Last Saturday, EarPeace was stoked to head to The Echo to check out a band that’s been getting a fair amount of buzz in the Los Angeles area. Twin brothers, Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, make up The Garden, a band from Orange, California that stubbornly defies categorization, though the blogosphere seem ready to label them as a “lo-fi-punk” or “garage” band. Elements of these genres surely exist in their definitively short songs, but there is a degree of experimentalism that is often devoid in similarly labeled bands.
The Garden embodies the enigmatic energy of the subgenre with a graceful, and quite fashionable, ease. Sometimes they rap over moody hip hop tracks, sometimes they speed through 50 second bass and drum songs, sometimes they shout things like, “We be grinding up in the club” for the entirety of a song. It’s hard to tell if they’re iconic or ironic. Maybe both. The most admirable element of The Garden, especially in their recent release of The Life and Times of a Paperclip, is probably their ability to balance the weird and abstract with near pop sensibilities, which keeps them be accessible, proven by the droves of hipsters lining up to see them. One thing I can be sure of is that I have never seen so many youths stage diving at the same time. I might never again.
Fortunately they were able to fit time into their schedule to sit down with us and talk more about what’s happening in The Garden world.
EarPeace: How long has the Garden been around?
Wyatt: Late 2000 I think. I mean, I mean, I mean 2011. My bad. I don’t know why I said that. 2000 I was in like, 1st grade so that doesn’t make any sense. 2011.
EarPeace: Who are some of your main influences?
Fletcher: I don’t know, I kind of can’t get away from, not that I try to get away from the fact, but I really like Death Grips. We listen to a lot of Hip Hop. We really like Le1f and Mykki Blanco. They have cool messages. They’re what you would call “next level.” That’s how I would think of it, I don’t know.
EarPeace: Do you guys try to incorporate that sort of stuff with your own music or are you just doing your own thing?
Fletcher: We kind of just do our own thing, but you know, we find what we think is us, Fletcher and Wyatt, because I feel like if we try to…I feel like a lot of people just try to straight copy but if you do that it’s basically a rip-off, so I don’t know. You take what you want from it and put it into your own thing and mix it up, like eggs or something.
EarPeace. What’s one song that you wish you had written?
Fletcher: Probably an Enjoy song that he’s made [points to Wyatt]. Smooth by Enjoy. (Enjoy is a musical project of Wyatt’s).
EarPeace: What’s been your best moment as a band so far?
Wyatt: The best moments are probably to come.
Fletcher: I mean we’ve had some fun moments for sure but It feels like we’ve had more like, creepy-stressful moments then really amazing, un-stressful moments.
Wyatt: Everything seems to be stressful with this crowd. [Motions to the long line of eager fans snaking around the venue]. Which, is like, they’re totally cool but they can get so up in your face when you play that there’s no time to feel like, “This is great!”
Fletcher: Tour has been kind of weird. But I’m excited, I feel like maybe we’ll have more of our really good moments next month when we go to Europe, who knows.
EarPeace: Cool. So what’s it like being photographed by Slimane; people like Chris Owens and Liza Thorn have also worked with YSL, and I know you guys are also modeling. How does that work with music?
Fletcher: Well it only works with music right now, because that’s the trend in the fashion industry right now and that’s why YSL gets bands like Girls and why they picked us up, is because the scene right now is, at least from YSL to do that kind of stuff, that’s why they get Marilyn Manson. They’re going for a little rock, 90’s throwback…
Wyatt: That’s just what’s cool and he’s doing it because that’s what’s in…
Fletcher: He’s on the right path.
EarPeace: Do you guys feel like there’s a stigma surrounding models that you have to react against?
Wyatt: I feel like we’ve been playing music our fucking whole lives so we’re just playing music and modeling just happened to come along the way so we’re like “ok, we’ll pick that up,” and that’s how it is. It’s not like it’s, “They were models and became musicians!”
Fletcher: It’s like if you’ve ever been to a driving range where you hit the balls out on there and there’s that truck that just sweeps up all the balls it’s like we’re the truck and we’re trying to get every little opportunity…
Wyatt: I mean we’re just picking up every opportunity that comes along.
EarPeace: You guys aren’t like Paris Hilton, who just “made a song.”
Wyatt: No, yeah it’s like any open door…
Fletcher: We play music and anything that comes along we’ll take it. Unless it’s really fucking weird and we don’t want to do it. But other than that, that’s about it.
EarPeace: Do you guys have a creative vision as The Garden, or are you kind of just winging it?
Wyatt: Um, not necessarily, it’s a little bit of both but it’s, I don’t like to use this word that much, but it’s just progressive. For a long time we just weren’t satisfied like up until recently, we weren’t really satisfied with the sound we had so in the middle of our US tour for instance, we just stopped playing bass and drums and just…
Fletcher: Like we wouldn’t even load our bass and drums up to the show, like I remember in Virginia we just went up, plugged in an Ipod and just sang to a soundtrack we made, like just kind of made a mess.
Wyatt: ‘Cuz it got boring after a while you know? It’s like we were doing the same thing every night, which is cool, but it’s like after a while “K, I want to mix it up,” and we don’t want to do the same exact thing.
Fletcher: It’s like if I’m getting bored then everyone else is going to get bored too and it’s gonna be a fucking boring thing. It’s fun to mix it up and make progress.
