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wand2015 01Interview with

Cory Hanson and Lee Landey from Wand

WAND is a band based in Los Angeles and those guys are the next big sensation in the psyche-rock genre. Most of all because they have managed to extend the limits of this genre, mixing it with metal, glam, plus some prog and some electronica. After ‘Ganglion Reef’ last year and ‘Golem’ this year, they will be releasing their third album in 14 months, called ‘1000 days’ on September 25th. Our reporter Phil Blackmarquis met the band in Brussels and had a chat with Cory Hanson (vocals, guitars) and Lee Landey (bass, also in Oil Thief).

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: First of all, the question about the name of the band, WAND. What does it mean? It's like a magic stick?
Cory Hanson [CH]: Yeah, it can be a magic stick. We chose this name because it's simple, short and concise. And it's just empty. It's meant to be filled with meaningful things. We didn't want an explicit “Rock’n’Roll” name like FOO FIGHTERS: they will have to live with that name forever! (laughs)

RoD: You're releasing WAND's third album. What's the evolution in terms of music? Is it a combination of the two first albums?
CH: We're a very diverse band. We all come from different musical backgrounds. And I think the new record is thus far probably the best synthesis of our different aspects. The last record, 'Golem', had a definite trajectory: it was more about working with the raw material and playing with heaviness. For this one, we had no idea, it just happened naturally. That process worked a lot better for us. It was less “oppressive”, more free.

RoD: Did you introduce some electronics, sequencing, drum machines?
CH: We've used a lot of electronics on all our records: they're just discrete and obscured by the other, heavier sounds. In the new record, there are moments when they are featured more...

RoD: ...prominently?
CH: Yeah. The new record is definitely a more studio oriented record. It's more about the machinery of the studio, the mixing, and these processes are embedded in the music. It was my first experience of mixing with analogue hardware. I wanted to do it myself. And it's really the most fun I've ever had in a studio. When you don't have automation, it's really a challenge to choreograph all your moves when you mix, to pull faders, pull the knobs. It's like a dance, it's fun! Yeah, this record is definitely more about hardware and technology than the two previous albums.

RoD: In terms of the lyrics, the themes you're dealing with, is there also an evolution?
CH: This time, I didn't separate the process of writing lyrics from the process of writing music. So, the lyrics just came naturally. A lot of the words came because the sound worked with the music. So, I let the themes develop by themselves. There's a lot about dreams, captivity, incarceration: it's more insidious than in the 2nd album. There are a lot of dark themes; it's more complicated, more difficult to explain.

RoD: You seem to be interested in consciousness, in the paranormal and in weird science stuff...
CH: Yeah, in fact, I think that lyrically I don't know what I'm doing and I try not to take it seriously. Having a pretence to write lyrics is the worst way to write. It has to be fun, playful, otherwise I can't do it. But yes, there's a lot of fantasy involved but it's not escapism, it's more about being aware of your body, being around people. Like the music has a beginning and an end, the lyrics are also limited. I'm not trying to assert a belief, a vision, I'm focusing on reality.

RoD: You also have side projects, besides Wand. Are you still active in them?
CH: Yeah, there are projects but nothing that I'm ready to publicize.

RoD: Do you have the feeling that Wand is getting big? I have the feeling that it's going to explode.
CH: I don't know: I think I am going to explode! (laughs). Seriously, I can't objectively say what state our band is in.

RoD: There are signs, like major labels getting in touch...
CH: We have received a few proposals but even that, we say “no” to everything. Maybe at some point, we will have kids, we will need money but I hope that never happens.

RoD: What kind of music are you listening to right now? I heard you are listening to NEU! for the moment?
CH: Yes, in the van, we were listening to NEU! I've been listening to a lot of Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Joni Mitchell and a lot of John Cale.

RoD: Do you remember the first music that made you realize you wanted to do this job?
CH: I remember when I was 13, I got a copy of the ‘White Album’ by The Beatles and I listened to it all the way through. It's my favourite album ever.

RoD: Is 'Tomorrow Never Knows' on this album?
CH: No, it's on 'Revolver'.

RoD: Because I believe 'Tomorrow Never Knows' is probably the first psychedelic song ever written...
CH: Probably. The Beatles were amazing. There's a Wikipedia page with all the recording techniques they invented. There are hundreds of them. Like reverse tape, loops,... Georges Martin was the man behind the curtain. I listened to the ‘White Album’ and I immediately started playing guitar and writing songs and I haven't stopped since then...

RoD: Lee, you're playing bass with WAND but you also have a solo project called Oil Thief. How would you describe Oil Thief? Is it more experimental music?
Lee Landey [LL]: Yeah, it's ambient-industrial music. I'm on the Los Angeles label Chondritic Sound...

RoD: Yes, Greh Holger's label!
LL: Yeah. He's actually coming in Europe to do a tour with me with his solo project (note: Hive Mind). My first release as Oil Thief was a double cassette that came out a few months ago called 'Obsolescence and Monality'. I'm putting now a new EP called 'Undesire', that I'm self-releasing.

RoD: When did WAND start?
LL: It was two years ago, we started the three of us: Cory (Hanson), Even (Burrows) and myself. The fourth member is Daniel (Martens), but he's not touring with us this time because he's just had a baby.

RoD: The new WAND album will be released by Drag City. It means three different labels for your three albums...
LL: Yes. The first album was released on the God? label and the second on In The Red Recording.

RoD: The first was very psychedelic, the second one was more upfront, heavier. How is the next one gonna be?
LL: The third one is a lot different. We are excited about it. It's maybe a little more like the first one: it's more experimental...

RoD: ... more sophisticated
LL: Yeah. This one felt unique. Again there are more instruments, Mellotron, piano, like on the first album but it's also a new step forward for us to take.

RoD: How do you see the psychedelia revival that is happening right now?
LL: It's hard to say. We don't think of ourselves as being part of the revival. We're more...

RoD: ...a crossover band?
LL: Yes, a little bit. We try to deconstruct different genres.

RoD: Is the 3rd album more a team project?
LL: Yes. The first album was based on Cory's demo's. But since then we have evolved to become more and more collaborative. Of course, Cory is the primary songwriter but we all bring our contributions to the songs.

RoD: The second album was recorded with Chris Woodhouse in Sacramento, I think. Where and how was the new one recorded?
LL: For the new one, we recorded most of the basic tracks in our rehearsal studio in L.A. and then we brought the tapes to a studio in San Francisco, where Cory did a bunch of overdubs. Cory did the board mixing himself this time.

RoD: If you had to name a few bands that were very important for you and for WAND, which ones would you mention? I heard about Pink Floyd...
LL: Indeed, I think our influences come from Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Neu! We also listen to Radiohead, not so much for the music but for the way they think about making music and making records.

RoD: In the “crossover music” style, I think one of the best bands is Nine Inch Nails, especially the way he, Trent Reznor, combined different genres to create something new
LL: Yeah, Nine Inch Nails is one of my favourite bands ever. My favourite record from them is 'The Fragile', which most people seem to not like as much... in fact, we all listen to different kinds of things: also dance music, postpunk, a lot of WIRE...

RoD: They also have a psychedelic aspect.
LL: Yeah...

RoD: Thank you very much!

More about WAND:
Listen to the song ‘Flying Golem’:
More about OIL THIEF:

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