Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez on Pogo Sticks and Drug Jokes
The fuzz-rock frontman discusses his goofy faves
On their first two albums, 2009’s Summer of Hate and the following year’s Sleep Forever, Crocodiles established themselves as among the best of the many young bands to follow the Jesus and Mary Chain’s fuzzy trail. On the new Endless Flowers the stylish San Diegans have dialed up the pop melody and pulled the needle ever so slightly out of the red. Fresh off chatting with a German radio DJ — the band is currently on tour in Europe (they’ll be back Stateside on June 10) — frontman Brandon Welchez Welchez took a break to talk with SPIN about his favorite things, from bewitching roommates and Mexican strip clubs to the legendary, perhaps apocryphal, Finneas K. Beauregard.
Favorite TV Show:
The Kids in the Hall from Canada. When I was in middle school it was on Comedy Central in the afternoons in a block of like two or three hours. It was on before my parents got home from work so I would sit and watch it. It was so subversive, and the risqué element of it really appealed to me. I’m a kid, of course I want to see transvestites and jokes about drugs and stuff! What kid doesn’t? At that age, a person starts thinking about his place in the world and the bigger concepts and stuff, so at the time it was perfect to influence me. As far as its humor goes, it really had a lot to do with forming my idea of funny.
I like the obvious stuff, like Goodfellas and Stand By Me, but we watched Christiane F. in the tour van the other day. First movie I loved in a long time. It’s a German-made film.
Richard Brautigan is definitely one of them. I also really love this French author named Édouard Levé. He wrote two books, but I don’t think the poetry collection has been translated into English. I think he was writing from the late-’90s to the mid-2000s; he died in the 2000s. He was a photographer first but he wrote two books — one called Autoportrait and one called Suicide. I think he’s probably my most recent discovery literature-wise that I’ve really fallen in love with. Both [books] are really philosophical without being dry or heavy at all — they’re really entertaining. They’re a breeze to read but then after you’re left with these heavy concepts to think about.
Favorite Thing to Do in Berlin:
My favorite thing to do while I’ve been here is sit in the park near where we live. It’s called Görlitzer Park. It’s just a really rad park nearby. There’s still bits of the Berlin Wall in it. It’s just a cool place to go and chill out and watch all the freaks and weirdos and people running around there doing freaky weird stuff. It’s just a cool place to hang around.
My favorite city to play in is Paris. Favorite city to visit? Mexico City, probably. I like playing in Mexico as well so let’s just say that is my favorite city to visit and play. There’s just something about that city — it’s vibrant. Artistically and culturally there’s a lot happening right now. It’s also super cheap so it’s easy to enjoy yourself there for not a lot of money. We also have a circle of friends there, so they take us to wrestling matches and pyramids and strip clubs and all that stuff, so it’s pretty fun. You know, all the cultural highlights.
Favorite Place to Record:
It’s Berlin. San Diego is my hometown so it didn’t feel like anything special. Berlin however, is a vibrant, active, hustling, bustling city. We got here and we didn’t know very many people. And there was a really nice feeling of anonymity and like [being] the new boys on the block or whatever. There’s just a shitload to do in Berlin when you have some time off.
Favorite Song on the New Album:
“My Surfing Lucifer.” I think it’s pointing more in the direction of where we’re heading and it’s fun to do things with gospel-style backups and saxophones and pianos and things we haven’t used before. It’s not necessarily experimental music, but it’s experimental for us because it’s not something that we normally do. I think we did a decent job of writing a good pop song. I like that song a lot. With a pop song, it’s black and white. It’s either good or it’s bad. You can’t really bullshit a good pop song. It has to be a good song with a good hook. It’s catchy, or it’s not.
Lou Reed when he’s writing pop music. It’s perfect most of the time. There’s some songwriters behind the scenes like Holland-Dozier-Holland, the writing team for Motown. They wrote most of the Supremes hits and the Temptations hits and stuff like that. Obviously they’re geniuses of pop music. Chip Taylor also wrote a lot of hits — he wrote “Angel of the Morning” and a bunch of other stuff. I think he’s also kind of a genius of pop music. I mean he’s written a dozen hits but no one knows his name, you know? Those would be my favorites.
Mexican food. New York Mexican food, though, is terrible. Trying to compare New York to [Mexican food in San Diego] is such bullshit. It’s ridiculous, it makes my head spin to be honest with you. There’s amazing food in New York, but not amazing Mexican food.
Favorite Possibly Fictional Athlete:
I’m really a huge fan of the pogo stick. My favorite pogo stick artist is Finneas K. Beauregard. He’s a world champion. Finneas Konstantine Beauregard. He won the Pogo Stick World Championship in 1979. He’s like the Jackson Pollock of the pogo stick.