“You know who [Arizona lawman] Joe Arpaio is, right? Every time we go through there, it never fails... We won’t play Arizona anymore,” says Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez in response to a question about a song from their recent EP Fires of Comparison called “Kill Joe Arpaio.” “Every time when we go through [Arizona], we get pulled over by the police or Border Patrol. We get searched and hassled and treated like criminals, and our bass player, whose last name happens to be Gonzalez, gets extra hassled.”
Welchez and fellow Crocodile Charles Rowell are preparing to launch a U.S.-European tour in support of their second full-length, Sleep Forever. “We grew up on the road, really,” says Welchez. “Our old band, the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, toured a lot.” When in San Diego, he says they used to play the Ché Café.
Welchez says he misses his friends when touring. “I miss Rancho’s [Mexican restaurant in North Park] and Mama’s Lebanese Bakery next to Live Wire.”
But in recent interviews, the band has come off as being a tad San Diego–phobic. Is debut CD Summer of Hate targeted at their hometown? Welchez says no, not directly. “Growing up in Poway, I was surrounded by racists and homophobes and rednecks. It was like getting beat up by idiots in white [pickup] trucks and being called a punk-rock faggot every day of your life for 12 years. It’s a horrible place to grow up,” he says, “if you’re not a fuckin’ jock.”
But Poway has also played host to other pop success stories such as blink-182 and Unwritten Law. “It’s probably just a reaction to what growing up there is like,” he says, “but I can’t speak for any other bands. The only other friend I have from Poway is Gabe Serbian. He’s in the Locust.”
Crocodiles are an indie/fuzz-rock duo. Welchez sings and programs beats; Rowell plays guitar. Formed in 2008, Crocodiles have gotten attention from Spin, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork.
Welchez says it wasn’t easy to escape the gravitational pull of the hometown rock scene. “If you have any ambition,” he says, “you have to go out on the road and suffer. If you’re claiming music is your main thing and that it’s more than just a hobby, then you should have the balls to get out of here.”
Fires of Comparison is said to be without vocals because both Crocs contracted strep after sharing a pipe with a homeless dude in Presidio Park. I ask Welchez if that’s true. “Did you grow up in San Diego and drink and smoke weed in Presidio Park?” he asks. I plead the Fifth. “That’s what I’m gonna do as well.” He laughs.