Society would deem that a prodigious girl can’t be in a progressive rock band while also being in complete control of its creative vision, business plan and social messaging. Society is wrong. Clem, a 19-year-old teen Queen with a headstrong resolve like her hero Patti Smith and a cartoon laugh like Muttley the dog, dreamed up Cherry Glazerr in her LA bedroom alone and is perhaps more capable of figuring a music career out than anyone who attempts this treacherous life path.
Today things look a little different from the band’s early days back in 2014 when they were associated with much-loved Cali imprint Burger Records (who put out their intoxicating debut Haxel Princess) and Suicide Squeeze (who released the Had Ten Dollaz 7-inch). Back then, they were born as a different trio, featuring Hannah Uribe and Sean Redman who have since both moved onto other artistic pursuits.
Now bolstering Clem’s vision is the loud-in-every-way-possible drummer Tabor Allen and the level-headed but bad-ass, multi-instrumentalist Sasami Ashworth who plays synths and notably French Horn (Clem is still scheming on how to incorporate that into Cherry Glazerr’s sound). The first time the new trio all jammed together minds were blown. “My world was rocked,” recalls Clem. “I’d never played with someone who was technically that good before. It made me think, Man I gotta really step my shit up!”
The band’s newfound self-discipline and motivation has evolved Cherry Glazerr into a wildly complex, hugely guitar heavy, and unapologetically loud machine. “People may be shocked by the jump in our sound,” says Sasami, eager to establish that this record isn’t intended to be some fancy statement about reaching their pinnacle. It was simply an opportunity they couldn’t turn down. Clem has since learned how to quit focusing her attention on the fans or wider critical response. “There was a time when I just couldn’t write songs because of that. You can’t do that,” she says. “You can’t be emotionally free if you’re pandering to anyone. Serving the music is the one and only thing that matters.” That’s hard when you have people telling you what to do all the time.
Cherry Glazerr live like they want to see others live. They don’t want to preach certain politics, they’d rather hold court for an open discourse.
Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013 but their first new album in two years. After a whirlwind initial phase of writing, recording, and touring at a frenetic clip, their newest document marks a period of relative patience; a refocusing and a push toward a new democratization of both process and musical surface.
In late winter of 2016, the band expanded their core membership of Evan Burrows, Cory Hanson, and Lee Landey to include two new members—Robbie Cody on guitar and Sofia Arreguin on keys and vocals. From the outset, the new ensemble moved naturally toward a changed working method, as they learned how to listen to each other and trust in this new format. The songwriting process was consciously relocated to the practice space, where for several months, the band spent hours a day freely improvising, while recording as much of the activity as they could manage. Previously, Wand songs had generally been brought to the group setting substantially formed by singer and guitarist Cory Hanson; now seedling songs were harvested from a growing cloudbank of archived material, then fleshed out and negotiated collectively as the band shifted rhythmically between the permissive space of jamming and the obsessive space of critique.
This new process demanded more honest communication, more vulnerability, better boundaries, more mercy and persistence during a year that meanwhile delivered a heaping serving of romantic, familial and political heartbreak for everyone involved. They learned more about their instruments and their perceived limitations. Much else fell apart in their personal lives, in their bodies, and the bodies of those near to them. In this way, Plum lengthened like a shadow underneath a dusking Orange; or rather “Weird Orange,” an affectionate name given to the colour of a roulette-chosen, tour-rushed batch of Golem vinyl…an idiom, an inside joke, a talisman, a bookmark, a mood ring. And meanwhile all the shifting weather, the wireless signals, the helicopters overhead. Weird orange softened, darkened delicately, and rouged itself to a Plum.
The music of Plum focuses teeming, dense, at times wildly multichromatic sounds into Wand’s most deliberate statement to date, with a long evening’s shadow of loss and longing hovering above the proceedings. Plum delicately locates the band’s tangent of escape from the warm and comfortable shallows of genre anachronism, an eyes-closed, mouth-open leap toward a more free-associative and contemporary pastiche logic of that more honestly reflects the ravenous musical omnivorousness of the five people who wrote and played it.