Wand interview

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March’s sophomore album release Golem saw Los Angeles-based Wand state their claim as a face-slapping psychedelic force to be reckoned with, inviting you on a juvenile joyride to bold, head-melting dimensions unknown across nine treacherous tracks.

Fast-forward six months and Wand are still skidding through the grimy back-streets of sludge rock and doom with gusto, yet this time around there’s even more on offer. To investigate the trio’s new-found Crazy Horse-indebted groove, we sent Yasmyn Charles down to Brighton to catch up frontman Cory Hanson and find out how, exactly, their new album 1000 Days became reality.

What was the formative process of Wand and how did it come into being?

Well, the three of us went to art school together and after we all graduated we all had a bunch of different projects and I just kind of asked everyone if they wanted to play music together… so we did. It’s a pretty unremarkable story! [Laughing]

Did you have any idea of the sound direction you wanted to take?

I was listening to a lot of 70’s German, kind of krauty music at the time and I’d been playing in a lot of Rock n Roll bands and then decided I wanted to start a more ‘arty’ rock-driven project I guess.

Do you feel you’ve kind of achieved that with Wand?

Yeah, I mean it was maybe a good choice because there are a lot of musical directions you can take at any given time. So it makes it easier to be inspired than maybe working within a more succinct genre of music that’s more defined by the traditions it’s partaking in.

Would you say that residing in LA has had a positive influence on your sound due its current and past musical history or has it had no effect at all?

Well I’m from LA and I’ve never lived anywhere else so I think it has had a huge effect on me in terms of growing up there and sort of seeing the way things have changed. LA’s an interesting city because it has these really intense moments of scene proliferation, it’s an explosion of bands then it will kind of eat itself and then it has to start over from scratch. Then there’ll be moments where LA seems so attractive then huge lulls where it’s a very unattractive place to be and everybody hates it. And right now for some reason there’s like a really big light shining on the place that I’ve lived forever and everyone is transplanting themselves into the city and it’s kind of bizarre to me.

Golem sounded far more acerbic and abrasive than Ganglion Reef and this was supposedly down to a shift in songwriting away from you to greater inclusion of the rest of the band. Has this been the same for 1000 Days?

I feel like our process is constantly evolving because we’re always trying new ideas and configurations of writing songs. With 1000 days, it was within the sort of framework for which we wanted to make the album in terms of it being a lot larger and more about having the space to make mistakes and experiment with things. Both Golem and 1000 days are very performance intensive. We spent a lot of time in a rehearsal space for like hours and hours and hours just reconfiguring songs, breaking them apart and trying to find every possible outcome that we could. The only rule that we had for 1000 days was that every single part of the process for writing a song, the song had to change dramatically. It had to be altered from one moment to the next; it could never be played the same way twice.

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Is this something you recreate live as well?

Yeah, we try. I mean it’s interesting because we don’t really like to play the songs the way they are on our records. For us the records are these things we spent a lot of time making and in order to stay true to the writing process and the kind of spirit of the songs, they have to change within the structure of a performance. It’s a very different space than a recording space.

You’ve said that Golem was recorded at “not an upbeat time”. Has the atmosphere affected the output on 1000 Days the way it did with Golem?

We’ve gone through a lot of changes as a band. And personally through a lot of highs and lows in our short career that have totally influenced the way that the records are shaped and the kind of themes that get brought into the songwriting and the recordings and the way that we treat the recordings. We definitely have no intentions of making a happy record or a sad record but rather something that’s a little more true to the time we spend in the band and out of the band.

There’s definitely a sense of that on the albums. There’s no emotional guidance, you form your own emotive ideas about the music.

Yeah, I mean, we don’t really have a compass for those kinds of things or a trajectory… in most ways [Laughs].

It’s been said that the influences for your past material have been Final Fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons, what have been the influences for 1000 Days?

