Wallows: 'We’re Not Scared Of Evolving And Trying New Things'

20 October 2022 | 12:08 pm | Mary Varvaris

"You can always tell a lot about a city when you go out to a random bar and see what the sort of chatter and vibe are like. Our plan is food, beaches, nightlife, and cuddling koalas."

(Pic by Anthony Pham)

More Wallows More Wallows

Wallows are living the millennial dream.

The Los Angeles-based trio comprised of Dylan Minnette (lead vocalist, bass, and rhythm guitarist), Braeden Lemasters (lead guitarist and backing vocalist), and drummer Cole Preston went from growing up listening to blink-182 to scoring an opening slot with them in Latin America in 2023. Additionally, they are the kind of band that takes full advantage of having all the music in the world at their fingertips. Above all, they are best mates who conduct each interview as a group.

The band enjoys a day "in the wonderful state of Arkansas" when we dig into the life of Wallows. Talking about blink-182, Lemasters claps with joy. "It's unbelievable. They were such a huge part of our childhoods, you know, they wrote some of our favourite music of all time," he says. Preston nods in agreement, "it's funny. We've been saying that we listened to them as kids and grew up with that music, especially in LA," he starts. But it's a different feeling growing up listening to an artist and reflecting on their impact on your life and music later in life.

"I have more of an appreciation for their music now than I did as a kid. Looking back, it's like, these are some incredible songs. And they just were so unforgivingly blink-182. We are really into them again right now. Partially because of this tour, but more because they're so awesome," Preston shares. It's Wallows' dream come true.

"We're playing in bigger venues than we've ever played," Minnette says. "The only other band we've opened for was Vampire Weekend, another hugely influential band from our upbringing and in our lives. If we could talk to our younger selves right now, they wouldn't believe it because it's insane! We've been very fortunate to have a quick upward trajectory with Wallows."

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Speaking of Vampire Weekend, Wallows' second album, Tell Me It's Over, released this year, was produced by the band and Grammy-winning producer Ariel Rechtshaid. Rechtshaid is known for his work on two Vampire Weekend albums – the seminal Modern Vampires Of The City (2013) and the much-hyped Father Of The Bride (2019), as well as producing albums for Adele, Haim, Kylie Minogue, and many more.

On working with Rechtshaid, Lemasters learned to approach each song with spontaneity. "We would show him a song, and he would change it completely," he laughs. "He would suggest a direction for a song, and we followed it, he was really inspiring, and we got to make something we've never made before. Ariel is also super nice and chill! Just because he's great at what he does, it doesn't affect anything about him at all. I really look up to him."  

In August, Wallows played a great set at the iconic Reading & Leeds Festival with the likes of Glass Animals, Fever 333, Griff, Little Simz, and the Saturday headliner, Dave. "That show was tied for the best show we've ever played; it was really quick, 30 to 45 minutes, and it was our first-ever festival appearance in the UK," Preston says.

"We had no expectations of who would be there to watch us. The kids really showed up, though! We learned that that weekend is when everyone learns about the big college entrance exam results. So, you find out your results the day before the festival starts, and everyone goes nuts that weekend. Maybe that has something to do with it," he chuckles. "The crowd was so awesome."

Minnette's favourite thing about the festival was observing how different the crowd was from American audiences. "I'm really excited to get somewhere like Australia and see if we can tell the difference in the vibe and what the energy is like because it is apparent that different countries have vastly different vibes at times." Wallows will be visiting Australia for the first time this November, and they're doing all the touristy things between theatre shows in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

"We've already booked our koala photo-op at the sanctuary. We want to explore restaurants and find great food. The promoter was talking about visiting the Gold Coast, which looks beautiful: is that a real place, the Gold Coast?" Preston asks. The trio are so excited to experience our beaches and nightlife. Minnette concurs, "I'm always curious to find a cool bar or music venue or something. You can always tell a lot about a city when you go out to a random bar and see what the sort of chatter and vibe are like. Our plan is food, beaches, nightlife, and cuddling koalas."

Despite their early fame, Wallows are really just a bunch of quirky young dudes – you can hear their personalities shine in moments like the harmonica on album highlight, I Don't Want To Talk that Preston played in the demo stages and decided to leave on the album; the band isn't afraid to surprise fans.

Preston was dressed in a costume in June and opened a Wallows show as "Buffy The DJ Slayer," despite never having seen an episode of Buffy (not even Hush!). "What's funny is I started DJing as a hobby in my extra time. And then we were on tour, and our opener got sick," he begins. However, a DJ option was a possibility for opening the show.

"There's a DJ called Sabrina the Teenage DJ, and I thought that was hilarious. We talked with our photographer, Dylan, at dinner one night in Columbus, and we were thinking of TV show puns that you could work DJ into; one of them was That's So DJ Raven. We settled on Buffy, and to be honest with you, I'm a total poser. I've never seen the show. But Dylan [Minnette] loves it. So, I second-hand love it."

Wallows pull from influences as broad as Pinkerton-era Weezer, Kate Bush, OutKast, and One Direction; Lemasters says it's an organic process for the band. "When you pick up a guitar, it's almost like all your influences are the paint, and the song is the canvas, and you can only use the colours that exist in your palette on there," he explains. Anything from The Beatles' Revolver to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless can influence the band's writing.

The trio are in a unique position because they released a ton of music before their first album, 2019's Nothing Happens, and then plenty of music after Tell Me That It's Over, Minnette says. It's hard to describe how much they've changed between albums, as they've already explored many musical angles. "We're not scared of evolving and trying new things. We've never wanted to make the same album twice; we never want to make the same thing twice. We want to keep our fans on their toes, do surprising things, and grow further."

The band's musical heroes also stretch themselves creatively. Lemasters cites Johnny Marr, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page as influences on his playing, while he admires Julian Casablancas as a primary songwriter of The Strokes. Meanwhile, Preston looks up to the late Can drummer, Jaki Liebezeit, and the group collectively enjoys John Paul Jones and John Bonham's playing.

On the contemporary side of music, Minnette latches on to Alex Turner's songwriting in the alternative rock space. "I think who think we're all collectively inspired by the same musicians, the same people, even if they don't directly apply to what we do as John Bonham inspires me even though I'm not the drummer of our band," he says.

"Another contemporary hero of mine is Frank Ocean, who's making such timeless music. Sure, in 20 years' time, we'll answer questions about our influences differently, but I think Frank will always be there," Minnette continues.

Wallows have a shared love for Kevin Parker and his main project, Tame Impala. "Kevin Parker managed to do his own thing the best. So many people are trying to do the Kevin Parker thing, but it's never quite as sick. He just distorts it the right way. I respect him for being himself as a person making decisions," Preston says. They've seen another Australian band live, San Cisco when they opened for The Vaccines. Lemasters is a big fan.

"We like musicians who write parts we remember, like Mac DeMarco or Johnny Marr. They're not Yo-Yo Ma-level musicians, but they write incredible parts, you know?" Preston explains, almost forgetting another guitar hero: Peter Hook. "It's funny how he wrote the part in Aries [by Gorillaz, featuring Hook and Georgia], and you can just tell that it's Peter Hook immediately. He makes the guitar sound like no one else."


With Special Guest spill tab

Tuesday 8 November – The Forum, Melbourne (AA)

Thursday 10 November – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (AA, Venue Upgrade)

Friday 11 November – The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane (AA)