Gardenside is a four piece band from Los Angeles, California—and despite being less than a year old, the band has already been playing shows up and down the coast to promote their five song self-titled EP. Combining traditional pop punk sound with gentle, occasionally drawling vocals and a bedroom-band vibe, the Gardenside EP stays true to the band’s ideal of “sorta pop punk.” I met up with three of its four members—Ethan Carling, Robby Craig, Jeremy Harris, and Charles Crowley—at a house show in San Juan to discuss Gardenside’s formation and future.
How did Gardenside form?
Jeremy: I was in a band for around five years, and that band kind of started to fizzle out a little bit. Had to figure out what I’m going to do next and started writing some tunes. I ended up showing them to my friend Fil and he said “this is cool, you should do this.” I was like “okay,” and we started working on it, and it’s come to where we are now.
Did you ever consider making Gardenside a solo project?
Jeremy: No, I never wanted to do a solo project. I wanted it to be a band, because—just being by yourself, I don’t want that. I want some buds to hang out with.
Ethan: And Jeremy came up to me and he was like “hey, I want to you to be in the band,” and I was like “we’re not friends yet.”
Jeremy: And then Robby, I’ve known Robby for a couple of years, and he’s the best drummer I know, so—
Robby: Aw, shucks.
Jeremy: —he just moved back to California, and I was like “wow, this is working out nice.” And then Charles is a good friend of mine from a while ago, and it was just a no-brainer to have him on.
Gardenside is fairly young.
Jeremy: The idea of the band, probably started in December, November of last year (2016). So the actual band has existed for six, seven months or so.
And yet you’ve already put out an EP and are playing shows. How has that been?
Jeremy: We’re kind of taking everything we have right now and whatever shows we can get our hands on, so, we played a good, fair amount for just kind of starting to pull it together and, you know, understand each other and get tight in that way.
Ethan: But that has been surprising, for such a fresh band, I feel like by show two we were, like, locked in.
What do you think contributed to that?
Jeremy: Well, for us two, Jeremy and Robby, and Charles, this isn’t our first band, so—I used to play in a band with Robby back when I lived here in 2011, so we meshed immediately. And Ethan’s played in bands before, too, but not as much.
Ethan: It’s been tight, it’s been fun.
Jeremy: Everyone’s solid, so I’m really happy about that.
Not only do you have an EP out, but you’ve got some pretty impressive guest vocals on it—from Dan Lambton of Real Friends. How did you score that?
Jeremy: It’s kind of ridiculous, the whole Dan being on that, our song “Into It.” It was just crazy. It was the type of thing where I knew I wanted a guest vocal on that part, and the first person Fil said was “well, what about Dan from Real Friends?” I was like “really? I guess so, yeah.” It came through in like a week, so it was like “wow, okay.” You know, that guy can get stuff done, I love it.
Robby: Fil’s rad.
Jeremy: He works so hard for us, you know, we love him.
Robby: I love Fil.
By Fil, you mean Fil Thorpe-Evans, the bassist for Neck Deep, and Gardenside’s manager. How has it been working with one of the big names in pop punk at the moment? Does it make you feel like mainstream success is more possible?
Jeremy: Looking at them and their progress, I mean, they’ve been around, four years, maybe, and just, wow, they’ve grown and grown and grown. See as we went and saw Warped Tour the other day, and seeing them there, you see all the craziness that goes on and the, you know, rabid fans they have and you’re like “okay, this is really cool, this is impressive.”
Robby: Even in the amount of a couple years. I saw Neck Deep on Warped Tour in 2015, and there was like, maybe 100 kids that showed up to see them, and then Fil let us hang out VIP to go see him at Warped Tour in 2017 and there was like 500-ish kids. 600-ish.
Jeremy: There was more than that.
Robby: Basically, there was just a lot of kids there.
Jeremy: It’s crazy, they’re literally one of my favorite bands and to have them working with us, and to know them at all is crazy, so it’s really fun.
How did you become friends with Fil?
Jeremy: We had kind of a mutual friend that we met through. It was a little weird. We got to know each other, and we’ve known each other a couple years now.
Jeremy, you're getting married.
Jeremy: Yeah, getting married. October.
Would you ever do a Gardenside song with your fiancée, Caitlyn Cope?
Jeremy: I would definitely do that. If there was a part that popped up and she’d be perfect or it, I’d be right on that.
Ethan: That’s interesting.
