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LADYGUNN Wolf Alice 7

The video for one of Wolf Alice’s early singles “Fluffy” serves as a dramatized version of the band’s history. In it, singer Ellie Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie play an acoustic duo singing gentle folk tracks about their cat into a webcam. It’s sweet, cute and completely bland. Tuning in are bass player Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey, playing a pair of gutter punks. They’re so disgusted by what they see that they pay the folkies a visit, vandalise their innocence and bring out their capacity for audio violence. The four are then transformed into a mean, growling rock band.

It didn’t happen exactly like that in the real world for then band, but it’s not far off. Rowsell and Oddie started out in an acoustic folk duo, playing London’s open-mic nights. Frustrated by a sense that the project wasn’t really going anywhere, and a desire to try out new, more muscular sounds, they recruited friends Amey and Ellis. The four became a fully-fledged band, and Wolf Alice was born.

Flash forward to the present and Wolf Alice are quite the big-fucking-deal. Their debut album,  got to number two in the UK charts, and they’ve been playing bigger and bigger festival stages to bigger and bigger crowds. “It’s amazing” says Ellis. “The week the album came out was such an amazing shared experience for the four of us, playing Glasto and flying to do Conan. It felt like we got to do the real cliché band bucket list in a condensed crash course. It’s hard to actually portray just how grateful we are for the support from journalists and fans”.

It’s not surprising that the band have that support, because My Love Is Cool is an excellent record. Stylistically, it swings from the caustic grunge of “You’re A Germ” to the slick groove of “Freazy” without missing beat, and features some of the sharpest song-writing you’ll hear this year. Song-writing is important to Wolf Alice, and they prefer to avoid a strictly ordered approach.

“Wolf Alice is yet to find its set song-writing formula. I’m not sure we will ever have a routine to writing. Sometimes someone will bring a very competent demo that we will then go through and record together, other times we will get together and build something from scratch with a theme in mind. We’re very much a band of four individual songwriters having the freedom to write and share ideas in different ways is the best route for us. Song inspiration can stem from anything, a strange turn of phrase, a book or a film, an experience. It can be hard to constantly feel like you have to have experienced some kind of great life event in order to write a song, so drawing on other stories or events can help you to create something”.

My Love Is Cool was a long time in the making. Wolf Alice had been a buzz band for a few years, but kept things ticking over with EP releases (Blush in 2013 and Creature Songs in 2014) instead of putting out a debut record. When the time came to finally put together that debut, the band was intensely aware of the importance of getting it right.

“We did want the album to have a cohesive atmosphere for sure. We spent quite a long time on track-listing, it was important that the flow was right. I think that was a key element in it having the full effect as a body of work.” That desire to have a cohesive atmosphere also meant dipping into the band’s back catalogue and resurrecting tracks like “Fluffy,” “Bros” and “Your Loves Whore,” which the band had been playing in various forms for years. The songs were rebooted for the debut. “Exploring them further sonically in a production sense was more the exciting idea for us. The structures of all the songs on the record have adhered to our original demos. Mike (Crossey, the album’s producer) helped us to play with the textures within the songs a lot, which can give older tracks a new lease of life”.

As strong a record as My Love Is Cool is, it’s as a live act that Wolf Alice really roar. The initial buzz around the band was largely generated by their relentless touring and their wild performances at the UK’s small venues. This year has seen them stop by an enormous collection of festivals and bring their music to new and bigger audience. A particular highlight was their set at Glastonbury, which saw Rowsell sprawl across the stage during an intense performance of album bonus track “The Wonderwhy.” And they’re also had the chance to inject late-night US television with some high-voltage rock when they brought “Moaning Lisa Smile” to Conan. Ellis says that the live aspect is a vital part of the band’s identity: no live shows, no Wolf Alice. “We relish playing live. It’s how we cut our teeth and taught us an infinite amount about our songs and who we wanted to be as a band. I think it’s half of what the band is. It seems very basic for us that half of our worth is proven in the studio and the other half through touring. It’s always cool when someone explains to you at a show how a song has effected them. People use songs to medicate themselves emotionally sometimes, it gives you a different perspective on your own songs. People singing lyrics back at you is always insanely gratifying”

And with a formidable new record to bring on tour, the future certainly looks bright for the Londoners. And Ellis is looking forward to it. “I’m excited, about anything and everything”


writer / Austin Maloney

photographer / Rebecca Thomas

hair +makeup / Camilla Hewitt @ Frank Agency

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writer / Austin Maloney

photographer / Rebecca Thomas

hair +makeup / Camilla Hewitt @ Frank Agency

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