Interview: The ebb and flow of Wallows.

Interview: The ebb and flow of Wallows.

If a scientific study says it takes an average of 50 hours to transition from strangers to a casual acquaintance, and more than 200 hours spent with each other to consider someone a close friend, then how familiar ought you to be with your bandmates after 12 formative years and 46 songs officially released together? "You guys see me," declares Dylan Minnette of his fellow Wallows members - Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston - earnestly analysing the trio's brotherly bond. "I understand these guys more than I understand anyone else."

Punctuating his words with nods of agreement and supportive thumbs-ups, Lemasters and Preston gaze upon Minnette fondly as he thoughtfully considers his answers. Battling dim Zoom lighting, today all three are hunched over around a table; 70% elbows on-screen, individually leaning forward whenever an answer comes to mind. Reflecting on how he views the band's songs as snapshots of a collective Wallows experience, Lemasters shares: "I definitely relate each song to every one of us. Like, when I think of 'Pleaser' I don't just think of how I was, I think of how we were at that time. When I think of even a song like 'Do Not Wait' that might be more you [Dylan] lyrically, I still think of how we all were at that time. I think I view the whole band as a collective of work between all of us, versus individually." Friendship means different things to different people, and for Wallows, it just happens to be synonymous with their band and creative outputs. Simply ask them to discuss their lyrics and you'll see it with your own eyes: proudly beaming at each other, Wallows are the definition of what it looks like when someone has found their people.

Click here to order our limited-edition CDM x Wallows zine (i.e. a mini-magazine featuring photos + quotes from this cover-story).

Currently touring in support of their sophomore album, 'Tell Me That It's Over' (with 59 shows and festivals already played this year, and dates in New Zealand and Australia upcoming this November), Wallows have been busy world-building - from mailing easter-egg-filled flip-phones to preview their new album (which they not only texted fans on, but select fans could also text each other from), to encouraging live song requests from their back-catalogue, and masterminding an alter-ego; Buffy The DJ Slayer (a.k.a. Preston stepping up in a cape as an emergency replacement opening act), all within the last year. Whether built for yourself, someone else, or to share, all worlds are strengthened and expanded by the contributions of others - and Wallows fans run the gamut of reciprocation; from creating a Wallows-themed version of Wordle to utilising their songs in viral video edits (most notably, an astute pairing of 'Scrawny' with Timothée Chalamet). Just like friendships, it's impossible to pinpoint exactly what a band means to any one person, let alone a dedicated audience of millions.

Worlds are created by people wanting to feel seen, by sharing identity, and recognising each other. And in the world of Wallows, songs are an emotional shorthand; a deeply personal language that far extends beyond their own discography ('Tell Me That It's Over' closing track 'Guitar Romantic Search Adventure' references The Exploding Hearts' song 'I'm A Pretender' from their 'Guitar Romantic' album), and intuitive world-builders of their own accord. Here, a song can mean the difference between feeling alone or loneliness, with playlists an important currency and love language unto their own - infinite potentialities of worlds within worlds, where music influences and helps shape actual real-world environments. That's why mix CDs and playlists are a key romance trope. What's more empathetic than building a world for another around songs that you can both share?

For a band that once equated emotional distance to feeling "worlds apart" and wondered "what's the point of connecting to anyone?" on their debut album, 'Nothing Happens', Wallows are now acutely present - and sometimes, painfully so. 'Nothing Happens' documented the naivety of youth, but what happens once adult-reality sets in? "I know the summer won't change," opens 'Tell Me That It's Over' - the unflinchingly forthright 'Hard To Believe' setting the scene for an exploratory sophomore album that lingers in the space between breaths and when time feels like it's standing still. Lemasters, Minnette and Preston mulling over critical plot points, extending each and every fluorescent memory, and drawing out alternate endings before the final credits can roll - because what is life if not uncertain?

The result of an insular incubation with producer Ariel Rechtshaid last year, 'Tell Me That It's Over' is a character study in self-awareness ("I’m not alright but I don’t need comfort," confides Minnette in the album's lead single, 'I Don't Want To Talk'), cycles of abrasion, and feeling out of control. It's also a soundtrack for missed connections, overanalysing every minutiae of every conversation, growing pains, the weight of deafening silence, an unforeseeable future, remote correspondence, when timing is not only key but everything, and feeling at home in someone else... and what happens if they change their mind ("I’d never give up on you but you gave up on me," Lemasters chews over in 'That's What I Get'). Communication is hard. Really hard. This album is proof of that.

"What age would you call your prime?" wonder Wallows on their latest album, reminiscent of a recently unearthed home video from 2010 in which they're asked: "Where do you guys see yourself in the next five years? Is this band still going to be around?" Answering with the kind of confidence possessed only by teenagers, Lemasters answers without hesitation: "It will, and I think it will be thriving in a way of songwriting and skills. I think we will have a lot of fun and put on great shows and just make sure that we stay together." Echoing in reverse Frank Ocean's famous words to his younger self ("You’re going to become a lot stronger and wiser... even a little taller. Be patient"), it turns out that 14-year-old Lemasters knew what he was talking about: that good things (like bands and music) just take time... and some quality friendship.

