“What do you like about us?” asks Braeden. Well, there is much to like about Wallows, the LA-based alternative rock band made up of Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston. Dylan is affable, and exudes passion with his frequent deep-dives into album structure and flow. Braeden lightens any situation with his whims. It’s hard to not break out in laughter when he covers his Zoom window with a random assortment of eclectic items during Dylan’s musings (from a happy kitten themed t-shirt to a paper cut out of Michael Myers). Finally, Cole, I value his sensibility and calm - the glue of the band, I think. Friends since childhood, Wallows have been geek-ing out about music and concocting it since forever ago, having so far blessed us with a debut album, Nothing Happens - a coming of age tale, a collection of EPs, and now their sophomore album, Tell Me That It’s Over.
Tell Me That It’s Over represents the latest instalment in Wallows’ story. Dylan, Braeden, and Cole have come of age and life has raised the odds for them. Having reached the midpoint of their 20s, the ease of youth is challenged by a new set of insecurities and frictions. Serious relationships have formed, bringing highs and lows. “We're older, and our relationships and choices just carry more weight because they could be more permanent if we wanted to - and it's a lot,” Cole reflects.
In true Wallows fashion, the album dips in and out of genres - from indie-folk to early 90s dance-pop psychedelia. With songs ranging from I Don’t Want to Talk, an upbeat track with lyrics inspired by Dylan’s real-life relationship insecurities, to the slow-paced, nostalgic At the End of the Day, Tell Me That It's Over is a surprising and “reliable”, as Dylan puts it, second offering. Over a Zoom call - all of us dialling in from home - Wallows and I dig into the making of the new album and ponder how things have changed.
Discover Tell Me That It's Over by Wallows on 25th March 2022 across all streaming services.
Let’s start with a team bonding exercise, what do you like most about each other?
Dylan: I like Cole’s ability to rationally problem-solve in any given moment. It’s truly a great trait. I appreciate Braeden’s imagination. I like that Braeden thinks big. These are the first things that come to mind.
Cole: That’s nice. I admire Dylan's attention to detail. There is not a stone left unturned when Dylan has his eyes on something - or ears. And Braden, I admire his spontaneity - his brain is very fast - and comic relief that is sometimes very necessary in life.
Dylan: Yes. 100%.
Braeden: I'd say Cole’s, yes, rational when there are very hectic moments. It's very nice, but then in general, he's just one of the nicest guys and super cool. Dylan's attention to detail… He’s like a hawk-eye. It's pretty unbelievable. And his audio ear… That’s a big one for Dylan. He's just great to be around, hang around. It's just life. You know what I mean? It’s good to be in life with them. So that's a big one. What about you? What do you like about us?
Well, I’m just meeting you, so it’s a hard one, but I think you make good music. That’s a good start.
Braeden: That's a good start.
Cole: Maybe we’ll circle back at the end of this.
It's nice seeing you compliment each other. Are you feeling good about yourselves now?
Everyone: Yes! Feeling great.
Dylan: When picking your favourite, remember who has a cute kitty [pulls out a cat]. He might wreck some havoc during this interview, if I ever have to step away for a moment. He is in a bit of a mood today.
That’s a big plus, definitely. I cannot resist a cute cat. Your debut album Nothing Happens explored the transition into adulthood and the chaotic feelings surrounding that. What does your sophomore album, Tell Me That It's Over, tell us about the stage in life you’re at now?
Dylan: I think that, for me, it reflects where I'm at now because all the songs from my perspective, or almost all of them, are about the beginnings of my current relationship. It’s a reflection of transitioning into that and what it has meant to me. The highs and lows of those feelings.
Cole: The common thread of the record is relationships, which I know there is so much music about already. There are many love and breakup songs, but Dylan and Braeden certainly have unique perspectives. As Dylan said, we display the many extremes of what serious relationships feel like when you're in your 20s. If Nothing Happens was the loss of innocence and coming of age, then this is the follow-up, which is, literally, where we're at in our lives. We're older, and our relationships and choices just carry more weight because they could be more permanent if we wanted to - and it's a lot.
Breaden: Agree with that. They said it perfectly.
How have you developed as people since the last album? Any wiser?
