Creed Bratton, ‘I’m not allowed ?to talk about it’

Aug 24, 2016 at 11:00 am
Creed Bratton, ‘I’m not allowed ?to talk about it’

You probably know Creed Bratton for his hilarious turn as Creed Bratton on NBC’s “The Office.” And when you see that Bratton is coming to town to perform a night of music and comedy at Headliners — you might be inclined to that think this is some kind of vanity project for a network star. But this is not that. Bratton also has a legendary music career that reaches back to the mid-’60s when he was the lead singer of the group, The Grassroots. More recently, he has spent most of his time focused on acting and playing a distorted version of himself on “The Office.” Bratton will perform a mix of songs from throughout his career with The Grassroots, solo, and also songs he performed on “The Office.” He’s also preparing new music that may be released by year’s end or the beginning of 2017. He took time to talk with LEO about music, comedy and everything in between.

LEO: What inspired you to explore music when you were starting out?

Creed Bratton: I started when I was 13 and in the mountains. It was a little town just below Yosemite. My grandparents had a semiprofessional country and western band called The Good Timers. My mother was a great mandolin player. And I never met my father. He died when I was 2, but supposedly he was a hell of a banjo player. So, to answer your question, I listened to a lot AM radio, because that’s all I could get in the mountains. I loved guys like The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Hank Williams. I loved Hank Williams.

This show is pretty stripped down, right?

Yeah, it’s pretty much me and an acoustic guitar. I played the ‘All the Smiling Faces’ on ‘The Office’ finale. I did that live, but, afterward, I went in my friend’s studio and added a few subtle things to the recording. I liked it, so I took a few more of my quieter, more-personal songs like that, which really mean something to me, and stripped them down to pretty much me and a guitar, as well. Now I can do these shows without a band, worrying if the drummer’s going to show up loaded or show up at all.

Having lived through the ‘60s-era of music, you have a lot of great stories and you’re incorporating them into the show.

In between the songs, I’ll tell little anecdotes. People seem to enjoy it, or at least they keep inviting me back, so I must be doing something right. I talk about my upbringing, touring around Europe [and] being a rock star. And, of course, they want to hear about ‘The Office.’

In comedy, timing is everything, and it’s incredibly difficult to do right. Were you intimidated at first to stick your toe into comedy?

Comedy is the most difficult thing to do correctly. Most people can do dramatic acting, but comedy is a little of a high-wire act. You have to have a knack for it. Well, I don’t know that it’s that tough. You just have to have the tendency, the inclination and the natural timing. I always was one that could tell stories and make people laugh. I have that natural instinct, so no it wasn’t intimidating.

Do you think your role on ‘The Office’ drew more attention to your music career, or overshadowed it?

It’s definitely the reason I get to travel around and still do this. I totally acknowledge that, and I pay tribute to that. But I don’t think it overshadowed it, because there are a lot of Baby Boomers out there that still know The Grassroots. I never really stopped making music, but I was really busy studying acting and working as an actor. But when I started doing ‘The Office,’ I would have all of this down time, sitting around waiting to shoot scenes. I had an acoustic guitar there that I would play, and, all of the sudden, I was just writing all of these songs again. And on top of that the show became so much of a phenomena. ‘The Office’ definitely opened me up. It gave me this huge audience I can go out and perform for.

How did that character Creed Bratton come to be? Did they come to you, or did you audition to play yourself?

No. I was working on ‘The Bernie Mac Show,’ and the director was going to work on ‘The Office.’ Its original title was: ‘The Office: An American Work Place.’ And I already loved the Ricky Gervais British version. So I called him up, which I never do. I would never want to bother a director, but I lobbied. He said he’d try to bring me into the mix but couldn’t guarantee anything. So I sat down and made up the Creed character, a guy who blacked out on a Greyhound bus and woke up in Scranton. It was quite an elaborate story, but I shot it and sent it in to the producers. A few weeks later they came to me and said this stuff is really funny.

How much was the character of Creed Bratton a stretch for the real Creed Bratton?

[Laughs] Not very much at all. If I had continued in my debauched ways, he would have been right on. Of course, I didn’t, so he is a fabrication, yes. But there are some things based on reality. Not killing people or stealing, but, the black ops — I might have done the black ops. I’m not allowed to talk about it.


Wednesday, Aug. 24

Headliners Music Hall

1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088

$20  |  8 p.m.