Wallows is doing it all amidst a pandemic

The indie rock band out of California releases a new EP along with two music videos and four virtual shows in the last three months

Courtesy of @Wallowsmusic Twitter Page

Courtesy of @Wallowsmusic Twitter Page

By Lulu Kesin, Collegian Staff

The global shutdown caused by COVID-19 brought most musicians’ creative plans to a halt. The pandemic has led to cancelled tours, disrupted routines and a generally difficult situation for the music industry.

Wallows, the indie rock band from California, has made the most of the last six months; they’ve  released a new EP and two music videos and put on four virtual full-length shows for their fans.

The trio, composed of Dylan Minnette, Cole Preston and Braeden Lemasters, has managed to provide music and visual content for their fans, being one of the first bands to do full set of shows in a venue during quarantine.

Photo from @Wallowsmusic Twitter

 

With safety precautions and COVID-19 guidelines followed, the band managed to perform and film four shows at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. Low ticket prices and streaming times for multiple time zones, combined with the sentimental value of the venue, where Wallows performed their first headline show, created an uplifting dynamic for fans.

“The idea for these shows started because all of our ‘normal’ shows for the remainder of 2020 were cancelled,” said a band member. “We wanted to give people who maybe have never had an opportunity to see us live some sort of performance this year. We were headed to a lot of new cities and countries, so those shows were meant to hold us over until things reopened.”

While the nature of professionally recorded concerts during the pandemic was unique it its own way, Wallows went far beyond anyone’s expectations to make each performance stand out. With the shows premiering on four different Sundays, starting on Aug. 16 and ending on Sept. 27, fans were able to watch up to four totally different Wallows concerts from their homes.

“We wanted to make them (each show) all as unique as possible,” they explained in an email. “We tried to mix it up to give people a worthwhile experience. One set was our album plus bonus tracks, and another was a fan voted set in order from 15 up to one.”

The variety of each show’s setlist brought many Wallows fans together. Some were excited to hear their debut album “Nothing Happens” for the first time live, and others hoped for some throwbacks to earlier tracks for a nostalgic experience.

The upbeat trio, known for their engagement with fans between sets, initially had trouble recreating that same experience through at computer. Even though the performance was meant to be seen by an audience, the empty venue lent each concert a ghostly atmosphere.

“It was weird at first for sure,” one member recalled. “A concert is almost entirely about feeding off the energy of the room. As we filmed them, we became more comfortable. You can tell if you watch all four shows back to back. Our banter is less (I think) awkward in the last set, compared to the first.”

Additionally, the dynamic between Wallows and local communities they visit on tour was also affected by the pandemic but nonetheless an idea they hope to continue when back on the road. The pandemic also affected the dynamic between Wallows and the communities they visited on tour, since the band encouraged fans to donate necessary items to local organizations.

“Partnering with local charities on tour felt like a no-brainer idea,” they explained. “It’s so easy for one person to bring one item to a show (can of food, shampoo, etc. ), and when there’s a few hundred or even a couple thousand people attending one show, that number of items can grow really quickly. Super easy for us and really beneficial for local charities. I hope other artists pick up on that and attempt to use their touring platforms for positive change.”

“It’s certainly important for artists to make their shows a safe space for everybody, especially after a year like 2020 that has inspired an immense amount of social change.”

Although the pandemic halted in-person donations, the band continued to use their music to give back to communities in need. In May, Wallows released a cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” and donated the proceeds from streaming to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization.

Wallows also partnered with HeadCount, an organization which aims to promote youth voting, to promote “Are you Registered Yet?” a play on the band’s massive hit, “Are you Bored Yet?” If fans proved that they were registered to vote, they could access an unreleased a track titled “Bad Remake,” from their “Nothing Happens” session.

Now, Wallows’ quarantined-made EP “Remote” is available on all streaming platforms as of Oct. 23.. The EP, recorded entirely from FaceTime calls and voice memos, is composed of six tracks, with two early released singles: “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” and “Virtual Aerobics.”

The band announced the EP in early September, on the same day that the music video and single “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” came out. The music video is a continuation of their previously released single “OK” which was performed live for the first time at The Roxy.

The “OK” video was the first part of a trilogy directed by Dillon Dowdell. It was followed by “Nobody Gets Me (Like You)” and eventually completed with their third video for “Wish Me Luck,” which was released on Oct. 28.

The abstract visuals and experimental sound, straying away from their “Nothing Happens” tracks, create a refreshing vibe for the band to play around with. With so little opportunity to explore new things during the pandemic, the audible and visual experience Wallows is producing with this EP is an energizing yet sentimental tribute to their early days.

When asked about the high production values throughout the material created during the pandemic, the band’s appreciation for its fans was clear:

“We just want people to enjoy what we put out, really. We have the means to pull off some higher-production things, so why not? It’s also stuff that we’re happy to have for our lives in general. Like, one day we’ll be able to look back on all this really amazing footage.”

With no date in sight for when concerts will happen again, it seems likely that more bands will release projects recorded in quarantine or putting on virtual shows. Hopefully, this will create an emphasis on music and visuals, and perhaps another Wallows EP will come out in the near future. With such an expansive set of possibilities, the trio’s work can only continue to grow and evolve.

“Remote” is available on all platforms and on vinyl.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] or followed on twitter @lulukesin.