COUP DE MAIN: I feel like we had a nice annual hang going, and now it's been three years since I've seen you all.
We were in a park. That was a long time ago.
WALLOWS - DYLAN MINNETTE: And we had no phone service. I found one of my favourite articles of clothing ever that day and it burned in the bus fire.
WALLOWS - BRAEDEN LEMASTERS: And you wrote the 'Guitar Romantic Search Adventure' melody that day?
DYLAN: I already had it, but I showed it to you that day.
BRAEDEN: Wow, there's some fun facts.
CDM: But it's finally happening... you're coming to New Zealand!
I know. Only one show, sadly, I wish there was more.

CDM: On 'Treacherous Doctor' from your last album, you contemplated things you thought were important. Have the things that you think are important, changed since you wrote that song?
Probably in a slight way. I mean, maybe generally the same, just in general, but I actually don't know. I don't know if I can answer this question properly.
DYLAN: Yes, in certain ways, like the fact that we've gone through a pandemic since we wrote that song is pretty interesting. I think I've sort of re-evaluated what is important in life. It's funny how before the pandemic happened, I was very much of the mindset of wanting time off and wanting to be home, and then I had that for so long and then was like: I want to get back on the road. Now we're going back on the road, I'm already sort of feeling pre-homesick a little bit. So, I guess for me, just in a very sort of standard way, I think I have put a newfound importance on personal time and mental health. I've really grown to appreciate time at home and realise how much spending quality time with the people that I care about, or what is of most importance to me, is making sure that I'm never overwhelming myself with too much and still knowing how to enjoy life. Going on tours can be really awesome, but I'm already feeling homesick which I never used to get before going on tour. I think that it's natural now because we've only been home for so long. Once you're on the road, I think it'll always have an element of homesickness, but we'll feel back in our element when we're on the road. It's sort of a roundabout way to answer your question, but in certain ways like that, I think this pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective for a lot of people.

CDM: As close friends for over a decade now, and since childhood, do you see yourselves as having an in-built friendship for life?
Hopefully! <laughs>
COLE: We've been friends for - and you guys [Braeden and Dylan], even more so - more than half of my life, which is really insane, and we've been doing the band. Once you eclipse that 50% point... more than half means the majority and I really can't imagine all of us not being involved in each other's lives in some way, so I think: yes. And I don't think that'll be hard either.

CDM: There was research done pre-pandemic indicating that men tend to stash their friendships away like baseball cards, rather than maintain their longstanding friendships. Is it nice, for you guys, to have been able to grow up with each other, especially during such formative years?
BRAEDEN: That's funny actually, because when I think back on my friends, they're all stages of my life, which is so funny. A lot of them, my friends Tyler and Andrew and Tom and all these people, they really are just like baseball cards.
DYLAN: Same. That is really funny.
BRAEDEN: It's crazy. Like best friends as well. Best friends at the time who are not my friends anymore. It's interesting. But there are a handful, including these two, that have been my friends for a long permit of time. So, I guess that's in a weird way true.
COLE: Yeah, and I think too for us, not only are we friends, but there was always this other motivation for us to spend time together, right? Because a lot of the time we would spend together would be rehearsing or writing or playing music, so not only were we friends but there was another layer to it, and I don't know why or what in the universe made it so that we didn't stop, even through me going to college and you guys doing other jobs, we were just always doing it and making time for it. I don't even think consciously about it, it was just our life.
BRAEDEN: You're right.

CDM: Within your brotherhood, with Wallows songs and albums being snapshots of your lives, do they feel like a communal Wallows experience? Or do you think about the songs as being very specific to the experience of the band member that wrote it?
I guess it depends, song by song, right?
BRAEDEN: I definitely relate each song to every one of us. Like, when I think of 'Pleaser', I don't just think of how I was, I think of how we were at that time. When I think of even a song like 'Do Not Wait' that might be more you [Dylan] lyrically, I still think of how we all were at that time. I think I view the whole band as a collective of work between all of us, versus individually.
COLE: But maybe this new record has the most obvious perspective than we've had before. I agree with what you're saying, totally, as far as markers of time, like the feelings that we have with the writing; we're so intimately attached to it. But for a listener's perspective, I think the majority of the songs on the new record are like: this one was written from Dylan's perspective, or this one was written from Braeden's perspective.
DYLAN: Right. We all help chip in lyrically even on songs that are pertaining to a specific person, so that's why I feel like I associate all the songs with all three of us as well - whether it be Braeden or Cole helping me write a line on a song that I'm writing about myself, or me helping Braeden on a song that he was writing. Lyrically, I think I sort of associate them with all of us, even if they are inspired by a specific event that only pertains to one of us.

