Since their emergence from Orange County, California in 2011, The Garden twins have blazed through the continents on a wagon of urgent, sporadic punk tunes, a Saint Laurent standard of fashion superiority and a consistent, yet charming, ‘hype band’ notoriety. Yet it is recently becoming more and more evident that there has been a change in the air for Fletcher and Wyatt Shears. As they readily approached the new year with an upcoming European tour alongside Warpaint, the emergence of a new single (plus B-side) and a headline London show at the Boston Arms to release it – it would seem ignorant to not acknowledge how huge 2015 will be for them.
The venue for the interview was set in the Lion Cafe, Clapton – a hipster’s paradise of coffee and fair amount of vinyl for sale on the side. As I walked in from the bitter cold, the spectacles that are Wyatt and Fletcher Shears immediately confronted me. Despite their alluring punk sensibilities, the twins came across as friendly and charming, conversing with everyone in the room whilst still maintaining their angsty demeanor, which at that point was difficult to gauge the authenticity of it all. Walking into the back room of the cafe, they joined us to talk.
Shielded from the chill outside, Fletcher sat quietly in the corner underneath the warm glow of dimmed yellow lamps, and they seemed perfectly at home in the small room, which was adorned with archaic furniture and framed black and white prints of a lazy selection of their punk predecessors (cue Sid Vicious). Wyatt expressed how he was “enjoying the hot chocolate” and was actually “in a pretty decent mood”. The two briefly chatted amongst themselves, until Fletcher complimented his twin with a morale-boosting “you look pretty hot”. It was true, he did look hot. Wyatt retorted with “he says I look hot, so I guess I’ve got a lot going for me.”
As two Californians, you might imagine that the classic British winter chill would be causing them to hibernate in a warm plane straight back to the sun of the West Coast. However, Wyatt seemed more than happy to be enjoying the novelty of wearing a trench coat: “as long as I don’t have to spend over an hour in the cold, it’s fine.” When it was established that they were beginning to embrace the festive spirit, I thought it appropriate to ask the obvious interview question: New Year’s Resolutions. There was a sudden silence in the room – after all, it’s not the most rock and roll thing to promise to quit smoking or lose weight over the holidays. Breaking the silence – in the thickest, most contrived American accent possible – he exclaimed ‘get ripped’, as Fletcher laughed and uttered how he wanted to ensure he ‘wasn’t balding’. With both maintaining a set of luscious blonde, Kurt-Cobain-esque hairstyles, you’d understand their concerns. It seemed that we were just on the edge of retrieving something deep and meaningful from the brooding Wyatt Shears, as he pondered over a serious answer. “I don’t know, maybe put myself in other people’s shoes a little bit more.” For a brief moment we sat deep in reflection, until Fletcher’s slack input of “that’s fucking inspiring, man,” broke our mantra and brought us back into the real world of a fledgling punk outfit.
Then, after some lengthy chat about their love for hockey, we jokingly discussed the prospect and potential of ‘The Garden on Ice’. “It would be fun to do some music videos where we’re just playing hockey,” looking over to Wyatt for approval, who is seemingly keen for the idea. Fletcher elaborated on the point, as the joke quickly became serious consideration for future music videos. “If we had enough money to rent out the rink and make sure nobody else could go on there then that’s probably coming in the future.” You heard it here first.
As the ice broke further, we swiftly moved on to talking music. Their latest single ‘Surprise/This Could Build us a Home’ has arguably seen a slight shift in direction for the twins’ usual garage-punk snippets of songs. The most notable change, however, includes a more electronic approach as seen on the B-side, with synths dotting over the riffs and choruses alongside sweeping chords in the verse. “We’ve been slowly taking an electronic route,” they said, following with an explanation of how they are now mixing electronics alongside bass and drums instead of always separating the two. “We’re trying to focus on evolving, rather than just staying dormant; if we were still doing the same things we did two years ago, we would be bored, and everyone else would be bored.” On how they would convey these electronics live, Fletcher explained their aversion to backing tracks and loops, preferring to ‘just play it raw’, and that he “likes having a live version of it as well as a recorded version”.
Their supporting slot across Europe with Warpaint is now confirmed for March 2015, and the news came as something of a shock to the pair “it came out of nowhere… someone just said hey, this might be happening and then the next moment it was like hey, this is happening”. Surely the pressure is mounting on this huge exposure to go, right? “It’s going to be a massive step up – we’ll be playing massively bigger venues than we would be playing normally, so we’re going to have a lot of room to jump around - it’s going to be fun.”
Finishing up the interview, we quizzed them on the progress of their individual acts and alter egos, Fletcher’s ‘Puzzle’ and Wyatt’s ‘Enjoy’. Fletcher expanded. “We’re both about to do the same exact thing actually, he’s about to release a music video and an album, and I’m about to release a video and an album, so we’re right on the edge of that – just waiting for the music videos to be done.” Wyatt went further by revealing that his album will be named Punk Planet and is to be released through Japan’s Big Love Records on a limited press. Japan’s undying thirst for the freshest Anglo-American alternative music shows no signs of holding up, and came as something of a surprise to the twins, who never expected to be heard there, let alone play sell out shows.
And so, as the interview came to its end and as the twins began to prepare for an all-electronic set in the Lion Cafe that very evening, we ended our chat with the question on everyone’s minds: what was Fletcher puking up in the ‘This Could Build us a Home’ video? “Oh, that was milk – but don’t tell anyone.”
Words and Photography by George Dunne
Styling by Rachel Grace Almeida