CROCODILES

20 Apr

CROCODILES

“I’m Only Sleeping (Forever)”

“Sleep Forever” – the second album from Crocodiles, and the aural antithesis of the term “sophomore slump” – could be a lot of things. It could be the catchiest album you’ve heard all year. It could be a hook-heavy meditation on love and death. It could be California Krautrock built for failing faith and formerly condemned concerns.

“Sleep Forever” could be a lot of things – and we’re relatively certain the principals of Crocodiles won’t be too arsed about whatever personal definition you wish to apply to their music. But whatever “Sleep Forever” actually is – and as excited as we are to see Crocodiles as a part of Austin Psych Fest 4 – we’re at least comfortable declaring what the album isn’t: it isn’t lazy, it isn’t reticent and it isn’t shallow. And though we’ve been wrong about this phrase before (see below), we think it’s appropriate when discussing Crocodiles: They’re awesome.

Crocodile rocker Brandon Welchez helps us out with what we’re hearing below.

Salvador Dali once said the following: “Don’t bother about being modern. Unfortunately, it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.” I find the Crocodiles sound is quite modern, or at least “Sleep Forever” feels very of the moment, for lack of a better term. Yet it seems most writers want to shackle your music to sounds made 30 and 40 years ago. Your thoughts? Do you think it’s just a matter of the lazy wish for easy categorization?

I agree with Dali’s quote. We just aim to make songs that are instantly gratifying to ourselves. It would be silly to sit around analyzing them or worrying that the echoes of our tastes are too loud. For example, when we were driven to school as children our parents listened to oldies radio. I’m not going to pretend that that didn’t have a huge bearing on the artist I became. I would never try to run away from the things I love. It’s impossible to recreate the music of your heroes, so we don’t even worry about it. Music writers tend to be hypocrites the majority of the time anyway. In the most worn out terms and cliche modes of writing, they attack others for their supposed lack of originality. Take that charlatan Joe Colly for instance. He is writing in the exact same language as everyone else. Maybe when he creates a whole new literary dynamic, as Rimbaud or Burroughs did, he can criticize bands for their originality. For the moment he should shut up and just realize he’s as influenced and unoriginal as anyone else.

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Despite (or perhaps in concert with) the cover image of “Sleep Forever” (and the Manson girls-referencing image of its full-length predecessor, “Summer of Hate”) and some of the content of the songs contained therein, we can’t help but pick up an underlying sense of optimism in Crocodiles music. Would you agree? Does it matter? Do you ever set out to write a sad song, as opposed to a happy song? Was Elton John correct when he said that “sad songs say so much”?

It’s definitely easier to write sad or angry songs. Those are such strong emotions that they feel like explosions in your mind. But love, as an emotion, is as strong. Both albums have their love songs and I would think that we do have an underlying sense of optimism. As an artist, you have to! You have to think: “I won’t always be poor. I won’t always be brushed aside. My art is going to continue to get better.” The artists that can’t retain that end up OD’ing or killing themselves. Optimism as self-preservation – our new mantra!

There are two songs in particular contained on “Sleep Forever” that we find stunning, even among the stunning nature of the album as a whole. First up is “Mirrors,” with its modern (there’s that word again!) update on the “Hallogallo” groove and echoing voices that seem to be saying, “They’re awesome!” What can you tell us about the origin of this song? What made you decide to make it the lead track on “Sleep Forever”?

The lyric is quite the opposite. It’s “they’re all scum.” The song was originally just written on acoustic guitar and we knew the words and melodies felt special to us, but we weren’t sure what to do with it. You should hear the demo – it sounds like psychedelic Misfits, haha. We made it the lead track because the Kraut influence on the build up just felt like an appropriate way to start an album (much like “Hallogallo” does!) and also because it’s quite good to start an album with a catchier song to reign the listener in.

The second song we’d like to know more about is “All My Hate and My Hexes Are for You”? I love the title – its instantly gripping – and I love the gentle, almost slow-burn approach to the anger held within the song. Was there one person in particular who inspired the song title?

There were a few people who inspired that song, and they know who they are. We enjoy putting our more spiteful lyrics to pretty music and our prettier lyrics to spiteful music.

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor I am attempting to start right now) that you will release a limited edition 10-inch, one-sided, pink-swirled vinyl record featuring a mash-up of “All My Hate and My Hexes Are for You” and the George Strait classic, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” available only at Austin Psych Fest 4?

This is actually an incredible idea. If someone wants to attempt this, be our guest. If its good, me and Dee Dee will put it out.

How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited about seeing?

I can’t remember the line up offhand (I am in a van), but off the top of my head, I’m very excited for Spectrum and Atlas Sound.

What bands have you been listening to lately? Push comes to shove, which song would you rather listen to for a full hour, if you had to: “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John or “Fightin’ At Da Club” by C-Roc?

I’ve been mainly listening to crooners – Walker Brothers, Chet Baker, Elvis’ love songs, stuff like that. Also, being in Europe has inspired me to revisit a lot of old Euro punk bands: the Naughty Kids, Ivy Green, Rude Kids, etc. And of course on some of the more brutal drives a soundtrack of Neu! “1” or Big Youth “Screaming Target” is the only thing that can calm the nerves.

What do you attempt to bring to a live performance, different than that which you’re able to communicate through recorded work? What is the biggest obstacle/annoyance in regard to live performance in your view? What was the most moving or exciting band performance you saw in 2010?

So many bands are just a total bore to watch. We just like to get drunk/high before we play and unleash on stage. After all, this is supposed to be cathartic and I don’t get my kicks staring at my toes. We were both teenage punks and so that element always inadvertently comes out. The most moving performance I’ve seen of late would definitely be Dirty Beaches. Alex is a true artist and plays with an intensity and purpose most bands can’t.

If you added another member to the band, would it still be Crocodiles? Or would it automatically by something else?

At the moment we’re still writing all the music but we do have 3 auxiliary players who feel like family. To be honest, if one of them left, it wouldn’t feel right.

What’s next for Crocodiles?

We have a very busy touring schedule and we’re writing and demoing in between. We’ll be recording our 3rd album in September. We’ll also have a collection of poems for our next tour. Great questions, by the way, much more enjoyable than most interviews!

Crocodiles

Original Crocodiles photo by Alexander Kacha

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