If the rise of Wallows has seemed pretty stress-free then that’s largely because, well, it pretty much has been.
The Los Angeles based three-piece are chatting to Clash from a coffee shop above a recording studio in West London, and they’re in town to play two – long since sold out – headline shows. Their first in this country, the shows cap an astonishing 12 months which include debut single ‘Pleaser’ going viral and follow on EP ‘Spring’ becoming a smash.
“It has been really crazy for us,” Dylan Minnette admits. “It’s funny, one year ago today we put out our first single. Now it’s a year later and we are visiting a place we have always wanted to come to”.
Co-conspirator Braeden Lemasters: “All lot of the stuff we’re doing right now is what we have wanted to do for years. We were like, one day we’ll tour, and one day we’ll go to the UK, and we’re doing all that right now.”
“It all feels quite normal,” he admits. “It doesn’t feel like we are achieving such amazing goals and it’s only when you sit back you can be like oh, we are actually doing things that bands who we look up to do. It’s hard to see sometimes but when you look back at it its really exciting.”
A well-connected bunch – Dylan is a respected actor, who took a lead role in acclaimed US drama series 13 Reasons Why – Wallows’ profile shouldn’t obscure their songwriting; after all, that’s what keeps fans coming back long after the celebrity buzz has subsided. Effervescent indie pop with a tropical edge, reference points include everything from Vampire Weekend to SZA.
“We are a band and we play rock music live,” Braeden starts, “and we are definitely inspired by that but I think right now we are even more influenced by artists like Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino. If we can still maintain the raw energy of a rock show but while using these inspirations, then that’s mission accomplished.”
“We are super inspired by those artists more so than a rock band but we also truly admire indie rock music. That’s what we are now, but we don’t want to feel limited.”
There’s certainly a breadth to their debut EP. ‘Spring’ ranges from the crunch of opener ‘Ground’ to the sheer Californian zest of ‘Let The Sun In’ or the brooding psych-folk of ‘1980s Horror Film’. It’s remarkably assured, no doubt in part to the choice of the vastly experience John Congleton as producer.
“John is a really amazing dude,” gasps Braeden. “I think we really wanted to work with him because obviously the stuff he has done is insane. We are huge fans. What he brings to the table is that his catalogue is all so different. You don’t hear a John Congleton record and go, oh that’s John Congleton’s sound. He amplifies each individual artist, to achieve their maximum potential. I think he really brought something great out of us and only put in exactly what he thought he needed to.”
The material itself goes back some time; each band member added something new, often totally re-working old tracks to achieve something new, something Wallows.
“All songs on the new EP were written at different times and over different experiences,” Dylan insists. “I think the oldest song on the EP is probably ‘Pictures Of Girls’ or perhaps ‘1980s Horror Film’, then the newest is ‘These Days’. Originally it was going to be a five song EP but then Cole (Preston, drums) made a demo and we were like, dude what we need to add that. We decided to do it and wrote it that night in the studio. The songs are kind of all over the place. It’s a cool balance of new and old”.
Making a near-instant connection with fans, this relationship has already begun to filter on to the record. ‘1980s Horror Film’ for example, wasn’t due to appear on the EP, but the sheer popularity of its place in the live set pushed the band to think again.
“That was originally written as an acoustic song,” says Dylan. “We started playing it at one of our LA shows and then it got recorded and ended up being one of our most popular videos on YouTube. Then people would start singing the words at all our shows just as much as the songs that were actually out so we were like, oh people seem to like it. We didn’t have plans to record it but that sort of inspired us to.”
Continually looking at the future, the breadth of the ‘Spring’ EP is something the band want to amplify on each passing release. “We definitely wanted this EP to be a taste-tester in a way,” adds Cole. “A lot of different inspirations go into our music and we really wanted to make sure that on this EP we would experiment with some new sounds and progress a bit from our singles, just to show people that they can’t always expect that same thing from us.”
As for future plans… more music, more shows, and more Wallows. Dylan picks up the thread: “Once we return back to the States we’re going to go back into the studio with John 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!”
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