Formed of equal parts pop, grunge and indie, London’s Wolf Alice command an adoring fanbase with their righteous ethics and intense vibes. Vibes best experienced in the maelstrom of a sweaty gig, as 50% of the band – singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell and drummer Joel Amey – tell Carl Marsh.
Listening to your new album Blue Weekend [reviewed by Buzz here], and comparing it to its predecessor, 2017’s Visions Of A Life, the lyrics have a greater sense of maturity to them now, I felt.
Ellie Rowsell: Yeah, I wanted it to sound better. And good. So yeah.
Joel Amey: My housemate said that to me yesterday; he said something like, “I love how mature it is and how it feels like a progression, without veering off wildly in a different direction.” It’s an extension of us as songwriters from previous albums.
Halfway through the album, my speakers were nearly blown by track seven, Play The Greatest Hits. I didn’t expect that based on the previous six! It seems to me that you put loads of thought into the track positioning.
Ellie: I feel like we did spend quite a lot of time deliberating the tracklist. For me, that song does come a bit out of nowhere – but it also kind of matches the theme of that song lyrically, a wild night out: “if the fast life is fast, then why does it creep?” And then you’ve got more subdued, pensive songs afterwards – almost as if, like, you go out, then have a hangover, and overthink everything you’ve just done. So even though, dynamically, [the tracklisting] might jump up and down a bit, it is all very thought out.
The band went to an Airbnb as part of Blue Weekend’s creative process – or was it more to hang out together as friends? After Visions Of A Life, it seemed as if you guys were constantly touring for a couple of years.
Joel: It wasn’t to write all the music, but it was kind of us getting back into the swing of things. We had a bit of time off from the last shows we played before we started writing. It was just a nice excuse to go away somewhere pretty and hang out with each other – and we set our instruments up in the house. It was a fun little getaway to kickstart the process.
We’re not one of these bands that jams the next album out in soundchecks and then puts it out as soon as we get back. You have to go and live a bit and let life happen to you before Wolf Alice ends up with more songs.
Touring will be starting up again soon, fingers crossed! Wolf Alice is meant to be experienced live – a home system can’t replicate that. Unforeseen times like this must be doing your heads in…
Joel: There isn’t anything really like it when you come off from a good gig – the audience and band working together for the end result to be really good, you know? We always go on tour and think, “oh, we need to write a really fast type of punk album for the next one!” but then tend to finish the tour all sleepy, then write beautiful music, then have to go back on tour again… [laughs]
We spend so much time on the road – more time than we want to. We also spend a lot of time in studios, but we’ve been lucky to tour the world and meet great people whilst doing it.
How do you cope with all that touring? Travelling so frequently and living in different hotel rooms from such an early age must have negatively affected the band at times.
Ellie: I don’t know if this is lucky or unlucky, but as we’ve done it from when we were pretty young, we don’t really know anything else! Your early twenties are really formative years; it’s almost like I don’t know how else to be an adult other than an adult on the road. So it probably has had some negative impact, but I don’t know what because I’ve never really had an adult life before it…
Joel: I guess you’d have to see the parallel version of you in a different dimension that never went on tour. I’d probably see how much better shape I’m in, with fewer wrinkles!
Wolf Alice’s Blue Weekend is out now via Dirty Hit. Info: www.wolfalice.co.uk
words CARL MARSH photos JORDAN HEMINGWAY