This story is over 5 years old.


We Went Shroom Hunting With The Wands

We met up with the Danish psych duo, grabbed some beers and a shroom guide and set off on a quest for magic mushrooms.

Photography by Baijie Curdt-Christiansen

As the name not-so-subtly hints, psych rock has always been heavily inspired by drugs—especially psychedelics, like LSD or magic mushrooms. Seeing as 2015’s Indian Summer brought Denmark the best shroom season we’ve seen in decades, it was only natural to go mushroom hunting with The Wands—a band that’s been making a name for itself with flooring live shows where their 60s-inspired rock ‘n roll soars to a rarely-seen level of energy. So on a regular Tuesday, we grabbed a picnic basket full of beer, a thorough mushroom guide and Christian and Mads from the band and headed to Dyrehaven—ready to hear about tour life, drugs and psych rock and hopefully stumble upon some shrooms, too.


As we pass through the gates into Dyrehaven, the band’s guitarist, Mads, leads the way. As it turns out, the two members of The Wands both have extensive knowledge of the park. “I used to take the kids here all the time, back when Christian and I worked in a Kindergarten,” he tells me as we walk down the paved track. We talk about growing up in Fyn, where there was nothing else to do but to play guitar; he tells me how he met lead singer Christian at a boarding school back when they were both teenagers.

As we walk down the road, the landscape changes from stables to forest and finally to open grass plains—an ideal breeding ground for magic mushrooms. In the distance, we see a pack of deer. The air is punctuated with the sound of male deer in heat: they're howling at the females, who are desperately trying to escape their potential fates of being on the receiving ends of this rather unromantic mating ritual. “There’s something to learn about gender here,” Mads says, grinning.

The lead singer and keys player, Christian, heads into the tall grass. An unfortunate thing about gathering psychedelic mushrooms is that they’re tiny and tend to be exactly the same color as everything else on the ground, so Christian is moving low, carefully looking for the small fungi. Ten minutes into our hunt for psychedelics, the first mushroom is finally found. After consulting our book of mushrooms, we come to the conclusion that sadly, this isn’t the mushroom we need to induce visions and god-like guitar play.


Shortly after, we find three small mushrooms. Everybody except for Mads - he’s pretty sceptical - agrees that these are, in fact, the mushrooms we are looking for. We congratulate each other. High fives are handed out and people are hugging. Three mushrooms aren’t nearly enough to get intoxicated, but still: we’d been out looking for two hours and finally found something. We agree on giving up on our quest for shrooms and instead sit down for a beer and a chat.

NOISEY: So what are you guys up to?
Mads: We’re going on tour tomorrow for about two and a half weeks. That’s easy enough. Last time we did a month and a half. That’s really tough.

Christian: We recently hit our 100th concert. On this tour, we’re playing in Holland and Belgium, then England, then France and Italy. So there’s a lot of driving involved.

Is that the worst thing about touring? That you have to drive so much?
Christian: No, all the driving is actually quite nice. The car quickly becomes your home.

Mads: Says the man with no driver’s license. Driving sucks.

Christian: I love it! Time to think and play Retry on my phone.

So what music do you guys play in the car?
Mads: That really varies. On the last long tour, we listened to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass a lot.

Christian: It’s exciting to see what music we’re going to listen to this time. Last time we only had CDs.

Mads: It’s not like we only listen to psychedelic 60s rock music.


Christian: We actually listen to a lot of blues and other stuff.

Is there a connection between the music you listen to while writing songs and touring and the music you end up making?
Christian: Definitely. Our last record was really inspired by 60s psych rock. The next one is going to be different. We got it out of our system. It’s not going to be fundamentally different, but it will be inspired by the here and now.

Can you manipulate the music you create by choosing what you let inspire you?
Christian: Yeah, for sure. We listened to a lot of Ali Farka. It’s this bluesy music from Mali. That turned into half a song, which then turns into something else entirely. Maybe you listen to Fleetwood Mac the next week and all of a sudden you have a song that consists of all these different elements, but at the same time is completely our own.

Psych rock is a throwback to the 60s. Back then, there weren't nearly as many places to find inspiration. Isn’t it weird to look backwards for inspiration when there are so many channels to get inspiration from these days?
Mads: I really don’t see a problem.

Christian: It’s always important to reflect on how much you are your own musical references. Of course, we are a product of our scene: of the bands that came before us and the bands we play with now. It’s interesting to look at why different scenes are hyped and why young people today can identify with stuff like 60s hippie culture. We’re mostly just being ourselves.


Mads: For us it’s also about the aesthetics. If you look at The Rolling Stones, they're the most beautiful band ever.

If you look at Mick Jagger, he’s also a man who’s been in constant development. Just look at the video for "Dancing in the Street" with Bowie. Are you constantly evolving, too?
Christian: Yeah, Mick’s got a lot of different faces.

Mads: I think we’re always heading somewhere else. It’s boring to copy what we’ve already been doing. We listen to a lot of different music and I think the development happens naturally.

Isn’t it tempting to just keep following the same formula that works?
Mads: That’s a bit unambitious, isn’t it?

Christian: Let’s see when we find the right formula.

Mads: Yeah, that’s true. Let's see when we find something that works.

Historically, psych rock has been heavily rooted in drugs. Is that still the case?
Mads: Well, back in the day, The Grateful Dead sprung from those old acid test parties where they’d jam on LSD. So historically, there is a strong bond between drugs and psych music.

Christian: That’s not really the case any more.

Mads: Back then, LSD was a new drug and the youth culture really took to it. I think it’s changed a lot since then.

Christian: A lot of the classic psych rock came out of the experiences they had while on drugs. The drugs inspired the music, so it’s definitely a theme in the music. Music is inspired by culture and back then, all these drugs were a big part of the culture.

Mads: As a musician, you have to be curious. It makes sense that musicians looked to drugs for inspiration. They were driven by curiosity.

Christian: Just because the music gets a revival doesn’t mean the drugs will get one too, though. The context is different today—and drugs have always been just a small part of the hippie movement, anyway. It’s also about freedom, attitude, flower power, love and all that jazz.

Thanks, guys.