Songs in the Key of Garbage

Pawtucket musician Harvey Garbage’s home-recorded demos examine a world gone wrong


The Batshit City Tapes by Harvey Garbage begs an important question: Where is Batshit City? For Cody James – a.k.a. Harvey Garbage – the answer might be his homebase of Pawtucket, but to the average listener the name might apply to just about anywhere.

The term “batshit” is a reasonable description for much of what’s happening around us these days, and the music put forth by Harvey Garbage in response to it all is a kind of quality, DIY rock that captures something absolutely real.

Self-recorded and released on his Bandcamp page, the songs on The Batshit City Tapes show the emerging side of an artist that tends to get lost over time. Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, The Violent Femmes and The Hives all come through at different times and in different tones and voices – familiar references that are completely redefined and used to uncover just what it means to be conscious in a crazy world.

The experimentalism comes through over distorted guitars, layered hang-around instruments, frantic vocals and programmed drums. With The Batshit City Tapes, Harvey Garbage presents an unpolished, accurate representation of what to expect from him live and, in true DIY fashion, after putting the music online for the people, Cody took his music to downtown Pawtucket and beyond. It may have taken him some time to emerge as a performer, but since starting to play shows at the News Cafe and around Providence, Harvey Garbage has become a known name for a straightforward, in-your-face rock n’ roll show.

“I’ve got an obnoxious passion inside,” Cody says. “Before hopping headfirst into the PVD scene, not knowing a soul, I stayed home for months on end and worked on those songs. Just me and an old iPad. The simple loops allow the poetry to hold its own, while the sound locks down the essence of the poem. I’ve been told their imperfections and DIY shamelessness is some fresh air. Get a big, dumb dream and run with it.”

For now, Harvey Garbage is playing live locally with his band The Flowers, made up of Chuck Perry on bass and Mikey Apples on drums. “I will be recording with The Flowers this winter and giving myself the courage to tour in spring,” Cody says, laughing “I’ve lived a sheltered life.”