Crocodiles on Anti-Immigration and Joe Arpaio: "We Wanted to Stand Against Hate"
There must be something about beach towns and garage rock.
Fans of local favorites the Jacuzzi Boys will be delighted to know they have a West Coast doppelganger in Crocodiles, who will be coming to town for a gig at Churchill's Pub. The San Diego band, like its Miami counterpart, has perfected the kind of laid-back fuzzy rock that seems to be recorded in an echo chamber, harkening back to crews like Question Mark & the Mysterians, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
But as casual as its sound might be, Crocodiles has a ferocious work ethic, recording five albums in just seven years of existence.
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"There's ten tracks and it's influenced by a lot of new flavors."
That's all singer and guitarist Brandon Welchez would reveal about the upcoming slab to Crossfade during a long drive for Crocodiles' current tour, which will not feature the new work.
"We know people come to hear the songs they know, but they'll get to hear the first single coming out in the fall."
The band, now performing with four members, began in 2008 with the duo of Welchez and Charles Rowell. Having seen one another around San Diego's punk scene, the two finally hit it off at what their website describes as an anti-fascism rally.
For his part, Welchez remembers it more as a "meeting against the right-wing backlash against immigrants," adding "San Diego, you know, is a border town, so we wanted to stand against hate.
"We were aware of each other before that, but that was the first time we really got to know each other," he says. "And years later, Charles was in a band and I was in a band. We both asked each other to join our bands, but my band was better. That band broke up and out of that came Crocodiles."
Making music together, though, did not extinguish their political roots.
In 2010, Welchez and Rowell gained some notoriety by putting out the song "Kill Joe Arpaio." It was three minutes and 39 seconds of instrumental rock 'n' roll, with the only vocals coming from samples of the hate-mongering Arizona sheriff's diatribes.
"We wanted to make a statement after hearing him on a talk show. The guy is such an asshole. Then he heard about the song and we had a back and forth with him on the Internet or in magazines. We never actually met him; he'd talk about us and we'd talk about him."
Though there was a certain thrill to be had in playing the provocateur, Crocodiles hasn't continued to make political statements its calling card. "We have a few songs that are political," Welchez says. "But generally we write about our personal lives."
The personal has certainly been a fruitful source of material. Crocodiles has already cranked out four catchy albums, most recently last year's Crimes of Passion. And now there's that semi-secret fifth slab. And beyond the music, the band has even put out several books of poetry, including Machine Gun Brothers.
For Welchez, though, this is not a sign of any special kind of industriousness because "it's fun to express yourself creatively. Writing for music you have to have structure according to the rhythm. Poetry you have a lot more freedom."
But do not worry about any member of Crocodiles pulling a Jim Morrison and threatening retirement in Paris to write verse. For one, Welchez and Rowell have already done the Europe thing, recording their third album Endless Flowers in Berlin. But more importantly, they're still on a mission to find the perfectly droning garage anthem. Or so they hope.
"We're going to be creative," the singer and guitarist says. "And hopefully, the music will keep coming."
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Crocodiles and Jaill. Presented by Strutter USA. With Jellyfish Brothers and Plastic Pinks. Saturday, August 23. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission costs $8. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.
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