Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interview with Cory Thomas Hanson of Wand

I caught Wand for the first time in L.A. opening for Ty Segall during the Manipulator residency at the Echo and there was this song "Broken Candle" that completely blew my mind. I didn't know the name of the song until I bought the album, but I vividly remember being caught off guard by the alchemical chorus, a repetition of "run for your life," in this gorgeous, cascading voice over a gospel-like synthesizer background. And then there's this sacrificial, messianic ending where Cory proclaims "I don't need you" over and over like he's trying to convince himself and can't quite get to one hundred percent certainty.

"Broken Candle" is one of the more serene songs on Ganglion Reef, which is a total knockout if you had any doubt, with other songs sounding more like energetic, fuzz-driven garage punk, albeit with soft asides and comedowns thrown in to level out the highs. This record sold out quickly from the Drag City subsidiary God? Records catered by Mr. Segall himself. I lucked out buying it from the band soon after release. It may have to be a Discogs purchase at this point, as I'm not sure if anyone still has copies, though it is absolutely worth the effort to track down. And of course there are digital files too. 

Wand recently played Chicago with Ego, Toupee, and House Sounds in late September only to reconfirm my belief that they are a killer band. I then spoke to Cory (lead singer/guitarist) about Kraftwerk and his tour for a bit and we decided to do an interview, which I am now pleased to publish.

Jordan Reyes: Ganglion Reef is one of my favorite records of the year. It's a great collection of psychedelic freak out rock n' roll. How did you write the songs for the album? Had they been written for a while?

Cory Thomas Hanson: Ganglion Reef came out of an urge to make a record with a really organic pulse. Like a living thing or at least some aspect of such. Maybe just one blinking eye, half a digestive system and a big pile of perfect skin all crumpled up In a ball. Sometimes set on fire and sometimes swimming in the water.  

JR: You also put out three seven-inch records this year. Don't you get worn out or stressed writing and recording so much music?

CTH: Yes, writing music is very stressful. We love the stress of it, and thrive on how blocky everything becomes. We feel like a tree that's being genetically modified to grow way too tall and too fast. Sprouting flowers and having them fall and die over and over again. For us it is very painful. We have growing pains.  

JR: I've been really impressed by your guitar-work both times I've seen you as Wand. When and how did you start playing?

CTH: I started playing guitar when I was a baby just making noise and moving the whammy bar around... And that's what I still do.  :-/

JR: Do you think there are any guitar players that particularly impacted your playing? Any moments you saw someone and were just like floored?

CTH: I feel like my playing is a blank sheet of paper that I draw the same landscape on every time, though slightly different. And sometimes abandon the pasture for a new rugged rock forms.

JR: What's the cover? It kind of freaks me out in the best way.

CTH: The cover was drawn by Meghan Tryon, she's an la based artist and filmmaker. She made the video for flying golem as well. She rules. The cover is a demon hand holding a painting of a cave.  Or at least that's what I've come to see it as.  

JR: Is "Ganglion Reef" a reference to like a bunch of cysts?

CTH: Mass proliferation of organic matter covering every surface. All over your face and your tv and your books and computer. Your phone, your ass and your friends.  

JR: Drag City sold out of all the copies of Ganglion Reef super quickly. Has the response to the record surprised you?

CTH: Yes.

JR: Do you think you will repress the album?

CTH: Man, I hope so.

JR: How was your tour been both with the Ty Segall band and without? Any good stories that you guys have?

CTH: It's been insane.  We all swapped minds.  I got Charlie's.  The new Fuzz record is gonna be insane.  

JR: What all is in the future for Wand?

CTH: Who can say for sure.  If the world continues to be a thing I'm sure we will have another record soon.  

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

CTH: UFOs aren't aliens. Just echoes of the complicated relationship human beings have with the historical logic that defines "perception" and the truly "imperceivable" nature of being.  What the fuck is a thought?  

CTH: We just almost hit two deer.  Catch you later!

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