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

Exposed: DGK’s ‘Parental Advisory’

Photos courtesy of Brad Rosado, Matt Daughters and Seu Trinh

The back end of 2012 brought some great skateboard video treats across the globe and as you may well remember, we finished our year by screening the UK premiere of DGK’s first full video production after the 10th Anniversary Xmas Jam.

Pushing skateboard films forward is no easy task, but the DGK crew had their own plans of how their first major flick was to be rolled out. Actors, film crews, special guests, closed-off roads, crazy skits and of course, some absolutely banging skating was meticulously planned over a long period of time. With all of this in the mix and a great reaction worldwide, we spoke to Brad Rosado who filmed about 90% of the video to explain a few facts about how this came to fruition alongside a selection of DGK’s ever-impressive team riders discussing their most memorable days from filming ‘Parental Advisory‘.

Who directed the original plan for the overall production?

“The original plan for the production was a group collaboration between the DGK Team, Troy Morgan, Matt Daughters, and myself. We knew we wanted to make a video that no one would forget. When the skate portion of the film was near completion we started to brainstorm how the intro’s were going to be. There were talks about making it into a documentary but that turned into having skits. I think Daughters had this idea for a few years that the video should be focused around the team as if they were mini versions of people on DGK. One day I remember Baker (our graphic designer) showing a bunch of us a dope music video he found online. Troy saw it and I could tell he saw the vision he wanted for ‘Parental Advisory’ from that video. After that, he contacted Randal Kirk (the director) and we started to plan out the rest of the video.

dgk_parentaladvisoryWhen did the shooting originally start?

All together it took us about 3 years to gather all the footage for the skate sections. Everybody was filming for their parts up until a week before the finished DVD was due. The whole team busted their asses to the very end and it shows in their parts. We started to shoot the narrative part of the film in early Spring of 2012.

How were the actors picked to play the roles between sections?

The actors were found a few different ways. We had a few casting calls and that’s where we found the actual actors for the film. We found the skate kids through Susan Williams”Save A Heart’ program. We did a casting call with her one weekend and were able to find the majority of the younger actors there. They all skated and already had the background that represented the film correctly. A lot of people in the film had no acting experience at all. All they had to do was act natural pretty much. Randal directed everybody well and got the performance he wanted out of them to make this film what it is.

Which celebrities are involved in the cameos?

Some cameos we had in the film were DMX, Beanie Sigel, Kareem Campbell, Fabian Alomar, Vanessa Veasley, Peedi Crakk, and Cappadonna.

With weapons involved in the skits, did you need licenses to shoot in the public domain?

For most locations of the film we had permits and it was closed sets so we could do whatever we wanted. Most of that stuff was shot between 1am-6am so there was barely anybody out on the streets to see what was going on.

How difficult was it to cut HD footage together with VX footage?

That was one of the hardest things to figure out while editing the video. At first we had all the HD footage cropped and the VX stuff kept 4:3. This was probably considered the correct ways to do it. We ran into a problem when we started to add the narrative part of the film. It wasn’t transitioning right between the two sections so we had to make a rough call and stretch the VX footage to 16:9 and kept the HD footage normal. I know a lot of people don’t agree with this decision but we made the best judgement call to make sure the aspect ratios weren’t jumping around. Overall I feel it worked out and most people didn’t even notice. We went through over 25 different aspect ratios to find the right look to make it seamless.

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What are your most memorable days from filming this flick?

There were so many good times with these dudes it’s hard to remember them all. The ones that stick out to me are some of the battles we overcame with the cameras we were using. During the last few months we would hit up Jkwon downtown LA every Sunday. During one of the sessions Marquise was in the zone and started to try halfcab fs nosegrind nollie flip out on the long ledge. We tried for a while and he landed a pretty good one. Quise knew he could do it better so we kept trying. After trying for a while longer he did the best one he could of possibly done. The camera I was using at that time never gave me any problems until we watched back the footage. For some reason on that one try it had an insane glitch from right before he popped until right after he landed. I tried everything I could do to make it playback properly but it wasn’t happening. That try was completely destroyed.

Quise was pretty bummed but he knew he had to do it again. We tried for a while longer and got another one. It wasn’t as good as the glitched version but it was still amazing! I remember people asking why we were doing it again since the last one was so perfect. I didn’t even know what to say. It sucks that no one will ever see how good he really did it but that’s the gamble you take sometimes when using a camera that’s 10+ years old. I don’t even think anybody thinks that the version in the video is less than perfect anyways. To do that trick 3 times is impressive! Thankfully we have upgraded to HD and glitches are a thing of the past.”