Wyatt: And we don’t really, well I don’t at least, like the label, “lo-fi garage punk” because that’s not at ALL what we slightly want to be so I mean…
Fletcher: We don’t even fucking know what we want to be.
Wyatt: That’s the thing, is how can anyone else interpret what we’re supposed to be. So I don’t know, like today we’re not playing all bass and drums songs, we got other stuff going on.
Fletcher: We’re introducing a few new songs today.
Wyatt: Yeah, the new record that will come out next, we’re working with a lot of like familiar, popular names on it…
Fletcher: Which is weird because we’ve never done anything like that, we just go record in like half a night.
Wyatt: Yeah, we’re spending a lot more time on this one and we’re going to make it count, and it’s not going to sound like the last one at all. Because that’s not really what we want, and we’re not just going to stay one genre, or the same scene.
Fletcher: Meanwhile, you’re going to get booted out somewhere or it’s gonna become lame or it’s going to become whatever. We’ll say progressive and fit into everything we need to and we’ll do what we want until…
Wyatt: Not that we’re trying to be like “Okay, yeah man we can play any show!” It’s just like I don’t know, it’s funny, we don’t like one kind of music, it’s just like we like everything so…
Fletcher: And we’re not trying to be like, a copy band like half the bands playing, we’re not into that. For some reason we get grouped with those bands but…I mean it’s probably because we’re related with Burger. Which is FINE but…
EarPeace: It is what it is.
Fletcher and Wyatt: Yeah.
EarPeace: Do you want to talk a little bit about your songwriting process?
Wyatt: Yeah, there’s not much to it. Lately I’ve been by myself, on the computer using just like a few basic tools with Garageband stuff just making the songs by myself, and not even using his drums and then lately it’s just been, it’s not like we go into the garage…and say “how’s this” it’s just me on my computer by myself and we put lyrics to it and…
Fletcher: Well that’s not true I just fucking made Lesson #1 it’s not always you by yourself.
Wyatt: No, no it’s not always me by myself, sorry I should have specified like, it’s him or me, just focusing on the computer. It’s a lot more electronic stuff but mixed with what we had before
Fletcher: We’re kind of lagging on the basic drum and bass songs, which not that it matters because we do whatever the hell we want to do, but you gotta you know, keep it even. It’s not like we’re gonna become a fucking rap group. Not that what we’re making is rap. We’re just kinda trying shit out. Every time we get asked that question it’s like, “oh we go into the garage, bass and drums, you know,” but like, the process has been changing,
Wyatt: It’s not really like that anymore.
Fletcher: Yeah the process has been changing, it’s not like its like that forever, we change and we go back…
Wyatt: And that Japan record we just put out, that’s a little more recent, we’re a little more proud of that.
EarPeace: All of your songs are pretty short, some of them really short, does that have something to do with, similar to the way you change your sound so frequently, do you just have that something that you just do to move on to the next thing or is that influenced by some other music like say, The Locust, or something?
Fletcher: We used to play a lot in the garage just after school, we’d go in the garage and play for a really long time, not do our homework (laughs), and we’d end up making songs and when we made longer songs it just didn’t really work out. Like we found it to be the “downer song” if we made it long, and it just kinda got boring. Every time we made a short song we’d be like “Fuck yeah that one hits hard!”
Wyatt: Just short and to the point, don’t have time to mess around. That’s like. our motto for the songs.
Fletcher: And we like to make a lot of songs, we’re pretty prolific when it comes to that, so it’s like I don’t know, the shorter they are the more there are.
EarPeace: So what does next year hold for you guys, recording and touring wise?
Wyatt: A lot of shit. January 30th, we head to Europe for a month long European tour.
Fletcher: We got some plans to do some other tour stuff…I always feel like an idiot when I talk about it because like, I mean Europe is set to go, we just released our dates, but like, there’s some other stuff. There’s some talk of China, Japan, and talk of Australia and then we’ll probably do SXSW again. I know we’ll release our record soon.
Wyatt: Within the mix of all that. Because I mean, we’re working with people now, so I’m sure it will come out next year, I don’t know what it’s called, anything about it, but yeah, it will happen.
EarPeace: Do you guys ever want to incorporate new people or play with different set ups?
Fletcher: No, not at the moment. There’s been talk of it, with different producers we’ve been working with and stuff, but I don’t know if it’s really going to happen.
Wyatt: [in exaggerated, show business-y voice] “Would you ever consider adding a guitarist?” Stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen.
Fletcher: I figure the only way it would happen is if we were making these complex songs and we’re like, “fuck, we really can’t do this on our own no matter what we do.” It’s like okay, maybe, if it’s even important enough or anybody even cares enough of that point.
Wyatt: It’s kinda like a distanced idea. I’m not like, “Fuck that!” But it’s just like, I’d rather not do that right now.
EarPeace: Cool. What would be a dream collaboration for you guys?
Wyatt: If I had to be honest, I wouldn’t mind featuring the rapper Le1f on one of our songs.
Fletcher: Yeah basically just the three artists I mentioned earlier, Le1f, Death Grips, and Mykki Blanco. I don’t know, I really like them; I think it would be really interesting. Or even to tour with any of them would be really cool. We’ve never really been picked up by any larger artists to go on tour with so it would be interesting to see how that would all pan out.
Photo credit: Hedi Slimane
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