Ariel Pink Interviews The Garden

February 18, 2015 Conversation Piece, ST023

Photography MATHEW SCOTT

On the eve of releasing his new pom pom record, we asked Ariel Pink to pick one ascendant California act he’d like to interview for the latest issue of our free iPad magazine. He selected Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, the twin brothers behind The Garden. Last heard on a kaleidoscopic series of 7-inch singles, they’re poised to release a new record later this year, produced by Pink and his recurring Raw Deal collaborator Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira).

Ariel Pink: Do you consider yourselves gods?

Wyatt Shears: Do we consider ourselves what?

Ariel: Gods.

Wyatt: [Laughs] More like jesters. And everybody else is the king. We’re here to entertain.

Ariel: Ever fuck with people by dressing up like the other one? And then Fletcher gets on the bass and Wyatt gets on the fucking drums?

Wyatt: That would actually throw people for a relatively good loop. Sometimes we actually forget about the powers we could have if we combined our twin-ness.

Ariel: How would Wyatt describe Fletcher and vice versa?

Fletcher Shears: Describing Wyatt is weird, almost like describing myself as fucked up as that sounds, because we work in the exact same way when we make music. We basically work as a team, and we rarely ever disagree on anything. His solo music is a lot more polished than mine though. I don’t spend a lot of time on it; whatever comes out of me, I just do it, then I fuck with it a little bit and am basically done.

Wyatt: It’s hard to explain. I’m usually the one sitting down and writing the song, and he is the one putting the birthday candles on it in a way. He also tends to be more aggressive. If he is being antagonized, he is more likely to lunge at that person than I am.

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Ariel: I have some other pointless questions, like how do you feel about the army and would you join if you could?

Wyatt: I would definitely not join. For personal reasons, and because it would probably scare the shit out of me.

Fletcher: I would do it if I had to, but I would spend all of my time bulking up beforehand. If I had the choice, I would not do it because I would be no help.

Ariel: That’s why it would benefit you the most—because it might help you turn into a man and face those fears, you know?

Fletcher: That’s probably true.

Ariel: What are you—chicken?

Wyatt: You could always shoot yourself in the foot.

Ariel: Exactly. Or be like “I got mental problems!” Alright, how ’bout some other ones? Let’s see. I’d like to talk to you guys about crime.

Fletcher: About crime?

Ariel: Yeah. What kinds of different crimes have you guys committed?

Fletcher: We are pretty behind the shadows when that kind of stuff happens, but I do have a warrant out for my arrest right now. I don’t know what to think about that.

Ariel: As long as you’re out of the country, you’re safe! You can always find safe haven in the embassy. Like Julian Assange or whatever. Go to the Ecuadorian embassy and hole yourself up. Is it a bench warrant? Or is it an actual warrant?

Fletcher: It’s an actual warrant, actually. Which kind of sucks.

Ariel: What’d you do?!

Fletcher: I killed three turkey’s that were owned by a farm.

Ariel: It’s illegal to kill turkeys?!

Fletcher: I don’t know!

Wyatt: I think it’s illegal to kill quails, actually. Or road runners.

Ariel: Road runners? What about Tasmanian devils?

Fletcher: No, no. I got a really not good…

Ariel: Moving violation?

Fletcher: Yeah, and I didn’t pay it. It’s not that cool.

Ariel: See? You heard it here folks. Crime is not that cool.

Fletcher: Maybe if I just say I have a warrant, people will respect me.

Ariel: Is it a crime to succeed at life?

Wyatt: I guess it depends what you’re doing.

Fletcher: Unless you’re killing people, it’s not a
crime to succeed.

Ariel: Is it a crime to suck at life?

Fletcher: I don’t think it’s a crime; I think it’s a curse.

Ariel: Should crime be legalized or tolerated?

Wyatt: At this point, it’s borderline tolerated.

Ariel: What is hate crime?

Wyatt: The internet.

Ariel: Would you choose happiness over life or life over happiness?

Wyatt: Isn’t the whole point of life happiness?

Ariel: I suppose it’s a weird one. What about how do you feel about the music industry?

Wyatt: If you get deep down into it, it’s pretty screwed up. But if you stay in your own headspace and your own bubble and make sure you know what you are doing, it can be a relatively pleasant place. If you get involved in the wrong things, it could be dangerous.

Fletcher: We don’t have a whole lot of experience in it, but if you keep your head on relatively straight, I think you might be alright.

Ariel: I think you guys don’t have any risk of losing your heads. I would only worry about you guys giving your heads away on a silver platter without being able to really understanding the repercussions. I’m like double your age, and I’m just starting to get it.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I got to meet Taylor Swift and we ended up dating or something”

self-titled: Do you have any other advice for the guys then?

Ariel: Whatever is good about you guys—whatever secret recipe you have—hide it. I mean it. Just put it aside and do something else that’s worse, because once that good thing gets let out into the public it becomes bad. Not only will a thousand bands screw up whatever good thing you had, they’ll also make it so you look bad in hindsight.

Wyatt: That’s interesting, I’ve seen that happen before.

Ariel: That’s partly why I dare people not to like me; I really don’t want any of it. I’m just like, “No, you’re absolutely right; you’ve come to the wrong place. Turn around and walk out.” That seems to backfire on me, of course, but it doesn’t backfire because at least they are getting into the bad thing and they’re not getting into the real thing, which is a deep secret.

