Fans of ‘The Office’ can meet Creed on Sunday
We talked to the weirdest guy from “The Office” about his double life as a ’60s folk-rock star
The Office is enjoying a healthy afterlife on Netflix and Comedy Central — not to mention all those memes and quotes on Reddit — which has led to fans digging ever deeper, past the Jim-and-Pam stuff, to the NBC comedy’s many memorable secondary characters.
It’s a pack of weirdos, to be sure, and the weirdest of them all is Creed Bratton. The scheming old dude in quality assurance rarely figures into the plot, instead haunting it with brazen schemes (selling office supplies the moment he hears the branch might go under) and befuddling one-liners. (“You ever seen a foot with four toes?”)
Funny and sincere, the real Creed Bratton is nothing like his Office alter-ego — “People meet me and they’re either relieved or disappointed,” he says — but he has a led a fascinating life. He first gained fame playing guitar for popular folk-rock band the Grass Roots in the late ’60s. Their music, including the hit song, “Let’s Live for Today,” took them all over the world.
Since then, Bratton has stitched together a career in both acting (including a bit part in the 1985 Cher drama Mask) and music, his most recent release being 2018’s solo project While The Young Punks Dance.
There was just a small glimpse of Creed’s musical talent in The Office’s series finale, when Bratton played a few lines of his poignant ballad, “All The Faces.” This Sunday, Creed Bratton — the real one — will perform “an evening of music and comedy” at Voltage Lounge.
Some “Office” fans don’t know it, but you’re a genuine rock star.
I am! You can’t take it away from me. I’m a guy with gold records hanging on the wall. [The Grass Roots] played with Janis Joplin and the Doors and Jimi Hendrix. We toured with Cream for a while. The Beach Boys. Back in the ’60s, we played with everybody.
Wow. Any special memories of, say, Janis Joplin?
She was sad. We'd see her backstage at the Fillmore — we played at the Fillmore a lot, in San Francisco — and we'd see her backstage before shows, and she always looked like a very sad person. I didn't know her personally.
And you played “American Bandstand” four times?
It’s weird because you’re lip-syncing to your record. It’s bogus, in a way. But that was the deal, you know. We got up there and mouthed and looked cute and danced around, shook our asses and stuff [laughs]. When you’re a 20-year-old, what are you gonna do?
You’ve experienced success in acting and music. Which gives you more satisfaction?
Both. I've always done both. I started out with music, but once I started studying acting and started doing stuff on stage, I'd find that I get great pleasure from that.
You’ve intertwined the two throughout your life. Plus you do live comedy?
It kind of worked out that way. It wasn’t intentional, it never was. And when I was singing, after the Grass Roots, it wasn’t like I was funny. I just found that as I got older I got a very snarky attitude for things, and that’s where my humor comes from.
The acting gig sounds tougher because you’ve got less control over it. I read your scenes were cut from “Roadhouse” and “The Guilt Trip.”
That happens to everybody. They flew me to Romania to do The Sisters Brothers, and I had a really, really good scene with Joaquin Phoenix, and another scene with John C. Reilly. I kept hearing back from the producers, the casting people: They love it, they love what you did.
It was [still in the movie] till the last week or so. My name is on the credits, but I’m not in there.
That has to hurt.
That really destroyed me because I knew I did good work and I was excited about having it on my reel. And then it doesn't happen. But what are you gonna do? You're at the mercy of other people.
You weren’t the front man for the Grass Roots, but in concert now, all eyes are on you.
It’s an hour and a half, just me and my guitar. I’m very comfortable with it. I’ve been playing professionally since I was 17, so. That’s 60 years. My god.
What was it like playing a mad scientist in the Hulu horror movie “Culture Shock”?
So much fun. Chewing up the scenery, as it were. I tried not to get too mwah-ha-ha.
It seems like “The Office” is bigger than ever. Have you noticed that?
It is. It has to be because of the response I get while I’m touring. The people go absolutely nuts. They just start screaming [their favorite Creed one-liners].
Sometimes I stop during the show and I say, “All right, say it! Get it all out of your system now because at the end of the show, when I’m singing ‘all the faces that I know…’ I don’t want you shouting ‘boboddy, boboddy!’ I don’t want to hear that.” [Laughs.] I want you to appreciate the song.
Creed Bratton: An Evening of Music & Comedy
7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at Voltage Lounge, 421 N. Seventh St.
Information: 215-494-7386, voltagelounge.com.