Jeremy: I haven’t even thought about that really, it’s funny.
Ethan: Different worlds.
Jeremy: We work together a bit, but we tend to kind of keep it separate ‘cause that can be, you know, rough. But, no, I would do that in a second, I would love that. She’s got an amazing voice.
Ethan: What would you write? I’m trying to think. That would be interesting.
Jeremy: It would be interesting.
Ethan: It would be good.
Ethan, you do your own solo music. How does that tie into your work with Gardenside?
Ethan: I’d say I take inspiration from all of it, in a way. I do music production and it’s all basically electronic, so it’s kind of fun to be in this band and give my two sense, at least as far as production goes.
What about in terms of writing?
Ethan: Jeremy said he wants me to write—or, we’re going to experiment and try and cowrite. ‘Cause the band, we all do write, but it’s just been a weird collaborative effort.
Jeremy: Everything’s been such like a...bedroom thing, by myself, like it just kind of happens. I haven’t really, like called “oh come on in, let’s do stuff together” yet.
Ethan: We don’t schedule studio time.
Jeremy: It just hasn’t happened yet, but it will, it’ll definitely be a thing. I can’t, I’m not a bottomless pit of songs, so. (laughs)
Robby: To me it seems like you are.
What bands influence you most?
Jeremy: I’m big on Third Eye Blind, is a big one for me. We’re jamming that all the way here.
Ethan: We were all singing it.
Jeremy: Just banger after banger with those guys. I’m a big Death Cab [for Cutie] fan. Postal Service, you know, Ben Gibbard is an amazing guy. Jimmy Eat World is another big one for me.
Ethan. As far as rock music goes, I’m big into—The Dear Hunter was a big inspiration for me. Pop punk...dude, Good Charlotte.
Jeremy: Oh yeah, most definitely.
Ethan: If we’re going straight pop, I’m huge into Coldplay. I’ll stop there.
Robby: I’m kind of all around. I would have to say my drummer’s inspiration would have to be Travis Barker [from Blink-182] and Eric Moore from Suicidal Tendencies. And the bands that kind of got me into pop punk were The Wonder Years and The Story So Far. I listen to music all the way across the spectrum, except country. I just can’t, I can’t do it.
Jeremy: New pop country is so good, though. I love Lady Antebellum so much, they have such good songs. Come on.
Robby: Please, edit this out.
Ethan: It’s not country at that point.
Jeremy: That’s the thing, yeah, it’s really pop. But it’s what country is right now, a lot of pop country going on right now. I love that stuff, I have no shame in that, either. I will put that out there for everyone.
Robby: If you can put that out there, I’m a huge Justin Bieber fan. Through and through.
Jeremy: I can confirm this. And this was before Justin Bieber was, like, okay. He’s talking about baby Justin Bieber.
Ethan: My World 2.0.
Robby: We were on tour, uh, somewhere, and I was just playing Justin Bieber the whole time. Jeremy hated it and I just loved every second of it.
Ethan: If we’re going guilty pleasure, Sara Bareilles.
Jeremy: My guilty pleasure is Dan—
Ethan: Daniel Bedingfield.
Jeremy: Daniel Bedingfield, you know it! Already. “If You’re Not the One.” And “I Want to Talk About Me” by Toby Keith.
Robby: You just said Toby Keith, man. I just lost so much respect.
Jeremy: That one’s definitely more of a joke. That’s the song that, like, if we’re in a restaurant that has one of those record players, or play the song you want to play, I just put it on without telling anyone. They hear that song, and they go, “oh, that’s Jeremy.”
Have you ever felt any pressure to make your music “pop punk” enough for the scene?
Jeremy: I’ve never felt that pressure, really. I don’t think I really care much about what people think it is, you know what I mean? I don’t know, it’s hard to put that into words, but I guess I’ve never thought about, like, the need to fit in. I think I’ve just been writing what I want to write and that’s come out the way it has. Especially with new songs that we’re writing now, it’s definitely, each song’s a little different. So I haven’t really felt it’s been like one type of thing, which I like. I think it’s fun that way.
Robby: I definitely like the style that Jeremy writes in, ‘cause I mean, if he had came to me with Gardenside and it was all about pizza, friends, and skateboarding, I would have been like “ah, I’m good.” But it’s not.
Jeremy: Most people sing about how, their friends and stuff. I think about just how much I don’t like people.
