Creed Bratton: Dunder Mifflin quality assurance director. Possible cult leader. Definite spider solitaire enthusiast. A drug-addled klepto and ex-con with shaky moral footing. This was the beloved creep that millions of TV viewers invited into their living rooms during the nine-season run of the Emmy-winning TV show “The Office.” On Saturday, The State Theatre will host Creed Bratton – the actor on whom the character is ever so loosely based – for a music and comedy performance.
Bratton was a singer and guitarist long before he was a primetime icon. He found his talent for acting in high school and college, but he got his first guitar at 13 and was making music professionally by the time he was 17. He was an early member of the popular ’60s rock band The Grass Roots, and started putting out solo albums in the early 2000s.
“Some of the older people are there because they remember The Grass Roots, but most of the people are there because of ‘The Office,’” Bratton says of the solo shows he’s performed on “mini-tours” since the TV show ended. “And I still enjoy playing my music, so I try to satisfy both contingencies. I try to do a little comedy and a little thoughtful music at the same time.”
His musical background may be unknown to casual viewers of the show, but for more insight into the man behind the character they can look to his most recent album.
Tell Me About It is Bratton’s “audio-biography.” The album, his sixth solo release, came out last summer just as “The Office” was airing its series finale. Tell Me About It is a work that traces the artist’s life through song. It wasn’t Bratton’s intention originally to make an autobiographical album. It was Grammy-winning producer Dave Way who keyed into the biographical shape the album was taking as they started recording together. Some of the songs were written decades earlier, and some were freshly penned.
“He could hear a theme from the poppy stuff from The Grass Roots days, very reflective spiritual stuff, and kind of down stuff from when I was soul searching, and positive up stuff again,” Bratton says.
Tell Me About It is a concept album that follows in three acts the highs and lows Bratton has experienced, its songs interspersed with short comedic interludes – one recorded with fellow Office-mate Rainn Wilson, another with P.F. Sloan from The Grass Roots.
The first act features the song “Faded Spats,” with its beachy jangle-pop reminiscent of Bratton’s time with The Grass Roots. In the third act, he croons the call to arms “you’ve got to move to win” to eerie lounge singer effect in the track “Move to Win.” And in the second act can be found the aching dirge “Unemployment Line,” and the searing line “feeding my family from a garbage can, will that be next for me?”
The album gives a loose account of his own experiences, Bratton says, but he hopes that listeners will find ways to connect to his songs and stories – to find moments of reflection, and discover new personal insights for themselves.
“Artists want to help people – at least I do. You want to help people along through the dark times and get them grounded. Because I’ve been up and down in my career numerous times. I know what it’s like to be down struggling, and then be successful, and then have that taken away, and then get it back again,” Bratton says. “It’s been an interesting road for sure, for me.”
• For more information about Creed Bratton, visit creedbratton.com.