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Gardens & Villa Brings Galactic Fever

Gardens & Villa, Gardens & Villa band, Cara Robbins photography, Santa Barbara band

Photo by Cara Robbins

Picture this: Five guys, an ice chest, a heat wave and a van with no air conditioning.

This is what the members of Gardens & Villa have considered home for the last couple months.

The Santa Barbara-based band recently completed a tour of North America, playing with artists such as Foster the People, Craft Spells and Generationals. Their self-titled debut album, released July 5, was inspired by nature, spiritual upheaval, travel and friends, and features themes related to love, childhood and the cosmos, says lead singer Chris Lynch.

To make it through the 10-week long tour, which included three van changes, two countries and one intense schedule, the band focused on their vibes. “We burn incense and sage. We have crystals and we meditate. Teas, stretching, yoga, various intoxicants, beach chairs, flutes… many ways to vibe,” says Lynch. The guys battled triple-digit temps and lack of air conditioning on the road by stocking an ice chest with spray bottles and spraying each other to stay cool.

The group has come a long way since first considering Jamaican Dolphins and Zebra Sword Slayer as band names, and using the garage of the home they shared together as a practice space.

Chris Lynch, Gardens & Villa, Gardens & Villa frontmanWe spoke with flute-playing, history-and-religion-degree-holding, vibed-out frontman Lynch about music, life and…Eminem.

TS: It is evident that nature influences your music, but what else do you draw inspiration from?
CL: Travel, friends, adventures, old music, hiking, dance, spiritual upheaval, reflections on the universe, technology, animals, old people, plants, holy land, games, casinos, insects, clouds and driving across the country.

TS: Writing of the lyrics — Who does it? What is the process?
CL: I do most of it. There are several different patterns that I seem to fall into –a lot of exercises designed to draw images from my subconscious. Also, sometimes premeditated and disciplined crafting. Every song is different. The vocal melody always comes first and then the words are fit in according to their vowel sounds and vibe.

TS: How long have you been playing your instruments? Do any of you have a family background in music? What was your experience with music growing up?
CL: All of us have been playing since we were wee lads. For me personally, my family was extremely musical. My mom taught piano to kids and my dad played a lot of 60’s, 70’s folkish stuff on the guitar…singing harmonies with my sisters in the car. Almost every memory I have from childhood has music woven into it.

TS: After having time to dwell on the album, is there anything you’d change about it?
CL: I try not to think about that. Most artists are never completely satisfied with their work. It can be really hard to let go of something you have poured so much into, but eventually you have to just move on and give it out to people.

TS: It’s obvious that you enjoy and take inspiration from nature — what’s your favorite outdoor place to be?
CL: The southern Oregon coast, Coos Bay area. But there are so many other places — the eastern swamp, upstate New York, desert lightening storms, northern forests, waterfalls and rock formations like Joshua Tree and Lizard’s Mouth (in Santa Barbara).

Gardens & Villa interview, Gardens & VillaTS: You guys have been touring, almost non stop, for quite some time — how has this affected your work, living situation and overall lives in California?
CL: Our lives have become the tour. It has been really hard to maintain relationships with loves, friends and family, but everyone has been pretty supportive of our sacrifice. Like Eminem said, “you’ve only got one shot.”

TS: Do you read your press/reviews? If so, how does the media’s perception/interpretation of your music differ from your own?
CL: In the beginning, I read a lot of reviews and press. It is ALL over the place and confusing as hell. Some of it is flattering, some depressing. I guess I try and block it all out now. It is really just a distraction. No one’s opinion matters more than my band mates’ and our peers/mentors and that has been really positive.

TS: Have you guys started working on new music? What are your short-term goals for the rest of this year?
CL: Lots of new music. We are going to make an EP with some killer jams for late 2011, early 2012. Can’t wait to get back in the studio!

The band will embark on a fall tour beginning Sept. 15 in Santa Cruz, Calif. For more information, including a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit the Gardens & Villa website.


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