Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
Wallows Approved Press Photo 1 by Aidan Zamiri

Model citizens

05 June 2024, 09:00
Words by Steven Loftin
Original Photography by Aidan Zamiri

Wallows are a summer breeze who relish in the tranquillity of youthful ups and downs but the Los Angeles trio are also astutely aware of the equilibrium they share, they tell Steven Loftin.

Following Wallows’ 2019 laconic scene-setting debut Nothing Happens and its follow up Tell Me That It’s Over, the LA band have hit more ambitious territory with new but familiar strides on this year’s Model.

During release week, vocalist Dylan Minnette, drummer Cole Preston, and guitarist Braeden Lemasters are in London, signing eager fans' records and paraphernalia on a bustling Oxford Street. I meet them later in the barren, shadow-soaked bar of a nearby hotel where they sip straight from bottles of water – after ditching glasses for a more rock and roll approach. They’re every bit the picture of a band always destined to adorn bedroom walls: eyes baggy and jet-lagged from a whistle-stop trip to the UK, their chiselled cheekbones are far from the rosy-cheeked teenagers they were when they first started penning music as Wallows at 13. But, after all, a lot has changed since then.

Minnette, Preston, and Lemasters are childhood friends turned indie-pop heartthrobs. Outside of the band, they’ve been actors – notably Minnette’s turn as Clay Jensen in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and Lemaster in Easy A – but as Wallows the three have found an irresistible charm elevating their outfit to the heights of Alexandra Palace, and an upcoming US arena tour.

This ambition is thanks, in part, to their unfailing drive to fill spaces. "I don't like to sound unafraid of being big or sounding big. I do think there is a space that Wallows is trying to fill in a certain regard without trying,” vocalist Minnette tells me.


Self-awareness is what gives Wallows their confidence. Recognising now that their second album came with pressure, Minnette muses that this is just par for the course. “Every album you do you feel like there's more pressure than before for whatever reason,” he reckons. Minnette’s is a considered outlook: “We took a long time to record our second album, it took like 10 months, which for us was a long time…so we knew that going into the third record that we wanted to do it quickly.” Over two months, they created a barrage of tracks. After poring over them, they discovered Model’s tracklist, creating something they acknowledge as “something really easy to listen to, and concise and cohesive.”

Ambitions are rife in the trio. While they’re on a steady climb, they are actively tuned into the band they want to be. It’s what the majority of our conversation entails - this is a trio who have the bigger picture shining in their hungry eyes as much as they do the minutiae. Professing wanting "To be a little smarter and a little more precise and have it be a little lighter on its feet,” according to Minnette, Model is the next slab on the path of their mission. “We wanted to strip away as much as possible and have only the most necessary elements,” he adds. “And I think we wanted to think about how this record came to be.”

"We knew that if we wanted to make our Kid A or something, maybe this wasn't the time for that.” Lemasters explains with a smirk: “This album felt the most free to me, it felt like the freest album we've ever made. I don't know why it felt as free as writing our first songs when we were like 17 and there was no guarantee anyone would listen to it at all.”

Wallows Press Photo Credit Aidan Zamiri 2

Wallows have worked through this period and paid their dues. Having begun as The Narwhals in 2011, they’ve paid their dues doing club shows without an audience and have earned a substantial foundation of fans who voraciously chew up anything the trio releases. It’s a ferocious feeling matched by Wallows’ work ethic. “We're the kind of people and band who, as soon as a project comes out, we're already like, okay, what are we gonna do next?" Preston explains. "And I don't know if maybe that's, in some ways, not so harsh as an insecurity, but it's like, we’ve finished one thing, and we're excited to move on, and grow from it already and provide even more context of what we want to do and what we're capable of doing.”

Sat in the middle of the trio, Lemasters has the cool air of a muso rife with musical references and knowledge. A reference point he brings up again and again is Radiohead’s Kid A. While not the arena they’re hitting currently, it’s well within their scope: “It has to happen one day, it has to I feel like it's gonna be inevitable that one day you just have to make something that is just unbelievably different for yourself. And I'm excited for that album. I think it'd be cool.”

