Wolf Alice | Interview
Ahead Of: Wolf Alice @ O2 Academy, Bristol. 16.09.15.
Bristol is always good to us, and we’ve got some new songs to play this time around at the O2.
From bedroom-bound acoustic act — formed in 2010 between singer-guitarists Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie — to Brit-rock headliners, Wolf Alice have been described as ‘the lovechild of folk and grunge’. Having just touched down from Japan, I managed to share a few words with frontwoman Ellie Rowsell about what it’s like to be in Wolf Alice in 2015.
This band’s sound is not without its quirks, and Camden Town was a fitting place for shaping them into the untamed creation they are today, even down to Ellie and Joff’s first meeting at an all-ages gig at the Purple Turtle. I ask how easy it’s been to get their ideas across without being tagged as one thing or the other. “I think people will always label you with a genre. It’s easy to do that, but our fans won’t disregard us if they don’t like Elastica, or be disappointed if they don’t hear enough grunge in our sound.”
Things started simply with Ellie longing to front a band of her own but — a pain many young musicians know well — not knowing enough willing people, or even anyone into the same music. The resulting online musician-scouring was what finally came through, and the rest is history. With song lyrics centred on adolescence and living in your own skin, fighting to be different and growing pains associated with coming of age, Ellie’s words are an insight into the band’s emergence into adulthood. Now playing sold-out Shepherd’s Bush Empire shows themselves, seeing from the stage a medley of heaving mosh pits and people singing along to every home-grown lyric, it surely conjures emotions of angst-filled teenage days and cheap indie nights on those Camden streets.
Their debut single ’Fluffy’, released in 2013, was followed by ‘Bros’ and later that year a debut EP, ‘Blush’. Slowly came ‘Creature Songs’ and ‘Giant Peach’, before we were finally treated with their debut LP, the curiously-named ‘My Love Is Cool’, this summer. This steady stream of releases has earnt them both a loyal fanbase and industry acclaim. Having been nominated for the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2015’ at the start of this year, the band would go on to miss out on the number one album slot by just 500 sales — bested narrowly by Florence and the Machine. “It’s been amazing”, Ellie enthused. “We’re very grateful for the kind words said about it and we’re very relieved that people are enjoying it.”
An element to this band’s sound that’s proved quite irresistible is their quiet-loud ratio. Being able to go from folk-lined, soft and breathy vocal-filled ‘ditties’ to screeching, guitar-laden heavy-hitters, they’re capable of unleashing their grunge side at a moment’s notice. Meshing these two elements together creates something of a slow-building thunderclap for the ears.
The success of their first album has made way for some hefty touring, but the band aren’t fazed. “It’s all still very fun and exciting and none of us ever complain. It can be tiring, but you learn to make use of free time and see the bigger picture, which helps.” She continues; “No tour is the ever same; we play different songs and play to more people and in new places. We’re just back from Japan, America before that, then Switzerland, France, Spain and Germany before our UK tour. Then we go back to America in October and Europe in November.”
With the crowds and venues getting bigger, it make you wonder about the new stage show and what’s in store for us all in Bristol this month. Ellie explains; “We treat every show with a lot of energy and good vibes, regardless of how big the crowd or venue is. Bristol is always good to us, and we’ve got some new songs to play this time around at the O2. We have a lot of pent up excitement about doing a UK tour as it feels like such a long time since we did, even though it was only April…”
Wolf Alice are caught in a touring time warp — just make it to us in one piece guys.
The band play our O2 Academy on 16th September with Drenge in tow.
‘My Love Is Cool’ is out now on Dirty Hit.
Check out ‘Giant Peach’ right here: