A chat with... Wolf Alice
Three weeks ago, Wolf Alice released what in my opinion is by far the best album of 2017. Just losing the top of the UK charts to Shania Twain, Visions Of A Life proves that this band are capable of pretty much anything. With tracks ranging from the bolshy, anger fuelled Yuk Foo to the fear ridden thoughts of Sky Musings, every second of their second album is pure magic.
Despite their upcoming headline tour, playing venues of around 2000 capacity; Wolf Alice are still as accessible as ever. Visions Of A Life was launched with a tour of UK in store shows and a handful in the US, giving fans the chance to hear acoustic versions of the new tracks and meet Ellie, Theo, Joff and Joel. It’s refreshing to see a band of their level stay so loyal to their fans; yet another reason why it’s so easy to fall in love with every aspect of the band.
Set to head out to Japan before beginning their European headline tour, I had a chat with Joel from the band to discuss all things Visions Of A Life.
Hello! How’s life as part of Wolf Alice treating you?
It’s pretty good. We just did Jools Holland last night, it was good fun we really enjoyed it. I was so nervous last time we did it that I can’t even remember doing it. I just remember being opposite Duran Duran and next to Public Image and just being a bit like ‘oooh’, but this time was really fun and yeah Grizzly Bear and King Krule were so sick to watch so we felt very lucky to be part of that line up.
Was there any particular reason you chose to play Beautifully Unconventional and Don’t Delete The Kisses?
They actually chose the songs that we played, they’re fun to play but I would have liked to play Visions Of A Life. I get nervous playing those two songs, they’re weirdly like the harder ones to play, they’re so fucking simple that I always seem to bugger them up.
Visions Of A Life has been out for a few weeks now, how’s the reaction been compared to when you released My Love Is Cool?
It was kind of bonkers around My Love Is Cool as well but it’s been really fun and it’s just amazing to see people support something you made and we’ve obviously invested quite a lot of time in and yeah it’s just very humbling, we’ve gone around the country and met a lot of people; it makes it very real and it’s been really exciting. A whirlwind of a couple of weeks.
There’s quite a lot of variety in the album, is that something you were conscious of or did it happen naturally?
I think every song just is different if you know what I mean. Like it would be weird to try and make Sad Boy sound like Beautifully Unconventional, it’s just it’s own existing entity and we have to support that. We just try and get that song to the best stage we can and not have to try and force it to sound like something else, otherwise it’d just sound shit. If a song is choosing to be an acoustic song then that’s it’s thing, and if it’s choosing to be layered up with a million synthesisers then that’s that thing. We’ve always just been in the mindset that that’s what you should go for, whatever’s best for the song is what you should follow.
You all have big personalities, do you think that’s come across more with this album than the last?
I think our playing has come across a lot more. There’s a lot of Ellie in this record, her voice and her lyrics really make this record and give it the strength it has. But yeah I think in terms of playing wise I think Joff’s guitar work’s just more forward thinking than it was the last time around and me and Theo actually practiced our instruments this time so hopefully it sounds a bit better.
Speaking of personalities, Yuk Foo has a much more bolshy side to it than the rest, is there a reason why you chose to release it first?
Yes and no, when you know you’re putting out a song for the first time you’re gonna have to play it pretty soon and maybe play it for promo shit, so picking something as fun and thrashy as Yuk Foo is kind of in that mindset. Probably not the best radio song to go with but it’s just one of those tunes that we knew we can just go straight into the venues and start playing and have fun.
If you were to describe each member of the band as a song from Visions Of A Life, which would you choose for each of you?
I’d say Joff would be Beautifully Unconventional, I’d say Theo is Sad Boy and Ellie is a Vision Of A Life. I’m probably, um what are the fucking songs called? I’d say I’m After The Zero Hour ‘cause I don’t do anything until about midnight.
Despite being as successful as you are now, you’re still really accessible for your fans with the likes of small venue tours and in store shows. Is that something that’s important to you?
Yeah definitely. I mean it’s not a contrived thing it’s just something we like doing and we’re lucky enough to be able to facilitate them. We’re not forcing that “oh we’re relatable” thing we just kind of are, and we love playing small venues and meeting people who’ve bought your record is a thrill. Any band that gets jaded enough not to give a shit that somebody has bought your record should just fucking give up.
How do those intimate shows compare to the likes of the venues you’re playing on the upcoming tour?
They’re very different but both very enjoyable. The small venue tour was wicked and just playing thrashy small gigs was a great time, obviously it’s different in bigger venues ‘cause you’ve got to try and work out how you get that connection between the crowd and stage. But I’m so looking forward to it and I’m really excited about the set list as well.
You’ve got Sunflower Bean and Superfood going out on tour with you, was it difficult to choose who to take out with you?
It was actually, there was a few bands that I was quite up for taking out but like Superfood’s new album is amazing and I absolutely love it, so that was an easy choice; and they’re really close friends I see them all the time so taking them out on tour is a no brainer. But Sunflower Bean we were just so amazed they were actually up for doing it because they’re from America and you know, logistically it’s not the simplest thing to do. The fact that they’re actually up for it and doing it, I’m just blown away cause they’re one of my favourite bands.
Speaking of supports, you asked local bands to submit their music for a chance to support you on the small venue your you did a few months ago. Were there any stand out bands from that one?
There was a great band in Scotland called The Van T’s, they were really good. They played with us in Dundee, they’re from Glasgow but they’re really worth checking out, really strong and fun. There was loads of great bands actually, there was this really fun group of dudes from Pontypridd called Head Noise and they had a keytar, they were just really fun and I enjoyed them. They were absolutely bonkers and we’ve never played with a band like them before, so check them out as well.
Finally, can you describe what can we expect from the headline tour in three words?
Lots of noise.
Wolf Alice head out on their UK tour in November -
Wed 08 BRISTOL Academy
Thu 09 MANCHESTER Apollo
Sat 11 GLASGOW Barrowland
Sun 12 GLASGOW Barrowland
Mon 13 NEWCASTLE Academy
Wed 15 NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Thu 16 BIRMINGHAM Academy
Fri 17 NORWICH UEA
Sat 18 LEEDS Academy
Mon 20 BRIGHTON Dome
Tue 21 SOUTHAMPTON Guildhall
Fri 24 LONDON Alexandra Palace
Mon 27 BELFAST Ulster Hall
Tue 28 DUBLIN Olympia