Everyone dreams of being a rock star. Sure, it might not be the most practical of career choices, but when it's driven by passion and met with an equally steadfast enthusiasm in audiences, it can feel like something that was always meant to be. Such was the energy Wallows found themselves surrounded by performing their first shows in London last year. "The fans were going nuts," Braeden Lemasters giddily recalls. "People singing our songs in a foreign country," he enthuses, "that's so weird to us!"
A year on, with their debut album hot off the press and their first UK/Europe tour ahead of them, the band – completed by Dylan Minnette (who Netflix aficionados among you might recognise from ‘13 Reasons Why') and Cole Preston – are taking every moment in their stride.
"I think that it'll be really exciting to see how people react to songs in different places," Braeden asserts. "Just to see every place, every city, every country, every world..." he trails off in excitement. "Oh, because we're playing Mars as well," he deadpans, before embellishing his accent for effect, "in the galactic galaxy of the empire..."
Space travel might be slightly out of their remit at the moment (though the band refuse to rule anything out), but there's still every sense that Wallows are shooting for the stars. It's a dream that's been a long time in the making. A decade, to be precise, since the trio joined forces at a music programme in the San Fernando Valley and set out on their first musical venture – a path which they've followed to become the group we meet today.
"We've been in a band for so long, and our debut LP is something we've talked about since we were really young kids," Braeden conveys. They've come a long way since making their first performance together as The Feaver ("like ‘beaver', with an F"), and several name-changes down the line, every part of that journey plays a part in making Wallows who they are. "I've heard that you have your whole life to write your first album," Cole asserts. So that's exactly what the trio poured into making it.
"There are certain ideas we'd have, and we'd be like 'oh, we have to save this for our album', because we were so serious about it," Dylan reminisces. "We wanted to make sure our album was the best we could do," he affirms – then quickly backtracks. "Not to put down anything we put out before this…" he grins.
"I feel like each thing we've done has kind of opened up doorways to what we should do next," Cole adds. "Each project you do, you want to step it up in some way, or change it up."
Which is exactly what the group have done. Through introspection and humour, echoing refrains and punchy chorus hooks, ‘Nothing Happens' is an accompaniment to life in all of its sparkling variety and fanciful mundanity. "Each year we were in a band in the past, we always felt like nothing happened," Cole laughs. "We were just like 'aw damnit, another year's rolled around and we're still doin' what we're doin'?'" he quips. "Then we decided to commit to that. We were like, 'you know what? When we make our first album, let's just call it 'Nothing Happens'."
"It opens us up for some really good bad reviews," he continues. "'Nothing happens on 'Nothing Happens'' – we can laugh at our own shit." It's been a long time in the making, but this debut album as never been about the destination. Instead, it's all about the journey. Meandering from playfulness to reflection and back again, the album is as much about candid revelation as it is self-referential laughs.
"We don't always take the serious route, but when we do take the serious route, it's sincere," Brendan distils. The same goes for their humour. A catchy chorus of "I'm a scrawny motherfucker with a cool hairstyle" might well be playful, but there's a power there in their sentiment of owning who you are. "We weren't like 'hey, time for a good punchline!'" he laughs. "I feel like any sense of humour that comes through is not put on. It's just what we are. Whatever sincerity comes through, that's just what we are too."
"It's ended up being - from my end, from a writing standpoint - by far the most honest thing I feel like I could write or put out," Dylan agrees. "I'm not used to something like that coming out."
Hailing from The Golden State's very own City of Angels (that's LA, California), Wallows' music resounds with as much sunshine as their hometown is known for. In its essence, ‘Nothing Happens' is a soundtrack to feeling good – whatever the weather. "People have described our sound as being easy, California, breeze, pop, rock…" Cole lists. "It's all very ‘California sunshine, happy vibes!'" he teases. It a description that fits, though the group are quick to avoid being pinned down.
"We wanted there to be a little more risk, and to be little more grand," Cole describes of the record. "I think we just wanted to go away and make something that we wanted to make, not have any weird preconceived notions of it having to be this or that or whatever. It was like 'let's just go in, have a good time, and do what feels right.'" It's an energy the trio have long been driven by, and one with no intentions of stalling any time soon. "If there's a weird road and a cool road, maybe take the weird road," Cole illustrates. "It's a shorter drive, y'know what I'm saying?"
"We're not going to rule out any genres," Braeden conveys, reasoning "hey, you never know" ("jazz and heavy metal are still in the equation," he laughs). "Our sound has evolved a lot over time," Dylan explains, "and still is, really." Their debut album is only just seeing release, but Wallows already have a weather eye towards the horizon.
"We've been in writing mode already quite a bit since we finished the album, and during the process of finishing it," Cole reveals. "We already have a lot of ideas, whether that be for album two or for other releases beforehand."
The future is an open book, and there's anything this group are certain of, it's that they want to enjoy every page. Their ethos is a simple one: "don't be afraid to jog up the hill, because you can always jog back down," Cole portrays, much to his bandmates' amusement ("easy breezy!" he justifies). Whatever happens, the group are raring to take it all in their stride. "We've a lot of ideas that'll be exciting," they enthuse. "It's going to be nonstop for us, especially from a creative standpoint. It's only just left the station; our train is not stopping now."
Taken from the April issue of Dork. Wallows' debut album 'Nothing Happens' is out 22nd March.
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