On The Road, For The Record: Wallows
Wallows is the LA alt-rock band composed of Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston, and lead singer Dylan Minnette. The three friends had been playing together for years under different names but reached instant popularity in 2017 when they released their first single “Pleaser” under the name Wallows. From their first tour as Wallows, the band has improved exceptionally. With more songs and a better handle on what it takes to be on stage, Wallows just wrapped up their global headline tour following the release of their debut album, Nothing Happens. The band is set to get back on the road this February with an opening show in Alabama.
In between shows while they were in Cologne, Milk caught up with the guys to talk all things on the road. From horror stories to favorite merch and must-have green room snacks, Wallows are tour veterans at this point.
Check out what Wallows is listening to on the road:
What have you guys found to be the biggest misconception about being on tour?
Dylan Minnette: A typical way that people look at it is that it’s a rockstar life, partying every night, whatever. We’re really not that way. You really have to take care of yourself. If you’re sick, it really, really makes everything extremely difficult. Because you’re living either in a bus, or a van, or in a hotel, and moving constantly, and going in and out of different climates; sweating or being cold.
No matter what situation you’re in unless you’re playing arenas or something, you’re kind of roughing it, in a certain sense, in comparison to being at home, and so, therefore, it’s much harder to remain as healthy as possible. It’s difficult, and I feel like a misconception is that it can seem like it’s “the life.”
Cole Preston: Yeah, it is definitely far from glamorous.
Didn’t you guys have a tour bus explode?
CP: Yes, so we had a show scheduled in Oklahoma, between two shows, so the bus was driving from San Francisco to Dallas to meet us there. We actually weren’t properly on the bus when it happened, but the rest of our crew was.
Apparently it was just an electrical shortage or something totally random. One of them smelled smoke in the middle of the afternoon, went up to go tell the driver, and there was just smoke billowing all up in the front lounge area. They pulled over, and then a few seconds later the whole bus went up in flames after they all got off.
I feel like that’s the best-case scenario of that situation.
CP: Yeah, they’re all totally alive, and no one was hurt at all. We just lost so many personal items, like all of us pretty much lost all of our wardrobe, except for Braeden. He brought his suitcase (by accident) to Oklahoma.
So you guys just wore his clothes the rest of the tour?\
CP: Yeah, we had the naked tour after that.
So to give a bit of context who comes in the van with you guys? Who is everyone?
DM: So the three of us! Our friends Blake and Danny also play with us. Normally our full crew, when we’re on a bus we have Cole Karaba, who is our front of house sound engineer and tour manager, then our buddy Landon who does lights for us, and then we have someone doing monitors, and merch (depends on where we are in the world.) Sometimes we have our buddy Nikoli, our buddy Joe for photography. It’s like 10 people.
What is your favorite merch that you’ve ever done?
DM: There is a shirt that we made, that was originally modeled after like 90s Hip-Hop shirts. It doesn’t really read that way, but that was the original inspiration for it. We have this kind of unique looking painted photo of us that says like, “WALLOWS Live in Concert ’19.” I’d rather it be a crew neck though. Right now, it’s a long sleeve.
What are your green room must-haves?
CP: Water? A lot, a lot of water.
DM: We need to use Hydro Flasks and not waste water bottles.
CP: What else?
Braeden Lemasters: Tea? Love a green tea.
CP: Oh yeah, a whole ginger root to drop in the tea.
BL: I feel like we need protein bars because people don’t want a full meal. We’re just trying to have something to put in your stomach before you play. Those are really good. And I think bagels and peanut butter.
DM: Yeah bananas, just any kind of fruit.
CP: Bagels. But there is never, ever a toaster; it’s always a cold or room temperature, soft bagel. And I like it that way!
So looking back onto your first tour to now, what would you guys say are the biggest changes in your performance?
