Published May 29, 2009
Something amazing happens when goth kids hang out on the beach. The peculiar mix of sunshine and bad moods makes for vigorously antisocial party music. The sounds on San Diego duo Crocodiles surly debut, Summer of Hate, might be the appropriate soundtrack for 3am sÃ©ances at the local skate park, but there is definitely something syrupy sweet hiding in the band’s black hearts. While many of their lo-fi forebears bury their feelings under layers of feedback, Crocodiles wear their feelings squarely on the sleeves of their black leather jackets.
Since they were teenagers, the twosome behind Crocodiles (26 year-old Charles Rowell and 27 year-old Brandon Welchez) spent years playing in various ill-fated Southern California bands and basically living out every rock and roll clichÃ© possible to young 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 top ramen twice a day â??cuz your 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, the two opted 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 60’s psych-rock and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Kill Surf City” are pretty unavoidable, Crocodiles makes 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. Everywhere on their debut full-length Summer of Hate echoey guitars rip and roar, fuzzed out vocals hover over the mix, and everything is accompanied by a drunken drum machine that sounds like it might have been buried in the sand since 1989. 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.”
Summer of Hate is out now. On June 18, and 20 they play at Union Pool and Mercury Lounge, respectively, in New York.