CDM: In friendships with people that you don't work with and see routinely, showing that you care might look like making time specifically to hang out with someone. With you guys spending a lot of time together for work-related purposes, are there any special things you try and do for each other beyond Wallows?
It's hard because lately, we've been so busy. Like, straight-up morning to night doing stuff. I don't know... Maybe we should do more for each other.
DYLAN: Like...
BRAEDEN: Send you some flowers?
COLE: One thing that we are really good about is making sure that we're all pretty taken care of. For example, if Braeden is running late to my house for some stuff, I'll be like, "Yo, do you need a coffee? Do you want me to stop at the grocery store and get some food?" We're always in communication; making sure that all of us are eating and drinking coffee, and we just take care of each other. But beyond that?
DYLAN: Good answer.
CDM: Maybe you need to have a Braeden/Cole/Dylan spa day.
Oh yeah.
BRAEDEN: That would be nice.
COLE: That'd be really cool.

CDM: Does your friendship with each other, feel different to your friendships with other close friends?
I guess? I mean, not from a literal standpoint. The only reason it feels different is because with my other friends, I don't talk about music or create with them. So if you took that away from us, I think it'd be the same-ish. Obviously, different friends bring different things to the table in terms of maybe the specific hobby you participate in with that person. Like I play basketball with certain people, or whatever, but overall, I'd say: it's all the same.
DYLAN: There's obviously a difference because of the work dynamic that Braeden mentioned, but I think I do feel closer. I understand these guys more than I understand anyone else. I feel most comfortable if I'm in a room of people that are friends, but then if Braeden or Cole walk in, I'm super comfortable. You know what I mean? It's just one of those things. We do just feel like brothers or something.
COLE: Yes, when we're around each other, we're very similar to how we would be when we are alone.
COLE: Which I can't say about very many people at all.
DYLAN: 100%.
BRAEDEN: That's a good way to put it.
DYLAN: You guys see me. It's true. I'm never putting anything on for these guys ever.
COLE: Totally. Whereas, when you're in friendships of any kind, naturally, I think there is kind of like a guise constantly. Not in a poser-y or fake negative way, but that you put on a version of yourself around certain people and friends. I don't think we do that... I know that we don't do that.

CDM: There's been research done by psychologists that show human beings only have the capacity to accommodate four to six close friends, and if someone new rises to the top tier of your social ranking, then inevitably a former close friend will drop in ranking. Does that ring true for you?
I love all this psychologist talk; I love it. How many close friends do I have? Let's see...
DYLAN: That's really interesting. I guess that makes sense.
CDM: Do you remember Myspace? It's kind of like real-life Myspace.
I remember the extinction of Myspace, like when it was on its way out.
COLE: When the meteor hit?
BRAEDEN: Yeah! I never had Myspace, personally, I think these guys did. That's fly, but I never did.
DYLAN: The meteor being Facebook? Yeah, I feel like that is the amount of close friends that I have. Like, that is true. I don't know about the rankings though. It's tough.
COLE: I think it's true, but I think it depends on how you define what a close friend is to you. For me, I'm like: you guys and my girlfriend are part of that inner sanctum. And then beyond that? Danny, Blake, and Kevin... and that would be six or seven people.
BRAEDEN: The other band crew.
DYLAN: Your other friends are gonna be reading this like: "What the hell, Cole?"
COLE: "What the hell, man?" I know. It's interesting, I think that people throw around the term 'bestie', like "we're best friends", like it's nothing. That's something that maybe the pandemic kind of forced me to think about more: Who do I actually care about in my life? I mean, I care about a lot of people, but I think everybody has a shortlist.
DYLAN: During the pandemic, like quarantine, I don't think I kept in touch with anyone other than you guys. And then in 2021 once everyone was vaccinated, we were back out into the world and we were just going off having a good time - I was making a bunch of new friends and it was the first time in a long time that I feel like I reset or something. In 2020, I was like: 'Hmmm I'm not really keeping in touch with anybody.' That was really interesting, and then coming out of it, I was forming brand new relationships with people. A lot last year, actually, and I feel like I've made some new great lifelong friends just in the last year. 2020 was a great reset for me. <whispers dramatically> "The great reset!" But yeah, it's just interesting.

CDM: Research also showed that only half of our friendships are mutual; that only half of those who we think are our friends feel the same way about us. For me, as someone who is a serial overthinker, that was really alarming to read.
I think I've also realised that you can tell when it's mutual. I've noticed people that I've made friends with since last year are the people who are just nice when you're around, and the people who text you and check in on what's going on, and they try to hang out and make an effort, and I feel like I can count on them. Besides these guys, I can count on one hand the amount of people that I know who are like that. So that makes sense to me, honestly. And then the people who check in and reach out, it makes me want to check in to reach out, and that's what makes you friends. That is a friendship. I have a handful of friends that actually do that with me, where it's mutual in that way, so that makes sense to me hearing that.

