Something amazing happens when goth kids hang out at the beach. The peculiar mix of sunshine and bad moods makes for vigorously antisocial party music. The sounds on the San Diego duo Crocodiles’ surly debut, Summer of Hate, out now on Fat Possum Records, might be the appropriate soundtrack for 3 a.m. séances at the local skate park, but there is definitely something syrupy-sweet hiding in the band’s black hearts.
Since they were teenagers, the twosome behind Crocodiles—26-year-old Charles Rowell and 27-year-old Brandon Welchez—have played in various ill-fated Southern California bands, living out every rock cliché expected of hopeful no-name musicians depending on the power of electric guitars to rescue them from suburbia. “There is really nothing that can compare to playing in a room the size of your bedroom to about 40 kids who are drenched in sweat and going crazy,” says Welchez. “That part of making music is pretty romantic, but the rest of it-eating ramen twice a day because you’re broke, your van breaking down in Bloomington, Indiana, and being stuck there for a week, having your tires slashed by rednecks-all that shit gets old really quick.”
In early 2008, after seeing yet another of their bands go nowhere fast, Rowell and Welchez decided to strike out on their own as Crocodiles. Rather than recruit outside musicians, the two opted to remain a duo, with Rowell manning a guitar and a sampler, and Welchez on guitar and vocals. “We wanted to see how much racket two people with a couple of amps could make,” says Welchez. While comparisons to ’60s psych-rock and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s early anthem “Kill Surf City” are pretty unavoidable, Crocodiles make a melodic racket all their own. “I Wanna Kill” might be the most legitimately uplifting teen-malaise jam made by non-teenagers since the JAMC’s “Never Understand” came out in 1985. All over the Summer of Hate album echoey guitars rip and roar, fuzzed-out vocals hover over the mix, and it’s all accompanied by a drunken drum machine that sounds like it’s been buried in the sand since 1989. Basically, it’s the sound of two best friends ripping things up together and, in short, it sounds fucking awesome.
“Brandon and I have always had an us-against-the-world kind of mentality anyway,” says Rowell. “So it makes sense that we ended up doing this on our own. We finally decided to focus our energies on writing good songs instead of just getting wasted in the van all day. Now we can actually write the songs we’ve always wanted to hear.