15 minutes with Wolf Alice

INTERVIEW BY Nicole La Ruffa

No apologies.

Wolf Alice, the four-piece rock band from North London, expresses a gritty, unapologetic attitude. Fronted by lead singer Ellie Rowsell, and backed by guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey, the group has spent the last few years gearing towards a second release.

Visions Of A Life is the 12-track culmination of Wolf Alice’s journey since its debut record My Love Is Cool in 2015.

The album is packed with a combination of sounds, from synth-pop to heavier punk tunes that those on either side of the rock spectrum will enjoy.

Having just stepped off the stage from their Aussie shows, Ellie and Theo set aside some time to chat with us about their newest release.

After the wildfire success of the band’s debut record, My Love Is Cool, did you feel the need to push yourselves creatively with album number two?

Theo: Yeah. I mean, I think we always want to push ourselves creatively with whatever we do. The producer we worked with, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, helped us to do that. He helped us to explore. We played with more things, like synthesisers and stuff, and some experimental sounds on the record. So, that was pushing ourselves. As musicians, I think we pushed ourselves.

The lead single, ‘Yuk Foo’ is a fiery anthem with heavy guitar riffs and in-your-face lyrics. Can you describe your thought process when writing the track?

Ellie: I think we wanted something that was abrasive, something that would be fun to play. I guess it kind of takes the structure and simplicity of punk tunes, but I think it’s a little bit more electronic than that. We’ve got quite a few synths in there, because often that sounds beefier than just guitars and base. It’s just a bit of fun really.

Another interesting song is ‘Sky Musings’, which manifests the feeling of existential dread on a long-haul flight. Do you both get a lot of writing done on planes?

E: (Laughs) I mean, you have a lot of time to think. So not writing perhaps but a lot of thoughts. It’s quite a weird but good place to think. But I don’t know if I’ve written anything coherent.

Was there a particularly draining flight you can recall?

T: Me and Ellie had one flight, it wasn’t draining, but we decided to both change our lives when we got off. Or said we were going to. But that was like seven or eight red wines in (laughs). That’s my favourite and also least favourite flight and period of my life.

Any favourite lyrics from the album?

E: I like the lyrics in ‘After The Zero Hour’ and I like the lyrics in ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’. And all the rest are fucking shit to be honest (laughs). I like them all, I mean I think Visions Of A Life is a weird one because it was, as I was saying, like a mixture of songs.

Back in 2016, you helped curate the Bands 4 Refugees project. Can you talk us through the band’s involvement?

E: Well it was kind of a standalone event in a way. There’s an organisation, they work all across Europe, and they help refugees. Every Christmas, they try to get different people to do the campaigns in order to raise money for their organisation. I vaguely know one of the girls [who runs the company], so I had gone to her saying I wanted to put on a night or something with an aim of raising money for her thing. We kind of just worked together to make something that was not only raising money, but hopefully raising awareness. And also, what we consider to be the right way to look at the whole situation, because I think the media at the time was a bit… you know.

T: Yeah there was a lot of really terrible, terribly negative news coverage.

In today’s climate, how important is it to use your platform to address important political issues?

T: I think it’s very valuable. Quite a lot of people are influenced by people with platforms – you know, models, musicians, actors. If you have the ability to, not shape someone’s opinion but influence or present new ideas they haven’t seen yet or heard about, then it’s an amazing thing. But then again it’s also very difficult to manage that power because you as a person can feel conflicted or nervous or like you don’t have enough information to make a valid comment. So, it’s tricky. But it’s definitely very important nowadays to say what you feel. Unless what you feel is very right-winged and terrible.

Visions Of A Life is out now via Liberator Music.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 184.

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