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Wolf Alice On Wild Success, Tour Stories and First Impressions: Interview

Joyce Jude Lee |
September 24, 2015 | 1:42 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter
Fooling Around (Neon Tommy/Joyce Jude Lee)
Fooling Around (Neon Tommy/Joyce Jude Lee)
If you google "Wolf Alice" and read up on any article about them, nearly all of them will sing praises of the band, and some will declare the quartet saviors of rock music. For sensationalism sake, it's often easy but lazy for journalists to say that an act is reviving an entire genre. But in Wolf Alice's case, there truly isn't a fairer way to put it. 
While rock music hasn't actually died, it hasn't sounded quite as loud, raw and emotional until Wolf Alice entered into the music scene with immense ambition and distortion pedals in tow. Made up of Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey, and Theo Ellis, Wolf Alice is a pop-rock-grunge-folk-punk outfit hailing from London that is chalk full of youthful energy and eagerness. They started out as a duo (Ellie, vocals and guitar, and Joff, guitar), added a drummer (Joel, drums and vocals), and then rounded out the lineup with Theo (bass). [Ed. Note: they had a bassist before Joel joined, but she left the band.] The final line up took a few years to come together, but along the way, they cemented their place in the industry and came into their own as a band. 
In this day and age, many bands will scrap together a decent sounding album hoping to get to a point where they can make another record; personality tends to be an afterthought. With Wolf Alice, however, it's a different story. The quartet has taken time to capture every aspect of the band's personality with their debut, "My Love Is Cool." Having already released raucous and equally acclaimed EPs "Heavenly Creatures" and "Blush," the Londoners went full throttle with their firstborn full length, which is filled with deep cuts from start to finish. From the ode-to-friendship "Bros," to the thrashing "Giant Peach" and the introspective "The Wonderwhy" and "Silk," the record exudes maturity, playfulness, emotion and talent. Somehow, Wolf Alice have managed to create an album that makes you nostalgic for things that may have never happened, and the album succeeds in tugging at heartstrings without being sugary. Track to track, "My Love Is Cool" boasts insanely catchy hooks, head-banging drum parts laced beneath brilliant pop melodies that makes you want to throw a vase against the wall while wildly dancing at the same time. At all the right moments, the record simmers down when the band intends to highlight the lyrics ("Silk") but can speed up to 100 miles per hour with the chanty "You're A Germ" and its manic laughs. 
The only common thread throughout the album is Ellie's voice, which does as much as any other instrument on the record. Her voice evokes the appropriate emotion for each track on the album: vengefulness in "You're A Germ," yearning in "Lisbon" and sadness in "The Wonderwhy." Each song makes its own distinctive impression; every one of them sounds like Wolf Alice and Wolf Alice only. Listening to the record is almost like an initiation into the pack that is Wolf Alice ("You can join us if you think you're wild, you can join us if you're a feral child" from "Freazy"): they're the weird-cool kids you've always wanted to befriend. These four are the champions for the weirdos in the real world and the passionate indie artists in the music world. 
Wolf Alice is forging an unconventional path of their own with this album. Having toured with alt-J, Swim Deep and Peace, to name a few, the band has amassed a legion of zealous fans and they're more in demand than ever. Evidently, Ellie, Joff, Joel and Theo are having the time of their lives making tunes and selling out venues and are massively appreciative of everything coming their way, but music fans really have them to thank for injecting life and emotion into songs that can soundtrack our lives. 
I caught up with the four piece in a muggy tent in Delaware straight after their American festival debut at Firefly Festival for some laughs and stories; read the entire interview below. The gang will be back in Los Angeles this fall, so be sure to catch them play the Fonda Theater on October 13. Some tickets are available here, hurry up before they're all gone! 
NT: How was your first American festival? Nervous, excited?
Theo: I think I was more excited. I didn't think anyone was going to come see us at an American festival. It was cool yeah. It was also insanely hot. And humid. But everyone's really nice here and everyone seemed to be having a good time! It was great. 
NT: Are you guys sticking around for Paul McCartney?
Ellie: No! Unfortunately we can't, we've got to fly to another festival in Holland. I'd love to see him though.
NT: So your debut album is coming out [Ed. note: it was released June 23 in the US], and a lot of your EP songs can be found on there...how did you guys pick which ones you wanted on the album? Were there any themes running through the album?
