The Garden: "We're not doing it for anybody else!"

Die kalifornische Punk-Band The Garden hat am 09. März ein Punk-Konzert der Extraklasse im Kunst- und Kulturzentrum Werk gespielt. Davor haben wir die Band zum Interview getroffen und über das Tourleben, Donald Trump und ihre neue EP gesprochen.

Vieles an diesem Abend ist geprägt von Gegensätzen. The Garden, die Band der Zwillingsbrüder Wyatt (vocals, bass) und Fletcher Shears (drums) sind eine Band, die nicht raucht, keinen Alkohol trinkt, keine Drogen nimmt und zumeist direkt nach den Konzerten schlafen geht. Dennoch haben wohl wenige Bands den Punk so verstanden, wie die zwei Brüder und somit passen sie mit ihren extravaganten Live-Shows, die oft von stage invasions, exzessivem Crowdsurfing und Moshpits begleitet werden, perfekt ins Werk, wo ihr Konzert heute stattfindet. 

Gegensätzlich sind auch Schein und Sein der Band. Ausgestattet mit Modelkörpern, photogenen Gesichtern und einnehmender Ausstrahlung, sind die beiden vielen als Musen des Designers und Fotografen Hedi Slimane bekannt geworden. Im persönlichen Gespräch sind die überaus höflichen und bescheidenen Brüder aber schüchterne Wesen, die wesentlich mehr Tiefgang besitzen, als ihnen von der Öffentlichkeit zugetraut wird.    

2013 erschienen ihre ersten beiden Alben The Life and Times Of A Paperclip und Everything Is Perfect, 2015 ihr drittes Album haha und letzte Woche dann schließlich die EP U Want The Scoop, die den verstärkt elektronischen Einschlag, der sich schon auf haha erahnen ließ, noch weiterführte. 


You released your new EP last week. Was the gig last night in Berlin the first time where you played those songs live?
Wyatt: No we’ve been playing these songs for a few months, actually. But that was the first show in Europe that we played these songs.

How did the crowd respond to them?
Wyatt: Good.
Fletcher: Yeah, pretty good.

Auch ihr Konzert im Werk an diesem Abend wird gut besucht sein. Die letzten Konzerte, die die Band hier in Wien gespielt hat, fanden in leeren Hallen und sehr spärlich besuchten Clubs statt. Ein Schicksal, das viele Bands aus den USA hier ereilt, die meisten von ihnen kommen nicht mehr wieder. The Garden jedoch sind eine Band, die das Interesse des Publikums eher hinnimmt, als aktiv dafür zu arbeiten. Auch ihre Musik scheint ohne viel Zutun zu entstehen, die Songs klingen nicht nach wochenlangem Tüfteln im Studio, nicht nach erbittertem Zwang, sondern nach natürlichen Prozessen, nach etwas, das da ist und einfach passiert.

Your music and your lyrics are often very laconic, pointed and simplistic. Do you see your art as an unfiltered expression of yourself or do you rather see it as a stand-alone, separate „product“ you create?

Wyatt: I think for the most part, for me it kind of has to represent myself, just to make it feel genuine. I don’t think I have enough imagination to make up stuff the whole time. So I think it definitely comes from myself.

Fletcher: There’s enough going on in our lives and there’s a lot to talk about as far as actual life situations go. A lot of people think we just make up lyrics that don’t mean anything, but everything means something. A lot of people don’t look too deep into it and then they’re like „that doesn’t mean anything“. But everything definitely has a meaning to us. Sometimes it’s just more coded, I guess.


Tatsächlich wird die Band oft missverstanden. Im Jahr 2013 wurden sie von dem französischen Designer Hedi Slimane nach Paris eingeladen. Betört von den zwei schönen Zwillingen ließ er die beiden die Saint Laurent AW13 Show auf dem Laufsteg eröffnen. Die dadurch generierte Aufmerksamkeit erwies sich als Fluch und Segen zugleich. Denn obwohl die Band dadurch einiges an an Bekanntheit hinzuerlangen konnte, ließ sich diese eher an einer rasanten Zunahme ihrer Instagram-Follower ablesen, als an Plattenverkäufen und Konzertbesuchern.
Ganz traute man ihnen nicht mehr zu, ernstzunehmende Künstler zu sein, ihre Wangenknochen wurden öfter kommentiert, als ihre Songs. Die Jungs scheint das jedoch wenig zu kümmern.

