The Way Forward: Creed Bratton is Putting Out Albums and Staying Positive and in Peak Condition

The musician and former star of The Office on his reading and exercise regime during lockdown, and his new record, Slightly Altered.

During the pandemic, I’ve had a lot more time to read, which is great because I love books. I’ve recently enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani and Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich. I also read A Tent by the Creek by Jean Werly, a memoir about being the wife of a U.S. Forest Service ranger near Yosemite, which I got because my mother and my father are featured in it. My father was a Forest Service ranger, in Yosemite – he rode a 1937 Harley Davison to check on the fire roads – and he and my mother lived through some hard times, too. The books I’m reading now are the amazing new translation of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and, to lighten up a bit, the sci-fi writer William Gibson’s new book, Agency. I’m a huge Gibson fan and have read all his stuff. I tend to read two to three books at a time. When I get a new book, I want to see what it’s like, so I’ll open it up and before I know it, I’m a couple of chapters in!

Besides reading, I have also written six new songs for my next record, though I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to go into the studio to record them. I can’t perform live now, of course. I had to cancel trips to Australia and New Zealand, and I was supposed to go back to Europe and Britain and Ireland, but I can’t do that either. So I’ve been doing what I always do: yoga, swimming, long hikes and meditation. I’m one of these people who has kept in shape all my life. I’m Mr. Biohack and take lots of supplements every day. As an entertainer, I think you owe it to your audience to be at your peak performance level. Only if you are healthy can you truly do the best show possible.

I live in the Studio City now, but before The Office I lived in a guesthouse up on Mulholland Drive, between Beverly Glen and Benedict Canyon. It was funky place, but I built a deck out back and it had an amazing view of the forests, the wilderness, and the homes down in Beverly Hills. On a clear day, I could see the ocean. Because of that view, I stayed there longer than I needed to. Ed Helms came to my place one time and told me, “Creed, you should be living in a really cool place!” I said, “I just love the view.” He said, “Yeah, man, but really…” When I was living in that house on Mulholland, I’d hike down a fire road that goes down into Studio City. Now that I live in Studio City, I park my car up in the hills and I hike back up the fire road to Mulholland Drive again. I walk as fast as I can to get my cardio up, but it’s weird doing that hike at the moment. There’s other hikers who have dogs and normally I’ll carry treats with me and stop to pet the dogs and chat with their owners for a while. But now, of course, you can’t do that; you have to keep your distance. I also can’t go see my granddaughters or visit my daughter in Napa, or visit my son. That’s the part that hurts me the most, the emotional separation from my loved ones.

In difficult times like these, I always go to music, which is my touchstone. Mozart calms me down, and so does the music of Bill Evans and Miles Davis. I love Miles’ Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue. He was a spiritual cat; even with all the cocaine and heroin he was doing, there’s still something so soulful about him. I just take a deep breath, let the air out and listen to his music. It calms me. Humpback whale songs put me in a blissful place, too. They’re wonderful.

I thought for a while that I should just wait until I could tour to release my new album, Slightly Altered; that way, when people heard the songs live, they’d want to go online and download the album. When people heard my songs “All the Faces” and “Spinnin’ N Reelin’” on The Office, they really took off. But I was talking to my music agent and he told me, “Look, people need new music to listen to at home right now,” and I thought, “Yes, that makes sense!” The closing track on the album, “Right Where I Belong,” is very healing and centering, and the others make you want to get up and dance. Some of my songs are very personal – people come to me after the shows and say they had insights when they heard them. There’s stuff in there that makes you go, “Ah, there’s a good lesson right there.” Somebody my age can share, whether consciously or unconsciously, what got me through the troubled times of life. And if I can do it, you can do it, too. Keep up the optimism!

Actor and musician Creed Bratton is best known for starring as a fictional version of himself on nine seasons of the award-winning, critically acclaimed NBC series The Office. For nearly eight years, fans worldwide grew to love him as Dunder Mifflin’s quality assurance director who unapologetically forgets the names of his own co-workers, and says bizarre confusing statements on a regular basis. Bratton is also an established musician with a career in music that spans nearly five decades, and just release his ninth full-length album, Slightly Altered, featuring 10 brand new tracks. He was previously a member of the American rock group The Grass Roots, playing lead guitar with the group on their first four albums – three of which charted and sold millions of records across the globe. Creed parted ways with the band in 1970, but has released a handful of solo albums over the years. His additional television credits for Creed include Hulu’s Into the Dark, Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and Amazon’s Upload, while he has acted in films such as Mask, The Sister Brothers and Terri. He currently resides in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andrew Hreha.)