Californian trio Wallows on their forthcoming third album 'Model'

Interview Model Citizens: Wallows

Bucking expectations and focusing on trusting their gut, the new album from Wallows sees the Californian trio embarking on their biggest chapter yet.

It’s been a big week for Wallows. Jumping on a call from their respective homes in Los Angeles, the band - longtime friends Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston - have just landed back from a trip to New York, fresh from announcing a huge world tour that’s set to take in some of their biggest milestones yet. “I’ve been thinking about it more than I usually do I guess,” Dylan admits of their newly-announced run, which includes dates at the legendary Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Madison Square Garden and their hometown’s Kia Forum, alongside a European tour culminating at London’s Alexandra Palace. “It’s more nerve-wracking because they’re bigger shows, but we’re feeling good. We’re just excited.”

Currently in the middle of gearing up to release their third album ‘Model’, this is the moment that Wallows have been building towards for some time. Having formed over ten years ago as teenagers involved in a local music programme, the trio have since channelled their love of guitar music into an eclectic discography book-ended by their full-lengths, 2019’s ‘Nothing Happens’ and 2022’s ‘Tell Me That It’s Over’.

Reaching these objective new highs has been sending the trio of old friends down memory lane. “We daydream and reflect a lot I’d say! When you start to think about how this band started, and the pieces that had to fall together to make this happen…” Braeden starts up, before composing his thoughts. “The years before people even knew us, when we were a band just playing to our family and friends, or a 100 capacity room where only 30 people were there, we were just writing songs and trying to keep growing,” he continues. “It’s funny, when we were kids playing those shows, it meant so much to us. It meant as much as the Greek Theatre [in LA] meant to us when we played. You wanted to put on a great show with the songs you had even though no one was really there. It always felt like something important.

“Looking back, knowing that we’ve just announced a Forum [show]…” he grins. “I remember going to see bands at the Forum when I was 15, being like, ‘Could you imagine playing here?!’ Now that it is happening, it is a ‘Wow, we’re here’ moment. It’s almost like when you grow in height, you never notice you’re getting taller but then you just are.”

“I really didn’t want to overthink this time. I wanted to choose my battles, and really trust the process.” - Dylan Minnette

Growing, it turns out, has played a key part in Wallows’ forthcoming third album ‘Model’. Aiming to produce their “most concise, cohesive, all killer, no filler” record yet, the trio returned to working with John Congleton - who they’d worked with on their debut - and in turn managed to recapture some of the innocence of their first work. “It really just became instinctual,” Dylan nods. “We started with guitar, bass, drums and really tried not to layer anything on there that didn’t need to be there, and I think it’s really brought back some of that honest, eager quality.” “It was nice to be in the studio with him because there is a special connection with him as a producer,” Cole nods. “He’s the first producer that we sought out and worked with, so going back in with him, there is a different level of rapport and comfort that you have.”

“I remember one of my most used words during the recording process was ‘relinquish’,” notes Dylan, on the band’s collective mission. After the more drawn out, overly analytical process that accompanied the making of ‘Tell Me That It’s Over’ - a record that skips around musically, dipping into synth-pop and new wave along the way - this time around, they wanted to trust their gut. “I really didn’t want to overthink this time,” the frontman says. “I wanted to choose my battles, and really trust the process.”

This self-assured spirit seems to permeate everything from the record’s sound to its mononymic title and enigmatic artwork. A name that manages to be both “strong and memorable” while also open to interpretation, it’s something the band have managed to reflect in the album’s accompanying aesthetics. “When we landed on ‘Model’ for the title,” Braeden explains, “the main thing we knew from the get-go was that the last thing we wanted on the cover was gonna be some model person, or a mannequin or something.” Instead, the band teamed up with Aidan Zamiri, who produced an image of “a space that’s maybe a little off, because the sunset in the background isn’t actually a sunset, it’s a prop wall”.

“I do think there’s something cool about these sorts of constructed spaces,” adds Cole. “That’s a huge component of the world that we live in today, where everything is a representation of something, and sorting through what’s real is seemingly more difficult every day. I think that’s true for almost every aspect of life in a sense: is this person genuine? Am I genuine? Is this the right thing to do? It’s sort of a reflection of what we’re all experiencing now that we’re this age, and we’re thinking on what version of a band we want to become. What is the expectation for us? Are expectations real? Everything is a question and we’re not trying to answer it but we’re doing the best we can.”

“We love things that are right but not,” Dylan nods, “almost perfect but not quite. I think that’s how we felt sometimes recording this - like we needed to please the label, people around us, fans. It’s easy to question yourself when you have all this material and all these things; you need to be this perfect representation of yourself, for whoever else. Then we just ended up being the best representation of ourselves.”

‘Model’ is out 24th May via Atlantic.

Tags: Wallows, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the April 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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