A naked man descends a staircase, bearing flowers on the front of their LP. It’s an act simultaneously sweet and somewhat sinister. Comparable, perhaps, to this latest offering from Crocodiles called Endless Flowers. Check out the conversation with Brandon about the San Diego duo after the drop.
Brandon Welchez is casual about the interpretation of the front cover, it’s simply his friend Jesus, in their bassist Marcos’ house. Women’s sexuality is forever commodified, but men's? He knew it would shock people, he tells me, so there it is.
It is this nonchalant rebellion that is most charming about Welchez. Though he sells books of the band's poetry at tour stops, and can quote Rimbaud and Baudelaire with ease, he displays no symptoms of self-importance, no intellectual hang ups. He has kept his youth, his sense of mischief and merriment, and so has his sound.
There is something very American about Crocodiles. True to their sunny San Diego roots, the record is reminiscent of a Californian summer. San Diego, Welchez tells me, is beautifully boring, “geographically, its paradise… it’s got a pretty big middle class, it’s a military town. That being said, it’s a republican city, so there’s a conservative undertone to everything”. A sense of this elegant wastefulness permeates their sound, a poem for the privileges and poisons of the middle class.
Like fellow San Diego ex-pats Wavves, they croon lyrics like “I was so bored”, and it somehow resonates. Far from being self-pitying, however, Endless Flowers is full of poppy empowerment. “The most significant event of my life was discovering The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, at 12 years old. It was the first thing that resonated with me, made me feel okay about things that I was made to feel bad about, like there’s nothing wrong with being a fucking skinny little shrimp, so is Joey Ramone and he is fucking cool.”
Welchez was a punk kid, met fellow Crocodile Charles Rowell at a local scene anti-fascist meeting, and together they were half of The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. Out of these ashes, Crocodiles were born. Brandon and Charles have, however, remained the eternal misfits. Though Plot To Blow Up the Eiffel Tower was classified as a hardcore band, it infused elements of punk with elements of jazz.
Crocodiles are equally lawless in their musical direction. “Neon Jesus” was name checked by No Age, and internet fame came knocking. But just as easily as they build you up, they shoot you down, with less than glittering reviews on Pitchfork cutting close to Welchez’ heart. Pitchfork has become an ironclad indie institution, yielding incredible influence whilst maintaining the right amount of credibility and cool. Though perhaps the tune would be sweeter were they closer to the LCD Soundsystem end of the spectrum of Pitchfork darlings, Welchez rejects the taste makers, urging us to sample the sounds ourselves. “There’s almost a disdain toward musicians from self appointed judges, it’s a trickle down thing, it shapes public opinion in an unhealthy way.”
In contrast to stifling San Diego, the band recorded and self produced the new record in Berlin. There they found “the most open minded city in the world.” “It’s weird, being in a big city and not seeing aggression anywhere.” But sometimes, a little aggression is a good thing. Infused with psychedelia and noise, punk meets pop in Endless Flowers and tastes like a Saturday night. A little profane, a little profound, Shock records releases the album on August the tenth. With hints of an Australian tour in early 2013, perhaps the AUreview’s next encounter will be a live one.
Here is a link to Crocodiles' Soundcloud, for your aural pleasure.