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STEVIE WILLIAMS

“ATL has always been a home away from home when we were working on this project. For the majority of the video we had team apartments and the squad would fly in and out filming nonstop. Staying together and going on missions is what helped make this team a real family. The first clip I filmed for the video was in a school yard in East Atlanta. It was first time filming with Brad so I knew we had to break the ice and get it poppin. I was really just cruising around, but ended up getting a dope line on film for my part. I started off the line with a few flat ground tricks and then there was a quick flat gap I was trying to fs flip. On one of the tries I ended up landing in a manual by accident and held it to the end. That day symbolized beginning of the video and after that we just kept stacking clips and made it a reality.”

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MARQUISE HENRY

“We were on a DGK NY trip for like two weeks we had are own apartments right downtown Manhattan. It was dope being in the city waking up hoping out of bed and just hitting the streets. We had a big crew mobbin’ up and down the city blocks, hopping on and off trains going to and from skate spots all day and night. I remember skating down Time Square with Dane, Brad and Seu and we see this random guy that had these dope-ass parrots. Seu shot some dope pics with them on head and on my board. That night we ended up chillin’ in Time Square till 4am and then skated 50+ blocks back to the crib. It was just dope being with the crew in New York having good times skating, chillin’, and livin’ man. Those are some good times I’ll never forget.”

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JACK CURTIN

“So Stevie and I tagged along on an Expedition filming trip to China a few years ago. Every morning we would all get breakfast at the cafe downstairs from the hotel. Spencer Hamilton and I would get this super strong ice coffee every morning because it would get us so sparked. So one morning Stevie was at breakfast saying how he felt super tired and jet-lagged or something so I told him to have one of the ice coffee’s cuz it would get him hyped. He never drinks coffee so he was hesitant at first but eventually he got one cuz he wanted to get hyped to go skate.

So like an hour later we’re at the skate spot and Stevie is really hyped on it. He was trying these crazy manual tricks and he had already filmed one banger, but while he was filming the second one, he started freaking out cuz he needed to take a shit super bad. The coffee had messed his stomach up. The skate spot was in the middle of nowhere so there really wasn’t anywhere close to go, plus in China they rarely have toilets or toilet paper at the public bathrooms. Somehow he managed to land his 2nd manual trick while holding everything in, and as soon as he landed the trick, he took off in search of dumping grounds. He was gone for like 45 mins to an hr but I guess he found one because he came back with a look of relief on his face. He blamed me for everything and he swore to me that he would never drink coffee again.”

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DERRICK WILSON

“One time we were heading to las Vegas from Phoenix am. It was Brad, Keelan, Marquise, Dane and myself. When we made it to the hotel, I went to the bathroom. After using the bathroom, I failed to realize that some toilet paper was stuck in my boxers. To my knowledge, Keelan and Dane were the first to know, they broke down in the lobby laughing! We went on day and night sessions, getting as much footage for the video as we could. Afterwards we chilled, gambled some. Minus the drinks and gambling, it was a fun productive trip. We made the best out of what we had!”

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WADE DESARMO

“There were a bunch of situations we got into while filming for this video. One that I will probably never be able to forget was a trip we took to Philly and New York. Being from the east coast I always jump at the chance to skate Philly whenever possible, so when Brad told me about this trip we were going on that had Philly on one of it’s stops I was so hyped. Although if I could of seen what was going to happen I don’t think I would of been so enthusiastic. First day, I don’t even remember how but the VX broke, had to send it off for repairs so we didn’t have a camera anymore. We got lucky and Rasul knew someone who had just got a brand new VX and somehow we managed to borrow it for the last couple days we were in the city.

The first night we got it, we went straight to Love and started skating around and warming up. I had a line I wanted to try so we start going at it, things were feeling good and then one try the board just got away from me and nailed the cam real good. The person who lent us the camera happened to be skating with us at Love so once we knew the camera was jacked I had to try a few more tries and then act like I was over it so she wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong with the camera. Sent that one to the repair shop the next morning and we were once again without a camera. Definitely not the best time I’ve ever had in Philly but I still love it.”

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LENNY RIVAS

“Barcelona was one of my favourite places to travel during this video. When we were there, everyday was a good day skating with my boys. We would skate all day, get tricks, and then go party all night. After my first trip out there I was already thinking about what tricks I would get the next time I went. On my second trip back to Spain I fell asleep on the plane and had a dream that I switch fs 360’d the Macba 4. During the middle of the trip we skated by the set and said fuck it, let’s do it. I warmed up for a bit and just went for it. It was a battle but one of the tries felt right so I put it down. My whole squad was there and that gave me the motivation to stack clips for the rest of the trip. When we put together my part for the video the clip looked a little old and didn’t make the cut. All I know is that I dreamt it and I made it come true. That’s what it’s all about.”

Find DGK on Facebook and Twitter and make sure this video is in your collection today. It’s out on DVD in your local skate shop and on i-Tunes for download. Support it.

New Video From FIDLAR

Alcohol and skateboarding obsessed FIDLAR return to our consciousness with their high tempo track, ‘Cheap Beer’ which has a suitably adrenaline fueled, tongue-in-cheek promo video to match.

