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In the beginning, people labelled Liverpool-based alt-rock band Crawlers as merely a ‘TikTok band', overlooking their talent due to their edgy aesthetics and wealth of fans on social media. But as Camilla Whitfield finds, their candour about sexuality and mental health is exactly why fans regard them as the voice of Gen Z. 

Studying while transitioning into the life of a full-time musician would be a mean feat for anyone. However, a career in music was something that Crawlers had always imagined they’d be doing. Back in 2018, the band consisted of vocalist Holly Minto, bassist Liv May, and guitarist Amy Woodall. When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, the band turned the situation around and continued to work hard while building their socials and fully integrating their drummer Harry Breen into the band. After the success of their debut self-titled EP in October 2021 — which featured lead fan-favourite track, ‘Come Over (Again)’ — it wasn’t long until they were signed to Polydor in January 2022, their lives becoming a whirlwind. As Harry explains, “Everything went from zero to 100 pretty quickly. That first year of being signed was pretty hectic; we did four tours that year, and in between, it was just in and out of the studio, photoshoots, and interviews.” 

"We’ve lived through such a weird period of time in recent years that people are grasping to feel less alone”- Holly 

Their studio time culminated in the highly-anticipated release of their debut album, The Mess We Seem To Make. Released in February, having it officially out in the world is still an achievement that isn't lost on the band. Before they went to uni and Harry joined the band, she remembers questioning if they were truly going to commit: “Are we going to go to the same uni together and be together to continue this, or are we going to end that here?”. Thankfully for us, they had faith, and continued on this journey that gave us their debut. 

Thrown into the “deep end” of their first year as a signed band, there were naturally a few unexpected aspects to being a full-time musician. “You know you’re going to do tours, you’re going to be in the studio. I don’t think you’re prepared for how many meetings you have in between that, and how many photoshoots you need to go to,” says Harry. “We had a massive viral moment with, ‘Come Over (Again)’; working to harness that community and fanbase, once you start doing it full-time, you realise how much more work there is in being a musician. You work hard to get to a certain level and then when you get to that level, you’re rewarded with more work.” 

The band laughs in agreement at the irony of the situation, but it’s clear the charting success of their debut album (peaking at no. 7) is a testament to how deeply they’ve connected. “It was everything we’d worked towards our whole lives,” says Liv. “We’d all worked towards this moment long before we realised, like when we were kids taking guitar lessons. It was only something that we’d ever really dreamed of. The goal was always for us to enjoy what we do and if that translates to other people, then that’s a bonus. A very, very lucky one.” 

Their EP, Loud Without Noise, released in 2022, allowed the band to confirm that they knew exactly who they were before diving into their debut album. “I feel like each one of us was pushed as individual musicians to just past our limits,” says Harry. “Every time we were recording a song, we were forced to learn a new trick or a new skill. Every time we get into the studio, we prove to ourselves what we’re capable of. 

“I think the album is the perfect project to exemplify that.” Holly agrees. “It’s a statement of that time, I think we did exactly what we wanted. I’m so happy we can always look back at it.” 

From talking with the group all together, it’s instantly clear that possessing a solid support network is integral to their success as a band. Liv notes, “Hol is brave enough to be vulnerable in their lyrics and share that with us and the world," says Liv. "But we always have each others backs and we always give each other the hype where we need it, especially in the studio. When we’re recording takes, we’re all in the room hyping each other up, making everyone feel like they can conquer the world.” 

Though they’ll all agree that Crawlers is the magical sum of its individual parts, Holly will admit that there have been some rocky times, moments where the band felt on the cusp of breaking up. “Before Harry joined, honestly, that felt like the worst breakup ever! Now that we’re older and more mature, we just want to hype each other up and get to a place where we can tell each other exactly how we feel and what we feel is best for a project.” 

