The Garden Digs Its Routan.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
For the past three years, twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have been taking the usually tired old bass-and-drum aesthetic far beyond the normal realms of comfort. Combined with esoteric electronic elements and very intentional comedic aspects, their band The Garden is one of the newest faces on Epitaph Records, which released its Haha LP last year. But, funny as their songs can be at times, the brothers' “impeccable bone structure” punk is serious business.
Other successes for the brothers — who also play in side projects Puzzle and Enjoy — include modeling for Yves Saint Laurent and countless tours in Europe and Asia. More recently, the band stopped off on its way down to SXSW to play a Saturday set at J&J's Pizza as part of this past weekend's 35 Denton conferette. The small crowd — comprised mostly of young girls — that was on hand to watch their set ate it up too, slice after slice.
Following that performance, we had a chance to speak with both Wyatt and Fletcher about Saint Jamie, the adorable little Volkwagen of theirs that's been taking them everywhere they go across the Lower 48 — and sometimes even into Canada and Mexico.
Band Name: The Garden.
Van Name: Saint Jamie.
Year/Make/Model: 2010 Volkswagen Routan.
Currently, y'all are on tour as The Garden, correct?
Wyatt: “At times, yes.”
Fletcher: “For life.”
Wyatt: “Exactly! Evan knows what's going on!”
How many miles have you put on it?
Fletcher: “It's about at 109,000, and it started at 10,000, so we put all that on there. It's about 100,000 right there.”
How'd you acquire it?
Fletcher: “We put our money together and bought it, together as a team.”
Where'd you guys buy it from?
Fletcher: “Toyota of Orange.”
Did you buy it new?
Where does that name Saint Jamie come from?
Wyatt: “It's this old wooden ship, Saint Jordan. And we named this one Saint Jamie.”
Where all have you sailed in Saint Jamie?
Wyatt: “Saint Jamie has taken us to New York, taken us to Texas. It's taken us to Mexico, it's taken us to Canada, most of the states.”
Fletcher: “Except for a couple.”
Wyatt: “Even out of the country a little bit. We, ah, never mind. I don't wanna get to the rest.”
C'mon. Tell us what's happened in the Routan?
Fletcher: “One time, the Growlers, when were on tour with them, we were on a boat, Saint Jamie was on a boat. They snuck on, and we left to go upstairs, and they painted the whole car. So then, whenever we went over the border, we got stopped while they went right through the border. And we had to stay and get questioned about why there was drawings all over our car. I mean, there's been a million stories aboard the Saint Jamie. That's one of the first ones I could think of.”
Has anything bad ever happened mechanical-wise?
Fletcher: “Right now, Saint Jamie's having a little trouble with oil.”
Wyatt: “It hasn't been cleaned since about summer last year.”
Fletcher: “I took it through a quick wash the other day. I was at The Thing on the way here — you know The Thing stop? — and Saint Jamie fucking blew. It had steam coming out the top. It's only because I didn't have any oil in it. Now we got oil.”
Wyatt: “Hopefully, Saint Jamie's going to be riding dirty soon.”
How about the inside? Do you boys at least keep that clean?
Wyatt: “We like to keep it clean, but it's never clean.”
Fletcher: “We like to, but we don't. I love Saint Jamie, I really do. I feel like I have a connection. We've done a lot together. It has to get cleaned. And I feel really bad. I tried to take it to a full inside-out cleaning place the other day, and they were closed because it was too late, so I just took Saint Jamie through a quick five-minute gas station car wash. Maybe I'll clean it while we're in Austin.”
What else should we know about Saint Jamie?
Wyatt: “Saint Jamie's pretty much been the staple of us. If you see a white Routan with an 'If it ain't country, It ain't music' sticker on the back, you know it's Saint Jamie, and you know we're inside.”
Fletcher: “Jamie's fucking saved us from getting tickets. It gets us to our shows on time.”
Wyatt: “You should care about Saint Jamie, because it gets us to our shows on time so we can play for you.”
So it's never broken down?
Wyatt: “It's never broken down.”
Fletcher: “We've had a couple minor issues, but never broken down. That's why we love her.”
Wyatt: “In fact, is Saint Jamie OK, right now?”
Wyatt: “Because I might need to go get some shut eye.”
Before we go: Who usually drive's Saint Jamie?
Wyatt: “It's mixed. But right now Fletcher's the king.”
Fletcher: “Right now, I'm Saint Jamie's captain.”
Is there anything else we should know about the van?
Fletcher: “Saint Jamie is getting some shut-eye.”
Wyatt: “You're going to see Saint Jamie at SXSW 2016.”
Fletcher: “We're going to be driving around, getting shit done.”
Wyatt: “Taking Jell-O shots.”
Fletcher: “Ha! Jell-O shots…”