The LA based band are back over in the UK next month for a small run of dates that are sure to be hectic and sweaty. Make sure you check them out.

DECEMBER
4th – London, Dingwalls
6th – Manchester, Soup Kitchen
7th – Glasgow, Cathouse

Ben Nordberg’s full Flip section online

Ben Nordberg has his first full section for Flip Skateboards online today, and it was definitely worth the wait. Click on the below play button to enjoy a fantastic 3 minute section of Bath’s most consistent skater edited by James Gardner. Amazing stuff.

Social Distortion

Social Distortion
Hard Times and Nursey Rhymes
Epitaph


Social Distortion are so popular amongst our writers that the following two reviews for their latest album were sent in. Each one had its own take on it so it would be terribly rude of us not to run both. Read two opinions below, firstly from punk aficionado Pete Craven and then a slightly extended review from the human encyclopedia of music, Alex Gosman. – Ed.

I hadn’t pre-heard any of the material from Social Distortion’s latest album, so went into it cold, straight off the bat.

An instrumental (‘Road Zombie’) opens up proceedings, and sounds great. Hallmark Social D, and the very idea of an instrumental itself is one little utilised on the long-playing format, but when done right can be used to great effect. We then slip in to the hard stuff with ‘California (Hustle and Flow)’ and it’s immediately apparent that the mood is set with an optimistic and cool confident swagger, more in line with their two early nineties albums ‘Social Distortion’ and ‘Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell’. As we push on through the 11 tracks, there’s little, if any, of the distemper that fuelled the much loved ‘White Light, White Heat, White Trash’. The Dillinger-esque homage ‘Machine Gun Blues’ is the punkest number in the pack. Take heed; if you still hang on to the lude boy sounds of old (circa; 1945) then you’d best bust out your dusty copy of ‘Mommy’s Little Monsters’ and keep your head buried in the sand, Social D in 2011 are a zillion miles from The Playpen.

I’ve closely followed this bands musical progression over the years, and the progressive direction of this (their 7th) album makes a lot of sense, as they slow burn thru a collection of songs that utilise classic Americana Rock ‘n’ Roll, set to Mike’s mournful tones, lamenting love, loss, redemption… and hope. Indeed, the album closes with Mike declaring he’s “still alive” and will be “here until the bitter end” and thus closes another chapter of this fabled Punk Survivors tale.

Pete Craven

Social Distortion – Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes by Epitaph Records

In keeping with ‘I liked their old stuff better’ mentality, there are folks out there who will tell you that Social Distortion’s 1983 debut ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’ is their finest work. Granted, ‘The Creeps’, ‘Another State Of Mind’ and the title track deservedly remain in Social D’s setlists to this day, but in terms of sound, it didn’t really help the band stand out amongst the other leading lights of late 70s/early 80’s Californian punk rock. It was on their 1990 self-titled effort that singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Ness melded punk rock with his love of American roots music to create the signature Social D sound. If you’ve never heard ‘Story Of My Life’, ‘Ball And Chain’ or even the band’s barnstorming cover of ‘Ring Of Fire’, then you’ve got some catching up to do.

Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes’ is the band’s seventh album in 30-plus years, and even though Ness has long been happily settled down with his wife and kids, the old dog still has a few surprises up his sleeve. Having previously covered ‘Under My Thumb’ and ‘Backstreet Girl’, he lets his Rolling Stones influences loose on ‘California (Hustle And Flow)’ and ‘Can’t Take It With You’, both replete with soulful female backing vocals and 70’s swagger.

Quite a departure from those early days, then, but the Social Distortion of old hasn’t left the building just yet; with ‘Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown’ and ‘Machine Gun Blues’ providing the requisite high-octane guitar thrills. And it is testament to the band’s skill that their cover of Hank Williams’ ‘Alone and Forsaken’ sounds no less dark or foreboding than the original, despite its inclusion on a largely upbeat-sounding album.

It isn’t completely flawless; the overly-long ‘Bakersfield’ (complete with corny spoken-word interlude) could have done with some pruning, and the polished production does take the edge off some of the harder, faster songs. It’s a record that arguably shares as much musical territory with Ness’ country/blues-influenced solo album ‘Cheating At Solitaire’ as with previous Social D releases, and it probably won’t strike a chord with the aforementioned ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’ purists.

Overall, though, it’s a fine effort from a band who still have plenty of stories to tell, an ear for a great tune and little concern for passing musical trends. Welcome back, guys; it’s been a while.

Alex Gosman

IPath hit up LA parks

The IPath team took it to L.A. to shred some of the finest concrete on the west coast with the locals. Expect great things from the likes of Ryan Lay, Fred Gall, Steve Nesser, Ryan Reese, Jack Sabback, Jaws, Jon Goeman and more. Great things…

Watch the results of the Cali Shine Box Sessions and pretend for the next few minutes that snow isn’t real…