CDM: When songs become intertwined with your memories of someone, they can trigger really powerful associations. There's definitely songs that I love more because of certain people, and some songs that have been ruined for me and I can never listen to ever again, and on this new album you guys specifically namecheck The Exploding Hearts' song 'I'm A Pretender' from their 'Guitar Romantic' album. What do you think it is about songs that makes people want to organise and structure their memories around them?
It's like a little snapshot. A great album is like a little camera that takes pictures. I remember listening to [Frank Ocean's album] 'Blonde' on repeat when I was in New Mexico filming a show, and all those people were listening to 'Blonde', and now when I hear that album, I always get transported back to that time. I think it's a good album, and good music is like another sense, like when you smell a candle and you're like, wow, this smell brings you back somewhere. I think an album is the exact same way.
DYLAN: It's weird, everything that I love musically, I can remember where I was and I have a visual in my head of where I was when I first heard it, and that's what really sticks with me - I remember exactly what happened and where I was when I heard it for the first time. Just randomly, I know that when [Arcade Fire's song] 'Reflektor' came out, I was standing outside of the Disney Store, outside Disneyland on my phone. I couldn't believe it. With 'Blonde', I don't remember exactly where I was, but I was driving to LA and trying to make it to the 'Boys Don't Cry' magazine stand, but I missed it. You're right though, it is like albums are like a camera roll. 'Blonde' is the kind of album that really, really encapsulates that feeling well, it feels like a scrapbook in Frank's life and it's these pages you're flipping through. It's so cool.
COLE: Yeah, it is sensory. But on top of being sensory, people who are songwriters... Like, let's take Frank Ocean, for example. He's reducing these feelings down into these songs. I took a songwriting class one time at school as an elective - I was just curious - and the big thing the professor guy talked about was being specific in the verse, and then general. Like, you go personal or specific, and then you go general, and there's so many great Frank Ocean songs that have that - where he's explaining something and getting personal with you on the record, and then, going huge/general. Basically, not only is it sensory, like a smell or food, but it's also written to be related to, so it's different from food in that way.

CDM: I love 'Hard To Believe'. I think it's my favourite song on the new album. What was running through your mind while writing it?
That song is about a transitional period of my life; about transitioning out of one relationship and the beginnings of another. That's what the song is about and what was going through my mind, but I tapped back into that later - I didn't write it at the time. One of the first songs we started writing for this album was 'Guitar Romantic Search Adventure', and that song is about the beginnings of a relationship. Originally, we were thinking of 'Guitar Romantic Search Adventure' as the next opening song for our next album, that was something we were thinking about for a while, and 'Hard To Believe' was going to be a great track two - that's how we were thinking about it when we had a totally different vision for the album in our head, sonically. I was like: 'Narratively, if I write about this moment, that would make sense coming next...' So I think that's why I tapped into that place in my head, because I wrote this after the fact. That's what was going through my head, lyrically, when I was writing lyrics. And also, Braeden on the original demo, I think he said: "Is that so hard to believe?" And I loved that line. I was like: 'How can I centre something around that?' And: "I know the summer won't change."
COLE: That was in the first one we wrote.
DYLAN: It's crazy, how a fleeting moment of saying gibberish will just stick around like that.
COLE: Yeah, how you hit record and then...
DYLAN: How you said "tell me that it's over" in our first demo. 'I Don't Want To Talk' was just gibberish and spitting stuff out. And you're just like: <sings> "Tell me that it's over, tell me that it's over, tell me that it's over now..." That line kinda stuck around and now it's the album title. You were sitting on that couch and [to think that] if you hadn't done that at that moment in time? So weird.

CDM: When you say "I just want to breathe" in 'Hard To Believe', that's the big vibe of 2022. What are your coping mechanisms for when everything feels very heavy?
Good question because I've been very overwhelmed this past month by things, and I don't think I've found the answer for that, to be honest. For myself... I don't know about these guys.
COLE: Yeah, that's a tough one. This will be sort of vague, but I've learned more recently to give myself permission to...
DYLAN: Dance?
COLE: <laughs> No, permission to just relax. It's okay to totally check out if that's what you feel like you need to do sometimes. Just self-care. Take care of your body.
DYLAN: Trim your nails.
COLE: Literally, that stuff. Self-care. Things like that. I mean, I trim my nails [usually]...
CDM: Now I'm worried that you haven't been trimming your nails until this year.
<laughs> I keep myself very nice and groomed. Things like that are good for you. Taking a bath, drinking a glass of wine, if that's your thing. It's all good. Slowing down...

CDM: I talked to Ariel, who said 'Hard To Believe' is currently his favourite too. Ariel described this new album to me as being "guided by a sense of adventure" and that you "were having fun, if not only to distract ourselves from the pandemic". What was it like for you guys working on this album with Ariel?
I'm so happy that he said it was fun. We had done one song with him on the 'Remote' EP. We did 'Nobody Gets Me (Like You)' with him but we had never met him. We had a couple FaceTimes and were chatting with him and going back and forth virtually--
DYLAN: But it was remote.
COLE: It was literally remote. Working with him was an unbelievable learning [experience], but so enjoyable. He has this calm, extremely chill demeanour, but then simultaneously is able to really challenge you just because you want to impress him, but not in a shallow way. Ariel, he's a happy guy, so you just want him to really be enjoying himself too and enjoying the music. I feel like we really flourished creatively just by spending time in his house, and like he said, driven by the spirit of adventure. He was showing us music and we were chatting, doing this/that and the other, and then just really trying to push ourselves forward sonically with the songwriting. That's all so general, but he is the best.
DYLAN: I remember there was a moment, you weren't in the room so you couldn't hear it, but one of my favourite moments of recording is when you were drumming on 'Guitar Romantic Search Adventure'. You were doing these fills and it's the take that's in the song, verbatim he just used that take, and I think it's your best drumming to date on a recording, but Ariel, on every fill you did, he was like, "WOOOOO!" And then he was like, "That was hot!" And then it was over and he was like, "That was God Level." Like, he called your drumming, God Level.
BRAEDEN: That was such a great moment.
DYLAN: I was like: Ariel Rechtshaid called Cole's drumming, "God Level".
COLE: That's dope. I will retire now.
CDM: I've only met Ariel once, but I love how he can be very dry and serious, but also incredibly funny.
Yes, he's so funny. He's one of the funniest guys ever.
COLE: He's a story factory. It's cool because he is the type of person who when you talk to him, you know that he is giving you his full undivided attention.
DYLAN: So true.
COLE: To the point where it's annoying to the people that are close to him, I think. Like: 'Dude, we got to go, we have to do the next thing.'
DYLAN: He gets lost in conversation. He's a great conversationalist and he's a long-form storyteller. I miss him, I just want to hang out with him so bad. He's just a great guy.

