely wife Renee, who has been a friend of ours since we were kids, play bass with us on ‘Say High,’ as Bill had a very integral part in that song,” Ryan said.

The band members are excited to be playing this weekend in the two cities that played a key role in their history.

“Even though we’re from Cortland, Syracuse is like our hometown, since we played there so many times,” Pascucci noted.

“That’s where we played our first show,” Ryan added.

“It’s great that we’re playing with Bent Peg, Hurtin’ Units and Dracula Jones,” concluded Pascucci. “It will be good to play with a bunch of old friends again.”

Bent Peg will play its first show since 2007 Friday night at Cortland Beer Company.
Credit Jim Catalano

Bent Peg is Back

Friday’s show also features the reunion of Bent Peg, which will be playing its first show since 2007.

Band members Matt Barnes (vocals, guitars), Shane Hartman (drums), Jesse Harriott (bass) and Kirk Griffin (guitar) took a break from practicing earlier this week to talk about getting back together.

“We’ve been talking about it for awhile but nothing happened,” Barnes noted. “But when we got offered the show with Creeper, it was kind of kismet. When you have a show, you have to do it.”

In recent years, Barnes has been playing with Genitor and doing solo shows, Hartman has been working with Ithaca roots-rockers Common Railers, Griffin has been making electronic music, and Harriott has focused on growing his Copper Horse Coffee roastery business. But they said the old Bent Peg songs came back quickly.

“It was really weird how easy it was to jump back into it,” Barnes said. “We rehearsed and played so much back then, it’s all ingrained in our brains.”

“The reason we all knew the songs is because we all remembered our riffs,” Harriott noted.

Like Creeper, the Bent Peg members think the band has improved with age despite the long hiatus.

“It’s sort of better, in a way,” Barnes said. “I think, for me, when you’re in your 20s and so self-conscious about being cool – and I’m not cool at all – it’s a circle of shame and self-doubt. But now I don’t just care. Now we’re older and wiser.”

"I was surprised the first night when we ran through 20 songs, and it sounded pretty good,” noted Hartman. “It feels a little different – it’s a little more relaxed. We’re not hyper kids and it’s got a better groove to it.”

The members of Bent Peg practice in the basement of 37 Main Street in downtown Cortland.
Credit Jim Catalano

If You Go

Friday’s show at Cortland Beer Company kicks off at 6 p.m. with a set from local metal band Ruination. They’ll be followed by Pisfóm, Bent Peg, Hurtin’ Units, and Creeper. Tickets are $15 will be available at the door. For details, go here

Saturday’s show at Syracuse’s Lost Horizon starts at 8 p.m. with the Hurtin Units, followed by longtime Syracuse favorites Dracula Jones and Creeper. Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door, and online here. For more information, see this page.

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