Crocodiles Come Clean About ‘Crimes of Passion,’ Offer Track-By-Track Breakdown of New Album
When last we heard from the Crocodiles, it was 2012, and they’d just returned from a summer in Berlin, where they supposedly served as house band at the seedy Ficken nightclub and provided a way-gone rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack for the joint’s even-further-gone regulars.
It’s all a bit dubious, but nevertheless, our heroes emerged from Germany with ‘Endless Flowers,’ an excellent album of fuzzy bubblegum psych-rock, and later this month, they return with the follow-up, their fourth long-player, ‘Crimes of Passion.’
Due out Aug. 20 on Frenchkiss, ‘Crimes’ was committed to tape by producer Sune Rose Wagner, he of fellow distortion lovers the Raveonettes. In this exclusive track-by-track breakdown, Crocodiles leaders Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell explain the inspiration behind their latest payload of sugar-enriched noise-bombs.
The San Diego-bred duo discuss everything from Slayer and Ronnie Specter to America’s obsession with violence. Plus, Charles reveals which new song made him, well, make.
‘I Like It In the Dark’
BW: This was our attempt at neon-eyed soul. We had a few guests on this song; Gregg Foreman from Cat Power played piano on this one. Afrodyte the African Goddess Of Love sang backups. It was quite hard to find someone capable of singing gospel who was also willing to sing these lyrics. The message we’d like the listener to take away with them from this song is “no gods, no masters.”
‘Marquis De Sade’
BW: Originally this song had a swing to the beat, but Sune convinced us to go in a more straight direction. Unfortunately for him, we have trouble doing anything straight! Anyways, I wrote this to be a masochistic song with Stax Records-type instrumentation. It turned into something more like the Ohio Express or Archies when we demoed it. Once Sune got his greedy paws on it, the track got more simple, like later era Roxy Music with a country twinge and some very abusive sax and guitar soloing.
BW: This song came together in a weird way. The main insect riff was something Charlie had written years before for an old band that never happened. It had always stayed in my mind, so I wrote a chord progression around it. In May 2012, Charlie and I spent a week in Mexico City. I showed him the verse chords I had written, and together we wrote a melody. We put in some place holder lyrics about the cockroaches we would come in contact with on Avenida Obregon. A few months later I wrote the final lyrics about a human cockroach I had the misfortune of encountering.
‘Heavy Metal Clouds’
BW: What I had in mind for this song originally was something as desperate and chilling as ‘Isolation’ from John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band. The song itself once recorded had a much more Beatles vibe to it. We deliberately referenced ‘Savoy Truffle’ for those dirty horns. The solo is a tongue ‘n’ cheek homage to heavy metal guitar solos like Slayer in their early daze. Brandon’s brother came over to the studio to play the horns. He has featured on almost every album Brandon and I have ever recorded.
BW: We wrote this in Charlie’s living room in London. We had just found out that a former business associate had bankrupted us.
CR: I mentioned the song title to Brandon, and it clicked immediately, so we started writing the song and pretty much finished it there and then, except for the bridge, “I wanna make you cry,” which is Brandon at his most brilliant. When I heard that I poo’d a little bit. Fortunately, I was sitting on the toilet when I first heard it. Once the song title was decided the main riff popped into my head. It just sounded like a guitar crying. Doi.
‘She Splits Me Up’
BW: This is another one that came together in bits and pieces. We worked on it in Mexico City, Hamburg and New York. I’d say overall it’s a Hamburg song, though, if you get my drift.
CR: I had the chord progression for ages, and we jammed on it during sound checks throughout 2011. Once I had some time at home, I wrote the main riff over top of it and sent it to Brandon. He came back with the rest; a very beautiful melody, some sweet flourishes and another stunning middle eight. I think of this one as something that could have fit well on the Rolling Stone’s ‘Flowers’ album.
‘Me and My Machine Gun’
BW: America is a violent society, and I think that constantly reading about the newest disaster must have an effect on a person’s psychic landscape. This is an attempt to capture some of that ill will in song I guess.
‘Gimme Some Annihilation’
BW: Us in Dr. Feelbad mode. This was one of the first songs we wrote for this album, the other being ‘Marquis De Sade.’
BW: Another one that started as a riff. The main guitar riff was something Charlie had made for an old band of ours that again went unused. I wrote a skeleton of the song around his riff, and then he and I fleshed it out together. This is probably the song that Sune altered the most as producer. The chorus was originally just an outro. Sune took it from a weird little song to a big pop thing. An interviewer recently told me the lyrics were funny, which was not the intention at all.
‘Un Chant D’Amour’
BW: There are only a few Crocodiles songs that utilize alternative guitar tunings; this is another one. It’s a pretty standard ballad. I think I was dreaming about a Ronnie Spector vocal for this one. I could have probably added eighteen more guitar parts to this song. It’s pretty lush as is. We’ve gotten some varied descriptions from our friends about this one, from “Thai massage music” to “David Lynch soundtrack music.” We’ll take both of those. Egala!