CDM: What age would you call your prime?
DYLAN: I knew it! I was like: 'I know they're gonna mention that line.' I knew it!
CDM: If you pre-write questions for me into your lyrics, then I'm gonna ask them.
Later on... hopefully later in life. But as far as life I've lived, you want to say now... So I'm gonna say now, and also maybe like 14, I was pretty happy then.
DYLAN: I think I was at prime/peak confidence when I was 13/14-years-old. You don't have real concerns in the world.
BRAEDEN: Everything's new.
DYLAN: You feel good in your skin. You feel like you're cool and have no worries at all. You're just living your life. And that's awesome.
BRAEDEN: I feel like 30 is going to be pretty cool.
DYLAN: Honestly, other than that, I really felt good last year. 2021, I thought was a really good year overall: fresh, coming out of the pandemic, meeting new people, going out in the world again. Everything felt like you were doing things for the first time and I feel like that made me re-appreciate things that I was taking for granted before, like being in people's company and making memories and having fun, that sort of thing. 2021, I was just non-stop feeling pretty good. And getting to record our album was real exciting, and feeling really confident about what we were making. It was just a good year, one of my favourite years in recent memory, I would say.

CDM: You mentioned looking forward to your 30s, Braeden. What do you imagine yourself to be like at that age?
The same.
BRAEDEN: You hope that with different stages of life, arrives a whole new version of yourself. Maybe a wife and kids, and different stages you couldn't even predict. I remember being a teenager not knowing what being in my 20s would be like and bring. I'm 26 now, and with my 30s, I feel like it would be the same thing - it's a mystery to me, even though I have an idea, but hopefully more centred. I'm gradually getting more centred, learning things about myself, and yeah, potentially creating a family or something. That'd be cool.
COLE: Damn.
DYLAN: The ideal scenario, when I think about myself and my life plan with Wallows, and that's only if we're all on the same page, is to get a couple more albums under our belt, and then at that point, if we put out two more albums we'll probably be 30/31 in a realistic timeline. It'd be cool to be starting to enter our mid-30s kind of age and have a big enough moment for Wallows where we can comfortably take a break to start a family or something, and then come back to it. I want to get to a point where we can feasibly feel comfortable setting it aside, where we know we're going to be totally fine when we come back, because the thing about being a new on-the-rise artist nowadays is that people's attention spans are so short and people are very quick to move on from you if you're not very active. It's all about being prolific and active nowadays, I think, to a certain extent, like not oversaturating your own market. But it's just one of those things, where if one of us wanted to go start a family, right now, we'd put Wallows on hold; we'd all be in support of it. But it would be like: 'Oh, we kinda have to go back to square one when we come back.' In the 30s it would be nice to have a moment where we can go and just do whatever - start whatever my next chapter is for a moment, and then Wallows reconvening after that.
BRAEDEN: The four-year gap, or the five-year gap.
DYLAN: At some point in the 30s is where I picture that happening. I do want to take a moment at some point because we put out so much music, like, it'd be cool to have the: <whispers dramatically> "Yeah, they've been gone for X amount of years and now they're back!" And people get excited!
COLE: Imagine nothing happening.
DYLAN: Crazy.

