Music

Chomp and Circumstance

Crocodiles Escape Their Past

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"When I look back at the things we did that got us in so much hot water with people, they seem really silly and innocent." So explains Brandon Welchez, whose former band—San Diego's caustic art-punk troupe the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower—still casts a shadow long enough to engulf his current outfit, the more restrained Crocodiles.

For those unaware, the Plot was a jittery livewire of a band that took pleasure in chaotically dismantling the fragile nature of punk rock, and left behind a wake of controversy wherever they roamed. From the incorporation of skronk-jazz breakdowns peppering their early post-screamo assault, to their unflinchingly homoerotic turn (during which they became known for forcefully undressing dudes in the audience), to the faux-SS armbands that decorated their art-as-fascism final years—this was a band that peddled in confrontation, and for them, business was good. But eventually the Plot were swallowed whole by the very same altercations they once craved: rumors became facts, stories were cemented in legacy, and the band too often saw their live shows mired in violence, threats, and the agape jaws of confused onlookers. The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower was not a band built to last, but their legacy might be inescapable.

If there is hope of getting the elusive second chance that so few performers ever do, Crocodiles might have a shot. The deconstructed punk duo consists of Welchez and Charles Rowland (also of the Plot, and hardcore all-star band Some Girls) parlaying their newfound appreciation for melody into a kind of modern-day Suicide, complete with a minimalist rock sound saddled with doomed electronics. The result is soon-to-be-released full-length Summer of Hate, which might concede some of its volume to their previous musical endeavors, but no less venom (see "I Wanna Kill," "Neon Jesus," and "Soft Skull" for proof). While the tempo has yielded slightly over the years, it's the same unsteady core behind the sound. "Nothing has really changed in the way we behave, carry ourselves, and produce art," explains Welchez. "There will always be people that hate me, but I'm fine with that. I have enough friends."

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