The Walla Recovery is a cello-folk band from Fort Worth and Decatur, Texas, which got its start in 2004.
“We met and played together at our church every week for about three years, and then just ended up sticking together,” Zack Smith, lead singer of the band said.
Once the band started, its goal was to have audiences connect with its music and it’s something that continues to this day.
“I’ve always had the goal of spreading the music around to as many people as possible by giving away free songs, and that is something we’re still doing as well,” Smith said. “It’s always been about creating something beautiful and being able to share it with others.”
The band’s song “Beautiful You” played on MTV’s The Real World this year, which has given the band motivation to keep their music going, according to Smith.
“The experience opened my eyes to the fact that there’s always a way to reach the plethora of people out there who have never heard our songs,” Smith said. “Beautiful You was over six years old when The Real World used it. I knew we were (and still are) extremely unknown, but it was surprising to see some listeners call it ‘new’ and recommend it to their friends.”
The band is working on its future release of its full-length album.
“This album is a little different, because it’s mixed media, and based on a fictional story I’m writing,” Smith said. “So there’s a literary element, and some tangible pieces that have to come together alongside the music, to help tell the story. It’s the most diverse and ambitious project I’ve ever attempted.”
Even though it’s been a difficult journey for the band, its biggest success has been its love for music.
“Seeing a new listener have joy over the sounds and ideas that we’ve put on tape really helps to put things in perspective,” Smith said. “Meeting people and telling our stories together really enhances life and makes it more enjoyable.”
In the future, the band hopes to work on their new album, keep touring Texas and keep close to its fans.
“I like to take things a step at a time, because it’s easy for me to get distracted by all the possibilities,” Smith said. “We do our best to do what we know. We’ll be focusing on the new album until it’s completed, working on our live shows so that we can create really memorable and interactive events and continuing to build our little community of friends.”
The Walla Recovery - Beautiful You (Live) from The Walla Recovery on Vimeo.
Where are you from originally and how and when did you get your start?
I am originally from Fort Worth and Decatur, Texas and I started playing guitar back in 1999, during college. I began writing songs about a year later and then started playing at gatherings with friends. The Walla Recovery officially started in 2004.
Where did you find the members of your band?
We met and played together at our church every week for about 3 years, and then just ended up sticking together. The sensibility that was established over that course of time has held on, and we're still just trying to take advantage of it.
Who are your major influences? Have you been able to play with these artists?
My major songwriting influences are Counting Crows and Goo Goo Dolls. It would be a thrill to get to play with them someday. As a band we're influenced by a wider array of artists, including mewithoutYou, Sleeping at Last, The New Frontiers, Jimi Hendrix, and Dave Matthews.
When first starting your band, what were your goals? Have you been able to reach them?
At the beginning I really just wanted to have an outlet for this expression that I felt I needed to make in order to truly know and be myself. In a way, that's what I'm still trying to do, although I've added gradually over time the expectation that other people will connect with a song and it will help them to know themselves as well. Even though we've met goals for specific projects we've set, there's still something about what I do that makes me feel as if I'm never really finished. There's always another creative idea to pursue, and it's not until I finish one that I see where it's taken us to begin another. Logistically, I've always had the goal of spreading the music around to as many people as possible by giving away free songs, and that is something we're still doing as well. So those plans are continually being met and reset in different ways. For me, it's always been about creating something beautiful and being able to share it with others, so we can all be affected by it and see what happens afterwards.
What was it like having your song Beautiful You played on MTV’s The Real World XXV: Vegas?
It was fun to tell my family and friends about, because it was a show that they'd actually heard of before. The experience opened my eyes to the fact that there's always a way to reach the plethora of people out there who have never heard our songs. "Beautiful You" was over 6 years old when The Real World used it. I knew we were (and still are) extremely unknown, but it was surprising to see some listeners call it 'new' and recommend it to their friends. This gives us motivation not to give up on a song; to keep the older songs alive and see what good they can still do for people.
What is it like making your first full-length album? Have you run into any snags or has it gone smoothly?
