Interviewed on March 30, 2017
The Walters are a bunch of hunks who are close to completing their very first successful national tour as support for The Orwells. Following this, they're hitting the road again for their first predominately West Coast headlining tour. What The Sound had the opportunity to sit down with Luke Olson, the band's vocalist, in the green room at Los Angeles' Regent Theater. We spoke about the differences between their recorded material and live performance, what an infant would think of their music, on-the-road jams, and much more. Whether or not you're already familiar with these Midwest cardigan rockers, do yourself a favor and scroll down to read our conversation with Luke and hear The Walters' rejuvenating sound.
What The Sound: Congrats on playing your first Los Angeles show. When you hear this city's name, is there a particular theme or song that comes to mind?
Luke Olson: Hollywood movies. I went to acting school. Before The Walters was even a thing, before music, I wanted to be an actor.
WTS: That's really cool. I also saw that you recently got a new van, what type?
Luke: It's a Chevy Express Extended Edition, 2016. The Walters, we're a self-run organization. We're independent, so it's like taking a baseball analogy, the Brewers and a band like The Orwells, who are with Atlantic Records, are like The Yankees. We just are trying to make good, smart decisions so the band wants to get down to work.
WTS: So you drove out from Chicago and made some cool stops along the way?
Luke: Yeah, we started off with the show at the Metro in Chicago and then to Milwaukee and played The Rave. That show was really cool because MJ and I are from Wisconsin, Kenosha - which is very close to Milwaukee. A lot of family was there. We started there, then Kansas City, and now we're out here.
WTS: When you're on the tour and driving from state to state, has there been any memorable on-the-road jams that you rock out to?
Luke: Right now, 50 Cent "Many Men (Wish Death)". We're all over the place, there's 5 guys. Everyone likes similar stuff but there is a wide variety.
WTS: Is there ever one guy who wants to play one song but everyone else vetoes it before giving them a chance to spit it out?
Luke: Well, the one who we will always bash on is Walter.
WTS: Walter is the scapegoat of The Walters?
Luke: Yeah. I don't know, he's Walter. Walter is such a good guy, gentle, but sometimes he'll put some stuff on and we'll give him a hard time but he listens to great music. When I first met Walter a few years back, he was the guy I'd see at parties and he'd always show me music.
WTS: Walter know's what's up. Good guy to have on the team. There's a lot of you in one van, in close quarters while on the road. What's the team dynamic like? Do you ever wish you had more alone time?
Luke: For us right now, I think everybody wants space but we're so new and we've been wanting to do this for years. I'm just enjoying being with the guys, experiencing this with them. We've put in a lot of work and nobody has just handed us anything. We've continuously had to grind. It feels very rewarding, we're actually here... in Los Angeles, and just played that show.
WTS: Such a big venue.
Luke: Yes, that, and thank you to The Orwells.
WTS: How did that come about?
Luke: They just pushed for us. They were given other suggestions, people wanted this or that, but they kept on sticking to their guns wanting The Walters. They made it happen, and now we get to travel all of North America and play great venues.
WTS: I've always wondered who are the people on the album art for Songs For Dads and the Goodbye Baby single?
Luke: Oh, it's Felipe. Felipe is our friend from Chicago. He's just a Chicago legend. Underground famous. Initially he was really good friends with Walter, but he's just this guy that everyone knows. He was also in the "I Haven't Been True,” "Hunk Beach" too. He's an ongoing character in The Walters' circus.
WTS: "She's Gonna Leave You" is your most recent release. Congrats that's awesome. Will that be a part of a future release? Anything in the works?
Luke: Everything's on hold right now with the tour happening but once we get back in June, we're going to continue working on our album which is in-process. We're putting in our best effort, though it may take a little bit.
WTS: Is that going to be a 2017 release?
Luke: Yeah, I don't want to throw out any specific dates but yeah, 2017.
WTS: Is it going to be recorded in a bedroom/basement? A studio?
Luke: Well, I think a little bit of both. Our other two EPs were done in Charlie, our drummer's, bedroom. There's a lot that we like cause people like those songs and we like how they're done, but there are also things about a studio that we like too, so we're going to blend. Charlie will be the dude producing. Sticking in house with our own players.
WTS: Are there any up-and-coming bands who you've been digging that you think those who are reading this interview may vibe well with?
Luke: I would have to say Joe Bordenaro, he's a young kid in Chicago, 18 or 19. He's really good, Joe Bordenaro definitely has a bright future.
WTS: When I hear your music online, it's hard to imagine the live performance including a mosh pit. How are you turning your recorded sound to a community-oriented, get loose live show?
Luke: For me, personally, performing is where I give it my biggest release. Me in particular, I go 110%. It makes the songs evolve into something more than an easygoing indie-pop, and becomes a little bit more punk. We need a little bit more punk. Then everyone else kills it, enjoys it, and has fun. It's a good vibe. I love the people who come to our shows too. We have so many kids who say they met someone at your show and now they're my best friend. That's the community that The Walters really want to create.
WTS: You guys do really have a loyal following. Your social media presence is killing it with engagement. On top of that, I was just next doors in the Prufrock Pizzeria spot and there were like three different sons with their dads in line and sitting. Songs For Dads, man.
Luke: Whoa, that's crazy.
WTS: Sure seems like that loyal Walters crowd showed their face tonight in addition to that loyal Orwells show.
Luke: Yeah, to be in LA for the first time and to see the crowd being responsive to our material is great. I grew up wanting to come here and do something, and entertain. It's super crazy that it's actually here.
WTS: Yeah crazy, big congrats. Geographically-wise, you're from Kenosha, same with MJ.
Luke: Yeah, me and MJ grew up together, we did a talent show in the 7th grade together. He played guitar, I would sing. We did musicals together in high school. MJ has a big Italian family. Me - same thing in Kenosha. Our families are super excited. Walter is from Connecticut, Charlie's from Boston, and Danny is from Minneapolis.
WTS: Wow, so you're all Chicago transplants.
Luke: Yeah, I feel like it's a common misconception. None of The Walters are from Chicago but now we feel like we hold an allegiance, because Chicago has been good to us. I know Twin Peaks and The Orwells are way more Chicago, we're kind of just here. We love it, great scene.
WTS: Completely agree. Lastly, how would you describe your music to a kindergartner?
Luke: "Gentle". Not the way we perform, but recording wise. Our songs are easy-listening so when you're taking care of a baby I feel like you want to be very gentle. So maybe a baby would know that.