Hmmn. Let’s see… We were listening to a lot of Crass and a lot of Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle. A lot more Industrial and Anarcho-Punk bands.

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There’s maybe a slightly more electronic slant on 1000 Days, is that something bore of listening to these industrial acts?

Yeah, we all have a previous relationship to these kinds of bands but the influences seemed to take on more of a character during the recording of 1000 Days. I mean we’ve had synthesizers on every record and on every record we process all of the guitars through a lot of synths. They’re very much studio records in the sense that everything is being massaged and processed and treated in a certain way. So it’s sort of an accumulation of experiences in the studio that resulted in the records sound.

So you’ve followed a very natural process with the recording sound but also appear to have a deliberate ‘mystical’ aesthetic both visually and as part of your sound. Is this intentional?

Yeah, I mean there is a curiosity/relationship to fantasy or esoteric themes but I feel that a lot of the space that’s occupied is not that. Like, if that’s the kind of outer… ‘trappings’ of the music, then the things going on inside are pretty real. [Laughs] In the sense of us being human beings it’s kind of inescapable that we’re going to have a relationship to the music that’s really intense.

Do you think that that’s essentially the nature of psychedelic music in the sense that’s it’s something both real and a form of escapism?

Well…I wouldn’t say the music’s escapist, though it may flirt with those ideas, I think that in the most positive sense, escapism is a way of finding a moment of removal from the present or whatever surface problems that are accumulating in order to better understand what’s happening. It’s so that you can re-interpolate into reality or the present and become better equipped to deal with shit.

If you had to describe 1000 Days in one sentence, what would it be?

[There’s a long silence] I don’t know… I feel that the title is pretty indicative of what’s on the record. To me it feels massively contained. It’s a lot of information and a lot of music that’s selected and curated in way that despite it being the shortest record we’ve made, it feels like the biggest. And it is, for us, our biggest… kind of…

Magnum Opus?

Not our magnum opus but up to this point the truest that we feel about music and about playing and making records. It’s just a more ambitious version of what we have been doing.

Even though that wasn’t a sentence it was still a pretty good answer! Has there been any anxiety with trying to follow up the success of Golem.

I have a lot of anxiety about those things! We basically started writing 1000 Days as soon as Golem was mixed and mastered and the artwork was at the plant. We were like, let’s make another record before this one comes out and we did it with the last one too. The real hurdle we’re going to have to overcome at some point is that, now we have these records and the stuff that’s been happening, we need a little time to process all of this in order to make the next one.

Would you say that all your past projects have taken a complete backseat along with your solo work?

With Pangea I haven’t been in that band for 3 years and Meatbodies 2. As for all of my other projects, they’re now just kind of happening in the leftover space… there’s no real point of even talking about them because they’re in the spectrum of ideas that are maybe materialising in some way or another.

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So Wand’s your main output for material you’re truly happy with?

Yeah, at this point. I’d love to be happy with some other projects really soon, and hopefully that’ll be the case. But for now Wand is the main vehicle for my songwriting at least.

What’s next for Wand?

After this tour the record comes out then we have a US tour. Then after that we’ll start recording and writing again. We’ve established this sort of cycle of touring and recording.

There appears to be this idea of ‘if a shark stops swimming it dies’ – where you always have to be creating?

Yeah we don’t feel very comfortable taking time off because we’re not in a position where we’re making enough money to! [Laughs]. We’re still kind of struggling to make a living as musicians and artists and so there is a sense of urgency. It’s also important for us not to get ensnared in the kind of cycle that most bands get trapped in. Where you make a record…it takes 6-8 months to comes out… then you tour the record for half the year then it takes a year and a half to produce another record. We’re definitely not interested in that kind of structure, and we can’t do that because we have to keep making records.

Support Wand in their mission to keep playing and making music by ordering their new album on Drag City out on September 25th from here or order it from your local record shop. It’s a damn good one, you will not be disappointed.

