If the adage "families who play together, stay together" is true, then it is also the first reason why the future looks bright for the Oklahoma City-based band Crocodile.
Like Yo La Tengo, Mates of State and a handful of other married (and divorced) indie rockers, Crocodile is cultivating a unique pop sound that comes from the special collaboration that emerges from keeping it all in the family.
Formed only a few years ago, the three-piece features husband-and-wife duo Raechel and Derek Brown sharing duties on guitars, synthesizers and vocals, with Derek's cousin Dusty Wayne Nelson behind the drums.
"I think that there can definitely be moments of tension, but you are going to have that with anyone that you are super-close to, family or not," Raechel said. "We are doing what we love with our best friends and that is what is so much fun about this."
Agreed Nelson, "There are times when tension is noticeable, but that is normal in all relationships. You never want to hurt the feelings of people you love, and that makes it kind of interesting when you have to be brutally honest about a song that's on the cutting block."
Minor troubles are certain to arise from any creative effort built around romantic and familiar relationships, but Crocodile's effervescent, synth-heavy pop reveals a band that is clearly focused on good times. Although the group jokingly refers to its dance-friendly music as "synth-core," it is a description that seems all the more accurate, based on live shows and recent recordings.
"We have been throwing around the term 'synth-core' as a joke lately because old keyboards tend to dominate our stage and sound for the most part," Raechal said. "The songs are very thought-out, but still simple enough to make them danceable."
Earlier this year, the trio released its debut EP, "The Great Depression" " a six-song collection that showcases the band's growth both in terms of sound and songwriting process.
"In the beginning, it was more about me writing my songs and Derek writing his songs individually," Raechal explained. "When we started recording 'The Great Depression,' we had not been a band for very long at all and we hadn't played any of those songs live. For example, I had written 'August Is Over' as a slower song, and it ended up being a lot more upbeat and something completely different than my first vision."
Following a performance at last month's Dfest Music Festival in Tulsa, Crocodile is returning Friday for a show closer to home, at the Opolis in Norman.
"It's hard to make electronic music sincere live, but I think it's difficult to find a dull moment in our live show between the mix of loud acoustic drums, analogue synths, electric guitar and two strong vocalists," Nelson said. "We like to offer people good music and not just theatrics."
In addition to playing live, Crocodile is in the process of revamping its recording studio and concentrating on the process of writing and demoing a full-length release.
"Lately, I've been trying to spend as much free time as possible working on new music and, for the most part, it makes me crazy," Derek said. "But when we're recording, that makes me crazy. And when we're practicing to go play shows, that makes me crazy, too. We just want things to be right and convey what we're trying to get across." "Lucas Ross