BRANDON WELCHEZ and CHARLES ROWELL have been working and making music with each other for twelve years now. Together as San Diego band CROCODILES, the pair have just released their atmospheric third studio album 'Endless Flowers', which was written and recorded in Berlin.
Coup De Main talked to Welchez about the expansion of Crocodiles into a five-piece - with the addition of Robin Eisenberg on keyboard, bassist Marco Gonzalez and drummer Anna Schulte - as well as his new band with wife Kristin Gundred [a.k.a. Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls] and his favourite sixties girl-bands.
COUP DE MAIN: Congratulations on your new album, 'Endless Flowers', what does the title mean to you personally?
CROCODILES - BRANDON WELCHEZ: Flowers can represent so many different things and that flexibility is very intriguing to me artistically. Flowers for a wedding, flowers for a funeral, etc. It can also represent a thought or idea blossoming. I also dig the sexual connotation. The title represents all those things to me personally. It covers all of the lyrics in one way or another on the album.
CDM: What were your main influences/inspirations while writing new songs for your 'Endless Flowers' album?
BRANDON: Velvet Underground is an ever-present influence in our song writing, though I'd say we were approaching it more from a 'Loaded' perspective than 'White Light/White Heat'. We were also listening to loads of 60s pop, from The Beatles to [The] Left Banke to bubblegum stuff like Ohio Express and The Archies, and also a lot of Sonic Youth and some German stuff, specifically La Düsseldorf. We were reading a lot of poetry too, from [Richard] Brautigan to [Anne] Sexton to [Charles] Baudelaire and beyond, so I'm sure that had some bearing on the lyrics.
CDM: Do you feel like Helmut Katzenflugen wrote an accurate account of Crocodiles' time spent in Berlin recording the 'Endless Flowers' album? [Click HERE to read the tale of 'RE: CROCODILES, Endless Flowers'].
BRANDON: Yes, Helmut hit the nail on the head!
CDM: Which song on the new album took you the longest to write?
BRANDON: I guess 'Bubblegum Trash' in a roundabout way. I wrote the chord progression and melody in an ex-girlfriend's kitchen about seven years ago but I never had lyrics for it that I thought did it justice. The lyrics came quickly though after reading a particularly stupid review of our second album, albeit years after the tune was written. Of course the whole thing didn't come together fully until Charles added his guitar and bass parts and we did the final arrangement. That man is the Jackson Pollock of guitar playing.
CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song on the new album?
BRANDON: Probably 'My Surfing Lucifer', 'Bubblegum Trash' or 'Dark Alleys'.
CDM: What do you feel are the main points of difference between your 2010 album 'Sleep Forever' and your new album, 'Endless Flowers'?
BRANDON: Our new record has much more of a live band feeling to it than our previous work. I also think there is a bit more humour in our new album. We touch on similar themes but we handle it slightly different. And although I think all of our work has been pop music, people seem to think this new album is considerably more poppy than 'Sleep Forever'.
CDM: Is there a song on 'Endless Flowers' that you feel best represents where Crocodiles is now at musically / progressing towards?
BRANDON: Yes, 'My Surfing Lucifer' for sure.
CDM: Are you enjoying the expansion of the band into a five-piece? Do you foresee it being long-term/permanent?
BRANDON: I don't see us ever going back to a two-piece for live shows unless it was a one-off acoustic thing or something. We'll probably fluctuate the set-up for recording from time to time but we love the people we're playing with and enjoy playing live and recording with them.
CDM: In your personal opinion, what's the difference between a good song, and a great song?
BRANDON: If we're talking pop music, a great song should pass the acoustic guitar test. It should be able to be stripped down to its rawest elements, the chords, melody and lyrics, without losing anything.
CDM: What are your top five favourite things in the whole wide world?
BRANDON: Music, books, food, intoxication and sex.
CDM: You seem to be quite a fan of sixties girl-bands - who are your favourites apart from The Supremes and The Ronettes?
BRANDON: The Supremes are my favourite girl group but a lot of that is down to Holland-Dozier-Holland, who are in my top five songwriters. I love most of the obvious stuff, The Crystals, The Marvelettes, The Angels etc. but I also love a lot of no-hit obscurities, the kind of stuff you find on 'Girls In The Garage' compilations.
CDM: What can you tell me about yourself and Dee Dee's new band?
BRANDON: It's called Haunted Hearts. We just recorded our first 7" and our label Zoo Music will be releasing it. It sounds like a 50/50 split between our bands to be honest. We're aiming to record an LP this winter, time permitting.
CDM: What's your favourite Dum Dum Girls song and why?
BRANDON: I really love 'Rest Of Our Lives' from her first album, 'He Gets Me High' and 'In My Head' off of her last album.
CDM: Have you ever listened to any songs by the New Zealand band, The Crocodiles?
BRANDON: To be honest, I haven't. We weren't aware of them when we started.
CDM: When can your New Zealand fans expect Crocodiles to return to visit us?
BRANDON: As soon as possible. We really want to go back, it's just such an expensive trip. We'll be back as soon as we can! XO Brandon.
Watch the 'Endless Flowers' music video below...