Promo photos: Romain Peutat
Words and instant camera shots: Yasmyn Charles

Gilbert Crockett interview

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One of the best parts of being involved in skateboarding is appreciating someone else’s natural ability to ride one, especially when they are straight-forward rolling like Gilbert Crockett. The Virginian may have been left in Alien Workshop limbo with the rest of the team exactly a year ago, but it didn’t slow down his ability to progress whatsoever. He just pushed faster.

With a killer new part under his wing in the new Vans Propeller movie and launching a new skate company, Mother Collective, he’s had his work cut out, but Crockett’s attitude on and off a board comes across as nothing but refreshing. Chris Pulman spoke with him the week before Propeller hit screens to speak about the good things that have gone down of late:

Looks like you have a busy year ahead. You must be pretty excited?

Yes, I am. I can’t wait to see this video.

I guess filming for the Vans video is pretty much wrapped up by now. Are you happy with what you have for it?

Yeah, we’re all done. I am happy with what I have, it’s been a long time coming.

It’s gonna be pretty epic purely from the list of riders Vans has. Is there anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing a part from?

I’m really looking forward to AVE’s and Daniel’s parts, but also just the whole thing. I can’t wait to see what Greg does.

Greg Hunt has some formidable projects under his belt and a real ability for communicating skateboarding in a genuine way. Do you get any direction from him? Do you have a strong vision of how you’d like to be portrayed or is more a case of ‘just get on with it’ and do what you do as best and as interestingly as you can?

I think Greg and I see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I think what you said is true about him doing things in a genuine way, and that is definitely a goal of mine when trying to put something together. So, I think I’m definitely just inspired by Greg, and working with him motivates me because I feel like we have a mutual respect about both of us wanting to do our job well and be happy with what we make.

The feeling I get from watching the Cellout and Bust Crew videos is that you use your talent to skate everything you come across. There’s a real genuine excitement from the act of skateboarding that comes across from these. It reminds me of being younger and street skating and trying to do everything on anything. Do you still get that excitement of real challenges in real surroundings?

Yes of course. Skateboarding for me at this point is sort of an intimate, emotional thing for me. If I’m skating the shittiest ledge you’ve ever seen with my friends and everyone is excited and having fun and trying to do whatever we can on it, I’m going to skate better than when I’m on a more serious session and I can feel everything around me like, “Wow, I called this session out and I’m wasting everyone’s time if I don’t get this”. But even then, I want to try to get a clip or a photo that my friends will be siked on.

Do you think that’s a reflection of growing up in Virginia? I’ve never been there, but I’m guessing, like a lot of us that didn’t grow up in major cities, you have to make do with the architecture that’s directly in front of you.

Yeah. It definitely has to do with that, and also, I think getting older and after you’ve been skating for 10-15 years, you start to want to just fuck around with spots that you’ve driven by your whole life, and just learn how to skate different shit, or shittier shit.

At a time when a lot of media is digested in disposable web-clips and instagram posts, what do you feel is the purpose of a full-length skate film?

I think the full length video is just the real deal. It’s just doing it, really doing it. And when you do it right, it’s unmistakable. You can’t just pump these things out like you can a fucking web edit, they take YEARS to make, and you can see it. Videos that are made like this have an impact for a reason; they live in real skate shops and on skateboarders’ bookshelves — they’re not just taking up space.

Apart from the easily accessible nature of instagram clips, I also think that they’re inherently genuine. In a world where kids are hammered by a lot of shallow marketing, do you think that this genuineness is what really appeals to the skaters?

I don’t know, everything is so clouded. It’s hard to tell who is keeping it real anymore. But I try really hard to not hate and just pay attention to the people I like.

gilbert_crockett_switchflipI’ve heard that you’re very details-orientated when it comes to footwear especially. Do you have any reasons for this that you’d like to share or do you suffer from the same level of OCD that most skateboarders have when it comes to their gear?