CDM: Just going back to what Dylan said about pressure on new artists to constantly be active, there's recently been a lot of musicians speaking out about how they feel forced to be content creators, rather than just being able to focus on their music. Is that something that you guys also feel?
Yes! That's hilarious.
BRAEDEN: That is a big part of it. I personally get most stressed about that when it comes to the band. Like, damn, I don't want it. I just don't want to.
COLE: Yeah, like the people... I mean, when I say people, I don't even really know who I'm referring to...
CDM: The music industry/business?
Yeah the Metaverse. For some reason, we have to be 'influencers'... People like Jimi Hendrix, and Janet, like iconic people...
CDM: Their fame was focused around their artistry, not things that they did on the internet in pursuit of likes/comments.
BRAEDEN: And what other people filmed of them, versus them making their own content all the time, right? Rather than the music.
COLE: Yeah. Like, I am not as funny and interesting as Cody Ko, but for some reason, there is this pressure to be that entertaining.
DYLAN: If it wasn't important, we wouldn't even humour it, but what's funny is that TikTok is really being a presence - and someone that people feel like they can watch and relate to on TikTok, it actually is helping so many artists, and getting plays and fans and listeners and engagement and stuff. As much as I don't like the pressure of having to do that kind of thing, I understand the importance of it.
COLE: The thing that I think has always existed, is that what people want and what kids want is some form of identity; something to identify themselves by. So if you can provide that for somebody, that's great. It's just that when literally every person creating content is trying to achieve the same thing, it just becomes a non...
DYLAN: We got very lucky when our first TikTok was just staring at the screen and it got millions of views: 'Well, this is easy!' And now it's hard.
COLE: We default to just never doing anything where we won't feel like ourselves, because ultimately, then we can have done no wrong, basically.

CDM: In 'I Don’t Want to Talk', you say: "Realised the older I get, I get more insecure." Is it common to feel like you've lost confidence as you age?
I definitely feel like it's going through stages. I randomly feel like I'm getting more confident as I get older.
DYLAN: That's good!
BRAEDEN: At the moment it goes through stages, of course, but in general, I feel more confident than I did. But there's a grey area. So, it always just varies, but Dylan wrote that line...
DYLAN: I think it's all situational. Again, with 'I Don't Want To Talk', we're sort of tapping back in time to a feeling of before when we were writing these lyrics. I feel like what I was trying to do with the lyrics that I wrote on this album was: there's a gap of time where we weren't writing many lyrics, and so, filling in that gap of time that I wasn't writing, but not skipping that time in my life. I'm not gonna be writing about the fact that I'm sitting in quarantine, you know, I'm gonna tap back into what I was feeling at the beginning of this relationship and that kind of thing - it's more like past experiences. So, I don't know how much I relate to that line now because I do think that I'm also gaining more confidence as of late and just feeling more comfortable in my own skin, and feeling very confident with my decisions and things like that. But I think it's all situational, depending on who you're surrounded by and what kind of relationship you're in. That song is about a relationship and being around someone that you care about that intimidates you, in a good way that someone should in a relationship, and it can just naturally make you feel maybe a little more insecure at the beginning because you're so hyperaware of your shortcomings. And if that relationship is healthy, and you keep keeping on with that person, I think that overcoming that with that person ultimately helps you build your confidence, even more than ever.

CDM: You also say, "I’m not alright but I don’t need comfort." Is learning how to sit with sadness, or other hard feelings, a big part of growing up?
Yes, I think so. Certain negative emotions I have developed throughout my late teens and early 20s... time is everything. Who knows if this is for everyone, but personally, I had to just kind of sit with those emotions. And eventually, they get better. Time is a big thing with being a human being. It's very important, and time heals all. It's the old saying, but I do think you need to sit with those emotions, as well as talk about them. That's just one aspect of it, and you can talk about emotions, or whatever makes it easier for you, but yeah, time is a big one for me.

CDM: What do you think is the hardest thing about growing up?
It has to be just learning to deal with emotions that you start feeling when you get older. I don't even know what else it could be other than actual real life that you have to deal with, but in terms of just your inner self or something, I think the hardest thing about growing up is just getting used to the changes you go through. And just learning how to grow from it because I think life is all about growing, so all you can do is grow. Learning to deal with that, and that can be challenging for people, but once you get through it, there's some sort of triumphant feeling, like you're scared to go on a rollercoaster and you go on it and you feel great. Sometimes you have to go through the scared pain feelings to get to the happy ones that you also feel. Not to make it seem like growing up is all that stuff, but since the question was directly related to the hardest part, I think that would be the hardest part. There's a lot of great stuff about growing up as well.
CDM: Also, trying to figure out how to grow up when you're already a grown-up. And that it never ends.
Yeah, it never ends.
BRAEDEN: It definitely never ends.
COLE: Which is cool. And for this generation of people - you're in New Zealand, so I don't know if it's different, but here [in America] - it seems so unattainable, this American dream. Like we were talking about - wife and kids, house, family - all that seems so relatively unattainable to how it was for previous generations. Shit's so expensive and nobody's making money. Not only is it hard emotionally, but I think quite literally, it's a challenge to get to that stage of your life where you feel like you can take care of others. Because that is the goal: having a family. You want to be able to take care of the people that you care about, but taking care of yourself is already hard enough right now.
BRAEDEN: Good point.
DYLAN: Adulting!
CDM: And having to not only learn how to manage your own expectations, but also managing the expectations of other people, and figuring out how to have the capacity for all of that emotional labour.
That's a great way to put it, yeah.

