Crocodylus are the most promising new band in Australian music – at least – they’ve managed to convince me of it. With an acidic drawl and sharp understanding of their sound, the garage/surf rock band have delivered a mindblowing set each and every time I have seen them live. After being privy to their support set at The Ruminaters most recent gig at The Lansdowne in Sydney, it was wildly apparent that this was a band I needed to get in touch with. As if our interview wasn’t enough I found myself at The Unicorn Hotel later that week to catch them just one more time.
In speaking with frontman Josh Williams I opened the conversation where my interest in the band first started, The Ruminaters Tour. Sharing a stage with a number of other bands including Rosa Maria, bassist and vocalist Josh Williams, guitarist Stephen Sacco and drummer Mikel Salvador hardly had a boring time whilst out on the road. In reflecting upon the past few weeks of performing Josh appeared stoked, “It was really fun, pretty deadly combo, Rosa Maria, The Ruminaters and us. We’re all pretty cheeky and got into trouble a little bit.”I pressed a bit further but it would appear that the sacred vow of “what goes on tour stays on tour” had to be applied as he laughed, “There was a broken table involved, I’ll leave it at that”. I asked Williams whether touring was for him – as it is for so many others – something that makes him tick more so than time in the studio. With a dark laugh he quipped, “It’s great besides all the money you lose. But that’s all part of it. If you’re going to make any money you have to take a few hits at the start.”
In saying this I found myself curious as to where Crocodylus were keen to take their music in coming months – if the goal is for the business of the band to do well – there must be some sort of timeline or a few milestones in mind. Enthusiastically Josh replied “Looking at the bands that play SXSW and they play like twelve shows a day or something. That would be sick to go over there. I think the most shows we’ve played in a row is four. But It doesn’t really hit you that hard to be honest. You’re hungover but you’re hungover every weekend…Even for that Ruminaters tour. I was drumming for that and I was playing two shows every night and I wasn’t really that tired from it.”
With a debut album in the works and a bunch of songs to choose from, my appetite for more of Crocodylus’ music is thankfully going to be satiated. Having just released a single titled My Love in addition to a few tracks last year, they’ve really hit 2018 running and this record is shaping up to be something pretty great. They’re about to embark on a short tour to showcase My Love and then it seems like the boys will be bunkering down to continue work on their first full-length release.
Their sound is gnarly and hyperactive. Made up of a wild combination of a surf pop soaked beats and thrashing garage rock guitar, their debut album is looking to be a continuum of this. “I think we are going to stick to the same kind of sound. That ’60s based sound of our new single is working well,” said Josh when asked about what audiences can expect. ”We haven’t actually recorded anything apart from that single…We’re going to sit down and demo and expand the songs so we aren’t wasting time.”
If you have been lucky enough to find yourself at a Crocodylus show you will leave knowing exactly what world-class showmanship looks like. Josh’s crazed and animalistic punk rock performative style is truly captivating – almost like pantomime – Crocodylus leaves nothing at the door. Unlike many of their peers of a similar garage sound – this isn’t drunken madness – rather a calculated and artistic expression of sound and fury. Josh was enthused when asked about his performances, responding, “I saw a video of us playing ages ago… and I was literally just standing there. I think it kicked in and I realised I had to do something that they will remember and stick it in their minds. I want them to be horrified by me.”
Based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, I was curious to hear what he thought of the music scene from that isolated pocket of Sydney. Bands the likes of Ocean Alley, Winston Surfshirt and The Ruminaters all call the beaches home and while there is undeniably a community of talented artists there, is the area actually delivering when it comes to making music a cultural and social priority? William’s sighed and his voice was soaked with disheartenment “It has huge potential but I don’t think it will ever happen to be honest. There aren’t really any places to play there. I think there’s the Steyne and they pay pretty well and other than that everywhere else is pretty gross.”
I went on to ask why he thought this was to which he responded, “I have no idea. It’s such an amazing part of Australia and it’s just not popping off in the way that it needs to. When we had La De Da Bar, we played the second last night before it was shut down and we had just started and we just thought ‘where do we go now?’ Apart from Mona Pub… we played a great show there with Hockey Dad. But it was so hot, it was about 40 degrees and people were being kicked out for taking their shirts off… Even though you couldn’t not take your shirt off.” As someone who also grew up on the Northern Beaches I sadly had to agree, each year it becomes more and more apparent that while the coast might produce some of the best bands out there, it’s a grit and determination to make it outside of the area that brings them to the big city.
Crocodylus is an absolute personal favourite of mine, natural and achingly talented, even in the midst of the sweaty fury of their live set, you can’t help but feel a warm and comforting glow in the knowledge that really really good music is very much alive and well.
17 May, The Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney
19 May, The Bearded Lady, Brisbane
26 May, The Tote, Melbourne