24 March, 2015

An Interview with... The Garden

The Garden are one of the most exciting young bands right now, live and recorded. From Orange County in California, the twins have built a name for themselves at home and across the pond but still show no signs of slowing down. Whilst on tour with Warpaint, the duo are playing a one of show at London's prestigious 100 Club where a sold out show get the chance to go wild to The Garden's unique style and stage performance.

Photo by Nathan McLaren-Stewart

Nathan McLaren-Stewart sat down with the band backstage before the band played to 350 sweaty fans to talk about playing rooms that hold up to 5000 people, their unique sound and girls stealing their jackets.

When you come to the UK does it feel like you have already established that support you have back home in America or do you think that's something you need to work on?

Wyatt: I think here and back home, both support systems aren't fully established. I think they're on their way and I think that the UK is in the same position as America. Like, regarding us, the amount of people coming to our shows is growing at a very steady pace and, I mean, we really just hope it continues, but it's fairly the same.

Before The Garden you had a band called The Identical Heads...

Wyatt: Yeah, that wasn't necessarily a band it was more just a quick little project that lasted about a month.

Fletcher: It was just a bedroom project between us.

Wyatt: We had a few other bands that actually played shows and put out records.

So when you were in those bands and you made that transition in to The Garden was there any musical influences you kept or was it just fresh ideas? 

Wyatt: With The Garden it was all about creating a very primal and raw sound and just going off that and I think it has just evolved to this day and the whole point is to just keep on growing with it and trying different things, going in different directions, it doesn't even have to necessarily be music. It's just building upon that, really.

You have mentioned in the past that your music has been influenced by your dad as he was in a band. Where does your style and stage presence come from?

Fletcher: None of our music we do now is influenced by our dad but the music we listened to growing up was influenced by our dad, like some of our early influences but nothing we do now is from our father. It's kind of something we've done on our own. But you know, old influences may be the backbone of what we do now. Stuff that got us where we are, as far as listening to music, you could say they came from my dad.

Wyatt: Yeah, he had a big CD collection.

Was the music you listened to growing up primarily punk or was there a wide range of genres?

Wyatt: It was definitely a wide range, for sure. A lot of rap, a lot of punk, a lot of electronic, a lot of jungle kind of music. I mean, there was a real variety of a lot of different things but I think the important thing is to take a little bit from each and then drop it into your little pot and then make it your own.

You mentioned electronic. I watched a short documentary you did with Dazed and Confused Magazine and there are parts of that when you're messing about and in your house and you're using keyboards to create these weird but cool beats. Is that something you see yourself going into more when you sit down to create your follow up to 'The Life and Times of a Paperclip'?

Wyatt: Yeah! It's been relatively prominent not necessarily on record but regarding live performances. The electronic base of what we are has been pretty prominent in the past couple of years.

Fletcher: Yeah, we put out a record about two years ago that had two full electronic tracks on it but I think it gets overlooked a lot, but we had electronic in our view for a long time and it's becoming more prominent... Not taking over but it's definitely becoming prominent.

Wyatt: It's just all a part of expanding , you know. Like, we never want to be seen as just a bass and drums band. We would much rather expand into a lot of different things. On the new album we have coming out we have piano and we have violins on it and all kinds of different stuff. We just never want to stay the same and we'd rather not be pigeoned holed into some kind of genre of some sort, like garage rock or anything like that, you know.

Fletcher: [Laughs] We always get pinned as garage rock and lo-fi.

Wyatt: It's because we're associated with the label Burger Records. If you came to our show then you would realise that we're not garage rock when we're rapping over jungle tracks [laughs].

Yeah, I have seen videos of you guys performing live before and you do seem to jump into the crowd a lot and it's cool to see a band be able to change between genres.

Wyatt: Thanks!

Fletcher: That's where it becomes more of like an experiment for us. Trying new things. On the first album we ever started doing the electronic stuff on I was scared shitless because I didn't know what the fuck was going to happen. I had never done it before. I had never even sang before because I was always behind the drums but I'm so used to it now so it's become part of the set. It's interesting to test yourself.

Wyatt: And to a lot of people this could be too big of a change and we could lose people that like our music at the moment but to us it doesn't really matter because we wanna just keep going and electronic is not the last thing that we will add in to The Garden. The Garden is open to whatever is surrounding it so we're just gonna keep moving and keep adding things in. For us it's just all good fun and creative really.

Photo by Nathan McLaren-Stewart

Is The Garden something you ever planned on making a career out of and being able to come over to the UK and Europe? Was that something that was in your head or was it just initially another bedroom project?

Fletcher: I never thought of it as something that could potentially grow because when we started it it wasn't our main thing, it was just a side project of a different band we had so it has definitely grown a lot.

