Cross dressing, modelling for Yves Saint Laurent and a noise that sounds like a grimey, gothic form of demented psychobilly punk – welcome to the weird and wonderful world of The Garden. The 19-year-old identical twins have been kicking up a storm in their native Orange County, California and somehow found themselves on the catwalks of Paris at the behest of designer Hedi Slimane. They now head back to Europe in February in support of the Warpaint girls armed with corking new single ‘Surprise’. We had a word with Wyatt (vocals, bass) and Fletcher (drums) Shears to try and find out more…
You’ve come up with the tag ‘Vada Vada’ to describe your sound, presumably to prevent twats like me making up lame genres for you. How did that phrase come about? What does it mean to you?
W: The word came about by accident but the meaning didn’t. To us it is a genre replacement and a slogan that we carry in a way. Its meanings and what it stands for always fluctuate ,meaning that what it stands for won’t always be the same.
You have a new single, ‘Surprise’: tell us a bit about it. Is it typical of your sound? Is it a good way to introduce yourselves to people?
W: ‘Surprise’ is a very basic song, there is no denying that. We enjoy the song itself but it’s hard to say if it’s typical or not due to our songs being relatively all over the grid. But as a song that I would want people to hear first…..? I’m not sure, probably not!
It sounds fantastically frantic, dark, weird and jittery to us, with rumbling bass lines, bombastic drums and you ranting about drinking souls. What the hell is it all about?
W: Thanks, the song refers to a situation in which someone thinks they have you cornered, but you actually have the upper hand. Basically pulling a fast one.
The video looks like a creepy old gothic B-movie, with you guys rowing out on the lake with the grim reaper in the dead of night. Whose idea was that? Was it fun to make?
W: The idea was constructed by my girlfriend, Ashley Calhoun, and myself. The video was directed and shot by Taylor Bonnin. He was easy to work with.
You’re supporting Warpaint in the UK in March, how did that come about? Will they be the biggest shows you’ve played? How do you approach shows like that?
F: The tour presented itself out of what seemed like nowhere, which is cool. They will be the biggest consecutively, yes. I approach shows like that, the same way I approach shows with 10 people in the audience. Raw, energetic, and honest.
W: We’re really looking forward to it.
You played your first shows in the UK in August, how were they? Did you enjoy coming to Europe? Did you party hard or get into any scrapes?
F: Our first shows were in August, and then we went back in December, and they went well, nothing to complain about. London exceeded all expectations that last time around and Bristol was great as well. We always enjoy coming to europe, and have many times before these tours. We didn’t get into any scrapes on the last european tours though!
W: We always enjoy touring over seas.
The first we heard of you guys was the Life and Times of a Paperclip album for Burger Records, would you say you’ve evolved much since then?
F: Yes, our progression will be very notable after listening to the upcoming LP out this year, or simply by seeing us live.
W: Yeah, we’ve released some EPs since them. We are going to continue to keep growing.
I only know your hometown of Orange County from that glossy TV show The O.C. with all those glamorous, good looking people, pool parties and schmaltzy storylines, what was life like for you growing up there? Is the band a rebellion against that stuff? Has the place influenced your music?
F: Orange County is nothing like The Real Housewives. It’s influenced our music in the past, but not so much now, at least for me anyways.
W: There are more important things to rebel against than Beverley Hills parties, we don’t live anywhere near that kind of thing.
Do you feel part of an Orange County/California music scene or are you out on your own, doing your own thing?
F: I don’t think that’s a question I can answer… We are our own entity, and whatever category people decide to lump us in with is for their personal comfort.
W: The way you see yourself is always different from the way people see you. So, personally I don’t consider us to be a part of anything in particular, but I’m sure people do.
We hear your father was in bands and had an influence on you, what sort of stuff did you grow up listening to?
F: At a young age, we were influenced musically by our father. We grew up listening to an array of artists,for example: Prodigy, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, UK Punk, American Punk etc… This was all at a very young age, we soon found our own way, but have that as a backbone.
From what sort of age did you start playing together? What were your previous bands like and how did it evolve into what you’re doing now?
F: We started our first band in the 5th grade, but were playing music together before that. Most of the previous bands we were in were primitive, but at the time felt right.
W: Like now, back then we were just trying to break our own mold with music and we always tried to be creative in some way.
Were you always together playing music and going to gigs?
F: Yes, most of the time.
It’s pretty rare to see just two guys playing bass and drums, what do you like about the sound it creates? Why did you ditch the guitars?
W: I feel like in this particular project it’s good to keep things minimal. I like guitars, but I think I can fill up the extra space with other things instead of a guitar.
Aside from the frantic punk rock sound you experiment with hip hop and electronic stuff, how broad do you think your sound can go? Are there any styles you wouldn’t attempt?
F: The Garden is an experiment more than anything else. It is a creation between us that could really go anywhere. For us, progression is key. If we’re not progressing, we’re not comfortable.
W: Exactly, we are going to continue experimenting because that is what we enjoy doing. As we progress we won’t lose that original Garden aurora. You will know that it’s us even though it’s a bit different.
You did some runway modelling for Hedi Slimane and Yves Saint Laurent, how the hell did two scrappy punk rock kids from Orange County end up on the Paris runways? How did you enjoy strutting your stuff and hanging out with models? Would you do more of it?
F: Working with Saint Laurent was great, we’d do more modelling.
W: We are open to more of it at anytime.
We see Fletcher likes to dress in drag from time to time, is that about causing a stir and provoking a reaction or is it just part of your identity? What sort of reaction do you get from it?
F: It was never about getting a reaction. At the time, it was fulfilling and right for me, but it does not give me the same feelings and contentedness it once did. Therefore, I no longer dress myself up as a female. Although my mind stays as open as ever.
Can you tell us little about the side projects you have going on? Are they something you’re going to continue to pursue?
F: Although I allow the public to listen to my side work, it’s personal for me. I think I will always do Puzzle, or something similar to it. It’s therapeutic.
W: I have a lot of fun with my side thing. Enjoy is a great outlet for me.
What future plans do you guys have? When’s an album coming? Any more shows on the horizon?
F: A lot of touring and a new album in mid 2015. Many more shows.
And are there any other new, young American bands we should know about?
Thanks to The Garden for taking the time to answer our questions… ‘Surprise’ is out now via Luv Luv Luv Records and, if you too are intrigued, catch the twins live supporting Warpaint:
Friday March 20th – Birmingham, The Institute w/ WARPAINT
Sunday March 22nd – Manchester, The Albert Hall w/ WARPAINT
Tuesday March 24th – Glasgow, ABC w/ WARPAINT
Wednesday March 25th – Gateshead, The Sage w/WARPAINT
Thursday March 26th – London, Hammersmith Apollo w/WARPAINT