Crawlers’ pursuit of community led to TikTok virality

For Liverpool’s Crawlers, the experience of success was much like the bridge of their breakthrough hit “Come Over (Again)”: a dramatic, larger-than-life swell. The song in question exploded on TikTok, getting the attention of none other than the Kardashians.

“I love the Kardashians, and I think they’re amazing,” guitarist Amy Woodall says. When Woodall saw that a TikTok posted to Kim Kardashian and North West’s account used the song, “I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I called Liv [Kettle], and I was like, ‘Go on TikTok now.’”

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“Come Over (Again)” didn’t just catch the attention of celebrities and influencers, but labels as well. “When we first started getting emails from big major record labels, at first, I was like, ‘Let’s not get our hopes up because this must be spam. There’s no way this is real,’” drummer Harry Breen explains.

At the exact moment they received one of those emails from a major label, vocalist Holly Minto and bassist Liv Kettle were at the store, where Minto’s card had just been declined. “I don’t think anything has humbled me quicker than that moment,” Minto says.

“It was very ‘remember your roots,’” Kettle chimes in.

“Come Over (Again)” is now nearing 40 million streams on Spotify, with the band boasting over 680,000 TikTok followers and 28 million likes on the app. Crawlers have played slots at major festivals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Lollapalooza and Reading and Leeds, and opened for Måneskin in Switzerland and for My Chemical Romance in Kettle and Woodall’s hometown of Warrington. And all before releasing their first album, which the band are currently working on. In the meantime, their new mixtape, Loud Without Noise, which dropped Nov. 4, will tide fans over.

It may have happened quickly and relatively early in their career, but Crawlers definitely weren’t an overnight success. Woodall and Kettle formed a band together in 2018, while they were still in school, with Minto joining them later to become Crawlers. The three of them decided to attend college together. “We took a risk,” Minto says. “You know how everyone’s like, ‘Do not choose unis because of your friends?’ We did that.” And on top of everything else, they graduated this year.

The band members, rounded out by Breen, who joined last year, are undeniably close, given the way they bounce off each other’s comments and reference inside jokes. But they were surprised at how exceptional their camaraderie is. “We thought all bands were like this,” Minto points out. “We thought all bands knew what each other’s burps smell like, and apparently that’s just us.”

“Come Over (Again)” marked a shift in Crawlers’ history, not only because of their growing popularity but also in how they write. Woodall says the reaction to the song “gave us the freedom to write what we wanted, rather than thinking, ‘Well, it doesn’t sound like what we’ve released before’ because ‘Come Over’ was so different, and it did well. So it gave us the confidence to write in new ways and experiment a bit more.” That experimentation results in a mixtape that encompasses varied topics and genres, including grunge, nü metal and pop.

Before “Come Over (Again),” Crawlers’ songs tended to be about social issues “from a commentary stance,” as Minto says, whereas “Come Over (Again)” took a more personal approach. That writing style has raised the lyrical bar on this mixtape so that the songs now distill bigger issues through the lens of personal experience. In the exhilarating “I Can’t Drive,” for one, Minto tackles the romanticized portrayal of mental illness while also drawing in the experiences of their and their sibling’s breakups and their parents’ divorce. 

“Knowing where I’m ignorant is the main thing,” Minto says. “Talking about something that I’m well-versed in, whether that’s because I’ve lived it or because I’m educated on it, is the best way of doing it.”

Crawlers’ rise to fame happened at such breakneck speed that their circumstances changed in the course of working on “Feminist Radical Hypocritical Delusional,” a punk song in both sound and message. “When we first wrote it, I didn’t really have any money. I was living off the same meal and a poor student at the time,” Minto says. “But then when we were finishing it in the studio, we’d just been signed. I was living off my music career. And it changed the perspective of the song a lot. So I ended up altering the chorus to be from that perspective of my newfound privilege.”

That lyrical approach that meshes together the personal and the communal reflects Crawlers’ mission to create a community where everyone feels comfortable and empowered. They recently posted a Twitter thread on etiquette and expectations for their shows in which they encouraged fans to buy hearing protection, warned showgoers about flashing lights, urged the audience to look out for each others’ safety and stated that Crawlers don’t tolerate bigotry or aggression. It’s just one of the ways that the band make an effort to connect with fans, whether that’s through Twitter, TikTok or at live performances across the globe.

“To be able to tour in the U.K., U.S. [and] Europe and have sold out shows across all boards as a band — we are babies in the grand scheme of it; we’re very new to the industry, even though we’ve been playing together for years — I think is a massive feat,” Minto says. “And to have a band from Liverpool come from a working-class background to be able to do that is something I’m very proud of us for.”

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