Robby: I definitely like the style he writes in, but I have to agree with him, I don’t feel like I’ve felt any sort of pressure to be like “we need to fit in.” We have our whole, sort of like, our motto thing is “sorta pop punk” because we don’t fit into any sort of “oh these guys are straight up pop punk” or “oh these guys are alternative rock.” We just draw sounds from all our influences.
Favorite song on the record?
Jeremy: I think “Lack of Dark” is mine.
Ethan: “Blind.” 6-8 gets me, dude.
Robby: I hate that song.
Jeremy: This dude straight up says he hates my song. That’s complete news to me!
Robby: No, no, no, I’m joking, I’m joking. I can play 6-8 all day, all the time. I don’t know, it’s kind of a tie between “Lack of Dark” and “Into It.” I like vibe “Lack of Dark” has, but I really like the pop punk anthem that “Into It” has, plus it’s got Dan in it and I was really stoked about that.
What’s it looking like for Gardenside through the end of the year?
Jeremy: End of the year? Well, we’re writing a lot now, trying to put together, you know, possibly a full length album, so we’re getting that in the works. We’re going to start buttoning it up in the next month or so and then see where we’re going to actually, if we’re going to self produce again or if we’re going to go somewhere with it. Just kind of figure all that stuff out. And until then we’re just playing, playing what we can get our hands on. We have some really good stuff lined up in the near future that we can’t really say yet, but pretty soon that’ll come out.
What’s the last dream you had?
Jeremy: Last dream I had? Oh, no. I’m not good at remembering dreams.
Robby: That’s a scary topic for me. The last dream I had, um, do you know Kevin from the show The League? I had a dream he was trying to kidnap me. And it scared the crap out of me, my heart was racing so hard. He was trying to kidnap me, and someone else was in the dream, I can’t remember, but he was trying to help Kevin, and then I locked myself in a storage unit somewhere in Burbank.
Ethan: My last nightmare, for some reason, I just had a dream my laptop got stolen. And I woke up, panting, and I got out of bed real fast to see if my laptop was stolen. And it wasn’t. So we’re chillin’. But that was a scary one.
Jeremy: I really don’t remember the last dream I had. Nightmares. I can’t even think of a nightmare. I feel like I don’t dream very often.
Ethan: Remember the one you told me about when I was in your dream?
Robby: Oh, you dream about Ethan?
Jeremy: That one, that one’s private. (laughs) No, I don’t remember what you’re talking about.
Ethan: I was just making it up to see if you’ve dreamed about me.
Jeremy: There’s many there about Ethan, but I’m going to choose to say I don’t remember.
What’s your dream tattoo?
Ethan: I think if I were to get a tattoo, and we’re talking dream tattoo, it would be, like, a moveable one. Not removable, but it would move. So let’s say I have a straight line down my forearm, past my elbow, it would move and always stay straight rather than bend with my skin. Always maintain form. Kind of like a projection.
Robby: I don’t know, I don’t really have one dream tattoo because I kind of have a lot, so they all...like “oh I’m getting another tattoo,” like I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow.
What are you getting tomorrow?
Robby: It’s a coffin with a stair set inside the coffin with roses around it. So it’s like a super traditional style tattoo. Literally, my friend’s a tattoo artist, and she posted it to her page, and I was like “yo, that’s sick.” She gave me a price and I said “let’s do it.” There was no “hey, Marie, I think I want to get a coffin with a stair set in it with roses around it.” I was like “yo, that’s sick.” So I’m getting it tomorrow. I don’t know. I used to want “Thug Life” across my stomach. I love Tupac. I used to want it a lot. I don’t think it’s going to happen. So, I guess, if I had to pick a dream tattoo, because I probably won’t ever get that one done, I’d probably be getting “Thug Life” across my stomach.
Jeremy: I’m such a bore I guess. If I were to have a dream tattoo—you know, it’s funny, I would be down with tattoos, but I’ve always felt like I’m so...
Jeremy: I’m so boring? That I, no, I’m so indecisive that I feel like I would want—there’s tattoos that last like a year or two or something like that? That’s kind of cool and seems, like, reasonable.
Any parting remarks?
Robby: Turnover, Peripheral Vision, is the best album of 2015.
Ethan: Follow us on Tinder.
Jeremy: We have LinkedIn, too.
Robby: Do we really?
Kimberly Thomas is a DJ for the Record Hospital. Tune in weeknights 10 p.m. - 5 a.m.