Perhaps best recognized as the fictional version of himself in the wildly popular television series The Office, Creed Bratton is known for his zany, off-the-wall and sometimes ridiculously insane comments and antics throughout the show’s nine seasons.
Based on the UK series by the same name, the US version of The Office was not originally slated to have a Bratton-esque type character. But after befriending director Ken Kwapis and being cast into a background role, it didn’t take long for Creed to take shape. Not content with sitting in the shadows, Bratton eventually recorded his own interview tape, which he showed to the higher-ups, convincing them that this persona demanded attention.
And in short bursts, he did precisely that, taking full advantage of the moments he was given.
“He was a sniper,” Bratton said. “That was the way it was written and that was the way they approached those scenes. You’ve got to get noticed — you only have a short period of time. Creed, you know, he didn’t have a lot (of time), except for when he was the office manager for that one episode, which was so much fun. When I came in, I would just keep my energy up. I would amp my energy up far more than you would see me normally. Creed is like a cracked tuning fork, fibrillating, just ready to go off in different areas.”
What’s maybe less known about Bratton is his musical career, specifically as a member of the Grass Roots, an American rock band known for its hit single, Let’s Live For Today. Prior to that success, he traveled and hitchhiked throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East, playing wherever the music took him and his traveling companions. Sometimes, that road lead down some rather unconventional paths.
“(We played this brothel in Beirut, and) we would sit there on this stage playing American folk songs in the front,” Bratton said. “We were like the beard, the musical beard. It was called the Kit Kat Cabaret, and literally we would see this white Rolls Royce come up, and these sheikhs from Kuwait, from Jordan, people with big bucks would come into this club, and they would walk through while we were performing. Then they’d go to the back. That’s where the brothel was. We got paid pretty well.”
But en route to becoming a performer, Bratton had a bit of an identity crisis. Born William Charles Schneider, his mother eventually married a man with the surname Ertmoed. After adopting the last name and expressing to his friends that he wanted to become a performer, they were quick to point out the issue.
“I told them my name was William Charles Schneider, but my stepdad had given me this name Ertmoed,” Bratton said. “My friends, of course, would put their finger down their throat and say, ‘Hey, Ertmoed.’ They said it was a horrible name.”
Bratton told them he wanted to be an entertainer. His friends asked if he meant actor or musician, and he said, “Both.”
“Well, you can’t be Chuck Ertmoed,” they said. Bratton agreed.
“Next thing I know, we got a bottle of ouzo. It’s a horrible licorice-tasting thing,” Bratton said. “I’m crawling out of bed in the morning and my tongue is like an angora sweater. There’s my liver drinking a cup of coffee, and it’s like, ‘Can I get back in the body now? Jesus.’”
When he woke up, he found a tablecloth with a bunch of names written and crossed out on it. Yet one remained, circled: Creed Bratton.
Now Bratton, after the success of The Office, is continuing his musical legacy with a new album, While the Young Punks Dance, due out next month. It not only includes his original song All the Faces, from the season finale of The Office, but also what he and others who have listened consider to be some of his best work.
On his upcoming tour, he will treat fans to a night of music and comedy. Unfortunately for fans of The Office, rumors of a reunion show are just that: rumors.
“So far, it’s hot air,” Bratton said. “I’ve talked to all the other cast members and no one has been approached. I believe it’s just … I don’t know why. Maybe keeping the trademark going? Maybe money is due on the trademark. I wouldn’t know — I’m Creed. I wouldn’t know this stuff.”
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