Today is the first day of fall, which sometimes doesn’t mean anything in Southern California. But we’re hoping for a slight chill in the air, sweater weather, and days spent watching waves from the comfort of a truck bed wrapped in blankets. And hopefully that’ll happen soon, and while you’re there in that moment, you’ll be listening to Wand’s new album Plum, which drops today on Drag City. It’s a record for all seasons, really, and a slight departure from the band’s former proto, ear-crushing deluge of heavy rock. This time around, and with the addition of two new members, Wand appear matured in their voice, brimming with realized instrumentation and arrangements that float in and out of genres, never landing on just one. We’ve been pretty obsessed with this 10-track dream, and think you should be, too. So check out the few sample tracks and videos below, and read a clip of our interview with lead singer Cory Hanson.
The full thing drops in Issue 19 — tease alert — but we’re giving you guys a super special first peek. And if you’re in Los Angeles tomorrow, go to their record release show at the Troubadour. You do not want to miss Wand live. —Maya Eslami
Interview by Asal Shahindoust
WHAT YOUTH: Your new album “Plum” is so much different than your previous ones, especially with the collective effort of new members Sofia and Robbie. How did that affect the writing process?
WAND: The other records were, like you said, very different. They were compositions that I wrote and gave to the band that was basically: “here’s the drums, here’s the bass, here’s what’s going on,” and then we would record all together. Then I would layer it with a bunch of instruments on top and add embellishments. With this new process, it was a big leap of faith for me, because naturally I am prone to being a super control freak. But, what I’ve learned from this process has made so much of a difference in terms of the way the five of us can really lean on each other. It’s the belief that all five of us make the music happen and the best part of that is that it’s unclear who wrote anything.
I wouldn’t say it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done, I would say it was probably the hardest music I’ve ever made.
What made it hard?
When you’re working with five people, once you come up with a sound it’s the best feeling in the world. But then two days later, listening back to that sound you get really discouraged, or you start to get scared. It was more of a psychological thing for me because it was no longer an issue of an individual’s taste or what they wanted it to sound like – it was just what it was. And that was very different.
I know the band went through some heavy shit during the making of this album. What was that process like for you?
We were working six or seven days a week, six to ten hours a day jamming and writing for probably three months. We also took a couple months to road test some of the songs in Europe, and we recorded every single show. It was a very intense process and on top of that a bunch of things happened – Evan’s dad passed away, monumental losses happened, serious break-ups, it just felt like a time of mourning and dealing with loss. Even politically, Trump was elected while we were in Europe road-testing the material, then the day after he was elected Leonard Cohen died… It just felt like we were being pounded with… In the end, it felt like we were all we had, that we were so lucky to be together in that time, to have each other, and to walk through these trials that we went through individually.
When “Plum” the song was released, someone mentioned that it still had that “Wand element” they love. What is that element that ties it all together?
I’m glad that people picked up on that because the idea for this record was to get rid of all the atmosphere and sounds, extra synths and all the fuzz and just have it be about playing in a room together, so 95% of the record is just “live” with no overdubs. “Plum” has no overdubs, it has one overdub and it’s a cowbell [laughs].
Do you think your fans who are married to that sound are going to have a harder time with this record?
We don’t make records to please people, we make records because they are literally a record of what we are doing and thinking about as a band and where we musically are.
We still write tons of riffs, so I don’t even see where it’s even a problem that there is no “heavy rock” or “metal” sound, or whatever people expect from the ONE heavy record that we made. We made that record because that’s what we wanted to make at that time – the heaviest record you could make – and we did… and then we didn’t feel like ever doing that again. I don’t even think we could ever make a record like “Plum” again.
Read the full interview in Issue 19. Out soon.
Order the new record here, or grab it at your local record shop today. And go see them live tomorrow night at The Troubadour in Los Angeles.