Wolf Alice

by
Wolf Alice - New 5
Bertie Mackenzie sat down with Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie.

In a way, the first three tracks you have released from the new album are all opposites of each other – especially when you think about them within the context of the album itself. You have Yuk Foo which is proper gnarly and then Don’t Delete The Kisses which is chill and electric. Was releasing them in that order a conscious decision?

Ellie: Not really, we realised that they were quite different and we were okay with that when choosing them. We wanted to get Yuk Foo out early as it was going to be a fun one to play live, and we wanted Don’t Delete The Kisses because we really like it. We like all of the tunes, we aren’t fussed [about when they are released] – we just want other people to like them!

 

Are any of the songs from the second album re-recordings of originals, like Bros from the first album was? Or are they slight variations of things you did a while ago, or ones you wrote whilst touring? 

Joff: There aren’t any re-records – I don’t think there are any ideas that we had previous to the first album that we reworked, really. Everything was written either on tour or after, so it’s all new material that was written in the last two years.

 

Were the songs written to be part of an album or did they just come to you whilst you were touring?

Ellie: Neither really, I think it was more that we are always writing. You know in your head that one day you are going to make an album, but you’re not sure what it is going to sound like. So in our case when we had finished touring we looked at what we already had and picked the best ones, and then sat down to write an album.

 

So is there a lot of stuff that was written in that time period that is not going to be recorded? 

Ellie: Loads of songs get left behind.

 

Did you not like them as much or did you just feel they didn’t work with the rest of the songs? 

Ellie: Both I think! We either choose to put them on the album or save them for a later date, or put them in the graveyard of mediocre tunes.

 

When you are writing music do you both go off alone or do you sit together? Or do you bring things together then work through it as a band?

Joff: We don’t really have a set way – sometimes we will work through a vague idea together, sometimes someone creates a song which is already fully realised, and sometimes we will have jam and kind of develop it a little bit more. We try and keep things fairly free.

 

One thing I noticed when reading your previous interviews is that you cite books, plays and films as your influences. Even your name comes from a short story – do you think it is important to have a lot of influences outside of the music world? 

Ellie: Yeah for sure! I think it is important not just when writing songs – sometimes I feel very ‘flat’ and I realise haven’t read a book or watched a good movie in a very long time. [After doing so I] suddenly I feel like I’ve come back out from beneath the surface and feel inspired again! If you are strapped for inspiration it is the best thing to do, in my opinion.

 

You’re playing huge venues like Ally Pally whilst also playing smaller places like Tavistock – do you prefer the small gigs as they’re intimate or do you prefer standing in front of thousands of people whilst they sing back to you?

Joff: [Playing huge venues] is quite awesome, but there is definitely an energy in a smaller room that you can’t get in a big one. They are so different in how they function and how you function as a band in them. They are both great to be honest.

Ellie: You don’t go to certain towns or cities [if you are always playing the big venues], so if you have the power to say to your agent “why do we always play Manchester and Birmingham and not somewhere where Joff grew up?” then it’s great. Why should he not be able to play in his hometown and support local venues at the same time?

 

What is the weirdest gig you have ever played? 

Ellie: We had a few weird shows in our early days…

Joff: One at a fire station.

Ellie: Yeah, we played in a fire station to six old people who were doing a day out planting plants and we were their entertainment – they didn’t not like it!

 

You’ve toured both the U.K. and America – are there certain songs that you play that certain crowds absolutely love? Do they all receive a similar reaction across the globe?

Joff: On a very practical level, the tracks which are pushed on radio or promoted more in the first part [sometimes get a bigger reaction]. But, I couldn’t really say to be honest and I can’t think of any differences! They are all bangers, so…

 

It recently emerged that the number of women led bands playing at rock festivals is much much lower than fifty percent of the lineups. Why do you think that is? Have you ever felt it affect the way you are perceived as a band? 

Joff: I think the festival thing is a symptom not a problem. The problem is a part of society’s view of what men and women do really. We have to ask these questions such as why aren’t both men and women being presented at a higher level of music, but all of the answers relate to grass root problems like education, aspiration and things like that we would have to replace big time… We need people like Ellie and everyone can make a big song and dance over her.

Ellie: Then again, you shouldn’t make a song about someone just because of their gender.

 

Should be the talent first. 

Ellie: I’ve always thought that you don’t have to big someone up just because they are a woman: if you don’t like them and you don’t think their music is good, then don’t. Maybe you should encourage them more instead, which will encourage other women and then slowly the gap will change.

 

Liam Gallagher was recently said that rock music is not what it used to be and guitar bands are now different. Does it annoy you when people give you a certain label? 

Ellie: I don’t know what rock music is anymore. I don’t know how would you define it other than it being live music that has guitar drums and bass? I don’t really care about [what anyone calls us] anymore as long as they are not being offensive and saying we are an average indie band! No one really knows what rock music is anymore. I think it’s cool to be a rock band, if that’s what we are.

 

Final question! You were filmed by the BBC in Brighton years ago and Theo joked about how shit he is at singing – I was wondering if he is now any better? 

Ellie: Yeah, he is fine…!

Joff: He’s got more confidence.

Ellie: When he pretends to sing it is actually really good, and you are like “why don’t you just sing like that in real life?!”.

Wolf Alice’s sophomore album, Visions Of A Life, will be released on the 29th September 2017.