Wailing guitars and roiling reverb stitch together Unearthed, a Frankenstein’s monster of an album from Warner Robins surf duo The Creature Preachers. Consisting of members Greg Regular and Scary Gary (AKA brothers Greg & Garrick Burger), the Creature Preachers reach into the depths of surf rock’s primordial origins, fleshing out their sound with cinematic influences ranging from classic monster mayhem to modern film and television.
Older brother Greg, a firefighter out of Perry, GA’s Station 2, began playing when he was a teenager, taking inspiration from groups like Nirvana, Pantera, and Metallica. It was those early influences and band practices at the family home that also sparked his younger sibling.
“At a really young age, I just watched them play. I was really inspired just from watchin’ them grow,” says Garrick. “He taught me some little bits on drums and the very first drum beat I was proud of myself about was ‘Wipe Out’! It was like, ‘Oh wow!’ I was in third grade tellin’ people about that! And then funny enough, we’ve come all the way around full circle!”
Traditional surf music would become an even bigger impact on the Burger brothers with the release of 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Both the film and accompanying soundtrack featured progenitors Dick Dale & his Del-Tones as well as stalwarts like The Tornadoes and The Marketts and genre-bender Link Wray. Still, though, there would be an incubation period before the Creature Preachers were born.
“The Pulp Fiction soundtrack really started my love of surf when I was a kid. We’ve wanted to do surf for a long time,” says Greg. “It really was a recent thing that we discovered people still do surf. There are newer bands and there was a resurgence in the ’90s, but we didn’t really know what a vibrant community it still is.”
The Creature Preachers also credit a love for horror films and horror-themed rock n’ roll for helping them develop their musical alter-egos.
“My favorite band is The Misfits, and I think they’re the ones that inspired me the most to do the horror-related stuff,” says Greg. “I’ve been a horror fan pretty much for as long as I can remember. Even before I knew what horror was, I was always into scary stories and paranormal, supernatural stuff.”
Garrick, who works as an industrial hygienist for Robins Air Force Base, also cites the 1990s supernatural television boom as helping to define the Creature Preachers’ sound.
“You had shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files, there’s the huge whole alien movement and the pseudo magic craze with The Craft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed,” says Garrick. “The ’90s pop culture movement was very alternative for the weird kids– and we had a lot to choose from!”
Unearthed collects various recordings made during the outfit’s first official year. “Reanimated” evokes the aforementioned Link Wray with nods to Jack Marshall’s theme from The Munsters. On “Drowning”, the Creature Preachers sonically conjure the spirit of the King of the Surf Guitar himself, Dick Dale, melding mayhem with salty old school tone. The brothers even reach across the pond to summon the menace of Screaming Lord Sutch for a cover of the 3rd Earl of Harrow’s playfully manic “Jack The Ripper”. Playing everything themselves (both brothers are multi-instrumentalists swapping back and forth between guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards), Greg Regular and Scary Gary (clad in a plastic Creature and Wolfman mask respectively) make swampy, supernatural, evocative surf that they also hope sounds like Central Georgia.
“We have exotica pokin’ its head in there. We have good, chord-y, rich, jingly tunes,” says Garrick. “We don’t want to lose the fact that we’re from the south. And I think we’re doing a good job at maintaining that character.”
Currently, The Creature Preachers are gearing up for a run of dates that will include stops at the Athens Surf Stomp on August 28th and the Southern Surf Stomp in Avondale Estates on October 2nd. The duo also provided the main theme for the upcoming documentary Mom N’ Pop: The Indie Video Store Boom of the 80s/90s, and are planning an “ambitious” follow-up to Unearthed.
“Surf rock is overlooked in a lot of ways. It becomes background music in a lot of places,” says Garrick. “It might even find its way into a movie or a show, but it’s mostly just in the background. We really want to make an album that has character and it’s just fun to listen to.”