Creed Bratton has enjoyed one of the greatest career second acts in Hollywood history. Long before he was a TV star on The Office, he was a well-known musician, playing in the most popular lineup of ‘60s rock band the Grass Roots. Bratton never stopped pursuing music over the decades, and this week he drops a new solo album, Slightly Altered, that includes a radical re-recording of the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes.”
Bratton says Slightly Altered is his most personal record to date, explaining, “Since I do have such a young fanbase [because of The Office], and granddaughters now, it's kind of important for me to pass on what I've learned in my years on the planet, and what's gotten me through all this stuff too — because Creed was a bad boy!”
The “Creed” we all watched on The Office was a bad boy indeed — a shady, scruples-free con artist with a rap sheet that included welfare fraud, kleptomania, embezzlement, and the ingestion just about every illegal drug. Yahoo Entertainment is pleased to report that the real-life Creed is a much mellower fellow, but there have been times that his life has imitated his art, and vice versa. For instance, one of the highlights of our hilarious conversation is when Bratton tells the tale of an infamous onstage moment when he was in a more-than-slightly altered state of mind.
It was April 1969, and Bratton and his Grass Roots bandmate Rick Coonce were smoking a joint outside San Francisco’s Fillmore West before their gig when a “little hippie girl” generously offered them some LSD. (“I'd read Newsweek, so I knew what it was,” Bratton chuckles.) He accepted, of course, and — unlike Coonce — dropped the acid before their concert. The chemicals kicked during just as the Grass Roots hit the Fillmore stage. Suddenly Bratton saw his hands start to glow, and he became so transfixed by the psychedelic sight that instead of playing his guitar, he played an imaginary “Technicolor accordion,” as if he were “God’s concertina player.”
And things just got crazier from there.
“I hear [Fillmore promoter] Bill Graham going, ‘Play! Play, you L.A. f***!’ Why would he say that to me? He didn't like me very much. I don't know what the deal was. … And [my band is] all looking at him like, ‘Why is he getting so angry?’ They didn't know I was tripping out.” Finally, Bratton heeded Graham’s angry command — but when he strummed his guitar strings, “I looked out at the speaker, and out of the speaker comes musical notes on staff paper. And then the notes fall off onto the floor. And I go, ‘Oh, poor notes!’ And I go over and I have an imaginary dustpan bin, as if I'm sweeping up the notes and picking them up and trying to put them back into the speaker.
“And then all of a sudden I looked around, and I couldn't perform. So, I dropped my pants! And back in those days, you know, let that pony dance! I mean, Old Blue needed some air room! So there I was, like, ‘Ta-da!’ An it-pays-to-advertise kind of thing.”
Bratton insists that, contrary to urban legend (and Wikipedia), the Fillmore pants-dropping incident — which is actually wilder than anything the fictionalized Creed got up to at Dunder Mifflin and inspired his 2003 song “Chemical Wings” — did not lead to his ousting from the Grass Roots. (He does admit that his bandmates were none too thrilled with him when they had to do a Fillmore makeup show the following week, however.) Bratton, who’d been getting into music like the Band and Rubber Soul-era Beatles, says he left the group because he was “disgruntled” that he wasn’t allowed to write his own material.
He went through many “down periods” afterwards — “I get a record deal, I get a movie, I'm signed up to play a lead in this film, and it just crumbles. I've had so many things right at the last minute, two albums and a couple of movies I was supposed to do, and the money didn't come through” — but Bratton says he has no regrets about his decision, “Because [then] we wouldn't be having this conversation.” And he probably wouldn’t have ended up on The Office.
Although Bratton is focused on his music career and new album right now, he says he’d love to reprise his Office character: “I've still got energy left; you can tell I'm ready to go. I'd love to play that guy again for a while!” And since Leslie David Baker, who played Stan on The Office, just launched a Kickstarter for an “Uncle Stan” spinoff sitcom, Bratton is open to the idea of his own Creed-centric spinoff — especially since the Office finale in 2013 ended with the cliffhanger of Creed being hauled off to jail.
Bratton has some spinoff ideas that, frankly, seem a bit acid-induced, in the best possible way — including a jailbreak pilot episode, an origin story that involves “extraterrestrial parents,” a torrid love affair with Making a Murderer attorney Kathleen Zellner, a stint in the Witness Protection Program, “Breaking Bad stuff,” and a new career doing “in a world…” movie voiceovers. (Incidentally, (He’s also open to our suggestion to form a supergroup with David Brent from The Office U.K., who moonlights as an easy-listening crooner.)
In all seriousness, while there’s no confirmed The Office series reboot at the moment, Bratton is well aware of the ongoing public demand. “All the fans have been wanting [a series revival] for a long, long time,” he says, but he quickly adds, “We left on such a sweet note on that finale. Do you want to take a chance of messing that up?” However, he is intrigued by the idea of a holiday reunion special, because he “would love to just to see everybody again.” And if that ever happens, maybe Creed can spike the Dunder Mifflin office party egg nog with LSD.
Watch Yahoo Entertainment’s extended Creed Bratton interview below, for a lively discussion of Slightly Altered, his 1960s adventures, his fateful Office audition, what he learned from acting with Sam Elliott, and his past odd jobs (spoiler alert: none of them were in an actual office):
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