2020: the year of work from home.
This year has been no different for Wallows, the alt-rock trio comprising Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston. Working from their respective homes, they created the aptly named EP Remote.
"We never saw each other once before its completion," Minnette, 23, tells PEOPLE. "Lots of FaceTime calls to talk about it, and it was overall really fun and inspiring. It was kind of fun to not really have a vision and just let it find itself."
"It feels like the most original thing that we've done, because it was super unplanned, happened last minute, and just really took shape," the 13 Reasons Why actor adds.
Most of the EP was produced by Sachi DiSerafino and John DeBold, whom Wallows credits for some of the vision for the record. Although the EP's title is inspired by quarantine, the boys admit that they didn't want any lyrics to reference face masks or quarantine directly.
"The songwriting process was really creative and really interesting because yeah, we had no clear vision," adds Lemasters, 24. "It was more like let's get all these demos, let's make them and then they turned into this cohesive thing."
Wallows breaks down the six songs off Remote for PEOPLE:
The track, which served as the EP's second single, was birthed months before quarantine.
"I just sat at the piano and just played the opening piano part, and then Sachi's like, 'Oh, that's sick.' And Cole was like, 'That's cool,'" says Lemasters. "It's in a waltz time signature, but I love how when the beat comes in, you forget what time signature it's in because it's kind of all over the place."
The track lyrics — and song title — were inspired by Minnette's girlfriend Lydia Night, whom he says was doing virtual exercise sessions.
"I'm quarantined with my girlfriend and she was doing virtual aerobics classes every day in the beginning, and I did some of that," adds Minnette. "I thought it was a good title, so I just called this thing 'Virtual Aerobics' and then saw where my mind takes me lyrically."
"And now I'm really happy with how the lyrics turned out," he adds. "That song is essentially about the beginnings of speaking to someone you like virtually and if you're talking to each other over text or whatever, it can sort of feel like you're dancing around the words a little bit. Like are you really flirting or what is this?"
“Dig What You Dug”
"Dig What You Dug" started as a fusion of two old ideas.
"There was one idea called 'You Want All the Friends You Got' that me and Braeden had started a long time ago, and then another random rock guitar thing and we just merged those two things together," says Preston, 24.
DiSerafino andDeBold then "reimagined a lot of the sounds" and put the tracks together.
"I feel like we do that a lot, where we'll have a riff or something, just like a piece of an idea or two or three and just merge those into one super song," he adds.
The track's title started off as an inside joke between Lemasters and Minnette and then, Minnette "transformed" it into some great lyrics.
The track's about 'not trying to appease your friends or others and just be yourself," Lemasters says.
“Nobody Gets Me (Like You)”
This one served as the EP's lead single and features a "classic early 2000s, pop-rock" vibe.
"A lot of these ideas come out of nowhere," says Lemasters, explaining they never saw Arial Reichstahd, who produced the track. "He took us onto a whole 'nother level. All the communication was through texting or through this app where we can listen to a mix in real-time, which is really cool. He would mix the song while we're listening to a mix list literally in our houses."
The song was actually going to be a single for a future project, but they decided to pop it onto this EP — and it just fit perfectly.
"I can't really imagine Remote without it," Lemasters says.
"I'm very happy we did include it," adds Minnette. "It does fit in with everything else."
"Coastlines" has been two years in the making as the group waited "for the right time" to put it together. Initially, the group wanted it for their next album.
"We're like, 'No, it's not the time. That's next album,'" says Minnette. "And all of a sudden we're like, 'Well, wait, why is it not the time? That doesn't make any sense. Like why are we holding things over? Let's put our best foot forward right now.' We really believe in the songs."
Minnette says that the track's lyrics have also been written for a while — and they have an ironic twist given the times.
"It was originally about wanting time off and wanting time with someone you love at home," he says laughing. "What's funny is we completed it at a time when I was totally at home."
“Talk Like That”
This second-to-last track started simply with a few guitar lines that were shelved — and it became one of the group's favorite tracks.
"It just kind of existed as this thing that always sounded cool that maybe we would return back to one day," says Preston.
"It's something totally new for us and I can't quite compare it to another Wallows song, even though it exists in the same universe as these upbeat guitar Wallows songs," he adds. "It's certainly a departure in a cool way."
"I'm not trying to sound like it's revolutionary, but I can't compare it to any other song," he says. "And it's very rare that we can pull that off."
“Wish Me Luck”
All it took was 30 minutes to come up with the idea behind "Wish Me Luck."
"The original melody was what the verse is, which … I feel like it's hard to write really catchy verses, so that verse was going to be a chorus. But then we decided that it'd be sick to just start the song with a really catchy verse melody and then come up with a chorus to reinforce the song," explains Preston.
"It's the most emphatic Wallows song," he adds. "Like the most dramatic feeling Wallows song to me."
Oh, and the song title is thanks to a Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing!
When we were thinking of a title, I just opened up a Leonard Cohen book and the first words I saw were, 'Wish me luck,' And I said, 'Why don't we make that the title?'" says Lemasters.
Wallows' EP Remote is out now.
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