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Waste away in Wand’s weird world

by Mia Pearson March 31, 2015
Waste away in Wand’s weird world

The band’s frontman, Cory Thomas Hanson, finds musical inspiration in uncommon places

Wand will be playing songs off of their albums Ganglion Reef and Golum Thursday April 2 at Bar Le Ritz. Press photo by Meghan Tryon.

“We’re just four nerds, dressed in bags of skin that play until our bones fall out of our nose, you know?”

But Wand is way more than a pile of musical human flesh. Like the goo from the bowels of middle earth surfacing and bubbling out from the ground; like a mutation of slimy vines multiplying and turning our manufactured goods into organic matter; like the apocalypse lifting the sun’s veil to scorch and crack the earth, Wand’s albums reflect the feeling of a world overturned. L.A. native Cory Thomas Hanson breathes weird life into his band’s two albums— 2014’s Ganglion Reef and Golum, released on March 17 via Ty Segall’s God? Records, a subsidiary of Drag City.

Ganglion Reef is not an imaginary place that Hanson visits to dig-up his musical minerals, but more of an idea.

“It isn’t a place, it’s more insidious, like an infestation, or like a disease,” he laughed. “I was thinking a lot about coral, flesh, and like skin tags… which is just like a cluster of ganglions. Just thinking, if something could just proliferate infinitely and the ganglions could just reproduce, then that would be just this giant skin machine. That was just my interpretation.”

These ideas imprint themselves onto Wand’s albums everywhere from the song’s heavy and murky guitar sound, to Hanson’s chilling voice hanging high above the instruments stuck in the mud below. Appropriately, Golum was recorded in producer/engineer Chris Woodhouse’s The Dock Studio, located on a Sacramento port dock at a banana-sorting facility—a perfect whimsical setting for the band to go bananas in.

This Sacramento neighbourhood, with its streets ambivalent in their purpose, greeted Hanson with surprise at every corner, much like Golum’s musical progression.

“It’s an interesting city, I really like it a lot there,” he said. “In that park area that I would go running, every hundred feet, the whole scene would change. If I took a different route, I’d end up in some weird little shanty village or I would end up in some weird swamp—it’s just a wide variety, and it’s a really good place to go in between recording, for me.”

Golum emerged from the studio like an experiment gone oddly right; like a psych-rock record doubled in speed that spent a brief stint with underground well creatures. Hanson’s songwriting and aptitude for flushing-out dismal sounds is an expression of his thoughts and feelings at a particular moment in his life. The band is constantly creating and trying to keep up with life on earth, while their minds are sometimes in space.

“We’re just sort of making these documents about how we think and feel about the world at any given time, and that that should be an ongoing process. We record, play shows, we meet people—it’s like this machine that is trying to keep up with its own consistency, which is very difficult for human beings. Psychologically and on our bodies: playing all these shows and lifting all these heavy amps, we all have back problems, like, our ears are going deaf… we’re basically killing ourselves to keep up with this regimen of, you know, sound and our history,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s documentation of his life through music has been an ongoing endeavour since his days at Cal Arts when his electronic project, W-H-I-T-E, rattled his L.A. bedroom walls. Later, Hanson worked with musical buddies Together Pangea, Michael Cronin, and Meatbodies where Hanson demonstrated not only his ability to survive tough touring schedules, but to shred on guitar. He was featured in Together Pangea’s Rollo & Grady video of “Sick Shit,” where he played a guitar solo unique in form and ability, displaying masterful use of the whammy bar. A musician of many crafts, Hanson’s career goes to show that when life gives you a studio in a banana sorting facility, you rock it.

Come wobble down to see Wand play Bar le Ritz Thursday April 2.

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