Preston adds: “Like Braeden said, I don't know if we are in the moment of doing these things. I don't think we're seeing the big picture in that way. We're not hyper focused, but we're pretty focused on chasing whatever's inspiring us.”


Wallows hold a simple ethos close to their hearts. “I feel like it actually boils down to first and foremost trying to impress yourself,” Lemasters explains, “and I think that's the rewarding thing about being in a band and making music.” Since day one, nothing has changed for the trio. “It's not different, in my opinion, writing music, and it really isn't," he adds. But still, it’s knowing that they’re growing confident in their steadfastness that is most important.

“It’s about how we can challenge ourselves…we’re not trying to appease everyone by keeping them here. We're trying to appease ourselves, first and foremost,” Lemasters tells me. “And then seeing that resonate with people is what makes it so rewarding, because it's like, wow, all these are people here to see the songs we wrote and it's from an honest place, you know what I mean? It's not like a facade or something.”

This type of thought is born from a place of confidence that’s been carried into Wallows’ third chapter. Even reflecting upon Model’s imminent release, Minnette begins pondering its comparison to their previous two record: “I believe in ourselves as not only songwriters but recording artists now. I feel like every project we've gotten our finger on the pulse.”

Preston’s outlook is slightly different: “For me, some of that confidence nowadays is maybe more so a comfort or a trust in that I don't know what I'm doing. I'm okay with that, in a sense. I'm open-minded and always trying to sort of learn as we go.”

In their time together, they’ve gone from fumbling for song ideas – with most of their solid output coming from Preston – to an “even playing field. “I feel like the fact that it's all three of us having this joint creative mind sort of ends up making the perfect balance, happy medium of everything," says Preston.

It’s Minnette who takes on the task of breaking down his bandmate's styles. Lemasters, he says, "brings a lot of bigger thinking, magical ideas to the table…like a whole sketch of a song that just comes out of nowhere or…a more oddball thing…they’re all really weird, and they’re all gems…I think Braeden has albums worth of material for our Kid A.”

Turning to Preston: “I feel like you always bring an idea to the table that immediately sounds like a single or something. Like Cole comes in with heaters,” he laughs.

Giving their two cents on Minnette, Lemasters adds: “I would say you have a producer's mind, I would say that’s Dylan’s strong suit. He can bring a lot of ideas and make them one concise thing like he hears what's good…and also, I think he has a creative way of writing lyrics and melodies.”

Preston adds: “I think that you have the most keen attention to detail, where you see every piece, and how it all fits together.”

Your Apartment Press Photo by Aidan Zamiri

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to influences, Lemasters waxes lyrical on The Beatles. “I was trying to think of something more creative, but Lennon-McCartney’s grasp on creativity and popularity, it’s the best combination of songwriting in my opinion,” he explains. Choosing The White Album as his favourite, “They’re always my inspiration usually if I had to pick the ones you know, but there's a million other people but I'm gonna be I'm gonna give my Oasis answer and say the Beatles.”

Wallows are indeed students of their craft. So much so that when talk turns to their creative prowess, they hunker down for a beat before Lemaster answers: “For us, I hope it's not attainable. I think that's what you want it to feel like?"

Having already navigated their teen years and now the best part of the twenties as a unit, the future will also be a united endeavour for Wallows. It’s another facet they’re acutely aware of, as Lemasters admits, "I have no idea how I'm going to be when I'm 40.”

For all the planning, life gets in the way, but they know it’s another road to travel that they can use to their advantage, with just one caveat: “I hope that it stays cool,” Lemasters laughs. “And doesn't get dated…we don't want to make our eighth album, to make it sound cheesy. But it's like one day, we will be 40 and maybe make it to our eighth album, and the world will decide if it's cheesy or not. But I don't think we will?”

Wallows are a far cry from leaving their salad days. The road ahead seems to be gilded, but their self-awareness is an invaluable reality-checking tool. “Most of the time, artists are trying to chase their glory days, we're never going to do that," Minnette says. "I think artists make mistakes when they try to go back to their roots a lot of the time and it's like, don't, just keep going.”

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