Obstacles abound, but that only serves to keep it interesting most of the time. When a task isn't easy, it helps me to continually make or strengthen that decision to keep going; if I persevere, it's all the hardship that will amount to the end result being worthwhile. This album is a little different, because it's mixed media, and based on a fictional story I'm writing. So there's a literary element, and some tangible pieces that have to come together alongside the music, to help tell the story. It's the most diverse and ambitious project I've ever attempted, which makes for a scary learning curve. Most of my time is currently spent on developing the characters and imagining plot events that fill in any holes the story still has, and learning from others what it is to be a good writer. I've had a lot of fun focusing on something besides musical composition for a while, but I am looking forward to finishing up songwriting for the album, where I feel more at home. The whole thing has been a very stretching experience for me as an artist.
You said your new album will be based on a story. What is the story behind it?
The story is about a young boy and girl who meet early in life. As they grow up together, he falls in love with her and they intend to marry. She loves him, but has trouble committing because of insecurities brought on by her abusive father, who's never given her a single day of peace or love in her entire life. The young man desires to provide a home and a life for her where she will never be hurt by her father again. He goes out on his own to work and buy some land where he can build a house for her, have a family, and be with her until old age. He builds the perfect house on a beautiful piece of land, and cultivates a farm so they'll have all they need. He returns to marry her and finds that while he's been gone, she's taken another lover: a coward who ran away as soon as he found out she was pregnant with his unwanted son. The man is now faced with the decision of continuing his plan of loving her, sharing his new home with her and the boy, or giving up on them altogether. As the story unfolds further into the past and future, we see how the characters are affected by suffering these hardships and others to be revealed, and what they become because of it.
How do you come up with the songs you write?
They mostly come from personal experiences (especially our last EP "With Trembling..."), although with these new songs I am writing from a bit of a distance, building allegory to what's happened in the lives of some of my friends and family, about suffering which I have not had to endure personally. I'm an introspective, overly analytical person, and I love to see someone encouraged. I have many flaws and know that it's been helpful for me to confide those in someone, to be known, for better or worse. I tend to approach life and songwriting from these angles.
How did you create your EP, With Trembling?
I wrote the songs over about a 6 year span, reflecting on the process of learning what it means to trust in something bigger than yourself. Recording took place over 2-3 years, gradually. We self-produced and recorded it, then mixed and mastered it in-house. It was tremendously fun to put ourselves so fully into those 7 songs and allow one another in the band to affect the final product. It was one of the most confidence-building experiences of my life.
What has been your biggest hardship?
I constantly struggle with producing the best quality and most insightful art I possibly can, in all aspects (recording, performing, marketing, and business), while simultaneously being able to focus on my day job. After years of that I've realized that it's the day job that allows me to do what I love, rather than being a hindrance, as it seemed to be at first glance.
What has been your biggest success?
Believing in my passion, no matter what. I've found a deep satisfaction in using my life for what I feel I was meant to do, even if it's not my only full-time job.
What’s your biggest inspiration to keep your music going?
I couldn't keep going without the support of my wife. Seeing a new listener have joy over the sounds and ideas that we've put on tape really helps to put things in perspective as well. Meeting people and telling our stories together really enhances life and makes it more enjoyable.
Where have you been able to perform and where is your favorite place to play?
We've performed mostly in our hometown and the surrounding area, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, although we have ventured out on occasion to Austin and Nashville. My favorite shows are always in someone's home or in small coffeehouses or churches, where we can be close to the audience and control the atmosphere, and where there's not a really boomy sound system preventing musical intimacy from taking place.
What are your future goals?
I like to take things a step at a time, because it's easy for me to get distracted by all the possibilities. We do our best to do what we know we should and constantly reevaluate to adapt to the needs of those around us. So we'll be focusing on the new album until it's completed, working on our live show so that we can create really memorable and interactive events, and continuing to build our little community of friends, conversing about the same hope and joy we can all have in believing in something bigger than ourselves.
I'm grateful to have the chance to tell you what The Walla Recovery is all about and what we have on the horizon. I would love for everyone to have a free download of 3 of our best "cello-folk" songs at http://thewallarecovery.com, and to find us on Facebook (http://rcvr.me/fb) and Twitter (http://rcvr.me/tw). Thanks!