On their way – literally – to continue recording time for their eagerly-awaited debut album, we caught up with Los Angeles trio Wallows to talk about their inspiration, the loss of innocence, and how to film a music video on an iPhone.
Wallows are made up of Cole Preston on drums, and Dylan Minnette and Braeden Lemasters splitting duties on vocals and guitar (live, though, McCartney usually on bass, as Braeden confirms). Despite lacking a full-length studio album to their name, they’ve been delivering their sun-soaked tunes to sold out iconic music venues in their hometown of LA, as well as across the country. Building their bright and catchy songs with irresistible hooks and riffs are intelligently polished lyrics about the pains of entering adulthood and the experiences that come along with it.
Can you give me a little background on what exactly you’re up to right now, whether that be in the band or in your own projects?
Braeden: Right now, we’re kind of just in the early stages of the album. We don’t want to get people’s hopes up on when that might come out, but it’s something we’re very excited to be working on. We’re working with John Congleton again, who did the EP. He’s a lovely man.
Can you describe your sound to me, in your own words, for someone who perhaps hasn’t heard it before?
Cole: It’s honestly hard to describe your sound to somebody. There’s a song we have called “Pictures of Girls,” and people have said it reminds them of The Smiths, and that is not the way that I hear that song at all. I guess I’m down to leave how people hear our band up to people.
Dylan: I feel like our sound is ever-evolving, and we don’t exactly know how to describe it yet. We’re doing things that sound different anything we’ve put out yet. We tend to surprise ourselves because we’re always inspired by something different; I guess it’s just something that we could give a different answer to probably every year.
What are your greater influences outside music? What do you take from the world around you and put into how you make a song?
Braeden: I would say, recently, paintings and film have been influences on songwriting in a way that I never really did before or have before, in a cool and subtle way.
Dylan: Just mundane nights out with people you care about are the things I end up thinking about when I’m writing music or writing lyrics: just having nights that surprise you that are really special.
Cole: I was never a podcast person up until two weeks ago, and hearing people who are really good at talking, talk for a long time, is super great, because you can learn so much from just hearing smart or funny people have conversations. I feel like there are a lot of secret, hidden miracle gems in podcasts.
Either moving to or growing up in LA, do you feel like that’s inspired the band in any way?
Cole: The band formed in Los Angeles, so the band grew up here if that makes sense. Growing up, it’s weird because I feel, since the internet was a thing, I was listening to music from all over. My favorite band, Arctic Monkeys, are from the UK, and Kings of Leon were from the Midwest, so the world of music is becoming super small. I feel like I stumbled into LA after all of that.
Dylan: All of my life experiences that I draw from, in terms of what my memories are, what inspires me when I write about, the times that I think about, have all stemmed from being in LA. All of the first experiences I’ve had for everything has been here, so it’s definitely home. Cole is more tan than Braeden and I, though.
Braeden said that film has really inspired you lately. Did you draw from anything for the “Pleaser” video in that aspect?
Braeden: Basically, we just decided we were going to make a video for that on our iPhone. We just went to town on it, and there’s a bunch of funny things that happen in my neighborhood, like this dog always starts to jump over the fence. We promised our fans that we would put something out the next day, and we didn’t finish it. At all. We scrambled that together at Dylan’s house and tried to make it work by the next day. There was no inspiration behind it, really. It was just very on a whim. We thought, just get a baby mask that Dylan has in his closet, be stupid, and make a video.
Cole: Also, secret Easter egg in the video: there is one mistake that haunts me every day. The word ‘tongue’ is spelled wrong, so there you go. This is the big exposé.
Dylan: It’s a hard word to spell.
What is your usual process, from going to writing a song to recording it to producing it?
Braeden: It kind of varies. One of us will come up with a part, and we’ll all just finish it, so we’re all just throwing stuff together and working on it. Also, I think we’ve been inspired by the idea of just forming songs in the studio, so just having no idea, and then building off of that, trying to do it organically. We haven’t done that yet, but I’m very intrigued by that, and want to do that soon.
Do you have a concept in mind that you’re following for this album?
Dylan: There is, loosely. An answer that we can commit to no matter what – because it’s just inherently what we’re writing about right now, because it’s things that we’re going through – something that I think about every day is, I’m already in adulthood, and it’s suddenly this impending doom of adulthood. There’s things from my youth that I don’t want to leave behind, ever, and I want to be able to do that growing up, still, and still be a kid without feeling weird about it. I feel like the theme of the album is most likely just going to be the fear of entering adulthood and leaving your youth behind, and not wanting to, which is something that I feel every day. It’s simple, but if there’s any theme for the album, I feel like that’s going to be it: the experiences that come with growing up in your teenage years.
Cole: The loss of innocence.
When people are listening to your songs, what sort of feelings, actions, emotions do you hope to inspire in them?
Cole: I think the whole concept is all still incubating. I don’t quite know yet how I want people to feel when they hear the music, because we haven’t quite finished. We don’t know how we want to hear it yet.
Braeden: You have an idea for what you want it to be, and then anyone else can interpret it how they want to. That’s kind of the beauty of it; people can just hear it however they want.
What exactly do you have planned coming up for the rest of the year?
Cole: We’re recording right now, so we’re going to be in the studio for a long time, longer than we ever have for any project in the past. The rest of this year is going to be festivals – we’ve announced a few already here in the states – and then just really, really preparing and thoughtfully planning out how we’re going to put something out early next year. No promises, but I’m glad that we have time to actually thoughtfully plan out the release of our next thing.
Photographer: Niklas Haze
Mua: Reve Ryu