CDM: Do you think we spend our adult lives trying to distance ourselves from our teenage selves? Or celebrating the memory of adolescence?
I'm definitely not trying to distance myself.
DYLAN: If anything, I'm trying to still feel my adolescence. I envy my younger self, sometimes - I missed when I saw this a certain way, or I miss when I felt this by doing this. If anything, I feel like I'm sort of chasing, like looking behind me, like: 'Don't go away!' I think I'm the opposite.
BRAEDEN: Yeah same.
COLE: I'm no philosopher, but I think people who get too far away from their teenage selves end up... you forget that feeling. You end up becoming a bad teacher or something. You know what I mean? You end up becoming an adult who doesn't like kids about. I had so many bad teachers in high school, who just were so mean and terrible: 'Don't you remember what it's like to be a kid? What happened to you?' I get it, people have difficult paths, but I'm like: damn, what is it about some adults where they just can't handle being around kids?
DYLAN: Interesting. I think it all goes back to how you're raised.
COLE: I guess. Yeah, it is. There's a lot to unpack, but yeah.
DYLAN: Some of the reasons why I'm excited to have kids is because I'm excited to live vicariously through them. I can't wait to take them to Disneyland. It'd be like: <all of Wallows start yelling excitedly/incoherently> "YEAAHHH!!!" I could be in my 40s and going through things I loved again. Just as an excuse, when they're sixteen, I'll be like: "Yes, I'll watch 'The Walking Dead' again with you."
BRAEDEN: I'll teach them how to play basketball.
DYLAN: Just random stuff.

CDM: Should adults be trying to 'grow down' instead?
<laughs> Some people could benefit from growing down, for sure.
BRAEDEN: I guess so. I mean, I like the idea of gaining responsibility and I like the idea of being mature. I like the idea of all this stuff, but I think that the main things from youth that I hold on to are imagination and appreciation for the wonder of the universe and life. Like, there's probably so many people that don't even look at the stars at night. That's such a generic kind of example, but I look at the stars and I'm like: 'Damn, it's just wild!' I try to keep that same energy from when you're a kid, and you first see something and you're like: 'Damn!'
DYLAN: And it feels like such a huge deal. I sometimes just go outside and look at the stars, just as a reminder. <dramatic voice> 'It doesn't matter! It just doesn't. It doesn't matter; just this.'

CDM: Does there come a point in your life when your character is fixed forever? Or is it something that's always changing?
I think it's subtly changing?
DYLAN: Braeden, you're the same, bro. No, no, I'm kidding.
BRAEDEN: But different in certain ways, and maybe becoming more...
COLE: I think you're right.
DYLAN: You're the newer model.
COLE: People can definitely change, I think that that's true, but I guess it just depends on how you define the word/term: character. What defines someone's character? How they act? And the things that they value and believe in, all that stuff can change. But if you're playing 'Elden Ring', your character is the same from the very beginning and you cannot change. Actually, you can upgrade stats, so that's a great analogy. As you get older and gain more experience, you get more runes to upgrade your character. You can apply those to whatever stats you want, so it’s up to you what you want to focus on.

CDM: "Can you see ourselves in love like this forever? / Or are you afraid that’s too much pressure?" you ask in 'At The End Of The Day'. Do you think it's easier or harder to fall in love? Or out of love?
Wow, great question. I think it's easier to fall in love.
COLE: It's so different. I don't know why, but my brain immediately went to... when you say "fall out of love", I imagine breaking up with somebody. I think falling out of love might be easier, but then actually following through with your feelings, that's where the pain is. Like you, I've been in relationships where I have fallen out of love with somebody, and you just drag it on for so long. Even though the feeling of when you get the 'ick' or whatever, it might be quick when you realise and the onset is fast... but I think falling in love it doesn't happen as quickly, maybe, but it's easier.
BRAEDEN: I actually agree. I change my answer. It's easy to fall out of love and it's harder to fall in love because it's--
COLE: Tougher. When you're falling in love you can have tunnel vision and make decisions based on this one thing, whereas falling out of love, the processes are different. Overcoming that is harder, than that simple idea of falling in love.
BRAEDEN: It's easy and hard in both scenarios.

CDM: You mention trying therapy in 'Marvelous', but that "it's hard to talk without guidance". Is the hardest thing about communication, that it's scary to be vulnerable and honest?
I think that's what I meant by that. It's funny, I have a hard time tapping into deep-rooted feelings within myself, or where certain feelings or emotions may stem from. And I realised that when I tried therapy for the first time last year, and I think it was just specifically the therapist I was talking to; I just wasn't connecting to on a certain level. I really do believe in therapy, but I'm sort of being a hypocrite because I haven't tried it again since, because I let this therapist go. I was like: 'I will try to figure out what's going on with myself to better understand what's going on with you, so I'll try therapy, because that seems to be the solution and I'm here to help myself better handle situations.' But yeah, it's hard to talk without guidance, it's like sitting in silence. I do have a hard time unless I'm prompted to talk about myself. I'd find myself getting on these Zoom sessions and this therapist was just waiting for me to talk. I realised that I can't tap into myself in that way. I couldn't start talking about myself, I have to have someone really prompt it for me. Maybe I'm just blocking stuff out, any trauma or anything that I have, I just don't want to even tap into it. I just tuck it away.
COLE: Like baseball [cards].
DYLAN: Exactly.

