Flesh and Breath From Skeletons: A Night in the Life of Local Band Gardeners Logic
WORDS BY: ASHLEY BERMUDEZ
PHOTOS BY: JON ADRINO
Days prior to performing at the well known Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, Ian Bailey sits back in his chair drinking a hot cup of coffee. The lead singer of Huntington Beach-based band Gardeners Logic sports a beanie and jacket, and he crosses one leg over the other as he becomes more invested in the topic of music and emotion.
While the physical task of setting up and breaking down a stage for a show may seem curious, Bailey is much more inspired to speak about the process of creating music to bring to the stage. The band’s sound blends familiar indie rock with a new, lively folk feel.
The night of the show arrives, and people begin to filter into the venue. Alex’s Bar is designed with deep-red walls, disturbingly realistic decorative dead babies swinging from the ceiling and a long bar daring patrons to step closer. Ian and Gardeners Logic drummer Mike Willson are all smiles. They have snagged a table with a great view of the stage. Together with friends, girlfriends and cold beers in-hand they chit chat with members of another band called Fellow Bohemian. The guys of Gardeners Logic were asked to play this venue for local band Two Guns’ CD release party.
In order to book a show, Bailey reaches out to different venues, checks availability and has to provide a lineup of other performers willing to play. Because of this responsibility and scheduling conflicts, the band favors being asked to perform by other artists or venues.
Minutes pass, and the two other members of Gardeners Logic, Ryan Martinez and Gary Westmoreland, arrive separately from San Diego where they both reside. The usual commute for shows is a testament to their passion for performing. The band is complete and ready to go.
Willson has already put his drum set in place on stage and allows for another band to use his gear. Gardeners Logic is set to perform last, at 11:45 p.m. Around 10 o’clock Westmoreland and Bailey step outside to grab equipment from the car and roll it inside. Fellow Bohemian performs first, then Two Guns. As the time approaches for Gardeners Logic to play, they all seem cool and laid back. No pre-show jitters, or at least they seem to hide it well.
Shape Pitaki, another band, wrap up their last song and welcome Gardeners Logic to the stage for the final performance of the night. The guys focus on tuning their instruments, as they have 15 minutes to set up.
“The goal for a show is to be as fun [onstage] as we can, but also provide some type of meaningful entertainment,” Bailey says. He explains that each show calls for a different vibe, so the order of songs is fluid and constantly changing.
“Meaningful entertainment” is the phrase that sticks as the band plays their first song, “Coyote Run.” It begins with a soft melody as Ian belts in a hard but smooth tone,
“I see the road but I can't go back
Nothing seems as good as that
I have lived in love but I must move on
I turn away as there is nothing wrong.”
The music then picks up with each instrument tying into the next.
“I’m a joker a jester at heart
I find my youth in what is lost
I kick up dirt to make a scene
only to keep you a part of me.”
Sitting back in his chair at the coffee shop days before the show, looking as cars drive past, Bailey does his best to put into words the process of feeling and writing lyrics. He smiles and is quiet for a moment. Arms crossed over his chest, he continues, “It feels very therapeutic… music should be. I've never been able to disconnect myself, some part always gets through.” He describes the words as the skeleton.
Onstage, the band transforms a skeleton to breath and flesh. The sound is alive and vibrant.
“Generally, personal lyrics stem from existential crisis or personal experience,”Bailey says.
Now he turns red and his veins thicken around his neck as he sings a new song. Martinez’s entire body sways with the beat, never distancing himself from his guitar. As the music softens, Willson wipes the sweat from his forehead and shakes the hair from his face. Westmoreland taps his foot, looking down at the chords he plays.
Gardeners Logic recently released new songs including “Susanville” and “Virginia,” on which Bailey and Willson worked closely together to master. The music is described as moodier and more mature. With a new recording studio in Fullerton, the production has become much more sophisticated. The band is aiming to release a full-length album in the coming year. They will be performing at Harvard and Stone in Hollywood on November 22.