Interview: Crocodiles

Earlier this summer I spoke with the Crocodiles as they were releasing their LP, “Endless Flowers.” We spoke about the state of Rock & Roll, DIY publishing and James Franco.

Your new LP, “Endless Flower,” has a lot of Rock & Roll energy to it, particularly with the second track, “Sunday.” A Rock & Roll energy amidst the atmospherics. A lot of current trends in music forsake that energy it seems and opt for overtly arty collage.
Brandon Welchez: I think the fact that we’ve been labeled a neo-shoegaze band is not correct. We’re far more interested in ’70s punk, ’60s garage rock and stuff like that. This music is a lot more urgent. Hopefully that comes through in what we do.
Charles Rowell: That sense of urgency could be attributable to the fact that five people are playing on these songs, as opposed to just Brandon and I. We could never really do a live record before. It would be me on drums and him on bass, then we’d have to overdub this and that. Whereas this time we’re able to go play and everyone is in the recording studio.

Did you find that with five full members the sound began to shift immediately?
Charles: There’s a certain amount of mapping that goes into recording with two or three members. With this, it was a lot of rehearsing, getting it tight. There was a very natural energy with five members.

How did self-producing this album feel?
Brandon: Well, we self-produced all the b-sides from the last album and self-produced our first album. This was our first time self-producing in a fully-equipped studio. I loved it. I thought it was great. If we hadn’t been prepared it would have been stressful. Everything was ready  to go, though. It was easy direct.

With some of your ’60s and ’70s influences, did you opt for a more analogue approach or aesthetic, or wasn’t that really on your minds?
Brandon: We did a mix of both. We used tape to do a lot of atmospheric stuff. The mixing board was from the ’60s. That shit is all really expensive, so you’ve got to mix it up these days. At the end of the day, those qualities will come through even if you’re recording digitally.

What sort of themes emerged on the new album?
Charles: Flowers.
Brandon: Certain words or imagery emerge but it’s never conscious.
Charles: I think our lexicon changes. I think there are a lot of universal themes that we write about, but it comes out in different ways on different albums. The way that we write, the words we use, always change. We’re always influencing each other.
Brandon: We also write poetry. I find that with my poetry I’ll use a word like “absolutely” a number of times over the course of a week, for example, then wonder why that word is attractive to me. This makes its way into the music.

I was really intrigued by and quite amused with the concept of your album teaser, which took the form of an infomercial. How did that idea come into being?
Brandon: You’re always asked to do promotional things for albums but they’re never clever. We just wanted to do something more interesting. The infomercial just seemed like a cool way of going about it.
Charles: The band is like an art project. I’d like us to be more effective at seeking out ways to bring stuff to the table as far as extra videos, more personality. All we do is be creative, write songs and tour—there’s no reason we can’t sit around and think of things to do with our band.

With that in mind, are you guys at all interested in a sort of total multimedia experience for your live shows? Something beyond mere music or some projected footage?
Brandon: Totally. We try to maintain the band as an art project, but it’s hard because it’s overwhelmingly a musical project. When we can, we try to explore other forms to create a seamlessness, a cohesion.
Charles: Every few months we publish some DIY books of poetry and bring them to shows. When you’re in a rock band, it’s easy to rest on the fact that all you have to do is play a live show, look cool, and that’s your job. But, I think it’s so much more interesting when bands take it upon themselves to expand upon the borders of the rock band. I think it’s more interesting.

This is as it should be. However, there are some critics and fans out there who see a band’s use of other media as calculating, in the way that the public sees James Franco, for instance. 
Charles: I have no problem with that.
Brandon: Well, I think James Franco’s hot.
Brandon: I haven’t read his stuff, but he’s a good actor. Whether it’s good or bad, he should be allowed to be as expressive as he desires. At the end of the day, they’re still just an artist.
Charles: He should be allowed to do what he wants.
Brandon: Anything is free to be explored.

Early September Crocodiles head out on a European tour, and return late September for a US tour. Check out the dates below.

Crocodiles European Tour Dates:
9/1   London – 1234 Festival
9/6   Brussels – Botanique @Witloof Bar
9/8   Berlin – Berlin Festival
9/10 Vienna – Chelsea
9/11  Munich – Feierwerk
9/12  Cologne – Gebauede 9
9/14  Tilburg – Incubate Festival
9/15  Amiens – La Lune des Pirates
9/16  Clermont Ferrand – La Cooperative De Mai
9/20 Frankfurt – Zoom
9/21  Hamburg – Reeperbahnfestival

Crocodiles US Tour Dates:

Crocodiles — 2012 North American Tour Dates
9/28 New York – Bowery Ballrom
9/29 Washington D.C. – Black Cat
10/1 Allston, MA – Great Scott
10/2 Montreal – Divan Orange
10/3 Toronto – Phoenix Concert Theater*
10/4 Ferndale, MI – Magic Bag
10/5 Chicago – Suberranean
10/6 Grinnell, IA – Gardner Lounge (Grinnell College)
10/7 Kansas City – The Riot Room
10/8 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room
10/11 Denver – Bluebird Theater
10/12 Salt Lake City – Kilby Court
10/13 Boise, ID – The Venue
10/15 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
10/16 Seattle – The Crocodile**
10/17 Portland – Doug Fir Lounge**
10/18 San Francisco – Slim’s**
10/19 Pomona, CA – The Glass House**
10/20 Los Angeles – The Echo**
10/23 San Diego – Casbah
10/24 Tucson – Plush
10/26 Austin – Red 7
10/27 Dallas – Club Dada
10/28 Houston – Fitzgerald’s: Downstairs
* supporting Afghan Whigs
** The Soft Pack co-headline