Fender Sessions is a three-song set from a unique location that helps peel back the curtain on the creative process of artists around the world. Aimed at amplifying the voices of both emerging talents and established legends, Sessions gives artists a way to fully articulate their vision and mastery of their craft.
The connection between Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston and Dylan Minnette is palpable.
Friends since childhood, the trio has played music together for over a decade, eventually deciding to form a band under the moniker Wallows. You can see the familiarity they’ve forged over the years when they perform on stage, which they’ve done with more regularity since releasing their acclaimed debut album, Nothing Happens in early 2019.
But just to get to the point of having a full-length to release, Lemasters, Preston and Minnette had to rely on their mutual trust and familiarity more than ever.
“There’s no Wallows song that would exist the way it does right now without all three of us,” said Lemasters, who shares vocal duties with Wallows’ two other members. “With these guys, I want to hear what they would change. I want to hear what they would do differently, because I respect their taste so much.
“It takes a long time to build up that trust in people. Having people around you that make you feel at ease with your ideas where you don’t feel judged is the best way to have it.”
Wallows first burst onto the national scene in 2017 with their first single, “Pleaser,” a surf-tinged tune that recalled early 2000s alt heroes like the Strokes or Vampire Weekend. To date, that track has racked up more than 21 million Spotify streams, and coupled with several strong follow-up singles, Wallows found themselves selling out storied West Coast venues like the Roxy and Troubadour in Los Angeles and Slim’s in San Francisco, drawing rave reviews.
The release of their 2018 EP, Spring, only boosted their notoriety. Led by the infectious “Pictures of Girls,” Spring shows Wallows taking the next step as musicians, something they continued to do while working on Nothing Happens with legendary producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Alvvays).
Wallows’ heady rise might have come quickly, but the many years toiling away on their instruments together helped prepare them for it.
“The germ that made me a songwriter was being in a room with a Strat for eight hours when I was 11 or 12 years old, just constantly playing guitar,” said Lemasters. “All of my first songs are on guitar. Sure, we play keyboards now, but most of our songs in the beginning just come from the thing that got us into music in general – the guitar. I feel like we wouldn’t exist without guitars.”
For their Fender Sessions episode recorded in a Los Angeles hillside bungalow, the guys of Wallows highlighted three diverse and determined tracks from Nothing Happens – “Are You Bored Yet?” “Ice Cold Pool” and “Remember When.”
The set, which is interspersed with interview footage describing their songwriting process, not only showcased their ability to expertly craft pop songs by using guitars in unique ways, it was also representative of the fun and loose atmosphere they’ve built around the band, something that only comes from years working alongside each other.
“There are infinite manipulations of guitar tones that you can make,” said Minnette. “It’s really inspiring to pick up a guitar and make a new sound that makes someone go, ‘What is that?’ It’s fun to come up with a sound that doesn’t even sound like a guitar, and we’re lucky that we’re in a time where we can do that.”