In ’09 Dustin Hayes (aka Walter) formed Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra in high school, emulating bands like Defiance Ohio and AJJ, yet with the inescapable innocence of a suburban Southern California. The band’s sound formed a unique niche characterized by honest lyrics, jangly instrumentation, and home recording charm. Although their DIY ethic and nonchalant attitude kept them away from press and under the radar for five years, the band’s four LP’s developed a devout cult following all around the country.
After the US tour following their fourth LP “Well Soon”, members began to struggle with mental health issues and drug addiction. In 2015 the band played a sold out show in Orange County then called a hiatus. During that hiatus, the members split off towards grad school, professional careers, or rehab. Without his band, Walter was left with an unfulfilled dream and struggled to find where to go next.
During this time Walter fell into a period of depression and anomie, concerned about his best friend’s drug addiction and recovery, watching the other people in his life moving on and away from their shared passion of music. To cope with the loss, he wrote a concept album called Gloom Cruise - a journey into the darkest corners of the psyche and a mediation on sadness - with lyrics revolving around his missing buddy’s addiction issues and Walter’s own struggles with mental health.
In 2016 he reformed the band as Walter Etc., a slight variation of his original group yet including past members Kris Schobert and Russell Park. On the first tour it was clear that in their absence the group’s following had grown to be stronger than ever. After an EP “Always Leaving” and a split release with Phoenix’s Diners, the band continues to tour to consistently packed audiences while waiting for Gloom Cruise to finally come out.