Walter Etc

January 4, 2018

Walter Etc., formerly known as Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra, is the ongoing musical project of childhood friends led by Dustin Cole Hayes aka “Walter." Based in California and Oregon, the group embodies a DIY ethic, recording most of their albums in bedrooms and living rooms and playing unconventional venues such as donut shops. Recently the band has evolved into the abbreviated name Walter Etc. adding electric instruments and broadening their range of genres. They recorded their latest album Gloom Cruise with producer/musician Jeff Rosenstock and it was released in August 2017.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Hi! I’m Dustin Cole Hayes. I live in California and play in the band Walter Etc. I also manage the art collective Making New Enemies, and I like to do other things like paint and surf and fall asleep on the couch while my girlfriend watches movies.

What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? I am currently really into the idea of personal progression in my songwriting. I’m trying to break my own mold, per se. So, for instance I am practicing writing songs with wild key changes or electronic instruments that I haven’t played with before. None of these new songs are good, but I am trying to expand my musical palette to maybe one day have some good new and different songs.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently working on a new Walter Etc. album, kind of always working on new Walter stuff, and also some musical projects with my old friend Milk Flud and another with my pal Aaron Kovacs from Lauren Records. So far nothing official to announce yet though.

If you were a drink, what drink would you be? Chocolate milk!

How did your interest in music begin? I lived on a cul-de-sac with two other boys my age, one was Jake who’s been on and off in Walter Etc. forever, and Patch who was a couple years younger than us. One way or another, we all got really into Green Day, and then from the age of like 10 to 18  we spent all our free time studying, (and I mean studying) punk rock and riding our bikes to buy CD’s from stores and downloading all the music videos we could (and sometimes accidentally getting porn, remember those days?) on Napster, Limewire, and Kazaa, and Patch eventually just memorized his mom’s credit card number and bought us all our music. Kris, Walter Etc.’s drummer, would come over on the weekends and we’d lecture him on why Green Day was real punk and Sum 41, although catchy, were not. Those were good days…

What do you want a listener to walk away with after hearing your music? It’d be cool if my songs could be a place of comfort for some people, like those songs or albums that you always return to throughout your life. Or maybe make someone think about their life in a way they hadn’t before. I don’t know. At the end of the day I just want myself to react to our music in that way, and if other people do too, then that’s just a cherry on top!

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? Right now its my new home in Ventura, CA. I’ve been all around the country and its just very obvious to me that this is exactly where I want to be. I’ve got a big garage that I’ve turned into my studio, an avocado tree, a cat, and I live about a mile from the ocean. Not sure what else I need!

What are you really excited about right now? Besides writing new music… I’m randomly very into mysteries right now. I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie and trying to write mystery stories of my own. I like to daydream about my stories being turned into movies. I am also focusing on improving my surfing and my painting.

Most embarrassing moment on stage? We played with Modern Baseball at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA and I had just gone to pee before walking on stage. It was when I was putting on my guitar that I realized there were some obvious drip spots on my crotch and we were opening with this acapella track I sing called “Steamboat Willy.” My guitar strap was very high above my waistline cause back then I played all acoustic guitar. So there I was, with the spotlight solely on me, singing to a few hundred people, with a fresh piss stain at everyone’s eye level.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what do you think you’d be doing? When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor… at the end of high school I kind of wanted to be a fireman… I was pretty decent at water sports as a kid so maybe if I’d focused on that instead of punk rock then I’d be a professional swimmer or surfer? Lol I don’t know…