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Wolf Alice Interview
After publishing several EPs, 2015 was the year in which their ever so fondly growing fanbase finally saw the release of Wolf Alice’s full album-length debut, My Love Is Cool. The four-piece, who hail from North London, might probably have surprised shallow critics claiming they were just some 90s revival band by providing a very diverse long-player, featuring such songs that master the balancing act between haunting beauty (Turn To Dust), a poppy attitude (Freazy) and good old rock (Giant Peach). Now being nominated for several awards (e.g. a Brit Award and a couple of NME Awards, to name a few), Wolf Alice have certainly reached a crossroads in their career that might catapult them into the centre of even more attention. While in Cologne, Joff Oddie (guitar) gave an insight into what he and his bandmates Ellie Rowsell (vocals, guitar), Theo Ellis (bass) and Joel Amey (drums) have been up to lately.You’ve had some quite successful months recently, for example being nominated for several awards. Is there maybe one award that you personally are very excited about?I don’t think one more than the other, really. It’s all just very flattering, to be nominated for those kind of things. I don’t think one of them is the most important thing at all, do you know what I mean? It’s nice to be recognized, I think.The name of your band, as far as I know, was inspired by a short story by Angela Carter. Was it just the sound of the words that you found interesting, or was there something about the story in particular that fascinated you?I think, initially with the name, it was for some kind of romantic reason. We thought the words looked nice and sounded nice. Then, afterwards, we kind of got more… I’m sure there’s some kind of similarities somewhere there. It’s a very angsty story, I think.Reading the lyrics while I was listening to the record at some points I thought that the imagery of the story had slipped into your lyrics. So I had the impression that it might have been important to you for some reason, for example there’s “wolves” and “licking wounds” and a “feral child” in your lyrics, which definitely reminded me of the story.I wouldn’t say those are direct references to the story. I think they’re maybe just metaphors that we like, if you know what I mean, this anthropomorphic kind of thing. Quite interesting, I guess. Maybe it’s linked, though, subconsciously.I think the album is very balanced, thinking both about lyrics and music. With some albums it’s often basically one song about love after the other, but your debut also features topics of friendship and anxiety. Do you ever think about the overall impression when you put music together?This one wasn’t written with that kind of mindset, if you know what I mean. It’s the first record literally, a collection of very good songs, I think it might come into play. When you start doing a second one, I can’t say that’s something we’ve thought of. Yeah, I agree with you, an album with only love songs is bollocks.So you haven’t had to stop yourself going “Oh no, not another love song!” yet?(laughs) No, that’s not a problem we’ve had.To what degree would you say has London influenced you while making the album?I mean, yeah, of course, where you’re from and where you work has an effect on you and on what you do, on a more subconscious level though. I wouldn’t be able to break it down and say “This influenced us this or that way”. It’s a very hard one to explain, I think. But yeah, of course.Would you for example consider somewhere else for a second album? To get new impressions or to, you know, be away from family and friends?Maybe… I think the bunk of writing where material comes from is done well before you go into the studio, so the studio is almost like the kind of finishing place, in terms of a place affecting the output of what you’re doing. This studio didn’t do too much, I don’t think, obviously on some level, but not drastically. I think it’s more of a writing thing.Would you consider going somewhere else in order to write new songs then? I mean, some bands just go and live, I don’t know, in Berlin for half a year and then write new songs there…(laughs) I’d love to have the luxury of having half a year to go to Berlin. But that’s not really the case… But yeah, we definitely have a couple of options now, a couple of out of London, out of the UK. Obviously, I can’t really say yet, but we’ll go wherever is right and make the best of it. We’re not so stuck in our ways that we have to do it in London.Well, I had a look at a couple of your videos and I think most of them represent the idea that you neither take yourselves nor the music industry too seriously, which I find very sympathetic…(laughs)… and that you basically want to have fun shooting your videos. Were they actually fun to make?I mean, some of them are more hard work than others. The You’re A Germ video, that was like one 20-hour day. So that was quite intense, but it was fun. I mean, if you’re going to have to do a music video, I don’t want to spend it standing around and trying to look cool for ten hours (laughs) for something that looks bit shit. I’d much rather do something that we can have fun with, have a laugh…… like dressing up as women and entering a dancing competition.Exactly! (laughs) We just wanna have a laugh. I think it might be very depressing trying to be as cool as possible for about 20 hours.And play the song over and over again for so many hours…Oh, you have to do that no matter what, but we’d rather do it wearing girls’ clothes. (laughs)And do the choreography!(laughs) Exactly!So is there anything, any idea that you would like to integrate into a future video? Something you’ve always wanted to do or that’s fun? I don’t know, like you’ve always wanted to dress up as a pirate or I don’t know what…(laughs) A pirate! Erm, I don’t know… I think skydiving might be quite cool.Skydiving? Okay…Yeah, I reckon it might be hard integrating skydiving into our video, that’d be pretty sick…And play your instruments while skydiving?Yeah, a bit tricky, but we might make it work…You’ve made some cover versions of different songs, one of them for example Roar by Katy Perry, or a version of Wicked Game. Is there maybe a song that you personally would like to cover, something you feel that needs to be covered by Wolf Alice?I don’t know, really. Not massively. Covers are… We played Wicked Game a lot, because we felt that was a nice song and that kind of worked nicely. So that was maybe our attempt of covering. A lot of the other ones are completely forced. (laughs)Oh, really?Made to do, made to do… Someone comes and says “Oh, you need to do this, you need to do a cover” and you’d go “Fuck!”Oh no! And I've always loved it when bands I like cover some silly pop song, but if you're made to do it?Well, yeah. (laughs) That’s the end of being fun.Okay, I could possibly skip my next question then, but I’ll ask anyway: Could you think of covering a whole album, like for example Ryan Adams did with Taylor Swift’s 1989?Hm… Some great album that would be good to cover… (thinks) I would really like to cover The Velvet Underground and Nico, that would be great. And Joel could be Lou Reed and Ellie could be Nico. (laughs) That would be a laugh.Very different kind of voices, yeah, that’d be interesting.Yeah, definitely. Well, Joel could be Nico and Ellie could be Lou Reed. And I could be Andy Warhol… (laughs)Yeah, maybe try the Andy Warhol wig for the next video!
Wolf Alice Interview