Fresh off recording their second album for Frenchkiss Records (and fourth album overall), Crocodiles will barnstorm through the Ohio Valley in June. I would tell you what kind of music they play, but front and former San Diegan Brandon Welchez doesn't like labels.
"I've never felt like we've been part of any scene, nor have we wanted to be," Welchez asserted by e-mail. "Journalists have a tendency to try and stuff bands into genres and we've certainly felt that. We're constantly reading that we are 'shoegaze' or 'noise pop' or 'UK-influenced'; things we've never thought about ourselves or tried to go for. We are only interested in total freedom. Once you accept a box you've been stuffed in, it's all over."
I respect that. But I also have a responsibility to you, faithful inter-readers. So I'll say this: I enjoy The Cure. I like The Ponys and Divine Fits. I dig a little punk, a little indie, a little reverb; Crocodiles fit in nicely on such a playlist.
When first I heard "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)," on last year's Endless Flowers (caught via a British DJ friend's podcast, mind), I began familiarizing myself with the rest of their catalogue. A year later, Crocodiles are touring in support of Crimes of Passion. The album is out this August; it was produced by The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner. Score.
"We had toured with The Raveonettes already. Sune was a friend and someone we were already comfortable with," Welchez relayed. "We had all of our music prepared and rehearsed. [Guitarist and songwriting partner] Charles [Rowell] and I sat in Sune's bedroom with him and just tracked the songs one by one. There was very little discussion or argument, as all the big sonic decisions had already been made with Sune during the demoing process. We got all the basic tracking done in four days. It was just the three of us with our nose to the grindstone in a small house in suburban LA."
With Welchez and Rowell living in New York and London, respectively, for the last two years, much of their pre-writing has been accomplished by undersea fiber optic cable.
"Typically one of us will send the other a skeleton of a song for the other to ruminate on and then we'll get together in London or New York for two weeks or a month and flesh out the ideas and demo them," he said. "Occasionally we'll write a song from the ground up together, but this happens less and less now. It's more typical for us to contribute to and finish each other's ideas."
Crocodiles previously worked with Brit indie producer James Ford on their 2010 Fat Possum release Sleep Forever (and thus garnered that 'UK-influenced' label Welchez disdains — Also sprach Journathustra); Welchez seems to have gained a sense of pragmatism from the experience.
"I supposed we learned to 'let go' a little bit and see out the producer's ideas. James had a few ideas that I really didn't like when they were explained, but once executed I realized that they improved the song tremendously. That showed me that I shouldn't be so precious about our music," Welchez volunteered. "If we've hired a producer, we need to remember it was because we thought they would contribute something valuable and we should at least see their ideas out. This time around I didn't argue with any of Sune's ideas until he at least was given the opportunity to fully express the idea. And I think the album is better for it."