Dillon Matthew

Wallows Return to Their Second Home

If you needed proof that good things come in threes, look no further than Wallows.

New York City has become somewhat of a second home to Wallows, the Los Angeles three-piece whose sold out Terminal 5 residency is one of the most anticipated stops on this expansive tour of theirs. Booked for four nights, Dylan Minnette, Cole Preston, and Braeden Lemasters are prepared to share more than a handful of special moments with their fanbase out here on the East Coast – which has steadily grown and stuck like glue to their side. Wallows are the epitome of down-to-earth on stage and off; they scream casual and comfort, even with hit songs under their collective belt, some hundred million streams online, multiple sold out nights in the Big Apple, and the ability to start a raucous surf rock sing-a-long at Coachella.

Now they’re opening up to us about just how riveting these moments are, even for a band as truly cool, calm, and collected as them. “All the shows have been really great so far,” multi-hyphenate Minnette begins. “I think it’s interesting how certain crowds in certain cities vary so much in terms of energy, I’m just excited to go out – especially since we’re hitting a lot more places. It’s a longer run [and] hopefully we see some great fans come out, make some new friends, and see that the crowds just get even better.”

“I think also what’s fun is that we started off with a game plan of what the set list was gonna be, but then it naturally started changing every night. We just started changing it up for fun, which we kind of had a feeling we would do anyway. […] The show’s still evolving, so it’s fun and spontaneous every night.”

Braeden Lemasters, lead guitarist and overall charming human, hums a response at this before pondering over our next question: Are there certain songs that are having borderline surprising audience reactions that maybe you didn’t see coming (thus far)? Minnette takes the lead after some thought on his own. “I’m trying to think back and it feels weird – it’s funny, we’ve only been off the tour for like barely a week… or not even a week. It already feels like it was so long ago,” he admits laughing. “I don’t know if the other guys are having that experience, but I’m just so tripped out by time.”

Continuing on about the connection between audience and song, the performer says, “We’re pretty in tune with how we expect people to react and typically how [a show] goes. Our songs all have a pretty obvious sort of energy. ‘Oh, these are energetic ones,’ and ‘These are the more moody ones,’ are some [classifications] and so on. However I am surprised by people’s reactions to the new songs. I mean, the record came out so recently, but already we are seeing, lile, track eight on the album is getting a lot of love live.”

“People are already singing the words,” drummer Cole Preston adds. At the time of our interview, Wallows’ second LP, the genre-spanning Tell Me That It’s Over, had only been out for a month-and-a-half.

“Yeah, I just expected that to maybe take more time than it has, but the [fans] have been really good with the new songs. I’d say the biggest surprise to me is ‘Especially You’ just because that feels like a song that we’ve been playing for years to in terms of like the crowds’ energy, which was certainly surprising, because usually you put out a project or album or song and you kind of see that kind of build. ‘Especially You,’ in my opinion, is already one of the top three or four moments of the whole set,” Lemasters tells us candidly.

“The song for me,” Minnette follows up, “that I feel has a surprising moment is ‘Dig What You Dug.’ We busted that out at a few shows ago and honestly it’s not a song that is one of our highest streaming, you know what I mean? So you never know how those are gonna go live, but every time we do it, people are so stoked in the crowd. It’s one we’re seeing that really loosens the crowd up, so that one has actually been a nice surprise because we really didn’t know what to expect with it but now I see it’s really fun every time we do that song.”

It’s exceptionally thrilling to see fans resonate to these songs in person, now more than ever when we’re just barely a year into live music returning semi-full swing in a pandemic-riddled world. Tell Me That It’s Over was a whirlwind to create at this time but an exploratory journey nonetheless; upon asking the guys what they were leaning toward or listening to sonically for influence, they almost began agonizing at the thought of nitpicking their inspirations. “There are tons. It would take years to sort through them all,” Preston laughed. For a band so imaginative, open-minded, and thoughtful like Wallows, we couldn’t help but agree with them on the fact that being on stage again is more powerful than ever; let alone the power to reimagine tracks new and old on said stage in a fuller, more robust way.

Lemasters concurs immediately to this sentiment, quoting the aforementioned ‘Dig What You Dug’ and ‘Quarterback’ as songs getting moments and creating moments for the audience and for themselves. “Anything coming from the Remote EP,” gets new life breathed into it he admits. “We recorded [that] completely separately and remotely during COVID, so it kind of has that sound of the project. Live, though…. It just sounds way more like a band playing together. Being on stage does bring a new life to Remote’s songs, particularly at the headline shows because we recorded that project in such a particular way for the fans, which I think is cool. They get a very different vibe live and they’re fun to play.”