Braeden: It's tough because the world felt on pause for like two years, you know? I think I feel wise. The first couple of years of Wallows was so fast-paced - recording, then going on tour, then writing, then into the studio, whatever. That was on hold for a second - the whole world was... Getting back into that groove has been so inspiring, and I feel recording the album was very freeing in that sense. Our song Are You Bored Yet? had a moment in 2020 for a second there, but we never got to see how that affected our crowd size or shows. It didn't affect this album at all. We went into it to create whatever we wanted to, so there was no pressure. This album will get us to our 50 song mark of releases as a band, and it's only our second album. We didn't really have that sophomore album pressure because I feel Nothing Happens, in a way, was kind of our sophomore record, like in a funny sense. It's just this ongoing thing, and hopefully, our fans and the people who enjoy our music stay on board. But in terms of being wiser, I think I've probably learned a couple more fun facts, like Benjamin Franklin stuff.
Cole: I don’t want to speak for them, but I think all of us have changed a ton since the last record, like a ton. Looking back at photos… Randomly, on Twitter the other day, I saw an account like some tweets from the last time we played Coachella - a picture of us standing outside of a trailer. It was like catching a glimpse of what we were like at the time… There was so much that I hadn't experienced and so much that I didn't know yet. Everyone in the world has been dealing with this pandemic, and I don't think anybody on this earth is the same as they were back in 2019.
Dylan: Yeah, I don’t know how much I can really add to that. That’s true.
Yeah, I feel like I’ve definitely changed a lot. Are you excited to get back on tour now? Are you feeling nervous about being in front of a crowd again?
Dylan: Honestly, for me personally, a little bit. I never ever used to feel this way, but it has been so long - and the shows are bigger now. We want them to be perfect, and that makes me nervous... I know that as soon as we start the tour, it will be like second nature again. That moment of walking out on stage at the first show in Seattle is going to be insane. Oh, gosh, it’s so nerve-racking.
What can we expect from this tour?
Dylan: It’s going to be a little bigger than the last tour. It's not like we’re going crazy with production, but it's definitely more. We're going to sound bigger than ever, which will be cool. We're really looking forward to it. We're doing bigger rooms, but we're still going to find a way to engage with the fans in the audience. We still want to find ways to make it as spontaneous as possible every night while still following the routine that we have down. I'm excited to see how we find that balance when we start playing.
Cole: Yeah. I feel like we're kind of forced to play this game of catch up because nobody's really been touring for the past couple of years, but we've also grown quite a bit since then. The venues we would have played in 2020 and 2021, we've jumped over those and gone to the next level. It's been a lot of work to make sure we can enter those rooms. It feels like it's been double work because we've skipped steps.
What is your thinking behind the sequencing of the tracks on the new album? The album offers dynamic shifts in pace, energy and style but comes together really nicely. Each track leaves you wanting more.
Dylan: If we compare this album to Nothing Happens, we went into that with a pretty focused vision of what we wanted the feeling of it to be like. That was cool. With this album, however, we let that go a little bit. We allowed the album to find itself as it went through various transitions and ultimately ended up with something completely different. We kept changing our minds, kind of going back and forth on what the album ‘should’ be. This is not like us... Even up to the last second, we were debating the tracks. In the end, I think we landed on the perfect thing. I'm obsessed with the flow of albums... If I don't like the flow of an album, I will make a playlist and listen to it that way. But, I’m happy with the flow of our album. When I listen to it now, there is just no other way.
Cole: Yeah, I can back what he said. He is definitely maniacal about it, in a good way. We had over 100 different versions of just our tracklist.
Dylan: If I were to guess, it’s probably like 400 versions.
Everyone: Like literally.
Dylan: I’m not exaggerating. I’m dead serious. It's kind of stupid, to be honest. I mean, we all contributed the tracklist obviously. All of my ideas were stemming from ideas they came up with first. We're always just feeding off one another and listening to each other’s ideas. My mind just constantly does it. Constantly.
Sounds like you work really well together. My favourite track - at the moment - is At the End of the Day.Braeden, I’m loving your vocals here. It makes me feel really nostalgic. Can you tell me about the making of this song?
Braeden: Yeah, I’m really proud of that song. That song basically started with a guitar part that I wrote, which appears five to ten seconds into the song. Cole and I were at this producer's house with this other person helping us out that day just for fun, and basically, I just started singing the verse melody, inspired by Neil Young. I was listening to Harvest Moon the night before, so I was really inspired by that space-y, kind of slow flow of Harvest Moon, like the Harvest Moon song and Dreamin’ Man specifically. That was something that I really wanted to achieve in that first verse. What I love about the song is that it constantly keeps changing and building. All the melodies are different and it goes on this weird journey. I think it's almost by accident because we were just kind of throwing ideas at the wall. The bridge was something that came later on. We were at Cole's house when Dylan had the idea for the bridge melody. So anyway, that was that and then it just took on a bunch of different lives. We basically turned it into this 80s thing that Arielle (the producer) had in mind, and we used all the synths that people would use in the 80s, which is cool. I’m happy you like that song. I liked the video we made a lot.
