Best of 2015
Rock? Indie? When you’ve had the year Wolf Alice have, genre boundaries don’t matter.
Words: Ali Shutler.
“Sometimes I feel like we’re having so many good things happen to us, that there’s some really shit karma on the way,” starts Theo Ellis. “We were just playing in America and everything was so great. It was such a good time, surely we’ve got something bad on the way.”
Since the release of ‘Fluffy’ back at the start of 2013, Wolf Alice haven’t put a foot wrong. Slowly but surely Joff Oddie, Joel Amey, Ellie Rowsell and Theo have crafted identity and voice. It’s what makes makes ‘My Love Is Cool’, their Mercury Prize nominated debut album, glitter so. Released in June of this year, it’s the gooey centre at the heart of Wolf Alice’s miraculous year. From their triumphant pre-album show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire through Glastonbury, Latitude, Reading, Leeds until the entirety of their two month, transatlantic headline tour with Drenge, it’s been a year of highlights.
While the world at large has only just started taking the scrappy four-piece seriously, they’ve meant business for ages now. “It felt very real to us for quite a while before. We put out those two EPs and we toured in support of them. It had already become everything we’re doing. Working towards the album had consumed all of our time for about a year before release. It’s definitely set us off in a new direction though.”
“Yeah, everything feels a bit up in the air before you release an album. It sort of cements you as a band,” adds Ellie.
From the moment of release ‘My Love Is Cool’ felt like something special. Narrowly losing out on a Number One slot thanks to Dave Grohl and his wafty leg / Florence + the Machine’s triumphant replacement, the album was embraced from the off. “I don’t think any of us really knew how it was going to be received. Before it was out we’d listen to it and I’d be like ‘I’m sure it’s really good, I’m proud of it’ and then other days we’d think ‘fuck, what if no one likes it,’ Theo explains.
The band may be “a soft 4.3” on the rock scale, but every aspect of them is real. The songs are genuine, the success, hard earned and the individuals just that. There hasn’t been a British band since the Spice Girls to capture that sense of personality but with Wolf Alice, it isn’t contrived. Or based on hair colour. (Sorry Theo.) That Bash Street Kid gang mentality is why every Wolf Alice show is filled with glittering warpaint.
“It’s what I really admired about certain bands when I was a kid, their identity was a part of you,” Theo explains. “People latch onto that. We’ve never had a silly meeting where we sit down and think ‘how can we make ourselves appear like a gang’. It’s important for young bands to have that atmosphere about them though. It’s exciting and it creates a community, it’s really cool.”
Despite the success and the success that Wolf Alice have earned this year, they’re refusing to get caught up in it. If they’re going to be successful, they’re going to do it their way. The band still worry ahead of TV appearances, the moments before a recent outing on Jools Holland was “the most nervous I’ve seen the band in a long, long time.”
Elsewhere the band has baulked the natural order of following a sold out show at Brixton Academy with either Alexandra Palace or Wembley Arena. “There was talk of doing something like that but it doesn’t feel quite right for us at the moment. Honestly, we don’t want to do it.” Instead, the band has booked a string of nights at The Forum. “It’s going to be cool. We’ve got plans and taking it over for several nights gives us loads of creative opportunities. It should be fun, or it might be a fucking terrible idea.”
The band, “don’t think we want to prove anything but we want to write a different record. We want to improve and develop. There are loads of things we want to do. I don’t think we need to prove ourselves by any means but we still have the hunger to create interesting stuff and do cool shit. That’s very eloquent, isn’t it?” he laughs. “We want to do cool shit.”
It’s a desire that’s taken them this far. Let it run.