S. Perlin
Gardens and Villa. Credit: S. Perlin

Gardens and Villa has struggled to maintain its avant-garde approach to making music while falling in line with the indie-music scene ever since the group was founded in Santa Barbara back in 2008.

Catch the Coachella veterans at Pappy and Harriet’s this Saturday, Oct. 10.

Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen are the heart of Gardens and Villa; before becoming Gardens and Villa, they played as part of a punk band. During a recent phone interview, Rasmussen discussed how far back he and Lynch go.

“It’s been about 10 years,” Rasmussen said. “We met in a class where we were studying Western music together. I kind of knew that we were going to be friends and that we had a lot of the same interests as far as musical upbringings and music of the past that we really liked a lot.”

In 2011, Gardens and Villa released its self-titled debut album, followed by Dunes in 2014. Both albums generally received positive reviews—but there have been creative struggles.

“The first album, I really enjoyed,” Rasmussen said. “It was a really pure reflection of where we were at during that time. We were still new to the music world at that point. We had a couple of bands and played shows around Santa Barbara, so we never toured nationally before. We had never been on a label. It was kind of a beautiful time with a lot of newness and discovery.

“With the second record, there was pressure from the label, and they preferred the songs that would help us fall in with the bands getting big with the synthpop renaissance of a few years ago. That was more of a microscopic concept than we ever intended it to be, and it took months and months for the record to be done, and it came out later than we intended it to. It also sounded more dance-music than we intended it to. We dug ourselves into a little hole, and worked really hard for seven months to break out of that.”

In August, Gardens and Villa released its latest effort, Music for Dogs.

“We had a really good tour for Dunes, but we were ready for something like our new record, Music for Dogs, and the process for that,” Rasmussen explained. “With Music for Dogs, I feel we made the music we’ve always wanted to make. We played a bunch of punk music when we were young, so it’s not like it’s a traditional punk record, but there are definitely some punk undertones to it, and it feels like a rock ’n’ roll record. It’s a little rough around the edges.”

When asked if the synthpop and indie-music styles clash with the group’s creativity, Rasmussen said he enjoys working with different genres of music.

“I think that it can be done very well. I think that as far as where we’re coming from, maybe it’s not so bad for us,” he said. “But then again, I think every artist has different periods, whether it be visual artists like Picasso or Monet. … Bands can also explore different genres throughout their career. In many ways, it’s kind of a reflection of where you’re at.”

Eastern philosophy is addressed on some Gardens and Villa albums.

“It’s always been an interest of ours, and not necessarily just Eastern philosophy, but world philosophy as well,” Rasumssen said. “The history of people and the way that thinking has evolved over hundreds of years is very interesting. Now, in 2015, we have a pope who is exciting and progressive. For a pope, he’s really vibrant, radiating and thinking outside of the box. Plus it’s sort of an interesting time politically.”

Rasmussen talked to me from the tour van while it was stopped in Atlanta.

“We’ve been having a really good time. It’s really interesting after you do three records,” he said. “For us, this is like the greatest-hits tour. When you have three albums worth of material, you have a lot you can play, and we’re also doing a lot of covers on this tour. We’ve played a lot of Kinks, and we might throw a Beatles cover in.”

Gardens and Villa will perform with James Supercave at 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10 at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Brian Blueskye

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...