Interview: Walter Etc. Evoke Feelings Of Perseverance & Self-Reflection With ‘When The Band Breaks Up Again’

Over the course of life’s craziness and unexpectedness, at some point an impasse will be reached. It’s a time where important decisions are made with an introspective look at one’s path often occurring. When things started opening back up after the COVID-addled year of 2020, vocalist and guitarist Dustin Hayes from the Ventura, CA indie rock act Walter Etc. found himself alone with his musical project. A bunch of his friends moved to other parts of the country and in turn it became the catalyst for the band’s latest album, When The Band Breaks Up Again, that came out via SideOneDummy Records on September 8. The end result is a fantastic album that embraces punk in its most genuine form with tracks such as “Small Town Bro,” “Sylvie’s a Mess,” and “Happy To Be Here” being prime examples.

The songwriting and recording process for the new release came out in unexpected ways. Hayes was channeling his emotions from where he was at in life while reacting to his friends leaving the place they all grew up in.

“It kind of came about organically,” he says about the making of the album. “I’m always writing songs in different styles and around that time when I was writing these songs during 2021, my bandmates who had been longtime best friends and childhood friends were all moving away. They weren’t really able to play music anymore and be part of the band, so I was really bummed about that. I had lost a sense of purpose while trying to figure out what the fuck I was doing with my life, so I wrote some songs that came really quick and easy to me. They’re these simple punk songs that echo what was coming out in the ‘90s and what I grew up on.

“It was a comforting thing to me to write a Green Day worship song about where I was at in life,” Hayes adds. “After I had five, six, seven songs, I realized that I was writing an album and then the concept came together after that.”

Guitarist Joe Reinhart was involved in the recordings as a producer, which came about through a common love for surfing he and Hayes both share. This collaboration created an experience that was laid back and professional thanks to Reinhardt’s expertise when it came to working in a studio.

“Joe likes to surf, and I like to surf,” Hayes mentions about how he and Reinhardt got together. “We were connected through a mutual friend a long time ago when Hop Along was in California, or maybe Joe was recording an album, I don’t know, but he was L.A. and a mutual friend linked us in a group chat. He was like, ‘hey, you guys are my two surfing buddies and Joe, I know you’d love to go surfing with Walter so I’m linking you guys.’ We never actually got to meet up but we had always wanted to hang out and surf together after that. The sell really was me thinking that Joe would be perfect for making this punk album and I wanted to make an album with him because I love his work, so I asked him if he wanted to come over, live in my garage, surf, hang out and make a record.

“We had never met but he was so down,” He adds. “He came to California, stayed in my garage, surfed and made a punk record. It was awesome, he was the most fun dude, and he was so chill and relaxed. Everything felt easy going while making a record with a friend, but at the same time he really knew what he was doing. He knew how to use a studio and make things sound good while making it feel so effortless, it was great.”

When it comes to what he hopes people take from When The Band Breaks Up Again after giving it a listen, Hayes is pretty open-minded. He does hope that it motivates others to not give up on their dreams and keep going for what they want to do with their lives.

“Honestly, I’d be down for anyone to get anything out of it,” he says. “More specifically, I guess for me as a listener it doesn’t have to be the deepest, mind-blowing album. If it serves as a musical companion for someone that feels like a throwback to their childhood music or an homage to punk in general while being some kind of ear candy for them and something they can throw on while on the way to something exciting, that would be sick. On a deeper level, there’s a lot of messages about trying to re-find yourself, not giving up on yourself and staying true to your goals or dreams, even if they become fuzzy. If it can encourage someone to keep going and keep pushing towards whatever it is they want to do, then that would be very nice.”

When the Band Breaks Up Again is available now on Bandcamp. Follow Walter Etc. on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Johnson

Stay Connected

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

 Learn more