The Croissants flake it off
The Sacramento trio gets (kind of) serious about punk, fun and life
Chris Sabatoni, guitarist and lead singer for Sacramento punk trio the Croissants, says he was surprised at how easy it was to get a spot opening for the SoCal band Smut Peddlers in Orange County last July. All Sabatoni did was email the band a link to his music and they said yes.
The only problem was that the large crowd didn’t really get the Sacramento band’s humor. The Croissants opened the set with one of its usual jokes, deliberately getting the city’s name wrong: “What’s up Sacramento? We’re the Croissants from Sacramento.”
Instead of laughs, they were greeted with hostility.
“It was this sea of people that were like, ’Fuck you motherfuckers,’” Sabatoni says now.
Still, the Croissants—who should likely get a better reception when they play the Hideaway Bar & Grill on Saturday—felt like it was one of their better shows performance-wise.
Goofy banter is a significant part of any Croissants show. In fact once, after opening for the Los Angeles band Joyce Manor, that band’s singer suggested they release a live record featuring nothing but their onstage conversations.
Moreover that “Sacramento” joke was never intended to upset the Orange County crowd— or anyone for that matter. The Croissants aren’t antagonistic, just kind of silly and self-depreciating. They play fun, catchy, supershort punk rock tunes that fall somewhere between nerdy skate punk and amped up ’90s indie-pop.
“I feel like we’re little kids. There’s no depth. I probably don’t know as much about punk as other punk bands,” Sabatoni says.
The group formed five years ago with the more outgoing Sabatoni’s personality contrasting with the quieter Hans White. The trio started with a different drummer, but switched things up two years ago, adding Heather Crocker of Nacho Business and the Riff Randals.
The group’s weird humor is a key component to its lo-fi music videos, a format that’s proven perfect for its minute-and-a-half-long tunes. “2 Killer,” for example, features a slow-motion shot of the band members falling out of their van, while “We’re in the Basement” includes shaky hand-held footage of the group playing in Sabatoni’s old childhood bedroom—with his real-life grandma making a cameo at the end and telling the band that they’re “good.”
“Mood Ring,” arguably the band’s best video, shows them rocking out in the garage as the camera does an obnoxious amount of zooming in and out during the song’s entire duration. The inspiration for that video, Sabatoni says, comes from the opening scene in Detroit Rock City, which features its characters playing along to Kiss in the basement as the camera is zooming in and out.
“Seeing that it was like, ’yeah, that’s what it means to be in a band,’” Sabatoni says.
Since Crocker joined, the trio’s refined its sound, Sabatoni adds. The music is still punk but now marries that with its love of the Beach Boys and twee pop. It’s goofy, without ever being corny, and still retains a serious, aggressive punk-rock edge.
Crocker’s entry into the band happened by chance. The musician just happened to be present during the band’s last show with its original drummer. That night she told White and Sabatoni she wanted to join the band.
“I was kind of drunk and I [asked her], ’How do I know you should be in the Croissants?’” Sabatoni says. “She stood up on the table and yelled at everyone, ’I want to be in the Croissants!’”
Now, Sabatoni says, Crocker’s style of fast, fun playing has helped them refine their sound and become more prolific: In just two years they’ve filmed all those videos, and written and released more songs than they did in their first three years of existence.
Better yet, White adds, her presence helped give them direction and purpose. “Before there was so much uncertainty that there was no effort, it was like ’we’re a band,’” White says. “Now … it’s ’we’re the Croissants.’ This is what we are.”