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Crocodile

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Kevin Sims and Ted Thomas of Crocodile from 2019

MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

Ted Thomas: I’ve played since I was 13, starting a cover band, then when that band morphed into a new and better band, I switched from guitar to bass guitar as we got into classic rock & progressive rock with some originals.  In later cover bands we included both 70s classics and the then-new 80s hits.  Didn’t play much for a long time but decided to bet back into playing bass shortly before I met Kevin.

Kevin Sims: Started playing guitar at 13 and basically stayed in my room doing that for the next few years. Had a few bands but released my first album with a band called "THREE." We were a pretty damn good three-piece.  After that I had a band called "Edward Tears." We were a jam band, heavily influenced by The Grateful Dead and Phish and cannabis. (laughter) After that was Lies A Bloom. We released The Lies A Bloom Album. Check it out. Which brings up to date with Crocodile - my first  really proggy band. I blame (and most graciously thank) Gentle Giant.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Ted Thomas: I can’t imagine.  Perhaps I would view more films/movies. I like obscure and interesting films (which I keep a list of to watch eventually), but the list grows faster than I can watch them.

Kevin Sims: Making films...or cooking maybe...porn.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Ted Thomas: Well the music is Kevin’s, so he’s the one to provide a more relevant answer, but mine span the 70s prog-rock pioneers as well as late 70s early 80s electronic, post-punk and new wave, 90s shoegaze and trip-hop and early prog-rock revivalists, and 21st century post-rock and prog-rock.

Kevin Sims: Heavy proggy bands that were influential were Black Sabbath, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, ELP, Camel, Yes... But I also am very influenced by bands like The Cars, Talking Heads, Joni Mitchell, MGMT, Radiohead, Nick Cave, Brian Wilson. Lyrically speaking I would say Nick Cave influenced this new album more than anyone.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
Ted Thomas: That it can’t be pigeon-holed. To me that’s a compliment indicating it’s original without obvious influences (though there always are).

Kevin Sims: I’m way too humble to bust out a long list like that, and there’s just no time.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Kevin Sims: We’re gonna change our name for a year and write and record a pop album...yes, for real.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Ted Thomas: intelligently crafted rock (I can say that without being boastful since Kevin wrote the music!).

Kevin Sims: Hmmm. Gentle Giant and Steely Dan discussing Jerry Reed.

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Ted Thomas: It’s a two-sided coin – pros and cons. Personally, I would prefer if music fans were more interested in a band’s recorded music (especially albums as a whole), as that’s the whole point of it for me. But when I tell people I’m in an all-original band, no one ever asks if we have an album, yet they always ask when/where we play gigs.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Ted Thomas: I don’t think we have that issue! But if so, I don’t have a problem with it – as long as it’s not a bad performance!
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Kevin Sims: Billy Ray Cyrus. For obvious reasons.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Kevin Sims: Oh that’s easy: Bernard Purdy – drums, Stevie Wonder – synth bass, Robby Krieger – slide guitar, Ben Folds – piano and Morrissey on vocals.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Ted Thomas: I bought the new album by Ride recently. I liked their first album in the early 90s, but didn’t keep up with them until I heard their newer one from 2017 - which I liked very much, so bought their brand new one based on that. 
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Ted Thomas: The Claypool/Lennon Delirium (Les Claypool of Primus plus Sean Lennon, John Lennon’s son who also has another band, Ghost of a Sabertoothed Tiger).

Kevin Sims: I saw Donald Fagan and his great young band, The Nightflyers, on the very night that Walter Becker died.

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Ted Thomas: Jethro Tull 1975
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Ted Thomas: Not sure how “guilty” I feel about such things, but as two ends of the spectrum: I love the original early 70s Alice Cooper band (prior to Welcome to my Nightmare), and I also like the sultry, jazzy romanticism of Sade.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Ted Thomas: A band I was in in college had prog-rock aspirations and wanted to have a dramatic music entrance like Yes used to do with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, so I suggested we use King Crimson’s “Devil’s Triangle” which is all-instrumental, building up a rhythmic tension with Mellotron (actually based on an excerpt from Holst’s "Mars" piece from The Planets).  So we played the recording of "Devil’s Triangle" before we took the stage, and then we launched into some epic prog cover song.  Nothing went wrong, except for one thing … this was absolutely the wrong gig for this type of drama. It was a fraternity party so everyone was just staring at us like, WTF? Then when they couldn’t dance to the music we played, they left the room.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Ted Thomas: Ian Anderson, David Bowie, Frank Zappa.

Kevin Sims: Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Pryor and a Japanese girl that speaks broken English (let’s call her "Koharu").

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Ted Thomas: Anything Italian and lots of red wine.

Kevin Sims: The boys will be having steaks and Bourbon. She’s having something we can’t identify but it smells and looks really good.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Kevin Sims: We are super proud of this new album and we want people to hear it. If you’re into progressive rock or interesting songwriting or just good playing, we hope you’ll look us up!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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