Catching Up & Checking In With Detroit’s If Walls Could Talk

Photo by Kris Herrmann

 

If there’s one truly admirable human quality, it’s an individual’s steadfast determination. Such a quality is innately intrinsic in value and, when coupled with tactful artistry, begets a quanitfiable level of ethical drive and personal gain that appears cosmic- in every sense of the word. So, what happens when you multiply that star-bound personality value into a quintet and bestow it with gentle indie-pop melodies? The result is Detroit, MI’s If Walls Could Talk- arguably one of the state’s hardest-working musical acts. Comprised of 5 collegiate and working students, If Walls Could Talk’s genuine musicality has a rippling effect that has reverberated far outside the confines of Wayne State University’s brick-and-mortor confines. Bursting forth with a volatile amount of energy since their inception in 2013, the band has enjoyed an EP release, state-wide and interstate tours, sold-out shows, and a mini-series of intruiging and whimsical YouTube covers. Never stopping and always on-the-go, not even classwork and impending graduation, nor homelife can slow this delightful band of musicians down.

Which begs the question where do they go from here?

In a valiant effort to ascertain such information, we sat down with guitarist Nick DiStefano to talk about the band’s past and upcoming string of shows, the acceleration and development of their live performance, and their forthcoming plans as the band looks ahead towards a bright future.

 

Ouch That Hertz!: Hey, Nick! How’s it going? I’ve seen a lot coming from If Walls Could Talk lately in terms of shows and new content buzzing around my social media feeds. I wanted to formally check in and see exactly what it is that you guys have been up to! Firstly, congratulations on your most recent headliner! You had another one in… Grand Rapids, I think, yes?

Nick: Hi! I’m doing well, thanks! Thank you so much!! It was seriously an incredible experience. We never thought that we would sell out a room like The Pike Room so soon, but we have amazing people who come to our shows that helped us achieve our goal. We had a few lined up- we did two shows in Indiana with The Pit Media at The Room in Highland and another one at Valparaiso University. The following weekend we did a huge show with Watching For Foxes at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. Those two weekends were incredible.

OTH!: WOW, you guys have been busy! That’s all so great! I was wondering when you would be breaking out of the Michigan circuit and heading into some of the surrounding states. 

Nick: Yeah! And after that, we have a show on May 12th at The Crofoot Ballroom for the Lilac Lungs album release party/show. This is our next Detroit show and I think we might actually be able to sell it out with them!

Yes, we try to stay busy! We just want to share our show with everyone we can and we’re meeting some amazing people along the way.

OTH!: Now, you aren’t only busy in terms of consistently gigging, but also in your musical works. You’ve put out a series of interesting covers as of late- I especially dug the one you released about 4 months back of Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” with the PVC pipes. Also notable was Tony’s lovely cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Does all of this hard work- this constant stream of shows and covers- hint at all to the prospects of new original material from you all? Perhaps in the form of a new EP in the works?

Nick: Thank you so much! I seriously appreciate that! We destroyed those pipes in the making of that video, haha!

OTH!: I can imagine- you were beating on them rather emphatically. 

Nick: We are always being asked about new music. We have many hits at our shows, like “Ladder To the Moon,” for instance. Although there aren’t serious talks about new material being recorded just yet, one of our next steps is to get together and start talking about a full-length. We have a lot of work to do before any serious discussions about recording, though.

OTH!: I have to say, I’m stoked on the idea of a future full-length from you fellas! You say there aren’t serious talks yet, but I take it that you all have possibly dabbled in some newer songwriting? Or, perhaps, you’ve laid out a thematic structure? Or are you a little enveloped in everything else right now? I know you’re still a student at Wayne State- that can’t be easy to juggle all of this workload. 

Nick: Oh, yeah, Tony is a machine and is always putting forth ideas for us all to work with. As far as a thematic structure… No comment.

I’m currently helping with the Detroit Music Awards, working, and still studying at Wayne. Thankfully, I’ll be done with Wayne very soon, so I can focus much more on the band! It’s just a lot of scheduling and prioritizing, but it’s not a big deal. IWCT is where my heart is, so it always comes first- sometimes to my dismay, haha!

OTH!: Ahaha, I’m right there with you! Sometimes I find myself having gone days without sleep just to keep writing and I frequently end up ignoring everything else. You should see my laundry pile. It’s a literal nightmare. I had no idea you were involved in the Detroit Music Awards! Can you tell me a little about that?

Nick: Oh, it’s nothing, really. I’m just helping sort through some spreadsheets. It’s the beginning of an internship I’m personally doing.

OTH!: Well, Office Boy or not, it’s great to see you entrench yourself further and further into the local scene! Let’s circle back to IWCT for a bit more. Now that you’re branching out to other states’ markets, are you guys looking to start scheduling yourselves mini-tours ’round the tri-state area?

Nick: Oh, definitely. We’re always trying to build out in different markets. Our goal is to play 2 shows per month in a foreign market. We’ve been going to Valparaiso often and have a great base there. Our next goal is the West Side [of Michigan], which started with Grand Rapids.

OTH!: Excellent! I personally believe that Michigan’s western shores will take a liking to y’all. I’d honestly be surprised if IWCT didn’t become a state-wide musical mainstay very soon. So, I take it that that’s where IWCT is heading directionally- branching out futher, upping the frequency of shows, and furthering your capabilities in your live performances?

Nick: That’s exactly right! Branching outwards and building our relationships in Detroit are our big business focuses. Musically, we’re ramping up our stage performance as much as possible. We’re adding more production and we’re, essentially, trying to create an incredible experience for everyone involved, especially our audience.

We always (roughly) quote Coldplay in our philosophy: “Every show could be someone’s first concert, or their last concert. So, it is our responsibility to make it an experience to remember.”

 

OTH!: That’s exciting! I can’t wait to someday see you all in action for myself, especially with promises of revamped production! I like your performance motto- very derivative of Neal Peart’s enthusiasm regarding performance: “The real test of a musician is live performance. It’s one thing to spend a long time learning how to play well in the studio, but to do it in front of people is what keeps me coming back to touring.”

I think it’s wonderful that you’re focusing and honing in on aspects of your performance, seeing as there seems to be a current and simultaneous resurgence in vinyl [sales] and live performance interest. Not that the two are necessarily causally linked, but I do find it interesting that both sectors are finding a modern revitilization in interest. 

Nick: I actually think it is causally linked. I think people don’t listen to vinyl or come to shows for music. Rather, they come for the experience.

OTH!: Ah, perhaps. That’s a fair and interesting point. Care to elaborate? 

Nick: Going to a live concert is an experience you can’t recreate by sitting at home. Listening to vinyl is so much more than just listening to music- it’s flipping the record, looking at the artwork, unpackaging it, etc. That’s just my opinion, though. There’s certainly no hard data that I can point to.

OTH!: Very true. I’m harkening back to my vinyl experiences and how I prefer that medium of listening purely because the difference in formatting creates such an aural variation than that of an MP3. Again, no hard data on my end that point to one medium as more valid than another. 

Well, I’m excited to see what’s yet to come for If Walls Could Talk! And, as much as I hate to end this, that’s about all the time we have today. Thank you for chatting with me today, Nick! Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to throw in?

Nick: Only one more thing: we want to share our experiences with everyone. If you’re reading this- whether you’re new to the If Walls Could Talk experience or not- reach out to us, especially at concerts! We’re super friendly and want to build relationships with every person who has ever listened to our music. So next time you see us, come say hello!

 

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