Doe-eyed dead ringers The Garden talk us through their scorched, experimental guitar pop sound – one that’s bringing all the boys (and girls) to the yard
Wyatt wears black leather fisherman’s cap and black woolblend turtleneck both by Gucci, black snakeskin trousers by Roberto Cavalli and black leather belt by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane. Fletcher wears black wool fisherman’s cap and black leather jacket both by Gucci, black cotton string vest Stylist’s own, silver metallic trousers by Diesel Black Gold
In their debut editorial since Hedi Slimane plucked them from LA obscurity two years ago, doe-eyed dead ringers The Garden talk us through their scorched, experimental guitar pop sound – one that’s bringing all the boys (and girls) to the yard.
Rest assured that The Garden – LA-based identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears – feel they have a lot to prove. It’s easy to assume that substance may not necessarily outweigh style when it comes to these cross-dressing Tumblr heartthrobs – Hedi Slimane’s latest obsession, whose gender-bending silhouettes and doe-eyed stares peppered Saint Laurent menswear’s AW13 campaign. So striking is their appearance (sexy and terrifying in equal measure), the twins seem almost ageless. “We’re twenty years old” Wyatt tells me in our interview, before a gig at Clapton, London’s brand new venue space, The Dentist. “But I’m eight minutes older than him,” Fletcher proudly interrupts.
In reality, though, their lo-fi garage sound is 2014’s most enthralling new sound. “Crystal Clear,” a track taken from June EP Aunt J’s Smile, is nihilistic Big Black drum machines over gain-drenched, foreboding bass twangs. The boys are at the tail-end of their European tour, where they’ve been leaping offstage at festivals, literally. “We’re just trying to make kids dance,” Fletcher says. “If you can compare this to anything you’ve ever seen before, then please enlighten me, because I know I sure as hell can’t,” The Garden’s tour manager leans in and whispers to me before the show starts.
Despite being so young, the Shears have already amassed a muscly back catalogue of music, playing in countless bands before The Garden. “We’ve been making music since we were in diapers,” says Fletcher. “But I guess we never formed a real band ‘til Elementary School. Our first band was called Alert. It was just kid punk – loud and really, really fast. We were only ten or eleven, but if we didn’t have all the other bands or do all the other music that we do, The Garden wouldn’t be what it is today,” Wyatt modestly muses.
The boys credit their father – who played in thrash metal bands throughout the 80s – for shaping the back-bone of their nuanced sound. “We listened to a lot of hardcore English punk as tiny kids, and I think that even though we don’t sound like that now, you can definitely see the effect it’s had on us,“ Wyatt explains. They credit a smörgåsbord of influences: everyone from punk bands Minutemen and Big Boys, to cross-dressing rapper/performance artist Mykki Blanco.
“VadaVada” is the The Garden’s self-coined genre, invented to describe a sound too tricky to file into a single category. “When we started playing music, we weren’t trying to rebel against the norm,” Fletcher explains. “We don’t go out saying: ‘We hate pretty kids! We hate the government!’, because we’re actually rebelling against a music scene populated by people who call themselves ‘punks’ just because they wear patches on their leather jackets. Walking around in a circle doing the same thing as everybody else isn’t what ‘punk’ is about, is it? It could be rap. It could be electronic music. It could be a piece of art.”
The pair have spent the past few years fighting hard to get their music out. “We have a stupid history when it comes to albums and releases,” Wyatt sighs, ruffling his peroxide French Crop. “Our first album [the raw and grunge-y Everything Is Perfect] was supposed to come out in 2011, but it actually didn’t end up coming out ‘til very, very late 2012. It was promoted really badly… In fact, it was barely promoted at all. Then when it did finally get released, all the records skipped. Like, literally none of the first thousand pressings played properly. Then when they tried to repress the records, the new ones didn’t play at all.” “It was a total mess,” Fletcher adds. “There are always issues, there’s always bullshit. Even when I think about it now, I just think ‘bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!”
The bad luck didn’t end there. For their most recent output, the boys decided to split new material across three limited edition seven inches (one of which was Aunt J’s Smile), for release in Japan, California and New York. Their producer in New York flaked last minute, the label in Japan accidentally added two of the same song onto the record, and the Californian release came riddled with errors – much to the twins’ frustration. Though misfortune waits for them on every corner, the pair have an unyielding fanbase behind them. At their sell-out show at The Dentist – so called as it was, until recently, a functioning surgery – kids were trying to clamber over the fence from outside to catch a glimpse of the twins.
Tearing through twenty songs in thirty minutes, the set switched effortlessly from theatrical-punk to surreal rap, with Fletcher pulling faces so bizarrely expressive to a melting front row that he resembled a mime. It’s hard to believe these guys have created such a finessed, magnetic live show when they’re not even old enough to drink back home, I thought.
As the twins make their way through a hysterical crowd offstage, their tour manager catches my eye again. It’s 1-0 to him, it seems. You’ve never seen anything like The Garden before.
Wyatt wears black leather fisherman’s cap and black woolblend turtleneck both by Gucci, black snakeskin trousers by Roberto Cavalli and black leather belt by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
Fletcher wears green metallic cotton sweater, Stylist’s own, pink sparkle tweed jacket by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, black jeans, sneakers and gold hoop earrings Model’s own and black leather belt by Lanvin. Wyatt wears white cotton shirt by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, black jeans and tennis shoes Model’s own, pink feather boa stylist’s own and white round plastic sunglasses by Ralph Lauren
Wyatt wears green wool jumper, leopard jacket and black jeans all Model’s own
Fletcher wears red wool turtleneck by Diesel Black Gold, print splashed denim jacket and jeans by Versace and gold and silver earrings, bracelets and black shoes Model’s own
Fletcher wears black and white tiger print sweater and black and white leather biker jacket by Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, black wool trousers and gold and silver earrings Model’s own, multistone pendant necklace and silver bracelet from Pebble. Wyatt wears monochrome cotton sweater by Lanvin, black leather pants from Maison Martin Margiela, black wool fedora hat by Lock and Co and multistone and leather necklace by Pebble
Fletcher wears navy wool waistcoat by Maison Martin Margiela and pink satin scarf by Prada and gold and silver earrings Model’s own
Photographer: Ash Kingston
Fashion Editor: Gary Armstrong
Words: Billie JD Porter
Grooming: Nicole Kahlani at The Book Agency
Fashion Assistance: Hannah Tindle Talent
Models: Wyatt and Fletcher Shears