In The Middle with Wolf Alice
Suffice to say, Wolf Alice have had a whirlwind of a year. The hype surrounding the release of their debut album My Love Is Cool catapulted them from being the shy kids at the back to the forefront of the British indie scene. They started making waves in the music industry with the release of their early EPs, but it was My Love Is Cool that demonstrated their versatility and raw potential.
Joff Oddie, guitarist and one of the founding members of the band, is not unaware of how surreal the whole experience has been. On the reaction to their album release, he says, “it just kind of went to fuck.”
“Glastonbury week was a big week for us. It was the album release, and we got the news on the Sunday. We spent the beginning part of the week in LA; we played a show in LA and we played the Conan show. So we had to make it back to London, feeling jetlagged and weird, kind of got on the bus to go down to Glastonbury, played two really fun shows, and have the album come out.”
He says this very casually, downplaying the importance of it all. This humility is even more noticeable when talking about Wolf Alice’s presence in the British indie scene. When asked if he feels that Wolf Alice is spearheading the British indie scene, Joff brushes this off, saying, “I don’t think we are, really. I think the indie scene’s a kind of organism in itself. I wouldn’t dare to say that we’re spearheading anything, really. We’re just doing our own thing. And other people are doing their own things as well, so.”
Joff notes particularly the camaraderie of the current scene, joking that “everyone’s human I think there’s a certain level of competitiveness, but it’s all very sporting.” He says that “everyone is very supportive. We’ve yet to go on tour with a band where we haven’t ended up going away and going ‘Aw they’re nice’. Which is pleasant.”
Wolf Alice also do their fair share when it comes to helping out other bands. Just as Swim Deep’s Austin Williams urged their crowd at Glastonbury to go and buy My Love Is Cool, Joff names Drenge’s second album, Undertow, as his favourite record of 2015. “I think they took that into a really cool place. It’s really dark and it’s great. And they’re obviously an incredible live band as well.”
The evolution of the band itself feels like a stroke of pure luck. The originals bassist and drummer went to nursing college and broke their arm respectively, so replacements had to be found. “Those replacements were Theo and Joel,” Joff admits. “It was through our manager at the time, who was a friend of ours, and a friend of Theo and Joel’s as well. And it stuck.”
Joff says that even in those early days, they had a clear idea of what they wanted to do. “We started to kind of fiddle around a little bit then. That was kind of more towards what’s going on now, in that electric vein.” Although the soft and breezy vibe of early songs like ‘Blush’ seem a world away from the swelling rock of ‘Giant Peach’, traces of their origins can be seen in tracks like the lilting beauty of ‘Swallowtail’.
This can be put down, at least in part, to their off-the-cuff writing process. “We’re fairly lucky in that technology is fairly good now. I do a lot of my demos just on my mobile, on GarageBand. You can plug your guitar in and you’re away.”
“We’re kind of figuring out how is best to do it, especially when we’re on the road so much, so we’re kind of learning how to do that now. I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, on the second record, so we’ll find out if we’re rubbish at it.”
Wolf Alice already feel like such a staple band who take fame in their stride, but it’s a sign of how well they have managed to mask their fumbles. In reality, they are exactly the same as the shoegazing, dedicated, dream-chasing adolescent following that they have accrued over the years.
Wolf Alice really are just like every other teenager who ever dreamed of being in a band. Joff acknowledges this, saying their influences are “just the fucking typical ones. I guess we could say things like Queens of the Stone Age, Velvet Underground…” From these influences, Wolf Alice have undoubtedly been inducted into the most complementary hall of fame in existence: an admiring poster on the wall of a teenager’s bedroom.
Looking forward to what the future has to offer, Joff says that “we’re all really excited about the great unknown, really. What the record is gonna sound like. It’s kind of exciting and terrifying.” In terms of new material, Joff talks about “putting this album behind us and focusing on the new stuff. We’ve been playing these songs off the record a lot, [but] we’re fairly comfortable with where we are.”
For all those thirsting for a new Wolf Alice record already, Joff quips that “My Love is Cool 2” is in the pipeline. “We’ve started to trade ideas and play tunes.”
In an industry intent on pushing bands to their limit, Wolf Alice still possess that wide-eyed freshness that resists manipulation. Every experience is another string to their bow, from playing Glastonbury to DJ-ing at Leeds’ beloved Wire. With the excitability of small puppies, combined with a healthy dose of British cynicism, they will continue on their own terms, at their own pace, with guaranteed quality.