INTERVIEW: Getting to know Fremantle's indie rockers, Garden Island
Ahead of their upcoming EP launch of Self Destruction Blues, we spoke to Garden Island to delve into the alternative rock band’s roots and get more acquainted with them. From getting down to the nitty and gritty of the creative process, to discussing the Perth music scene and their favourite live venues, the four boys gave us a gleaming insight into their journey thus far as a band.
To get to know your band better, could you us a rundown on each of the band members and their respective roles?
We have Nick who is the main songwriter who plays guitar and sings, Luke who plays lead guitar and synth and has just recently started writing and singing, Mike on bass, and Dillon on drums.
Which bands or artists would you say were/are your primary influences?
My early influences as a kid stemmed from listening to my parents play Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, with The Triffids being blasted in the backyard. Then growing up we all liked bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Oasis (the usual teenage stuff haha) which have definitely remained an influence on our music. Lately, we have been enjoying a wider range of music, especially jangly garage indie rock stuff from Australia and overseas — like Rolling Blackouts CF, which has pushed our sound further down that path.
Any bands in the Perth scene at the moment that you look up to and/or take inspiration from?
We attend heaps of local gigs and have been doing forever, so we have had the joy of watching friends and other young bands go from loose upstarts to incredible strong and talented performers over time. The Perth music scene is something we are so proud to be a part of. Some of our favourites around town include Hideous Sun Demon, Hamjam, Verge Collection, The Love Junkies, Kitchen People, Teen Angst, Noah Dillon, Pond, Carla Geneve and New Nausea.
With Garden Island, is there any ultimate dream of where you’re headed?
It would be really cool to write a full length LP, say a 10/12-track album. Playing at a festival or an east coast tour would be amazing, and anything beyond that would be incredible.
The release of Blunder Years last year represents your band’s first record. How would you describe the emotion and achievement that has come with that?
Being the first EP we’ve released, it was a huge feeling of achievement and the fact that people actually enjoyed it and that it got airtime on national radio felt really great. We were honestly quite surprised and relieved about the positive reaction we received, and it gave us a lot of encouragement going forward.
Your sophomore record is set to release later this month. What direction have you taken with this record?
We have turned things up a little bit and headed for a tighter punk vibe with Self Destruction Blues, but still are still keeping that casual indie rock feel. We spent a lot more time on this one because we recorded and mixed it ourselves. With Blunder Years, it was only recorded in 2 days so we felt like we rushed it a bit. We dedicated more focus to the composition, recording and mixing for a stronger, faster and more upbeat sound than Blunder Years.
Any standout venues you enjoy performing at in particular? Or any venue that you’d love to perform at during your career?
We are from Freo, so Mojos has been our spiritual home for a long time, plus other local venues we love like The Aardvark and Clancy’s. We have started playing further around town lately, in the city and even north side which has been rad. It would be an absolute dream to play at In The Pines one year!
Who writes the songs in your group, and is there a specific process you go through? Have you found any prevalent themes or messages you try to convey through them?
Nick writes most of the songs and Luke has begun writing as well, with his song ‘Wired’ appearing on the new EP. The songs in Blunder Years were steeped in nostalgia – a combination of songs depicting the learning and failings of those naive younger years of hazy times, with a few brief moments of clarity, a healthy balance of optimism and mild regret. The themes for Self Destruction Blues follow on from this into a world where understanding becomes at once more clearer, but more confusing (with still plenty of empty wine glasses lying around!).
As a band so far, what has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle that we’re still getting better at navigating is being more honest and critical of ourselves and each other. In any creative process involving a few people, you have to have an open forum for dialogue in order to get the best possible outcome, so it’s important to be able to evaluate and review a song or piece of work along the way and discuss how or where it could be better and not take things too personally. There’s the hope at the end of the day that everyone can be happy and confident in what was produced.
Any advice for those looking to form their own band and try break into the Perth music scene?
We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves haha! We have learnt so much with each release and are always eager to figure out more ways for more people to hear our music and come to our shows. The Perth scene is so approachable as everyone is really supportive and so many awesome people are involved in incredible projects and doing things for the right reasons. So for the new bands, it’s just about getting amongst it as much as possible, getting to know the scene, and involving yourself every way you can.
I noticed you have a few songs up on Spotify; are you on any other music services so that readers can find your music and check it out?