Interview with Crocodiles
Californian duo Crocodiles emerged in 2008 out of the remnants of Some Girls and The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower respectively. Formed by the singer/songwriting/play-everything duo of Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell, they first came to the attention of UK audiences two years ago thanks to a handful of incendiary live shows in support of debut long player 'Summer Of Hate'. Combining the noise aesthetics of the early Jesus & Mary Chain or A Place To Bury Strangers with straight-forward no-nonsense rock and roll The Ramones would have been proud of, they've transcended several genres without really attaching themselves to any particular one.
Last year's James Ford produced follow-up album 'Sleep Forever' displayed a deeper, more wholesome sound than its predecessor, whereby electronics and samples also reared their heads in small dispatches. Listening to songs like 'Girl In Black', 'Billy Speed' or the title track itself, its clear they're developing at a rate of knots, which makes us all the more excited for what's in store next.
This summer has seen them trawling the European festival circuit, and it was just after their recent show at Latitude where Contactmusic finally managed to track down Brandon Welchez. Here's what he had to say.
You've been playing a lot of festivals all over Europe this summer. Which has been your favourite one so far and are there any others that you are particularly looking forward to?
Brandon: Our favourite one we've played so far this summer has probably been Optimus Alive in Portugal. It was a beautiful day and we had a long time to relax and enjoy ourselves. Also, I got choked out by Iggy Pop's tour manager, so that was cool.
How does the constant travelling affect you? It must be quite exhausting being on the road all the time, not to mention being away from home?
Brandon: Yes, it can be a real ball-ache but it beats having to work a regular job. We try not to forget how fortunate we are that we get to travel and pay our bills off of partying and playing shows but we are aware that it is probably detrimental to our health. It can also get pretty hard not seeing our loved ones ever. It's particularly hard to maintain a healthy romantic relationship, but it all works out in the end. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I hear you're currently based in Berlin? How did this come about and is this a permanent arrangement for the foreseeable future?
Brandon: I would love to live here. It's by far the best city in Europe. However, we are here because we had a European tour that had two legs, one in June/July and the next part starts in mid-August. So basically, one big European tour with almost a month off in the middle. Financially, it didn't make any sense to fly back to America, plus this gave Charles and I a chance to teach the band our new material and rehearse it before we record again.
Your most recent album 'Sleep Forever' came out last year to favourable reviews. Looking back, are you satisfied with the record and is there anything you'd change or do differently in hindsight?
Brandon: I'm still happy with the record, but I know for sure that we can make something better. We had a lot of half-completed ideas when we went in to record that record, so there was a lot of creative work and catching up that we had to do under pressure. That being said, there are moments, whole songs, on the record that are above and beyond what I thought we were capable of. I'm still very proud of it.
James Ford produced the record. What did he bring to the sessions and would you consider working with him again?
Brandon: James brought a lot of technical know-how. He was very good at translating our thoughts and ideas. Charles and I don't know much about the technical end of recording; we just have sounds in our head that we explain in obtuse ways. James really got us - if we wanted something to sound "cloudy" or "violent", he would understand what we were after. I would totally work with him again.
You've been compared to bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Ramones. Do you see yourselves as being a mixture of the two or maybe somewhere in between, and do you find such comparisons or genre compartmentalisation as being nothing more than lazy journalism?
Brandon: The Ramones are a much bigger influence than JAMC. 'I Wanna Kill' is the only song of ours that sounds directly influenced by JAMC, but because it was such a talking point in reviews of our first album, it has followed us around as a defining point. I don't mind, they are a great band, but yes, when I read it in press on us it does make me think the journalist was either lazy or doesn't know much about music.
The last time I saw you play would be in Nottingham in 2010 where you played as a five-piece. Is this now the permanent line-up and will the other touring/live members contribute anything in terms of songwriting in the future?
Brandon: I can't quite remember if we had our current drummer yet or if it was another temporary one the last time we played Nottingham. The people we are playing with are permanent. We are going to record our next album with them, which will be the first time we've recorded where it's been more than just the two of us. We still write all the music, as we started this band as a vehicle for our songwriting, but who knows? We don't make rules about anything.
Are plans underway for album number three and are there any songs ready at this moment in time?
Brandon: Yes! The album is about 80% written and rehearsed and we'll be recording it here in Berlin in September. We are completely in new album mode right now. We practice all day and are all living together in a flat here, drinking, smoking weed and talking about the new songs. By the time we leave in 2 weeks, the album should be completely ready to be recorded.
Also, is there a projected release date for any new material/album and will there be a tour to coincide?
Brandon: We are always on tour, whether we have something to promote or not. If we don't tour, we don't eat. The album will be released sometime next year. I'm guessing February or March.?
Finally, you both have other projects outside of Crocodiles. Will either of these grow as time goes on and do you see them taking priority, or will Crocodiles always be your number one concern?
Brandon: Crocodiles will always be our main concern. We don't live in the same cities so when we're off tour of course we play music with other people, namely our old ladies. I don't see myself having a serious side project anytime soon, but recording with other people is fun. Crocodiles is our band though, we're able to get all of our rocks off with this project.