The Send Off :: An Interview with Garden State Line's Tam Garcia
By Patricia Rogers
Patricia Rogers met Garden State Line’s lead singer and guitarist, Tam Garcia, right before an electric performance at Hat City Kitchen in the Valley Arts District last month [Jan. 2016]. Garden State Line was among other bands that rocked the stage that night, including Chelsea Carlson and Airacuda.
Patricia caught up with the Jersey-based band as they are taking a break from performing to focus on recording their second album. Tam talks about his hopes for the band, how they are inspired by their Jersey roots, and their first EP The Send Off.
P.R.: Talk about your journey as a musician.
Tam Garcia: It's been an adventure. I've met some amazing people and have been fortunate enough to become friends with some of them. I've traveled the country, played with some amazing artists, had the chance to stand on the same stage as my musical heroes, played in front of sold out crowds. It's been amazing and, hopefully, there's a lot more in store for us.
What have been some of your past creative endeavors?
I was in a ska-punk band called Beam Me Up Skatty, in high school. And around the same time GSL started I was in an alternative rock band called Becoming the Ghost.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
There's too many to name all, haha: Incubus, Thrice, Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, Led Zepplin, Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz, Dashboard Confessional… I'll stop there because I could be here for a while.
Who is your band and where are you from?
Andrew Radice on the drums, Jim Hart on bass guitar, Kory Stanbury on the saxophone, and me singing and playing guitar.
How do you want your band’s music/sound making an impact on the world?
Impact on the world is pretty heavy. "I want to paint masterpieces on the canvas' of people souls with my music." (If only sarcasm had a font.) I've, truthfully, never thought about it. We make music because we love to make music. We love to perform. I love playing music with my friends. So, maybe that's good enough. We just want people to be happy and have a good time. So, love. I want to create a place/vibe where people can just enjoy life and be in the moment. Cliché?
How you describe your sound?
Whatever the song calls for. We play what we like, and we just have fun.
How does your music represent your Jersey roots?
We're an amalgamation of all kinds of music, experiences, and people. Just like Jersey, a little something for everybody.
Where and who do you record with?
Talk about The Send Off and what it means to the band.
The Send Off, it's our baby. It's our first record. We started a Kickstarter to help get it out and we got an amazing outpour of support from our friends, family, and fans. It was a huge learning process about ourselves as a band, as musicians, as people. To be honest I hate recording, but that's just me. It's cool, listening to the record and thinking about where the band was musically, where I was personally writing some of those songs, and to see how far we've come. It's a trip and makes me excited for the new music we've been working on.
What inspired the song "Liquid Universe"?
This song was co-written with a songwriting partner, Matt Kopf. Extremely talented musician.
Who wrote the song?
Matt had written lyrics, which would become the first verse of the song, and wasn't sure what to do with them. I had come up with a melody and chorus, and later on another verse. The song continued to evolve over the early course of our band years until it finally became what it is today.
Talk about some of the meaning behind the lyrics.
It's a story about a downward spiral. Being so self absorbed with oneself and refusing to change. That kind of anger you feel when you feel betrayed, but subconsciously you know that you had brought it upon yourself. But, it's easier to blame someone else than it is to accept responsibility for your own actions. "I sit and stare at the ceiling searching for some meaning. I try to find some evidence, but nothing's really making sense…" and then the chorus, "I can't change. Got me floating around this universe ready to burst, but I'm not to blame."
Who did you work with on the album and where did you record it?
We recorded the album at Blue Cyclone Studios in Flemington, with Bill Mann, and mixed the album with Dave Pirrocco, at Jacked Cat Productions.
What does Garden State Line hope to be in 10 years?
Hopefully, on a world tour haha. But, definitely continuing to write and play music to new crowds.
What is your favorite era of music and why?
I go through phases. But right now I'm on a singer-songwriter kick. I love the simplicity of just a guitar and a voice. Or piano and voice.
What famous bands have you been compared to?
We've been compared to Sublime (which I think is pretty cool, but I'm not completely sold on it), 311, Incubus, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz with hints of Latin music. It's kind of a broad spectrum of bands we've been compared to. I like that, though. We don't fit in just one box.
Tell us something your fans may not know about you.
I only eat cereal out of tupperware, I love watching the Food Network, and I'm a closet animal lover.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I love Taylor Swift, I'm an avid WWE fan, and I've seen the newest Star Wars movie 3 times in one week. It would've been more, but work got in the way.
Talk about playing at Hat City Kitchen with Chelsea Carlson and Airacuda.
We had a blast! There was so much good energy, and to have the closing spot was great because we didn't have to worry about cutting in to anyone else's set. This is one of a handful of shows we've played since we had a line up change within the band, so it's refreshing as a musician to play our older songs and take them to different places with new players. But this show, we just let loose and had fun. Played whatever we wanted to play, and the crowd was having a blast with us. Singing, dancing, and just having a good time.
How do you know the other bands?
I've played with Chelsea Carlson before, and I'm also on her new record, playing guitar and backing vocals. We'd never heard Airacuda before, but they rocked it!
How does playing at Hat City Kitchen compare to other venues?
Hat City has been very kind to us every time we've played there.
What is the most important aspect of being a musician? Why?
Being honest with yourself. If you don't believe in yourself and what you're doing, why should anyone else?
What can we expect from Garden State Line's next project?
I think it's going to be very different from our first record. A little more laid back, but much more focused. We're trying some new things and exploring new places, especially now with our new line up. The songs have taken on a completely different energy. We're going to be experimenting with new ideas musically and production-wise, so I'm very excited for the end result.
Also, keep a look out for a solo/acoustic project I am working on, just for fun.
Tell me a little more about that.
The solo record/album/EP, whatever it ends up becoming, will be a more stripped down singer-songwriter feel. Imagine City and Colour meets Jason Mraz. If it all goes well haha. It's something I've always wanted to do, but have kept putting off, so now I'm just gonna try it out and see what happens. Fingers crossed.
About the Writer
Patricia Rogers, #ValleyGirlNJ, lives in New Jersey's Valley Arts District. The native New Yorker works as a writer, blogger and community activist. Starting Masconsumption Media in 2012, she has been passionate about capturing the stories of the vibrant up and coming Valley Arts District neighborhood through her blog, zine, events and more. She blogs for Jersey Indie, Luna Stage, Hat City Kitchen and offers many creative media services. Visit her blog www.masconsumption.com and keep up with your favorite Valley Girl on social media at @zine_editor (Twitter / Instagram / Snapchat).