Monday, June 11, 2012

Bonus Q&A with the band Crocodiles

Here is more from my interview with Charles Rowell of Crocodiles...

Q: Are you anxious for get feedback on the new album from fans?
Yeah, it’s always surprising what other people’s reactions are and the feelings they have towards the music. It’s interesting what they come up with - especially journalists. They have some hilarious things to say about what they think is going through our heads while writing these songs. We’ve gotten some really absurd comparisons. When you have a new album, you learn a lot from what journalists ask you. We don’t really think about what we’re doing.  We don’t conceptualize it. Sometimes, journalists will say, ‘I think you guys were really heartbroken when you wrote this song.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know we had heart.’

Q: You once described the last album ‘Sleep Forever’ as gritty and raw. Would you say this album moves away from that?
Absolutely not. In a way, a lot of the things we like are amateur pop.

Q: What can you tell me about the recording process?
Every record, we’re experimenting and recreating; reconstructing what it is we want to sound like. So Berlin was a perfect place for it. Everything’s really cheap and pretty. There’s a sordid underground scene. We became friends with some of the main figureheads. We’re one big dark sleazy family here.

Q: So it was really conducive to creativity?
Absolutely. That’s one of the finer points about this city: you have no restrictions. A lot of artists find their way here because of the freedom. You can express yourself the furthest without being restricted.

Q: You and Brandon handled the production work this time around. How did that differ from the last time, working with James Ford (Klaxons, Simian Mobile Disco)?
We asked James if he wanted to do this one and the timing didn’t work out. He’s great. For that period, he was like another member of the band. He really helped us out...[no matter],  ‘Summer of Hate’ was basically self-produced in a garage.

Q: I hear chatter between some songs. Was that a result of the loose atmosphere in the studio?
Definitely. It’s not why we did it though. I’m sure there are people out there who based on our albums or videos would assume we’re dark people, that we don’t have a sense of humor...we definitely wanted to make it have more of a personality.

Q: What is the sound at the beginning of “You Are Forgiven”?
Brandon and I were writing that in the kitchen and had been working most of the day. It was beautiful out. The window was open and all the sudden, we started playing and the church bells were literally chiming in time with our strumming. We immediately freaked out and screamed at our engineer Duncan to get in there with a mic. He set them up and got everything placed right. We were like, ‘hurry up, we don’t know when these bells will end.’ He recorded it and we did the song right there live - the sound of the streets of Germany outside of our place.

Q: What music were you listening to that had an impact of the creative process?
When we did “Sleep Forever,” I was into dub reggae and Kraut rock. This one was really esoteric stuff like David Bowie’s “Station to Station,” Stiff Records, The Association, Harold Budd, Brian Eno, George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.” We were on tour for six months last year and the rest of the time we were in Berlin working.

Q: You put out a book of poetry. Were those poems originally earmarked for Crocodiles songs?
The beginning of the writing process of this record ushered in a period of creativity for Brandon, Marco and I. We just started frantically writing poetry, reciting it to each other on tour and our hotel rooms. Doing readings to each other every night. That was really in our heads. I think this is way more of a literary record as far as big influences. “Sunday” was a poem I wrote that I gave to Brandon...there wasn’t any specific poems you’d find in our book. A lot of stuff came from emotion. 

[The book is available on tour stops; should be for sale on the band's web site soon]

Q: I wanted to touch on some history. How did you like living in the San Diego area?
You’re not really of the outside world until you find your outlet. Once Brandon and I went on our first tour together, there was so much failure. We got out [the area] and we’re like, ‘fuck going to school. We want to travel and play music. Meet friends in other cities.’ All we had to do was press a record and try to find a band. So that was an outlet. San Diego wasn’t as important to us. It is home and it’s where our families are. That’s fine and it’s a great place. As musicians, you long to be challenged and for something that really scratches that. There’s only so much you can do in San Diego. You can play as much as you want; eventually you need to get out. We read, we know all about art history. We want to go out and see these places. I think that enriches our music. It has nothing to do with San Diego. You can only be so creative in one place. San Diego is conservative. It’s not a massive hub for art. It’s just a place to chill out when you’re older.

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