You seem to have a high resilience when it comes to critique or opinions on your art that you didn’t particularly ask for. Are you really that balanced and thick-skinned or do you sometimes take mean or uninformed comments to heart?

Wyatt: It really just depends on the type of comment, if I feel that it was really thought out. At the end of the day it’s someone else’s opinion. I think the thing that would matter most is if someone that was close to me had something to say about it. As far as comments go a lot of the time it doesn’t really get too much under my skin, because i don’t know these people. I don’t know if they are having a bad day or not, so it’s not really my problem how they feel.

Fletcher: Yeah and we’re doing our own thing. So I mean people of course can have their own opinion, but at the end of the day it’s not their thing, it’s ours. It doesn’t really matter what they say, because we’re not doing it for anybody else.


Vielleicht ist es die Geborgenheit ihres Zwillingsdaseins, die den Brüdern hilft haltlose Kritik einfach auszublenden und unbeeindruckt davon weiterzumachen. Oder aber auch die Punk-Attitüde, die sie von ihrem Vater in die Wiege gelegt bekommen haben. Dieser ist ebenfalls Musiker und spielte in einigen Punk-Bands, von denen die bekannteste wohl Shattered Faith ist.

One of the quintessential messages that I get from your music is a call and an appeal for confidence, tolerance and living your principals.
The United States and also various countries in Europe are currently turning away from all those qualities, away from a liberal society that embraces the rights of the individual towards a restrictive society that tries to wipe out any form of diversity. Do you notice, in your direct surroundings, that Donald Trump’s election has changed the way people in California and the US live together?


Fletcher: I think some people are looking at each other differently than they did before. If your neighbour finds out that you voted for Donald Trump and your neighbours are liberal then that might change the way you look at your neighbour even if you love your neighbour and you don’t want it to. I think a lot of people are looking around because of … you know, Donald Trump, he’s not just a blank face president, he has a face and that face represents something, so I think if you vote for Donald Trump or you support Donald Trump then to a certain group of people you look different.

Wyatt: I think those kind of people that are trying to overturn what’s been done, they were always there, but now they have a spokesperson that is the president of the United States. So now it’s way more relevant what’s happening around us. It’s a bummer, but everbody’s gonna have to figure it out.

Fletcher: He is sort of giving a voice to the people who kind of like the idea of moving backwards, but thinking they are moving forwards.

Wyatt: It’s a tough thing to tackle, because the people who are reverting back to things like racism and stuff like that, they think that they’re a part of a new future, but really that’s going back in time so it’s really touchy. Those people who think they are progressive are way back in time. It’s really tricky.

Fletcher: It’s hard to talk to somebody who is that disconnected to reality when they think you are disconnected. You can’t even really talk to them.

I think it’s really hard to get into other people’s mindsets.

Fletcher: Yeah, for the most parts I don’t try to. Even if I know somebody who is close to me, I don’t try to, because if they believe in something like that that firmly there’s really no talking them out of it, unless they see something that is factual for themselves. Nothing I’m gonna tell them is gonna change them.

Does this shift in politics ultimately change your art or the art of your friends?

Wyatt: A little bit, because it’s such a prominent thing right now. I definitely added some things on the EP that we put out that lead towards those kind of issues.

Fletcher: Yes and I speak about it online a lot. And yeah, we also put it on the EP and I also talk about in my side project as well. So yeah… slowly, but surely.
I don’t think that what I’m saying is groundbreaking. To me it just kind of makes sense.

Als die Band später die Bühne betritt, ist das Publikum bereits während den ersten Sekunden des Sets am Toben. In den vorderen Reihen befinden sich hauptsächlich junge Mädchen, während die Jungs sich etwas schüchterner in den letzten Reihen versammeln. Man könnte jetzt wieder oberflächlich sein und dieses Phänomen auf das Aussehen der Band zurückführen. Es scheinen am heutigen Abend aber tatsächlich die Mädchen zu sein, die am ausgelassensten tanzen, alle Songs mitsingen können und keine Angst davor haben, sich im Moshpit blaue Flecken zu holen.

It was Women’s Day yesterday! Judging by some of your lyrics I’m assuming you guys are feminists? What’s your response to people who say we don’t need feminism anymore or that we don’t need it at all?