I mean, I can’t just wear whatever. It’s got to be tested and approved to be a part of “the uniform” which is what AVE calls it. A lot of skateboarders work like this: you find a pair of jeans, a couple shirts, and usually some sort of hat that works for you, and you just run it into the ground until it falls apart or until you have your next gear crisis.

I’ve also heard that you like to look at authentic things and processes, be it footwear or tattoos. Personally, I love to know how everything works from making skateboards, footwear construction, leather-working and carpentry. Do you have any other skills or interests that you pursue as doggedly?

Yeah, I definitely pay a lot of attention to detail and how things are made. I paint flash and have messed around with making some clothes recently, but I don’t really pursue any of it. Hopefully one day.

Ph: Anthony Acosta / Vans

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Your first Vans pro shoe is looking great. The Wafflecup seems like a perfect way to bring a little more consistency to a vulc-style shoe without losing any of the qualities that make that construction perfect for skateboarding. Have you had a lot of say in the development of that construction? There look to have been some subtle developments since the earlier Vans Stage IV shoes.

Yeah, it’s great. I really love it. My shoe is just the next generation of the waffle cup sole, we just found ways to improve it. I can’t say enough good things about the shoe and about Vans for letting me design a shoe that I love.

You’ve also included a mid-top version, which looks to be based on one of Vans’ longest running shoes, the Half Cab, do you wear either style in preference for any kind of terrain or do they both feel equally as good to you?

I usually skate the lows, but I always get into a mid phase like once a year or so where I’ll wear them for a while. I love both.

Ph: Greg Hunt / Vans

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Now that Mother Collective has launched, it must be a relief to end all the speculation after the AWS sabbatical. Is that how it feels?

What happened with Workshop was inevitable. AVE and Dill knew that, but here we are, and I’m happy that it did.

Lastly, I spied your Vans team page quickly before I started these questions and noticed that you mention ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a good philosophy for making the most of one’s lifetime. Is philosophy something that interests you a lot?

I don’t really pay much attention to it, but I do love that book, a lot of things inspire me, that was one of them.

Any philosophy on skateboarding that you’d like to end this with?

Have fun with your friends, stay up late and eat pie.

Interview by Chris Pulman.
Illustration by George Yarnton.
Gifs by Henry Calvert.
Download Vans’ Propeller skate video here.

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Gilbert Crockett’s “Propeller” Raw Files

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Three whole minutes of raw Gil’ footage with tons of alternate angles and pure spot destruction from Vans’ first full length video “Propeller” brought to you by Greg Hunt. What a treat.

Check out photos and footage from Propeller’s London premier here and look out for an interview with him on here very soon.

Free Download – Run The Jewels 2

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El-P has dropped the new Run The Jewels 2 album online overnight for FREE, so get downloading this shit now before he changes his mind.

You know how this works though, these guys work tirelessly to write, record and deliver dope tunes all day and night long, so if you want an upgrade on your freebie, note that the vinyl is available right here.

Salad Days DC Hardcore official film trailer

Embrace in ’86. Photo by Dave McDuff

Embrace, 1986 (photo by Dave McDuff)

If you follow this zine regularly you will know we have been chomping at the bit to see this Washington DC hardcore scene documentary come to fruition, but now it’s a reality. The funding via Kickstarter reached its target and the film, put together by director/writer Scott Crawford and producer/editor Jim Saah, will be screened in December at the Black Cat venue with Soulside and Moss Icon playing live and then released.

Watch the official trailer for “Salad Days: The Birth of Punk in the Nation’s Capitol” right here and look out for the likes of John Stabb, Ian Mackaye, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Alec Mackaye, plus many more and get hyped.

