Creed Bratton is getting back to his musical roots, specifically his Grass Roots.
Long before his role as the shiftless quality assurance manager — also named Creed Bratton — on the popular workplace comedy “The Office,” he spent four years as a member of the Grass Roots and was heard on chart toppers like “Midnight Confessions” and “Temptation Eyes.”
On his eighth solo album "Slightly Altered," which drops Friday Bratton at 77 still sounds great on songs ranging from the quirky "Chan Chu Toad" to the catchy "The Ride" to a remake of "Temptation Eyes," complete with guitar and trombone solos.
Bratton spoke by phone from Studio City, California, about the album, his rocker days and working at "The Office." There's even a nod to Debbie Brown, the unseen Dunder-Mifflin employee Creed threw under the bus after he let an obscene watermark get past quality assurance.
I really liked the first single, “Chan Chu Toad,” but what is a chan chu toad?
[Laughs.] It’s based on a real thing. I’ve got one in my house. It’s a feng shui statue. It’s believed it will protect your house. You have it facing the door off to the side a little bit. You put it on a pile of money. It’s supposed to protect your money and to bring money into your home.
You’ve said this is the most personal album you’ve ever made. What makes it so personal to you?
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When I said that I had just recorded “Not Comfortable,” “The Lovers” and “Right Where I Belong” and those songs are very, very personal to me. “Right Where I Belong” is where I am right now — very, very comfortable, very grateful to be who I am.
We all have a vision of what it must have been like to be in a rock group in the '60s. Was it pretty much what we'd imagine?
It’s hard to beat. I’m such a lucky, lucky person to get to do that and then to be on a show like "The Office." The Mount Tamalpais Festival [in Northern California] was a great time. There was lot of acid at that show. We didn’t really get that high on stage — we did it afterwards.
How much of the character of Creed on "The Office" was based on you?
I wrote the character. I was on "Bernie Mac" and met Ken Kwapis, who directed a lot of "The Office" episodes He found out I was with the Grass Roots and he was a big rock fan. … He gave me his number, which is rare for a director to do. Then I heard from somebody on the set that he was going to work on "The Office." I’d seen the Ricky Gervais version and I loved it. I did something I never would do. I called Ken and I said "Do you thing I could audition for that show?"
I'm guessing he said yes.
He said "You're a very funny guy. We've already cast it but let me talk to [show runner] Greg Daniels A week later he called and said "Would yon be averse to being a background actor? It's no lines, but we’ll try to see if we can throw you something?" My intuition said do it.
I realized what I had to do. I wrote a character based on what would have happened to my rock persona. I wrote all this stuff that I thought was funny, I had a friend shoot it and I started ad-libbing and it had a bunch of songs in it. I cut it down to about five minutes and gave it to Greg Daniels. Within a few weeks, they came back and said you’re very funny. The second season started and the very first day, they threw a script on my desk on the set and said, OK, here's a scene with Steve Carell. My bowels froze. I had flop sweat. I knew that was it, make or break it. I had to deliver the goods. And I did.
I had forgotten you were in Doris Day's last movie “With Six You Get Eggroll" with the Grass Roots. Did you get to speak to her?
Absolutely! She was very gracious, and I got to see all of the filters that they put out in front of the camera. If you see the movie, when it comes to her, it’s all diffused. That was all those filters they put on her to make her young looking. [Laughs.]
If "The Office" was still going on and they had to deal with the pandemic, what do you think a typical work day for Creed would be like?
He'd be selling fake masks and taking the money and saying it was for Debbie Brown. He’d find a way to scam it. He had no scruples.