Cole: This director we've been working with a lot, and the DP that he works with - their names are Jason and Gus - happened to be in Las Vegas shooting a commercial or something when we got a treatment from him. It was like, “Hey, why don't we do this U2 style, kind of like wandering around Las Vegas video?”. They were already there, and so we went. I think Las Vegas has this lonely-like heartbreak but fun energy to it. I don't know exactly how to put the energy of Las Vegas. It's a party place but simultaneously, it gives off a very lonely kind of feeling.
Dylan: There’s such a weird contrast there of grime and extravagance. There’s no place like Vegas.
So I've mentioned my favourite song. What are your favourite songs?
Dylan: My favourite changes every time I hear it honestly. I'd say right now my favourite is also At The End of The Day because it feels really exciting that it's about to come out and for people to hear. It’s really on the brain at the moment. It changes all the time. Marvellous I'm really into right now as well. Just random, I don't know, what about you guys?
Cole: I think, right now, I like the song Missing Out. I just think it's fun because that song took a pretty dramatic turn. The back half of the song is kind of how we always intended it to be but it's like a marriage of two totally different energies that came together in a way that I am really excited by. It’s surprising in a good way.
Braeden: Nice. I’d probably say Guitar Romantic Search Adventure, the last song, is a favourite of mine. I like that one a lot. That was one of the first ones.
That is definitely my second favourite - Guitar Romantic Search Adventure. It feels like the perfect conclusion to the album. It feels like that moment when everybody’s holding the lighter at the end of the gig. That’s the visual I get.
Dylan: Going into the recording process, we were convinced that it was the opening song. Then we ended up making songs differently and our minds changed. It was cool to completely flip it on its head throughout, to sort of surprise ourselves and change up any ideas we had about the tracklist. Ultimately, it was the obvious closer. We were originally thinking more of a lush sort of album. That's why it felt like that was going to be the right opener. Sorry I’m looking down so much. I’m trying to pick knots out of my cat’s fur because he's sitting right here.
What’s his name?
Cole: The friendly ghost.
Dylan: [back to speaking about the song while continuing to pick knots from Casper’s fur] It was originally also going to be even more flow-y, like we didn't ever have drums in mind. We thought it was going to be this synth landscape song, but Arielle kind of wanted to go Mind Games John Lennon with it. We ended up with a cinematic sort of John Lennon-like track. I hear Frank Ocean and John Lennon in that song… There's something about that Wurlitzer third verse breakdown that feels very 2017 single Frank Ocean style… I don't know. It's interesting. I'm sort of talking for no reason.
Braeden: There’s always a reason.
Dylan, you are doing interviews all wrong. We are all supposed to be mute the whole time.
Braeden: You have to guess how I'm feeling.
There's also Permanent Prize. I hear female vocals, who is that?
Dylan: No, that’s just how Cole sounds. Haha, no, that’s actually my girlfriend Lydia Night from The Regrettes. Originally, the harmony on that song was Braeden, he sounded great, but it was sort of adding a more testosterone kind of vibe to it. Arielle, our producer, thought it'd be cool to have a female vocalist on the song. We completely agreed. He was like, “Can Lydia stop by?”. She came by and we rolled with it. It makes sense because that song is very much about our relationship, so it really worked out. It created a song that I'm really happy with. That was also one of the songs I feel like we went back and forth on the most, but I'm ultimately very happy with the final result, which is - if not my favourite - one of my favourite songs on the album.
Your voices go really beautifully together, so smooth.
Dylan: Thanks. It’s nice to sing together.
What feeling or message would you like listeners to walk away with after listening to your music?
Dylan: From day one, we’ve sort of set up this idea of ‘you shouldn’t know what to expect from us’. Our influences are ever-evolving. I want people to feel like they get something new but really fulfilling out of listening to Wallows. Something that feels comfortable enough for them to dive into but that is fresh and exciting. That’s what I hope people take away from it.
Braeden: Also just take away something they want to listen to in life. My favourite albums are the ones you listen to when you’re out and about and making new memories. It would be nice if people could listen to this album in 20 years and reflect ‘I remember what I was going through at the time’ or ‘I was going on a trip’. It’s less about the message but more about creating a space to hear sounds.
