Pat Martin

The Music Issue

Wallows Head Back Into the Wild

With a new record and a brighter than ever sound, its time for the band to re-introduce themself to the world.

Not all bands formed in middle school last, let alone become internet and industry sensations, but Wallows is a rare exception. “The start of Wallows, to me, is 2017, but theoretically, we started playing together in 2009, so that would be 13 years ago,” says singer and guitarist Braeden Lemasters. “I was 13 — I was as old starting the band as [Wallows] is now.”

For the last decade-plus, Lemasters, singer and guitarist Dylan Minnette, and drummer Cole Preston have remained committed, honing their sound, and, eventually, formally landing on the name Wallows in 2017 after playing nameless for many years. “We had started writing a particular batch of songs that we were like, ‘This is whatever this next band is,’” says Minnette. “During that process is when we landed on Wallows and solidified around it, like, ‘Let's just be called Wallows. Let's do it.’ There's just no going back at this point. We were committing for the rest of our lives to Wallows.”

Since then, the band has gone on to release three EPs, their 2019 debut album Nothing Happens, and, just in time for their Coachella set, its follow-up, Tell Me It’s Over. Released in mid-March, the album is the latest and greatest of Wallows’ sound: upbeat, lyrically relatable tunes that defy genre. “I don't think we're ever going to have the same feeling going into making an album ever as we did with Nothing Happens, because that was the first one,” Preston says. “The classic, cliche thing is, ‘You have your whole life to write your first album, which is true. Technically you could say that first record was written over the entire time that we had been a band. We had 10 years to make it.”

For their sophomore effort, the band sought out producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who, according to Preston, left a large impression on every song. “He makes bands sound really fresh and exciting, and finds this weird way to balance making a band sound classic and timeless while also making it feel contemporary and cool,” Minnette says, citing his previous work with Haim and Vampire Weekend as examples. “I feel like that did end up feeling like a similar vibe on this. The album's sort of all over the place but ends up really coming together in a way that makes sense.”

The album comes three years after its predecessor, which was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews and spurned a 2x RIAA platinum hit single in their Clairo-featuring “Are You Bored Yet?” When it comes to feeling the pressures of releasing a follow-up, the emotions vary day to day. “With your second album, there is expectation from people that really like your music,” explains Lemasters. “But, on the other hand, we've put out so much music that I think it's at least clear to our fans that really like us that we put out what we feel. If you like our music, we wrote those songs and we like them and we hope you do as well. We’re not chasing something. The only thing we're chasing is our own inspiration and our own goals.” Adds Minnette: “Wallows has been evolving from the second we put out our first song. From day one, we’ve intentionally wanted to make it clear that you shouldn't expect anything from us. The whole thing with this album was not overthinking and just letting the album find itself at a certain point.”

Preparing for tour, and for their performance at Coachella, is another story. “Now that, on the other hand, I overthink constantly,” Minnette says. “It's probably the most important festival slot we've ever had, and it's the first one in years. It's the first time that Wallows are playing in the wild since our sort of ‘moment,’ for lack of a better word, of ‘Are You Bored Yet?’ propelling us to a place now that we weren't before. So we've never been able to see any sort of difference in our popularity, or something translated in front of our eyes. I think the pressure is, the first [festival] back is Coachella, and we’ve got this really great time slot. That is a moment, you know?

“We played Coachella in 2019, and that was the first show of that tour, so our first time playing any of the first album's songs was on the Coachella stage,” he continues. “It was our first time using a bunch of new equipment and it was a bad idea. We had a great time, but I would give anything to go back and do that after a couple weeks of touring because it would've been a lot better. We made it very clear that we are not going to play Coachella again if we're going on stage cold. Luckily, I think we're going to be in a much more comfortable position doing it live this time around. We're overall, long story short, very excited.”

Photographer: Pat Martin

Art Director: Shanelle Infante

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