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Interview: Wolf Alice


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Everything’s gone dark again. Disney has been lashed with tinges of the Brothers Grimm. Gothic tales act once more as cautions for our children. Mystical worlds have smoky dangers around every corner. The sugar-coating has bubbled and melted into the ground, as truths are revealed.

Angela Carter penned a short story about Wolf Alice, a girl raised by wolves. 'Nothing about her is human except that she is not a wolf.'

The coming of age story is one that resides comfortably with the North London band named after the child. We sat down with drummer, Joel Amey, and guitarist, Joff Oddie.

“For me we've grown into the name,” Joel explains.

“I get it. You know? The feral attitude and even the fact that it's from a book of short stories, I kind of see the album as having short stories on it.”

Approaching its first birthday, Wolf Alice’s debut album My Love Is Cool, has gathered wide spread acclaim. It enchanted all of the Brit, Mercury and Grammy awards and racked up nominations.

Introducing characters like the rebellious girl with a boyfriend who’s in a band, and the cool guy who’s actually a germ. “Certain characters that pop up are warped versions or more dramatised versions of people that we know. It's artistic license, we can say what we want really,” says Joel.

Seeking protectors and heavenly creatures, the full length pleads not to be left alone and turned to dust. Lead lyricist and front-woman, Ellie Rowsell, expresses fear of losing her best friend when they’re no longer ‘raised by wolves and other beasts’ before brushing herself down as a china doll and flashing her teeth. Waving goodbye to past lovers.

 With the “license to actually blur the lines from reality a bit” the sense of teenager runs wild, from delicate whispers to unleashed anger. Wistful insights meet heartache, the angelic and the demonic.

Attached to the emotions that come with growing up, they howl at the shiny, full moon. Wolf Alice make their “own kind of truths, a lot of them are a little bit from experiences, a little bit of fantasy.” Recalling sitting in the cinema as kids, both Joel and Joff “remember the first scene in that Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I remember being in the cinema and finding that absolutely traumatic as a child.”

It’s these fears that are set free by their music, bottled with the same anxiety and tribulations of reaching adulthood.

“I’ve probably learned more from the dumb stuff I’ve done since I was thirteen than if I didn’t do it,” Joel laughs. “Now I should probably do some exercise, and do more dumb stuff.”

Whilst Joff exclaims that if he were in a fairy tale he’d be “a smelly fox that finds out that you don't drink the brown water.” Before a gleam in his eyes twinkles as he finishes “take risks!”

Inspired by being handed sixteen-year-old Ronnie Wood’s diary by a guy at a session in America, Joel confesses that he “tried writing a diary one” before giggling “but it was fucking boring!”

“Ronnie’s a really good artist, he had these amazing pencil sketches that he had scanned in. It was more like a collection of memories.”

Joel wanted to write about driving into Washington whilst listening to Fugazi, and Minneapolis listening to The Replacements, about missing the creature comforts of home and a good brew. Though it didn’t last many entries, “Day three, I hate you diary.”

Remedying fiery guitar and soulful vocals, magic ignites like a bubbling potion of energy that bursts off the record and onto the stage. Their haunted lullabies spark from glittered faces in the crowd and captures them with killer hooks.

“I realised that I don't have to play it as the record every night. Just live in that moment for that song each night,” Joff says, paying a particular nod to fan favourite, 'Your Loves Whore'.

As leaders of the pack, Wolf Alice stand tall with frenzied playing and bare all with purity. Viewers lap it up, enchanted and eating out of the palms of their hands.

“I’m in a good place with the songs, I really enjoy all of the tracks. If we recorded some of the songs now then there'd definitely be some textural difference. It's a weird one, the longer you play a song then the more comfortable you get and the more space you have to work around them in a musical point of view.”

“Once we finish the touring, I think I'll look back and see what the album has achieved and accept it more. We hear it every day, but it'll seem mad when I'm sat in my pants watching Netflix.”

This is the thing with Wolf Alice, their influences are fiction, their world in parallel to our own.

They cannot be defined, cannot be put in a box, as they’ll find a way out and remove all trace.

Wolf Alice is a bubble that can’t be explained to a taxi driver, and only experienced through belief with no questions asked. It is what it is.

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