Coping Mechanism

Coping Mechanism DVD by Phil Evans

coping_mechanism_skate_dvd_malmo_sweden_phil_evansPhil Evans is somebody who has built himself a reputation as filming skateboarding differently from everyone else. The obvious definition of a skate video is a film that features skateboarders doing tricks on spots with a musical soundtrack. The purpose of a skate video is to get you hyped to go skate and hopefully incite you to support the skaters you’ve seen on film. Coping Mechanism goes beyond the conventions of a typical skate video because it introduces the viewer to a group of skateboarders who rip great spots but also drive their scene forward through positive actions. As a result the viewer wants to go skate, act in a responsible and positive manner for their local scene and support the guys featured in this film. Coping Mechanism is a documentary film that focuses on the efforts of the Malmö (Sweden) skateboarders who have learnt to work with or without their local authorities to build one of the strongest and most influential skate scenes in the last decade.

Skate-Malmo and Brygerriet are two incredibly competent bodies that act as the link between the skateboarders and the politicians to get concrete poured, contests run, local entrepreneurs promoted and good times had by all involved. Phil turns his camera and mic towards a handful of individuals that each plays a part in strengthening the Malmö skate scene. Will Taylor and Dave Toms are both foreign construction workers who have settled in Sweden and helped pour a vast majority of the concrete everybody shreds on a daily basis. Then you have Emma Lindgren who acts as a figurehead for female skateboarders breaking down the barriers of convention and paving the way for Swedish ladies to get radical.

oskarPhotoNilsSvensson.A trip to Malmö is also a pilgrimage to the DIY spots of TBS or Steppeside molded and mastered by local rippers like Pontus Alv and Matthias Hallén. These guys knew that their city was limited in what it could offer terrain-wise, so they decided to grab a couple of bags of concrete and build their own spots. This do-it-yourself mentality has spread like wild fire around the globe, but for the Malmö skaters it was never a question of setting a trend. It was a simple necessity if they wanted to skate. All of this creativity and elbow grease has had a strong influence on the younger generations who lend a helping hand in building their scene, but also polishing off their abilities to rip all sorts of spots. Fernando Bramsmark and Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg skate all day and all night and are the poster children of this next generation.

Finally, one man embodies the Malmö skate scene and is held in the highest regard by his peers for going above and beyond the duties of a local skateboarder for his scene. That man is John Magnusson also known as J-Mag. Described as a calm and humble person by his peers, John took it upon himself to create a dialogue between the skateboarders and the local authorities to guarantee a constructive collaboration that has seen the old industrial town of Southern Sweden become a premier location for national and international skaters seeking great spots to visit. These visitors breathe new life and esteem into a community that previously had very little to offer in return. The key to the success of the Malmö skate scene is probably due to the level of trust between all parties. The skateboarders have the responsibility to develop and build their skateparks with the direct experience and knowledge of using them afterwards. The street scene thrives too as locals share their old and new spots with one another and newcomers in a bid to push the scene and be proactive in promoting local brands.

Evans has been careful to embed himself within a scene and listen to what the key players have to say without neglecting anyone or anything. The Malmö skate scene didn’t just appear overnight. Spots had to be built and sometimes re-built, lines had to be found, films were made and dialogues were established to serve as a testament to the City and the skateboarders who seem to have cracked the code of positive collaboration. If you were wondering how to push your scene forward, the first step would be to get a copy of Coping Mechanism and watch it with your friends, family and local authorities. As a documentary, a single viewing of Coping Mechanism should spark the fire in viewers to contemplate their own scenes and communities and figure out what needs to be done to compensate older generations and invest in future generations.

You can pick this DVD up from the Skate Malmo site where Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg’s photo featured in this review on this page and other shots by Nils Svensson are available to buy as prints.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

Wu Tang Clan

The Wu-Tang Clan have released a brand new track today titled ‘Execution in Autumn‘. This previously unreleased Wu-Tang cut from the personal vaults of the RZA features INS Deck, Raekwon, RZA and U-God and has dropped digitally on a pay as you want basis or via 7″ vinyl + shipping costs from here.

The track is off the group’s upcoming album, A Better Tomorrow, which is set to be released later this year.