Wyatt: That takes a lot of sense to be honest.

Ariel: Stay the course, then ditch it.

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self-titled: You mentioned the music industry before Ariel; how do the three of you feel about the fashion industry since you’ve all done things like model for Hedi Slimane?

Ariel: We make music to the camera. It’s sort of a dance where we’re making a composition and Hedi is the muse… What I really think is that all music is fashion; this is all fashion—just like wallpaper or furniture. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing by any means, but I think now more than ever, music seems to be about furniture and wallpaper.

self-titled: Before we wrap up, do you guys have any questions you’d like to ask Ariel?

Fletcher: That is a good question itself. Out of curiosity, what are you next moves in life career wise?

Ariel: I feel like it’s on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Especially nowadays with social networking; the story kind of changes. I had to interact with the world a little bit, have a dialogue. So it depends on what the world says to me and how I reply.

Those things are starting to make more sense to me as I interact with them as opposed to begrudgingly reading from a cue card and saying, “Well these guys were all on the record and I changed my name…” You could read that a million times and nobody is going to see it. Nobody really cares. Everybody already knows there’s a list of people; why do you need me to pick them out and talk about them? It’s a waste of my fucking time.

You know, I’m happy if I have another year in this thing man. My next thing is to just to tour the record, you know? We hope it does well. I hope it throws me into the stratosphere of fame and fortune and fashion. I don’t think it will, but that’s just because I’m a pessimist. I’m a lot less weird now than back when I started, just by virtue of sticking around, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I got to meet Taylor Swift and we ended up dating or something. That could actually happen. I don’t know! I’m still single. I want to start a family and buy some property if I could ever afford that. Buying a house is definitely a plan as soon as I make the money.

Fletcher: That’s pretty fucking interesting to be honest, what you just said.

Ariel: I hope I answered it.

Fletcher: It was extensive, but it was definitely proper.

Ariel: I don’t want to keep you guys on the phone too much longer!

Fletcher: We just had to go through our own quote-unquote scandal, so it’s interesting to hear what you have to cover up and what we have to cover up. I appreciate the drive you have to keep going, to keep making moves and keep making it.

Ariel: Yeah, you know, it’s really easy to offend people nowadays.

Wyatt: Very easy.

Ariel: It’s almost tempting to be as offensive as possible, because you want to teach everybody a lesson. We are the people that wouldn’t hurt a fly, and yet you’re going to be wasting all of your time whacking us down back into our hole, ask if we’re what’s really the threat out there. It’s like, “Come on, I’m not a misogynist. I’m a teddy bear; you have nothing to fear from me. You don’t want me not on your side. I’m one of the good guys.”

Wyatt: Exactly. That’s how we feel lately.

“Then they pit us against each other and sit back and laugh, like it’s ‘Celebrity Death Match’ or something”

Ariel: There’s bad guys out there you should be afraid of. Don’t you forget it.

Wyatt: Yeah exactly; you’re looking at the wrong guy.

Ariel: It’s not going to be negotiated anytime soon. Nobody is going to like saving turkeys… Take those turkeys and fucking eat them! I’m sorry; I know that is going to offend somebody. But the turkeys can be eaten. Don’t take it as animal cruelty. It’s just the order of things.

self-titled: It seems like no matter what anybody says these days, there’s a think piece the next day. One line from an interview can be turned into these gross generalizations.

Ariel: Outrage!

self-titled: And every time this happens, I think ‘aren’t there more important things going on in the world than this?’

Ariel: Everybody knows the media lies to them every single second of the day, but yet they eat it up right the second they spit it out. The media has this extremely faceless act—”We’re just opening the channels of communication here!”—as if the players are on one side and the audience is on the other. And then they pit us against each other and sit back and laugh, like it’s Celebrity Death Match or something. It all gets played out not in conversation, but in the reading world—silently in people’s brains, while they’re at home browsing BuzzFeed.

self-titled: Sometimes it feels like we’re in a conservative, puritanical country.

Ariel: We’ve become outraged Pat Robertsons—the exact opposite of liberalism. “Don’t you dare say that about that person! You cannot do that; she’s a girl! She was abused and we’ve all been abused by your asshole antics. We’ve had enough, and we’re going to fucking drag you out and chop your head off!” That seems to be the whole attitude.

It’s like, “Dude, shut up. Nobody is going to chop anybody’s head off. Why do you have to take it there?” Should I call foul, and be like “take his head off”? I didn’t say anything about disrespecting women, disrespecting Madonna. I like Madonna.

self-titled: Things have gotten very conservative.

Ariel: It’s because we got so used to getting so much juicy sugary goodness from all the outrageous stuff that’s happening all the time. We have to have our several number of beheadings a week, mixed in with our Häagen-Dazs and with our Ebola scares. We have to temper all of it perfectly or else we will lose the viewership. Everybody’s glued to the next episode. And it’s just like, “Oh my god man, what were we doing before this?” I remember! No I don’t. How’d we get this far without the internet?

Wyatt: It’s pretty weird, pretty screwed up.

Ariel: I think we should just unlearn everything—an unlearning app. Just take out kernels of information and start taking the foundations out of the building, you know? Uh oh. What happened?! All of a sudden there’s no names online. Oh no! Of course we all still have our names. It’s just not printing out any names anymore. Jesus. Every article just has to be a blank spot. And then there’s a face. The people formerly known as Not Prince.

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