Wyatt: But the whole point now is to be creative and to grow. We want to keep doing different things and we want to keep trying different kind of showcases like bigger shows and different kinds of smaller shows. It's all about expanding for us and career wise, yeah, I mean, if this provides it for a little while then good but if it doesn't then it doesn't.

Fletcher: Yeah, if it ends up helping us out money-wise then cool, but you know, at the end of the day we're still doing what we're doing. It's never aimed towards money or aimed towards success, it's just it is what we're doing.

Wyatt: And we wouldn't keep coming over here to the UK, to Europe and places like that... I don't think we could keep coming over here if we didn't have a solid game plan. If we were just wondering about then no one would want to invest any time into helping us out [laughs].

I get what you mean. You're on tour with Warpaint at the moment...

Fletcher: Yeah, and we're doing some one off shows like this one tonight [at 100 Club, London].

This venue is a lot smaller than the venue you're playing next week in London with Warpaint. How does that compare? You play a small show like this and then the next night you're playing in front of a couple of thousand people that maybe don't particularly know your music.

Wyatt: I think of it like this, this [100 Club] is where we are at right now but the Warpaint venues are where we could be at in a couple of years.

Fletcher: It's good fun. These shows are fucking fun and those shows are really interesting and weird.

Wyatt: Yeah, because it's relatively new territory so we kind of have to get used to it.

Fletcher: We have played a few shows that size but just a couple and to do it every night is really weird, and it's weird how you start to almost get used to it, you know? So it's weird and interesting... Smaller shows are just good fun and good shows.

Wyatt: But also it's a very natural step in progression. We have to play these kind of shows [supporting Warpaint] to get to the next step and in the end-all-be-all we just want to be in a creative place where we are really comfortable and right now we are just working on that.

Fletcher: It's always different. The small shows can be ten times more fun than the big shows and the big shows can be more fun than the small shows, it's just always different.

How are the Warpaint fans reacting to your set? Are you getting positive responses?

Fletcher: It's been hard to tell. You really need to pay attention to get a vibe because they are a very quiet crowd, even when Warpaint plays they are quiet so it's weird.

Wyatt: They are pretty polite!

Fletcher: We get good cheers after our songs and stuff but then they are very quiet in the middle of songs. You see a couple of kids dancing around but there is no pit, no stage dives but you know, it's a different world and it's something that we have just started to explore [laughs]. It's cool. We make do. We still play the same no matter what venue... we like jumping off shit!

Talking about live experiences, has there ever been any weird or unusual moments on stage?

Wyatt: I wouldn't say anything weird has happened...

Fletcher: We have had our fucking fair share of difficulties and problems on stage.

Wyatt: Yeah, I don't know why. With us you would think it was simple and very easy but there's always a lot of technical difficulties and then on the second hand sometimes there are people who take it a little bit too far and mess up our gear. The spend too much time on the stage and then mess up my gear and in turn I have to throw them off myself.

Fletcher: Yeah they jump around close to his [Wyatt] pedals and him and I are both just watching and watching and then there's just some weird noise, the person goes into the crowd and then his bass just isn't making any noise.

Wyatt: Just shit like that. I wouldn't say anything too bizarre... yet. There's been some fights and stuff like that and sometimes you have to protect yourself in some way [laughs].

Fletcher: We have to watch each other's backs sometimes. It doesn't happen all the time.

Wyatt: The last show in London was crazy. Not in a bad way, just everybody was on stage and sometimes you have to remember where you're at and kinda like keep your stuff together.

Fletcher: Some girl stole his [Wyatt] jacket.

Wyatt: She stole my jacket and then I found it on the street.

Fletcher: Yeah, we were just driving away and he saw some girl wearing his jacket and he just jumped out of the car and grabbed it and it was funny. And in Connecticut recently the owner of the club was heckling us and we ended up getting in a physical fight with him [laughs] so just shit happens.

Wyatt: It's a long story! We're not out to promote violence. We would never just hit someone in the face, unless they hit us first.

Fletcher: [Laughs] Yeah, something has to trigger us. We're not just like "hey, fuck you!" and hit people in the face, you know.

And on that note, thanks for talking to us! Hope the show goes well tonight and there aren't any fights!

Fletcher and Wyatt: Thanks!

Check out The Garden's video for "I Am A Woman" below:

You can catch them with Warpaint at the following dates:

24th - Glasgow, O2 Academy
25th - Gateshead, Sage
26th - London, Eventim Apollo

15th - Brighton, The Great Escape Festival

Words - Nathan McLaren-Stewart
Photos - Nathan McLaren-Stewart

Twitter - @nxths