Theo: No there isn't a theme on the album...we took 18 tracks in to record and the stuff that ended up in the album were the songs we were the most excited about in the studio. So it was just the case of being excited about those songs.
NT: So "Swallowtail" features your vocals, Joel. That wasn't something I was expecting since it's usually Ellie who fronts the songs. Is that one you hope to play live? 
Joel: Yeah! Hopefully we'll add it into the set. We've got some huge headline shows in the UK later on this year, in September, so we're going to try and make it an epic set. Once the album's out it'll be fun to play those songs as well.
NT: How was the process of creating the album in general?
Ellie: It was really good I think, the studio experience we gained from doing those singles and EPs really helped us. I had made a few mistakes during those and it was good to learn from them. So when we went to do the album it was really smooth.
NT: Was it stressful at all?
Ellie: No actually, it wasn't stressful at all. It was nerve wracking, [but not stressful.] It's hard to work under stress, so we tried not to, you know what I mean?
NT:What are your favorite songs off the record?
Joel: It's hard to pick, they were all really fun to record, and I really enjoy the album as a whole.
Theo: I'm not! Mine's "Silk!"
[All laugh.]
Ellie: Uhm, hmm...I haven't chosen one yet. At the moment I like "Your're A Germ," it's really fun live. 
NT: What were your first impressions of each other?
Joff: I remember being really impressed with Joel's coat that he was wearing. 
Joel: Yeah I was wearing like a big hat...
Joff: Yeah you did, didn't you!
Theo: I quite like those hats but they're also horrible. Sorry, this is irrelevant.
Joel: I met Theo when I was 15 and he had big, white hair and the most skinny legs. And knickers. So I hated him. 
NT: Did you guys go to school together?
Theo: No, we just hung out at similar all ages shows.
Joel: First time I met these guys [Ellie and Joel], I was literally watching them play. 
NT: So you guys use to be more acoustic duo right, how was it changing the sound of the band to become more electric guitar driven and heavy?
Ellie: Well it wasn't actually a duo, there was a third person. But I don't know really...
Joff: I guess we kind of grew out of it didn't we? We did it for a while and I think we liked it, but there was something else that we needed to do. This sounds like what we're supposed to do.
NT: [To Theo and Joel] And you guys just hopped on?
Joel: Yes!
Theo: We jumped on the band wagon!
NT: Smart choice.
Joel: Yes it was. 
Theo: Thank you. 
NT: What is the highlight of the year so far?
Theo: I think coming to America at the beginning of the year was a massive highlight. Every second is a highlight. Everyday I value equally. 
[All laugh]
Theo: I'm very positive.
Joel: It's been a very intense year. I think coming to America is very weird [in a good way]. We're coming a few times this year. 
NT: Favorite drink?
All: Margaritas! Frozen margaritas!
NT: So are you guys going to be writing/recording from the road at all or will you just have to start that once you get home?
Theo: I think we need to figure that out with this first one. We're going to try to learn how to write on the road. 
NT: What's the funniest thing that has happened on the road?
Joel: I always struggle with these questions...whatever I find to be funny, as soon as I say it, I'm like "Oh..."
Ellie: Along with funny is usually tragic...
NT: But you're all still alive so it musn't have been that bad.
Ellie: Oh no, not like that, like social tragedy. 
Theo: Well...I peed outside a window once and the radiator fell off. That was a nightmare. Yeah why not, peeing out of a window in Newcastle. 
[All laugh]
Joel: That's the best you're going to get!
NT: What's your dream festival lineup? 
Ellie [to Joel]: You had a pretty good one the other day, can't remember what it was though.
Theo: R. Kelly.
Joel: No. R. Kelly is not playing any of my festivals. He's not even allowed in! One person we did see, like Beck we saw, last year I think? He put on one of the best festival sets I think any of us had ever seen. It was the most fun, awesome, and impressive music to hear. 
NT: Tell that to Kanye West!
[All laugh]
Joel: To be fair I saw him [Kanye] last year and he went on a rant and it was boring. 
Ellie: Maybe Beck and Kanye playing together.
Joel: There are actually similarities between them two...it'll be like world peace!
Follow Wolf Alice on Twitter and Facebook
Reach Staff Reporter Joyce Jude Lee here



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