DM: I’d say the production. The first tour, we only had like two-four songs out, and then we’d fill the rest with songs people didn’t know and covers. It was just us with no lights or anything, but now it’s more of a show; it’s more of a production. I think it feels like you’re coming to a proper show. And now that we’re playing bigger rooms, I think we’ve definitely made it so we more appropriately fill that space, you know?
BL: I think it’s gotten better over time, too.
CP: I think we’ve just matured a lot over the past two years. Naturally, we’re more comfortable. I think the stage banter, I would say, is better, because it’s more concise. I think we’re more comfortable talking to an audience because that’s such an awkward thing to do.
What changes have you noticed regarding the crowds over time?
CP: First of all, because we’ve put out more music, people are way more engaged. They actually have an opportunity to know what we’re playing, which is the whole point of a concert; so that’s a huge difference. People will sing the words to the songs because they’re actually released.
And also, I feel like there’s a lot more energy now than there was before. We played in Europe this past summer, and did a bunch of shows; all the UK shows were just so bonkers, I don’t know why. We played at Glasgow, and we had to stop the show because people were dropping like flies, they were passing out, and it was honestly kind of terrible. I felt bad, but at the same time, I feel like that was like me as a kid, going to a gnarly show and remembering and talking about it. I feel like if I was there I’d be like, “Wow, that was so crazy!”
Do you have a favorite venue?
DM: Fonda Theatre in LA.
CP: I really liked Metro in Chicago.
So based on the bands that you guys have played with so far (you guys just opened for Vampire Weekend) — have you been offered any sage advice from musicians that you’ve got to share the stage with?
DM: You know, it’s interesting. The only band we’ve ever opened for, still, is Vampire Weekend. We did two with them last year in LA, and then two now. We weirdly jumped a step by not supporting multiple bands before the amount of headline work we’ve done. So it’s not necessarily that we got advice from any person that we played with — we’ve talked to people, and they’re all really nice, but we’ve never had a conversation like that.
It’s more so advice from people that we’ve worked with like, John Congleton, who produced our album. He’s given us great advice and made us realize a lot of things we can change, or ways to benefit or improve ourselves and what we do.
Was there anything specific that stuck with you?
DM: The best advice we got is to not overthink things. We tend to overthink things a fuck ton. And John is like the king of absolutely not overthinking anything. Now, in the process of making records or something, we do it a little differently thanks to John.
BL: Well, I remember one thing he said was that when you put out a song, you always like to change it immediately because you have completion anxiety, and the one thing he would say is, “Don’t fuck with people’s nostalgia.” And I think that’s a great line.
When you guys get back to LA what’s the first thing that you want to do?
BL: I’m going to watch my pre-recorded Laker games.
DM: I’m landing in LA, and getting on another flight to Northern California because I have to go back to work on the show that I’m on. So after that, it will be Christmas basically, so I think we’re going to Disneyland.
CP: I’m gonna play with my cat and hang out with my girlfriend.
What is your favorite track to play, and then what is the most difficult?
BL: My favorite song to play is a song called “Sun Tan.” Most difficult to play would be the song “Just Like a Movie,” because I don’t remember the solo at all, and I always fuck it up, every time. And I’m probably going to fuck it up tonight because I don’t remember what it is. So I think I’m gonna have to practice that.
DM: My favorite is one that I feel always goes over well, without fail: “These Days.” That one never gets old, and the crowd always gets into it, and it always feels good. The most difficult sometimes is “Ice Cold Pool,” there is something about it that’s hard to play.
Okay, last question, what advice you guys have for bands that are going on tour for the first time?
BL: Don’t eat the yellow snow.
DM: Remain healthy, keep medicine and vitamins on you at all times. Just helps to take vitamins and super pills and whatnot, you know? Just healthy things. Try not to drink too much.
CP: Crack jokes and don’t be an asshole. I’m only saying that because none of us are like that, and it’s been great. We have fun, and we’re nice, and there are so many jokes. It’s just constant jokes, and that’s what keeps us sorta sane.
Images Courtesy of Wallows.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on the road.