Pop & Hiss

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Crocodiles prepare to inject more pop in their psychedelic, post-punk sound

January 28, 2011 | 10:59 am


For a surging, psychedelic band such as the Crocodiles, being provocative is a surefire ticket to underground popularity. But these days, it’s not all about raucous stage shows and sonic threats to Sheriff Joe Arpaio for the San Diego duo. Instead, members Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell are doing something they consider equally risqué: embracing pop music.

“From a lyrical perspective we just try to be honest with whatever is going on in our lives,” Welchez said. “The second record is somewhat death-obsessed. But the further along we go, the less shy we are about showing the pop side of our sound.”

But don’t expect lighthearted songs to translate into a bubble gum aesthetic during their show at the Echo on Friday. Punk-rock attitude and spastic stage antics -- a trademark that dates back to their previous bands such as the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower -- remain a viable reason to see these guys live.

Their sophomore effort, “Sleep Forever,” released in September on Fat Possum, comes flush with bleeding synth textures, straight-ahead beats and dark songwriting. And though they seem to be benefiting from critics highlighting them for their adherence to post-punk influences such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division, Welchez said the band’s next record will try to buck that trend a bit. 

“We’re just trying to become more fearless in our songwriting,” Welchez said.

As they wrap up their U.S. dates in Southern California and head out on an extensive European tour, the band -- touring as a five-piece with bass, drums and keyboards -- appears to be elevating its profile in the wake of “Sleep Forever.” But even as the accomplished duo delves deeper into a genre designed to appeal to the masses, Crocodiles’ songwriting has been a purely selfish affair.

“We just try to make music that we wanna hear,” said Welchez, who admits he and Rowell didn’t always trust their musical instincts and tastes in the past. “There’s no point wasting your time and writing for other people.”

-- Nate Jackson

Crocodiles perform with Tamaryn and Heavy Hawaii at the Echo, Friday, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 413-8200; Attheecho.com. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 8:30 p.m. 18 and older

Photo: Crocodiles. Credit: Alexander Kacha