They're back with a new album this week
Rulebook-tearing band The Garden are their own breed of iconoclast. Made up of twin 24-year-olds Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, they subscribe to a personal philosophy – vada vada – which preaches total expression without boundaries. And they’re not bad looking either – they’ve spent the last seven years modelling to sustain their genre-shattering music habit.
Ahead of the release of their new album ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’ on Friday (March 30) and their suitably weird new video ‘Call The Dogs Out’, Fletcher Shears called us from Amsterdam (Wyatt was shaving in the same room) for a chat about the new LP. Fans of Pop Will Eat Itself should pay particular attention.
Your album is called ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’… explain!
Fletcher: It refers to living your life in a way where you are not really looking at the reality of what you actually are and what you actually do. Kind of like living an entitled life, or living a life where you’re not really aware of who you actually are. Or you look at yourself in the mirror and see who you are, and it steals your charm, essentially. I guess there’s a lot of different ways to explain it. It’s like: you’re not the person you think you are when you’re walking around and not looking at yourself.
Does that tie into your ‘vada vada’ philosophy? [The Garden’s ideal of total freedom of expression, without boundaries or guidelines]
Fletcher: I don’t know. it’s just kind of like an everyday human philosophy. It’s easy to fall out of the reality of real life, so sometimes when you give yourself a stern look in the mirror you’re able to see things a little clearer.
How do your occasional jester costumes tie into your music?
Fletcher: We perform for crowds of people and we play music, just the same as in medieval times, where traditionally jesters would perform for a King, or a crowd of townsfolk who would sit on the ground and watch them perform.
Some people find jesters and clowns to have a creepy aspect – is that part of why you dress up like that?
Fletcher: No, not at all really. We’re not really trying to be creepy or anything. We just think they relate to what we do so we kind of just took it on.
Wyatt: It’s a fun thing to do and we like the way it looks.
The album artwork is creepy though, isn’t it?
Fletcher: The artwork was actually inspired in sort of a way by this picture from a long time ago of a witch that’s looking to the camera. ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’ has nothing to do with that but the fact that we tried to kind of do that but do it with the jester makes it kind of our own thing – but that was really part of the inspiration behind doing it, we wanted a point-blank face for the image.
You recorded it all in one go, right?
Fletcher: In half a year we made demos and then we got into the studio and recorded it in about a week or two. It’s a lot different to the last one, and we like it that way.
How does it compare to your last EP, ‘U Want The Scoop?’
Fletcher: It’s a lot more of a mixture. ‘U Want The Scoop?’ has a lot of electronics and stuff. At this point it’s drifting more in between bass and drums, which is traditionally our sound, with a lot of electronics still in the mix. I think it’s really an evolution. With every album we just try to take a different approach and make it different to the last one – with this one you can tell it’s a lot different.
One of your new songs, ‘A Message For Myself’ has very complex rhythms and time changes. How did you compose that, and how do you keep up with it when you’re playing it live?
Fletcher: We actually haven’t played that one live yet, just because it’s so new. We practiced it a couple times, but that’s definitely a tricky one to play for me – I have to sing so many words at a time. But I’m sure it will be pretty cool once we get the hang of it.
What considerations do you put into your live show?
Fletcher: I don’t really think about the live shows ever. I just think: ‘Is my energy up to par?’ We just sit around and drink water before the show, we come out with a lot of energy, so I don’t really think much about things I’m going to do.
Wyatt: I think especially of late, we just keep it as peaceful as possible, almost like I’m just in my room by myself.
Do your modelling careers tie into the music at all?
Fletcher: It doesn’t have anything to do with the music really. We are lucky enough to be able to make money doing modelling whenever it comes around, but it’s not really important to us – except for the fact that it makes us money and we can continue to play music from that. But once we get old and ugly, we’ll have to look into something else…
It provides another way of making an income and we meet cool people through it – I don’t know, it can be a good thing at times, but it’s not our passion.
Does it become your wardrobe for gigs?
Fletcher: Some brands like to give us the clothes we model to wear on stage, but we don’t tend to take it because we don’t like a lot of the stuff we’re modelling in the first place. So brands are like: ‘Oh you should wear this when you play’ and we’re like: ‘no’.
You’ve been getting pretty regular airplay on Beats 1 – do you like your music being playlisted on a big station like that?
Fletcher: I think it’s cool, but I didn’t hear it so it doesn’t really feel like it happened in my mind. I appreciate it. It’s definitely cool our music is being played anywhere on the radio.
So getting more radio play isn’t important to you?
Fletcher: I think we could easily do that – with the modelling we do, we could easily become like a garage-rock band and sell a lot more albums or become like a pop band. If we wanted to, we could get the look down and we could solve the formula, but it would be really boring, and I’d probably end up getting really depressed. I’m not going to do that. If somebody tried to make me do that, I’m still not going to do it.
Would you lose respect for a band that did that?
Fletcher: I try not to pay much attention to what other people are doing. I’m not like this punk-rock ideals kind of guy, but if you want to make money, just go for it – like, if you want to make money doing music and follow the formula to make money, then all power to you. I couldn’t do it cause it would be fucking boring. If you want to do it then just do it I guess, like I model to make money, but I don’t like to do it, so I understand that point of view. Everyone’s got to live.
The Garden’s ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’ is out March 30.