Members of the Los Angeles psych-rock community have a natural inclination to tack on a multitude of projects, submerging themselves into a nutritious stew of musical talent, collaborations, and leverage. There’s something rich about a scene that engages in musical camaraderie, then sets out to evolve from a previous stockpile of group dynamics and collaboration in order to generate a new mutated strain of frizzled psychedelia. WALTER’S debut LP GET WELL SOON, out on Burger Records, is a bona fide concoction of neo-garage contemporaries Wand, FUZZ, and Meatbodies. I had the pleasure of checking in with Patrick Nolan (the self-appointed voice of the triad) to unearth their distinctive attributes amongst the red sea of fuzz rockers. Check them out here.
So who’s WALTER?
WALTER is Patrick Nolan, Misha Lindes, and Ross Chait. Patrick’s writing the answers and the others are reading over what I say so I don’t embarrass them again.
How did the trio meet and form the band?
Ross and I met through mutual friends and were extremely put off by each other’s sense of style and humor, but decided to start playing music together anyway. Then we met Misha and continued that trend.
Your self-dubbed genre is Pussy Rock + Real Roll. How does your music speak to that diagnosis?
In a disappointed tone of voice.
“Get Well Soon” is pure melted T-Rex. It’s fried psychedelia that erupts in bursts of high-octane reverberation. There’s a ton of noise layers in tracks like “Parent’s Yard” and “Everybody Says.” Where did you guys record it and what gadgets do you use to achieve that desired psych-sizzle?
Our friend Greg Hartunian produced and engineered the whole album at his studio. I don’t know what he does, how he does the thing he did, or why he did it that way. He has a particular way of working that suited the songs really well, and lots of tricks, most of which I’m sure went over our heads. He has all these old organs and keyboards that show up in certain places. There’s even some droney prepared guitar stuff on one of the songs. All of the vocals were processed through different guitar pedals and tweaked to Greg’s liking. We liked what he liked.
There’s a ton of Ty Segall/Meatbodies-core on the album. What drew the band towards the sound? Any other influences?
I do not care for the Meatbodies. I find their guitar player handsome yet arrogant. (NOTE for Readers: Mr. Patrick Nolan IS the guitarist from Meatbodies)
You guys toured with Fuzz! Gotta hear about that! Any wild tour stories?
Besides being one of our favorite acts, Fuzz is the nicest group of people you could be with on tour. Karmically, their success makes total sense. You can’t be that nice (to fans, to shitboys like WALTER, to strangers) without having that kind of positivity come back to you. It was a privilege.
In terms of stories, both FUZZ and ourselves stayed in the penthouse of an entrepreneur/dentist in Philadelphia. None of us knew him particularly well, but he opened his doors to us, bought us pizza, and in the morning gave us dental hygiene kits. It was surreal to the point of nonsensical.
Source: Owl and Wolf – https://www.facebook.com/owlandwolf/photos
There’s a ton of overlap in the Los Angeles garage-rock scene. What does WALTER set out to do live that spices things up?
There IS a ton of overlap. We’re all in separate projects, but I think that’s a good thing. Being exposed to that amount of music, and working in other groups, helps inform what we want to do as a group. In terms of live performance, I’m not sure how we stand out. Having a gimmick has always seemed too… gimmicky. When we play live we’ll usually extend at least a couple songs quite a bit to make room for long instrumental sections. Obnoxiously long some might say. And they’re right. But it’s fun to see how much we can get out of our instruments and a lot of the music we all like is informed by that mentality. Though sometimes it’s not the most conducive to people moving around in the audience. We played a show a few nights ago to a crowd of kids who just stood completely still for the entire set, which isn’t a bad thing. I think a lot of times it just means people might be sort of confused by your music, which is cool. I also talk back a lot in between songs I suppose. It’s always a joke and feels like the natural thing to do, but I’ve occasionally gotten a lukewarm response with people thinking I’m being egotistical or rude. But mostly those people are idiots with bad taste who probably weren’t even loved as much as me as a little boy.
I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying, “We stand out because not everyone is gonna like us.”
How about on the album?
The album, meanwhile, was an experience in trying to find a songwriting voice. Some of those songs were written years ago. That’s the luxury of a first album, I suppose ‒ you get to pick and choose from this back catalogue that you’ve stored up and can disregard the bad ones as they come along. But now that’s used up, and I’m not sure that I’ve necessarily found that voice. Maybe it’s not something you find, even. Maybe it just happens to you without noticing. We also, working with Greg, had total freedom to try out anything that popped into our heads. A lot of those things sounded terrible, but it’s essential in making something you feel good about to be comfortable testing things out and learning from your mistakes. The sound of the album was definitely influenced by Greg’s patience and our excitement in trying stuff out in a studio.
What’s the future looking like for WALTER?
We have a 7″ coming out in a few months with Famous Class, as well as a release of “Get Well Soon” on vinyl via Mock Records. Probably some touring this summer. Then our schedules get a bit out of whack with our other projects, but once settled we’ll go back to the studio to make more T-Rex soup.