Wyatt: They probably don’t really understand it, to be honest. Being a feminist is something really great, so I don’t think I deserve to be called that.
As far as being a feminist goes I think that feminism is really important. But I think a lot of people get misconceptions about what it’s about. They’re getting really threatened and they end up not liking it. But if you go back to the roots of feminism and make sure you know what it is and the definition behind it… It’s a really good thing and it’s much needed, especially today.

Fletcher: It’s just like Black Lives Matter, people get threatened by it, when in reality there is nothing to be threatened about.

Yes, but that shows you exactly how much it’s needed. Even the word „feminism“ can provoke such an outrage in people, that alone is an indicator that we still need feminism.

Fletcher: Yeah I think people take it as a threat, because they don’t know what it is. They think it’s a hate group against men, people think Black Lives Matter is a hate group against white people, but in reality, they’re just misunderstanding.

That’s one thing yeah, but also I think that sometimes they know what it’s about and still don’t like it. Like I know men, who don’t see women as being on the same level as they are and there are actually a lot of men who think that way.

Wyatt: Yeah, I think if they wanted to understand it they could, but they choose not to.

Fletcher: Yeah, exactly.

And they’re happy when they find something that proves them in thinking that feminism is directed against men. They look out for things they can use against feminism, when in reality feminism is just about women wanting to –

Wyatt: Be equal!

Yeah and just have the same rights as men have.

Fletcher: Yeah, this really shouldn’t be an issue, but for some reason it is. It’s one of the things I still don’t understand.


Do you have a coordinated set that you play live or do you happen to improvise a lot?

Wyatt: I think when it comes to the order of the set, we try to keep it the same. Like when we go on a tour we’ll be like „okay, this is the set that we stick to.“ You can improvise upon that set, but as far as the set goes performancewise we do try to change it up. But usually the order of the songs we keep the same. That way it’s right in our heads, it’s almost like studying for a test. You know that set and it’s a really good practice.

Fletcher: Yeah, if you memorize the set for instance, you don’t have to think about what song is coming next, you can think about doing something else to make the set more exciting and then you just improvise on top of it.

Are you nervous before you go on stage?

Wyatt: I wouldn’t say nervous for the crowd or for the show or anything, you get adrenaline, you’re ready to go on stage. The only thing I ever get nervous about are technical difficulties. I just really don’t like them. I was having some last night, my bass kept falling out and it just feels like such a waste of time, like „I drove seven hours here today and my bass is not even working“, it’s just so annoying.

And you also want to show the people the best of what you’re capable of.

Wyatt: Exactly!! And I’m like „It’s not always like this, fuuuck“! But that’s the only thing that makes me nervous, that I want our shows to sound good.

Fletcher: We usually always have a sound guy with us in Europe. This is the first tour where we don’t. It’s a little more unnerving that way. We’re doing it this way in the US so we’re used to it, though.

Is there a difference between the people in the music business you meet on tour in the US and in Europe?

Fletcher: I think a lot of people who work at venues don’t like their jobs. Sometimes they can be kinda cranky. But sometimes they can be really, really nice. I guess it just depends, but it’s actually the same everywhere.

Fletcher: We usually try to be nice to them.

Wyatt: If everybody is nice to each other it just makes the whole process so much easier.

Fletcher: Yeah, if you come in cranky and they are already cranky, then there’s one big pile of cranky people and that’s no fun. So yeah, if you come in with a good attitude and they’re cranky, maybe you can make their attitude better.

That applies to life in general actually.

Fletcher: Yeah.


Is the visual aspect of your music as important to you the music itself? Do you come up with the ideas to your videos yourself?

Wyatt: Yes. I think it is super important, because if we played the kind of music we do, but we had a really lame video I think it wouldn’t fully connect all the pieces together. I think it’s important that we make sure that our visual art is as good as our music. All our videos are stemming from our ideas, I wanted to keep control over that, so that the whole product makes sense.

Fletcher: Yeah, just like a video that coincides with a song. If the song is really whacky, usually the video is not gonna be whacky. But when the song is more normal, or calm or whatever, then the video is probably gonna be more whacky. We usually try to offset the tune, so that it’s not a part of the same thing.

Ja, diese Gegensätze sind tatsächlich etwas, das die Band begleitet. Wenn man die Band dann aber auf der Bühne sieht, in völligem Einklang miteinander, mit ihrem Publikum und mit ihrer Musik, dann merkt man eines sehr wohl: Alles an dieser Band macht Sinn. 

 

 

Christina Masarei