Wallows takes playing just seriously enough in terms of being professional, acclaimed alt rockers, but still wonderfully laid back at the same time. No matter how roaring and immaculate a show, it is still obscenely grounded. Everyone at these shows can feel a sense of community that is palpable, comfortable. Nobody’s untouchable – not even the band with some millions of fans. Everyone seems to really just be there for the right reasons time and time again, no matter the style or size of the show. It’s impressive, honestly, and something we were keen on chatting with the band about (and praising them for, in a society post-Astroworld tragedy).

Cover photo by Anthony Pham

“Everyone is just having a good time and we can see that. We’ve been told like on this recent run of shows that there’s definitely this kind of fervor, I guess, where people – after we play – will wait around outside and there’ll be a little crowd of people we’ll go out to and say hi or whatever, and that’s normal. But the security people at venues, they’re the ones who are always like, ‘Gosh, we get some crazy people coming to shows at these venues, but your fans in particular are very polite and very respectful.’ Nobody is trying to cause trouble and everybody is truly looking out for each other. They’re very nice before, during, and after the show and we like hearing that,” the drummer notes with a smile acutely evident in his voice.

Any research on a Wallows concert, festival set, or even fan page on social media outlines how this band has always made fans feel comfortable about themselves, each other, the music, and the Wallows brand as a whole. The three band members who we had a stellar time chatting with a few weeks ago emulate that wholeheartedly. It’s hard to interact with them (in person, online, in any capacity) and not feel like you’re on the same level as them – as if you’re almost peers with the music and the musician.

“We honestly couldn’t make everyone feel that way without respectful fans, so it’s kind of a kudos to all the people who are listening to us, coming to shows, and being kind to us,” Minnette admits while Lemasters adds that “it’s a give and take” between them and the crowd.

The three twenty-somethings have the utmost appreciation for the art, the fans they give to and take from, and each other, but (almost more importantly) they are having a whole lot of fun with it. Bouncy, jubilant, anthemic, and filled with adrenaline, the band’s latest release – the acclaimed second LP keeps you on your toes. Original music never sounded so original, especially for a band whose influences are, as discussed, extraordinarily vast and penetrating in the most subtle of ways. Each of the young musicians shine, each bring their personality to the table, and each show off their talents in equal ways; therefore making music and putting on shows that offer off-the-wall joy to just about everyone in one way or another.

“It’s weird to think of a us as a trio,” Minnette notes with a laugh upon discussing how this band simply works as a three piece, gelling and creating as best friends and bandmates without a hitch, essentially. “I never think about that,” Preston adds regarding their trio status. “Most bands have four people and I always thought we’d be a four person group.”

“It’s funny,” the guitarist comments, “there’s not many trios.” (He says this after a lengthy conversation on what trios he and the band love… and can subsequently think of. The verdict? HAIM, Beastie Boys, Blink-182, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Nirvana are just some influential trios relative to the three way Wallows overhead.)

“Once there’s four people, all of sudden it’s harder to focus on each member,” the affable guitar player explains. “When it’s a trio, we’re very deliberately ourselves in our roles. I don’t know if I have ever thought about the fact that we’re a trio, but I think it adds an opportunity for a lot of focus to be given to each of us. I like that.”

New York’s crowd, which the latest, greatest alt rock trio getting ready to spend four days with (from June 14-17), is one that strikes a chord just as strongly – if not stronger – than most. The Aquarian dove into the topic of different audiences harnessing different vibes, which remains true, but as a publication partial to the tri-state, it was imperative we dive into their own threeway connection to the Big Apple. New York and New Jersey, if we’re being specific, loves Wallows an ungodly amount and anybody reading this who attends at least five minutes of their four date NYC residency will feel the energy reverberating deep in their bones. Time and time again the “I Don’t Want To Talk” band take over the city and turn it inside out almost as if it was a hometown show – there is that level of excitement here. A few months ago they struck up an event at Rough Trade and Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was so lit up with light, love, and genuine joy for everyone experiencing that moment, their music.

“That was so cool,” Braeden Lemasters says almost bashfully about their Northeast album release excitement. “New York is definitely like a second home to us at this point. Besides LA, because as a band that is definitely our city, New York we have been to the most and spend the most time in besides [LA]. The fact that we are able to sell tickets to that many people there, it just shows what has really changed over time.”

“I feel like it used to be that LA was clearly the city where we sell the most tickets and the fastest because it is like our hometown. New York has really proven to show up now, especially on this run. Four nights at Terminal 5 is insane to us. We’re very appreciative of our New York fans and it does feel like a second home now in that way. We do feel that sense of community around us and with us there. It’s really, really cool and we are honored that they feel the same way. It’s really cool to hear that they’ve sort of taken us on. I love it.”