Dylan: Because it’s all changing ideas and every song is like a scene change. It’s exciting and I hope that makes it a reliable album. In my life, at least in the last couple of years, the most reliable album for me has been The Slow Rush by Tame Impala. If I’m ever debating putting something on, I know I will enjoy this. It’s so easy and exciting, so I’m just going to put it on. Nothing Happens, as much as I’m proud of that record and love it, it’s kind of a commitment. The way it flows in and flows out the same way… It’s big and crazy and epic… So it’s not something you just put on. I think Tell Me That It’s Over is more that kind of album. You can just put it on and enjoy it. It has a lot going on, and it’s reliable in that sense. It’s fun. That’s what I hope people can take away from it - that it’s a reliable album for people, and that they can play it at any given moment.
There is a lot going on for you guys. How do you tend to yourself when life gets the best of you?
Dylan: You are asking that at the right time. I was actually just telling Lydia last night how I haven’t felt like myself lately. When you are thrust back into this: promoting an album and getting ready for a tour… You forget how busy you are during this time. We’ve only really been through this once and we’re bigger now. It’s even a little bit more intensified. I found myself sort of wondering, literally like, ‘what is going on in my personal life right now?’. I have no idea. I feel like I’ve lost who I am a little bit recently. It’s all exciting, so I’m not complaining about what’s happening with Wallows… But the balance recently has been tough. Especially because my girlfriend is away on tour, so I’m alone at home. We’re working, working, working. Then I come home and don’t know what to do with myself. I’m just sort of opening up right now. I’m literally at this moment where I’m trying to figure out how to tend to myself. If I’m being honest, right now, I don’t know. I’m getting there, but we’ve not been this busy in a long time. Hopefully by the end of this, I’ve found the answer. When you get so wrapped up in something, like we do, you do have to figure out a way to tend to yourself. I guess the way I’ve been tending to myself is just coming home and watching things I’ve been wanting to watch. I’m just trying to do something for myself and find the things that make me happy and content. I’m trying to learn how to put work away. My brain tends to constantly focus on getting things done, so I have a hard time putting it away. If things aren’t resolved, I can’t really focus on just being me or ‘tending’ to myself. Someone else should speak, I’m just sort of rambling.
Cole: No, I understand. Our to-do list kind of feels like it’s constantly piling onto itself, all the time lately, which is really overwhelming. It’s the behind the scenes of someone’s professional career that you don’t ever see. So my girlfriend kind of got me into this because I wasn’t this way a year ago… Like when you say ‘tend to yourself’, I’ve been doing that way more literally, where it’s like... I come home. I switch into my jammies. I have my little skincare routine. I wash my face and put on my moisturiser. Like properly taking care of myself. It’s all about those little moments of self-care. When you get home and if you’re feeling tired, go take a quick, hot shower and put on your slippers. Just really force yourself to relax. That’s what I’ve been doing. Sometimes guys can feel like they’re not masculine in those moments, but I think that’s just cultural nonsense.
Braeden: Flawless skin, that boy.
Dylan: And in talking about mental health… It’s such a wide spectrum, you know. In my case, I don’t think I suffer from any anxiety or depression, from what I can feel. I don’t have these really looming mental health issues that I have to overcome. Even if you’re not diagnosed with those things though, we all have different versions of our mental health and different ways of preserving and protecting it. I just want to acknowledge that I have it good. In comparison to so many people, I’m definitely okay. What I was explaining is where I’m at and what my version of mental health is at this moment in time. Balancing work and life can really take a toll on you. That’s sort of where I’m at with it.
Braeden: When I think back on my life… I’ve had anxiety and all this stuff. I went through phases, for sure. When I look back on that time, when I was like 17, I would say that it had a lot to do with time. There’s a million ways and everyone is different, but for me, time was a big thing. It’s about giving yourself the time to grow and not feel guilty or weird that you are feeling this way. Try to find things that take you out of that, no matter what that is. Like Cole was saying, exercising or getting enough sleep or staying off social media. Try not to indulge in things that can bring on those emotions, so I feel like my advice would just be, let yourself feel what you have to feel and give yourself time and try not to feel guilty. Let the journey of life progress in its way. I’m not saying this is the only way… There are a million ways, but this is just one that works for me. I think talking to people is a big one as well. Talking about things you’re going through really helps. That’s my view on it.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Dylan: Wow. I think I just have to say Blonde by Frank Ocean. I would be very pleased just having that. It would cover a lot of bases.
Cole: I love the Cocteau Twins album, Heaven or Las Vegas. I’ve never said that before, like ever, but I’ve been listening to it everywhere that I go lately. If I had to pick right now, I would probably panic and pick that.
Braeden: That’s a great one. I was going to say Pet Sounds or something like that, but that might get a little old. I guess every album would get a little old. I don’t know. I will say Pet Sounds. Why not?