Members: Sofia Arreguin, Evan Burrows, Robbie Cody, Cory Hanson, Lee Landey
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Latest Album/Release: Plum (Drag City Records)
Influences: Brian Eno, This Heat, Television, Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Crazy Horse, Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices, Alice Coltrane, The Beatles, etc.
TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Burrows: Two guitars, two voices, keys, bass, drums. It’s a rock band. The music is simple, but the process is obsessive. It’s beginning to feel cold, but the sun is plainspoken and bright. You look down on the churning city from the hill.
TrunkSpace: Your new album “Plum” arrived on September 22. Do you place expectations, deliberately or otherwise, on how the album will be received?
Burrows: Of course, it’s hard not to anticipate some response, and it’s hard not to feel what you feel when you get it all kinds of ways. We are a sensitive bunch, and the project is pretty modest. We want the album to have a life by way of an audience that feels genuinely excited by it. All the additional anxiety we can spend is definitely wasted. We try as much as possible to follow the music itself and not think too far in advance.
TrunkSpace: It is your fourth album together, though you added two new members to the band since your previous recording. How has that inner-band dynamic affected the music itself the most? Where is it most recognizable on the new album?
Burrows: When Robbie and Sofia joined the band, we had already talked a lot about how we might more radically change our process. The personalities of each record have, among other differences, reflected shifts in process. We try not to work the same way twice, and we aren’t interested in the same outcome twice. Expanding to a five piece has opened up a lot of new possibilities, and it enabled us to compose most of this newest record by way of improvisation. Most of the major musical ideas on the record emerged from jams. We practiced like crazy, and earned a lot more hours playing together this time around. I think you can hear it in how detailed and sculptural all of the parts are, how intentionally they are performed, how much respect each performance maintains for everything it is simultaneous with even when they may not be in agreement. It feels to me like these songs are in excess of any one of us, or even all five of us.
TrunkSpace: A lot of critical praise followed the release of your previous album “1000 Days” and positioned the band as “one to watch” by a number of music press influencers. As a band do you put any stock into that kind of attention and does it have a quantifiable impact on growing a fanbase?
Burrows: I think we are easy to flatter, but we don’t put much stock in “music press influencers.” I know a lot of music fans who have a genuine interest in music, but I don’t know many music fans who take a genuine interest in the discourse – it seems pretty lackluster at this point, with some rare exceptions. I don’t think it has a lasting effect in growing a sustainable fanbase for your music, though I do think it can put your music in front of people who might otherwise never find it. That is helpful, but at the end of all the taxonomic mania is a band that mostly earns something like an extremely meager living playing live in small clubs. We try to stay focused on that aspect of things, and so far we play for some more people each time we go out on the road.
TrunkSpace: In terms of songwriting, what is the lyrical approach taken with Wand songs? Are they written from specific life experiences or do you take more of a storyteller’s approach?
Burrows: As far as I know, I think the lyrics have always been drawn from life experiences, though on the early records especially I think they tended more toward allegory and the images were more fantastic. I think Cory is a really strong lyricist – lucid, playful, vulnerable.
I believe his process usually starts with a vocal melody – then words are allowed to take shape in the singing, which leads to a more developed concept or story or feeling, which by way of sculpting and editing leads to a song.
TrunkSpace: In your opinion, how important are lyrics to songs?
Burrows: I think lyrics are fabulously important to pop songs. To me, they usually feel indivisible from the tunes with which they belong.
TrunkSpace: What do you hope listeners take from the new album? In many ways it feels like it takes you on a track-by-track journey and we are curious if that was by design?
Burrows: Yeah, that was by design. We usually write with the question of an album form in play the whole way. We talk a lot about what effects we hope the record will produce. We take sequencing pretty seriously, and we will agonize and labor over it. I think the sequence of “Plum” went through more than a dozen iterations before it clicked into its final shape. Robbie was that sequence’s ultimate advocate, and he had the arc of Neil Young’s “On the Beach” in mind.
I hope listeners take solace in the new album. I hope it gives people energy. I hope it feels confusing and merciful and leads back to life.
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as a band?
Burrows: We are perfectionists when it comes to performance, and we are very hard on ourselves. It’s a shame, because we are definitely at our best when we’re at our most exuberant. We’re working on easing up, though. Trying to lead with our goodwill and love what happens.
TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Wand for the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Burrows: We’ve already started work on what will likely be the next LP. More music should be forthcoming. Meanwhile, let’s expect to see each other at the gig!
Featured image by: Abby Banks