Creating safe communities isn’t a responsibility that Crawlers take lightly. In discussing the recent Misogyny In Music Report and what needs to change to keep young people — especially women and non-binary people — safe, Liv notes that there needs to be an emphasis on creating physical spaces which are proactive about “continuing to push safety and not being a dick. Not creating excuses for men when they are being shitty. That’s one of the biggest things; you’re told from being a kid, ‘boys will be boys’ and all this. But no, you’re a grown-ass adult! You’re a sentient being. You know the difference between right and wrong. So control yourself. Stop it.” 

Being so proudly outspoken on the importance of LGBTQIA+ representation and safety has led to them fostering such a powerful connection with their fans, also known as their ‘Creepy Crawlies’. In the beginning, the band took the lead in creating communities for their fans and encouraged them to be mindful of others, make friends, join their Discord, and most importantly, have fun. Sharing the credit with their fans who have since co-led the growth of this space, their fanbase feels like a space where alternative music lovers can truly express themselves and be creative. “It’s so reminiscent of what we wanted and enjoyed when we were 14,” says Holly. “I feel if I didn’t have those spaces when I was younger, I wouldn't be half as creative as I am now. If I’d stayed in the mainstream, I’d definitely have held myself in.” 

"Once you start doing it full-time, you realise how much more work there is in being a musician” - Harry 

On offering advice for bands who are perhaps in the same position as they were five years ago, Holly has some sage words to take on board. “It’s such a cringe one but you can only go as far as the mindset of the member who’s the least interested in the project. So many bands come up to us and are like, ‘Wow, you guys are actually friends?!’” she laughs. “Is that not kind the point though? You need to make sure you all have that same goal, and that’s something that we’ve been working on from the beginning. Communication has made everything so much more enjoyable; it’s more than just a band now.” 

Holly also encourages that bands, whilst potentially cringing themselves out a little as they do so, need to take advantage of “every kind of unique selling point you have”. 

“It feels so businessy, but there are so many things that you may have that could help and raise your musicianship. Whether you are an amazing video editor, or at great at makeup or, how can you bring that into your band? I used to draw and do all this visual stuff, and it’s become such a big thing for the band and has helped us with merch. It’s really great to be able to use those assets to perform better and make it a more fun project. That’s why being in a band is cool; it’s not just screaming over a microphone, it’s all the other creative bits too.” 

Extending creative control over all areas of their work only serves to remind that this band thrives by being their most authentic selves, inspires others to do the same. Known for their humour, Holly jokes that fans gravitate towards them “because they’re funny”. Amy agrees but adds, that truthfulness is also a big part of it, not being afraid to be vulnerable or self-deprecating. “I think when we started being more honest in the lyrics, which kind of started with ‘Come Over (Again)’, people really started latching onto us. When Holly writes like that, people tend to relate more so than they did before.” 

“I think you sometimes forget that your favourite artists are human,” agrees Holly. “We’ve lived through such a weird period of time in recent years that people are grasping to feel less alone. That includes myself; I think it includes all of us. There’s been deep pits that we’ve all kind of faced as the world, not just our own individual struggles. So it’s so great hearing music where you can hear someone being honest. As a band, we’re kind of moving away from that exploitation of sadness and our mental health struggles, but more towards the ideas of getting things out and kind of journaling them, rather than just exposing my darkest thoughts without being self-aware. It’s a big level of growth.” 

As they grow and develop in and of themselves, Crawlers are part of a whole new wave of artists who are helping their listeners to do the same. Alongside queer musicians such as Pale Waves and Dream Wife, Crawlers are encouraging this increasing and necessary representation in the industry. “If we’d had that, that would’ve been motivation for us to be like, ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?'” says Liv. “From my own experiences, I never really allowed my gender to get in the way of anything, because gender is a myth. People are capable of doing anything that they want to. You set your own limitations. Representation is so important and having a role model in any industry that means something to you inspires you to do your own thing. Truly, if they’ve done it, why can’t you?” 

Crawlers' album The Mess We Seem To Make is out now.

Words by Camilla Whitfield
Photography by Andrew Benge
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