The genre “Indie” involves such a broad spectrum of sound that there is always something new and interesting to try, and local Rock Hill/Charlotte band, Gardeners, has managed to capture such a variety of qualities of the spectrum in their new debut EP, Along the Heathers. One of Rock Hill’s key contributors to the band scene has created a unique blend of classic indie to indie rock instrumentals and smooth, indie folk-like vocals.
We were able to catch band member Timothy McFall to hear what the band and their new EP is about.
I was able to hear your songs “Cuts” and “Fine Print” through Spotify previously and really loved your sound, so I was excited to hear you guys were releasing more content. Was there a specific sound you were going for? Were there any particular artists that influenced Gardeners?
This question has been tough for us to find an answer for. Everyone in the band is into pretty drastically different music, and I think you can tell by listening to the songs. We mess around with a lot of different styles and we really enjoy it. Our music wasn’t directly influenced by any other artists, but most of us enjoy Tame Impala, Joyce Manor, and Angel Olsen if it helps to have some names.
Tell me a bit about each of the band members.
Brandon Byron (guitar/vocals) was a founding member of the band. He’s a very talented guitar player and has one of the most unique voices I’ve heard. He does a large amount of the songwriting. Several of the songs were even written by him before we formed.
Ali Kaveh (drums) actually learned drums by playing Rock Band in, like, middle school and is one of the most versatile drummers I’ve played with. He tracked drums for all 7 songs on the EP in one four-hour session!! ((Truly a talent))
Lillian Peel (vocals) was brought in to add more dimension to the vocals of our group. Brandon’s vision for the band always included a strong vocal presence. Lillian ended up doing much more than just adding “dimension” though. We’re hoping to write more songs like “Little Stones” where she sings lead, because that has ended up being one of our favorites.
John Eaves (guitar) joined the band after we had already played a couple shows. With him we were able to have lead and rhythm guitar parts playing simultaneously. John has also been instrumental in writing some of the more recent songs. He’s always got a cool little riff to show us.
And I (Timothy McFall, bass/vocals) am not sure how [Brandon] knew I played bass, but after graduation Brandon asked if I wanted to jam. He invited me to join Gardeners and the rest is groovy history. On the EP I also played trombone and synth for a few songs.
Does the culture of audience and band scene in Rock Hill and Charlotte have any influence on the style you guys were going for?
I don’t think there’s a way for musicians not to be influenced by the culture they are surrounded by. I think we have a tinge of folksiness to our sound due to us all living in South Carolina/Georgia most of our lives. I’m sure our music carries influence from other things that I’m not even aware of.
Are there any other bands from the Rock Hill and Charlotte area you guys enjoy that listeners should look into?
There are so many great bands around [Rock Hill]! Motel Glory, Chase Warren & The Homewreckers, Tough Ghost, GASP, and Mall Goth. As for Charlotte, there’s Hectorina, Placeholder, Patois Counselors, Jail Socks, and now Clemson boys Daddy’s Beemer! There are honestly too many great local acts to name in the Rock Hill/Charlotte area.
Is there anything specific that you hope listeners get from your music?
We just want it to make the listener feel something. This is extremely emotive music, so if you’re sitting in your car just kinda nodding your head along, you’re doing it wrong. This is not a concept piece, as these songs were written over a large span of time. Some of them might be as many as 6 years old. But they all seemed like they worked together in a weird, disjointed way.
I admire that within each song in your EP, and even the entirety of “Hot Car,” there are features and bits that allow the listener to appreciate the instrumentals and acknowledge the beauty of both individuality and working together within a band. Was there a specific reasoning behind that? Were there any influences that led to making that such a key trait in your music?
That’s just the way we write and play together. I know when I write bass parts I typically take something from the drums and something from the guitars or vocals. I know other members do stuff like that too. Everything we play is created with the final sound in mind. There’s a refreshing absence of selfishness and ego while we write, practice, and record.
What is the inspiration behind your lyrics? Who writes them?
Brandon and Lillian write the lyrics, sometime together and sometimes individually. They say that a recurring theme is that of reflection on moments or people that have shaped them. Cuts is about a former relationship, Cross-Eyed is about a bad acid trip, Little Stones is about sisterhood and family ties. Brandon says that “figuring shit out” is a big theme in Along The Heather.
You can catch Gardeners August 11th at The Courtroom, August 18th at Yeah Fest in Charlotte and will be at King of Pops in Charlotte August 26th.