Wand on Their Aromatic New EP, ‘Perfume’

Wand on Their Aromatic New EP, ‘Perfume’

Smell is probably the most nostalgic sense, propelling us back to the darkest crannies of our childhoods with a single whiff of cut grass or impending rain. Perfume, the latest offering from L.A. psych band Wand, has a similar effect, although it shuttles the listener to far less mundane locales with each listen.

TIDAL spoke with drummer Evan Burrows in advance of the EP’s May 25 release about scents, worry and how pop choruses are like slogans.

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Perfume is such an evocative title. It makes me think of the book — and that Sparks song. Can you tell us how the word and concept applies to the music?

I’m not familiar with the book or the Sparks song, but the title of the EP came from the title of its first song. I feel like perfume appears in the lyrics of that song as a kind of vaporizing presence that confuses the edges of tenderness and violence.

The title really grabs at some other things I think we have usually tried to hold in simultaneity or in tension both musically and lyrically— seduction, deception, formulation, distillation, digestion, excretion, artifice, romance, fashion, memory, idealization, good taste, bad taste, excess, subtlety, disguise, delirium, control and so on.

What smell is each song?

1. Grapefruit (“Perfume”)
2. Oregano  (“Town Meeting”)
3. Creosote (“The Gift”)
4. Palo Santo (“Hiss”)
5. Vetiver (“Pure Romance”)
6. Vinegar (“Train Whistle”)
7. Vanilla (“I Will Keep You Up”)

This record stinks.

What’s the last scent you smelled that took you back somewhere unexpected?

Right now I’m on tour, traveling around, using a lot of different hand soaps. The other day, I used one at a restaurant that instantly gave me that kind of sickening, enraptured feeling of falling hard for someone new. I guess I must have been crazy about someone who used this same soap in their house, but for the life of me, I couldn’t place it exactly.

It was totally tantalizing. I just kept smelling my hands greedily until the scent finally faded. I made my bandmates smell it. I felt like a creep.

‘Worry is for people who don’t have any problems.’ Can you expand on that lyric? It makes me think of our current climate, where everyone is constantly on edge and worrying about something.

Yeah, maybe there are different registers of worry. I guess it is timely insofar as worry seems variously but deeply attached to advanced capitalism — precarity, debt, the absorption of most time into work. People are right to be worried, and then worry turns out to be very profitable for some people who are already too rich.

Some registers of worry move you out into the world — worrying can keep you vigilant when you need to stay vigilant.

I think there’s a kind of self-lacerating voice in those lyrics from ‘Town Meeting.’ Maybe the worry at stake there is a kind of neurotic circuitry of worry that runs in loops around an endlessly self-concerned individual who winds up worrying mostly about their own worry. For me, the lyrics are performing a moment in that circuitry, where the voice kind of mocks itself about the validity of its own feelings, or mocks what it sees of itself in other people.

I like all the natural noise at the end of ‘Town Meeting.’ What was going on there?

All that noise is a layering of loose percussion jams that we performed over the end of ‘Town Meeting.’ We slowed down the tape and then just went for it. So when you’re listening to the recording, you’re hearing a cacophony of sped-up choices.

‘Pure Romance’ sounds like the name of a perfume and ‘lost in time’ seems like a slogan. Is that an accident?

That was not intentional — though, maybe pop choruses just tend to sound like advertising slogans if you take them out of context. ‘The sweetest dream will never do.’ ‘Time can’t erase a feeling this strong.’ ‘All you need is love.’ What are we selling?

(Photo credit: Emilio Girardin)

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