CDM: When you think about your emotions and feelings, and try to visualise them, what do they look like to you?
COLE: Colours.
BRAEDEN: Like a painting/paint. Orange, blue, green, pink, purple...
COLE: I always imagined the movie 'Ratatouille'. I love that movie. There's a scene where Remy the rat, sneaks his brother, Émile, some food. He ends up eating a grape and then the background goes dark and there's colours that appear. And then he eats the cheese, and there's colours. But then he eats both, and it's all different things. I have always imagined situations like that - like the way I feel about situations if I'm nervous for something, it's fuzzy/spectral.

CDM: I was reading recently about how some people don't have internal monologues - and that for those people, they think it's really weird that other people have inner voices that narrate their thoughts throughout the day. How do you guys think things through? Do you ever have an inner monologue or dialogue with yourself? Or prepare for a conversation you're nervous about, by thinking up an inner speech?
Even right now; I'm thinking even right now.
COLE: Yeah, my girlfriend will literally catch me mouthing to myself. "Who are you talking to?!" I'm like: <sheepishly> "No one!"
DYLAN: I mean, I quite literally talk out loud to myself sometimes. I'll just start talking about what my thoughts are and then I'm like, 'Wait, what am I doing?' If you don't, cool, but that is just a weird thought to me.
COLE: Like, what's going on up there?
DYLAN: How could you possibly not be talking to yourself in your head?
COLE: Yeah, that's so weird.
DYLAN: That thought, is almost the equivalent of thinking about the idea of nothing.
COLE: Yeah, like, impossible.
DYLAN: Like whenever I try to think about there not being a universe and my brain breaks... that's what I'm doing, I can't-- I can't figure that out.
COLE: I mean, to each their own, that's cool, if you can have an empty head / blank space, then that's great.

CDM: In any kind of relationship, miscommunication can be really hard. And when people value very different things in their relationship/friendship with each other, is that insurmountable?
I'm just thinking/buffering.
DYLAN: I think it depends on what kind of relationship and what your tie is to this person - because I think a lot of it comes down to how willing you are to allow that to not be an obstacle? Like, if you care enough about a person and the very different things that are important to them. What is it that you like about this person? Why are you wanting a relationship with them? Is it worth compromising, or figuring out why it is that they are into those things? Because naturally, any relationship will change you a little bit. If you get close enough with someone, you are going to have a different outlook in some way on something, like these guys give me different outlooks on different things all the time. Again, I think it's situational: how willing are you to not let that be a problem or obstacle?

CDM: In one of the best films I've seen in recent times, Mike Mills' 'C'mon C'mon', one of the main characters is describing his mother and says: "She’ll never know everything about me, and I’ll never know everything about her." Is that a good thing or a bad thing, to never be able to know everything about someone?
I think it's impossible. And thank God it's impossible, because if it was possible, then that would be like... you could beat the game?
DYLAN: Yeah, if you knew everything about someone then where do you have to go in your relationship? It's almost what makes relationships special - just learning something new about someone every single day. Well, not every single day, but just as time goes on, and yeah, I don't think anyone wants to know everything about someone because if you knew everything about someone that could just hurt your relationship with them, maybe. Certain things you just don't need to know about certain people. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes, to certain details of someone's inner workings and inner thoughts. And if you trust the person, and you trust what they're giving you, and what you learn and what you observe about them, then that's all you really need to know. And then the closer you get with someone, the more they'll open up to you, and then that's also a great thing.
BRAEDEN: Yeah true. You're special.
COLE: I think too, that people who like to lie--
DYLAN: Are bad.
COLE: Yes, but that stuff usually comes around. I like to believe that the universe will correct itself. I don't know why I just decided to say that.
DYLAN: Dude, I'm happy you said it.

CDM: Last time we spoke back in 2019, it was observed that reoccurring themes in Wallows songs are a pool (mentioned in 'Remember When', 'Do Not Wait' and 'Ice Cold Pool'), a song, and the weather. I think it's still true of songs and weather, but this new album feels more like it's set in cars and parking lots - like you've left the pool behind. Does that feel kinda symbolic of leaving your youth behind, or growing up from your younger selves?
BRAEDEN: Yeah, it feels like we've entered the ocean. We were in a pool and now we're in the ocean.
DYLAN: The ocean of life.
COLE: That is so... I love it. I love it. That's the Wallows thesis. The thing is, I don't think we are doing what we do very consciously, like not in a negative way, but we aren't planning a lot of it. I always use this analogy: if you see a restaurant and it's named like "we are an authentic Italian restaurant", kind of automatically you know that's not an authentic Italian restaurant, it should be called Mimi's or whatever. It should just be an authentic Italian restaurant. So we aren't sitting here like: 'Okay, how can we make ourselves come across as authentic and do these things?' It just kind of happens. So you asking that, or posing that question, I'm like: I didn't even really ever think about that.
BRAEDEN: In a good way.
COLE: But yeah, probably, like maybe there is some sort of subconscious... That is, what it is. It does feel like this new record is sort of a direct continuous continuation of 'Nothing Happens'. So to answer your question: yes.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

All polaroids by: Dillon Matthew.

Wallows' latest album 'Tell Me That It’s Over' is out now.

Watch a visual for 'Marvelous' below...