Some local bands have the opportunity to open for national touring acts. Some have the privilege of opening for their heroes. Others are bestowed the honor of being the official house band of one of the country’s most legendary concert venues. Last year Garden State Line was named the official house band of the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. And it makes perfect sense. The band’s sound is the perfect soundtrack to the legendary venue — it’s rock ‘n’ roll tinged with a summery, beachy sound. They embody the sweaty, blue collar rock ‘n’ roll the city has become known for, but also the sand between your toes, sweaty bottle of beer, smell of sun tan lotion vibe the city was born on. Tonight, the band takes the stage as a part of The Wonder Bar’s Happy Mondays promotion. We caught up with singer Tam Garcia to talk about The Pony, hip-hop and Sublime.
Garden State Line is (Members of the Band & The Instruments They Play): Tom Farley on Bass, Derek Tranchina on Guitar, Andrew Radice on Drums, and Tam Garcia on Guitar and Vocals.
We Formed In: Somewhere between ’08-’09.
We’re Based Out Of: The Plainfield/Middlesex/Piscatawayarea haha so I guess that’s more Central Jersey.
The Story Behind Our Name: Tam had this “great idea” for a name but got drunk at a show and slurred the name wrong. No, In the early days of our band we played a song by the same title and it just stuck.
You’ve Seen Us Before In Other Bands: Tam and Tommy used to be in an alternative band called Becoming the Ghost, Andrew was the drummer for the Jenn Curtis Project, Defunct, and The Ghost of Funk (we like ghosts) and Derek was in a reggae band called The Peacemakers.
New Music Coming Out? We are currently in the studio working on our second record
Our Sound Has Been Likened To: Sublime, 311, Incubus, Jason Mraz, Red Hot Chili Peppers throw that mix in a blender and then sprinkle some Foo Fighters on it.
I read you started out as a hip-hop outfit – can you talk about the decision to move from being purely hip-hop to the sound you’re currently producing?
The decision came, mostly, from the fans. The hip-hop influence has always been here, but more as a piece of the musical puzzle rather than the focus. This transition just seemed more organic to us as artists.
You guys were named the Stone Pony house band last year – can you talk about how you won that title? Also, what does/did being The Pony house band entail? How did it help you guys out?
That honor came as a big surprise to us. We had played there a bunch of times over the years and have done well there. I can’t tell you how the decision came about, but we got a phone call one day asking the question and, naturally, we said “HELL YEAH!!” The audience, and staff, have always been very welcoming and supportive to/of us. We’ve had the opportunity to share the billings with bands like: 311, Primus, John Eddie, Rusted Root, John & Brittany and play alongside some amazing local artists as well. It’s given us the chance to play on one of the most iconic stages in music, and to play in front new audiences that haven’t heard of us. It’s been surreal, and very humbling. We’re very grateful for this opportunity.
You performed as Sublime for the Wonder Bar/Dark City Entertainment’s New Year’s Eve – how did you guys prepare for this? Were you already Sublime fans or was this a bit of a challenge?
Christine over at Dark City is a dream to work with, as anyone who has worked with her can attest to. So, we jumped at this show the second it popped up. We’ve all been fans of Sublime. The hardest part, really, was deciding on a setlist…and then realizing we didn’t know the songs as good as we initially thought (laughs). Once we worked that out we just followed in Sublime’s footsteps (not all of them of course) and just kept it loose and fun.
What do you love about being in Garden State Line?
We’re best friends, and jokers, who make music that we love. We constantly push each other musically, and sometimes mentally, too (laughs) but we’re always a family first and foremost.
What’s the wildest thing that’s ever happened at a Garden State Line show?
We had a stage, basically, fall apart on us in Cape May. Thankfully, Tommy didn’t get hurt. One of our first shows, ever, ended in a bar fight.
There are so many bands in the Asbury scene right now – what do you think separates you from everyone else out there?
Personally, I think it’s our “devil may care” attitude. We don’t pull any punches. We don’t have a gimmick. What you see is what you get. Dudes, playing music we love and just having fun. It’s a big party and everyone’s invited.
If someone hadn’t heard you play before how would you describe yourself for people to get what Garden State Line is fully about?
Workaholics, Dave Chappelle; funk, reggae, pop punk, and Latin music. Add a dash of fart jokes and always inappropriate humor and that’s us.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
Hopefully, finish our record haha and just play as many shows as possible. Maybe get some new merch, and nice new gear (fingers crossed) haha
Garden State Line performs tonight with The Union and members of Prehistoric Forrest.
Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom