Wallows are a sensation.
Little more than 12 months ago the three-piece were sketching out demos, and releasing their first songs; fast forward a year and they've travelled the world, creating their debut album in the process.
Clash caught up with the band in 2018, with frontman Dylan Minnette telling us:
“Once we return back to the States we’re going to go back into the studio with John Congelton and start working on the record, which is kind of scary but I think we are going to be able to pull it off. We are going to make our debut album – we’re both terrified and excited!”
New album 'Nothing Happens' is out now, a refreshing, addictive, soaring slice of pop-edged indie with some hidden depths. It's already caused a sensation with fans, and could well become their breakout moment.
Clash tracked down Wallows for a full guide to their debut LP…
– – –
– – –
'Only Friend' is a song we’ve felt could open our debut album for a long time. It touches on themes of isolation and losing the one person who means the most to you. Musically we wanted the opening riff to always be going throughout the whole track and wanted it to feel like it was building up to the rest of the album.
The original idea to 'Treacherous Doctor' was written in Cole’s bedroom at USC after we heard a track called Kim, by our good friends Joy Again. The riff came out immediately, and the rest of the arrangement happened after Braeden just started drumming for three minutes on GarageBand and formed the song off that. We wanted the song to feel pessimistic and discuss the insecurities of growing up. Though it’s lyrically the darkest song on the album, it’s contrasted by the music feeling upbeat and happy in spots.
This track was written from the perspective of breaking up with someone and watching them fall for someone else. Musically, I (Braeden) remember coming up with the guitar riff while drawing inspiration from Tyler, The Creator's 'Flower Boy' album and pulling ideas from another unused song idea of ours to finish it off.
'Are You Bored Yet?'
Cole wrote the demo to this track on his brand-new laptop after his friend spilled wine all over his old one, and he lost all his demos. 'Are You Bored Yet?' ended up being the first idea on that computer. Lyrically the song is about the idea of someone being bored with a relationship that you have been in for a while, and the fear that you or the other person is ready to move on.
We tracked a pitched up version of Dylan’s voice in the demo and were inspired to have a female feature on the song. We’re super happy we reached out to Clairo as we’re big fans of her. She showed up and wrote her verse the day of recording it and we are very happy how it all turned out.
Cole and Braeden were playing music after a day of recording for the album and Dylan heard this guitar part I did for a split second and said “wait, go back to that” and that riff ended up being the vocal melody of the verses. We were just about to go on a two week break from recording, before another week or so to wrap things up.
In those two weeks we wrote 'Scrawny' and recorded it when we came back. We wanted this to feel like a light hearted moment on the record surrounded by some of the serious themes and wanted to make sure the music had the same feeling as well.
'Ice Cold Pool'
This track took the longest to write on the whole album. We had parts of this song lying around for a few years and never knew how they would all fit together. The song feels like a collage of sorts in the arrangement and the lyrics. It’s made up of random ideas of youth and growing up, and looking back on your childhood and knowing that entering adulthood is the next step. It’s basically a song about leaving your youth and not being sure what comes next.
This was just an acoustic idea that Braeden had lying around. When we played it for our producer John Congleton, we decided to totally transform it. John had the idea to make the drums feel really big and in their own world and building the track one step at a time.
When we got to the ended of the song we all felt like it was missing another section, so that last coda is literally just the first thing Braeden played. John had the idea of having the chaotic drums come in and it was Dylan’s idea to make those drums be the same ones that open “what you like”.
'What You Like'
'What You Like' is a song that Dylan actually wrote a few years ago at this point, and the song surprisingly hasn’t even changed that much over time. The arrangement has always been almost identical, a lot of the same lyrics stuck, etc.
We always knew that the song had potential to be something cool, and we figured 'Nothing Happens' would be the best place to have it exist. So now finally, here it is.
This was the last track we recorded for 'Nothing Happens'. In a moment of “what else do we have left to try and record” we played the bass riff to John (which was originally guitar) and it was his idea to make it more bass driven and Joy Division-esque.
'I’m Full' is a song that’s been around since we were much younger. We actually released a version under one of our old band name (which is no longer available). Last year, we toured with only a few songs out and this track was one that we would play live in order to fill out the set with some big energy.
We kept it around for the album sessions and worked on this new version of it with our producer John. The song is about being stuck with bad habits and the difficulties of convincing yourself to change and move forward.
'Do Not Wait'
'Do Not Wait' actually started with the acoustic chords and the ending guitar riff. We’ve had that part around for a few years and always knew that we wanted to incorporate it into our debut in some way. When we recorded it, Dylan had an arrangement fleshed out it his head and played the Juno bass sound while mumbling lyrics.
The whole song was built up from that starting point. We’re excited about this song because it’s the most personal song, lyrically, that we have, and therefore the most vulnerable feeling to release. It’s written from the point of view of Dylan’s older self to his younger self and brings the record to a climactic close.
– – –
– – –
'Nothing Happens' is out now.
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.