Interview: Wolf Alice


Dominique Daly sits down with Theo Ellis of Wolf Alice to talk about anger, activism and isolation ahead of their show at Newcastle’s 02 Academy…

The new album ‘Visions of Life’ is due for release on 29th of September and is said to be ‘packed full of surprises’; what kind of surprises have Wolf Alice got in store with this second release?

Ah, I can’t tell you what they are because then no one will buy it. It’s a catch 22…There’s something for everyone unless you’re a horrible person, then there’s nothing for you there. Don’t buy our shit.

The comeback single ‘Yuck Foo’ really burst Wolf Alice back into the public consciousness like a raging ball of pent-up anger. Where does that anger come from?

I think it comes from, well, I don’t know. Where does anyone’s anger come from? It’s like your own personal sources of it, the constraints of your daily life if something’s pissed you off. It’s just like an anthem for anyone that’s annoyed by something. It’s like a big, long vent against being annoyed.

It seems a lot of people in the country are angry right now; angry about social issues, the possibility of impending nuclear doom and angry at the disappointment of seeing another term of conservative rule. Wolf Alice were very vocal about their support of Jeremy Corbyn, how are you guys feeling in the aftermath of the election now that the dust has somewhat settled?

It’s a bit of a shit field, isn’t it? I suppose there are silver linings, but there are also terrible things like this ‘coalition government’- the DUP and Teresa May- still in power. It’s conflicting. But also, there was a massive galvanisation of young people getting behind a socialist, left-wing leader and people feeling truly represented. And, you know, Labour won a bunch of seats and it was very exciting. So, it’s a bit of a conflicting time really, for everyone. I think people know that there is potentially some good change coming but we’re still in the midst of a lot of shit. So yeah, we feel conflicted, I suppose. But that doesn’t mean people should stop talking about stuff, it’s important we carry on the dialogue about what’s happening in people’s lives every day.

With that in mind, you’re partly responsible for arranging a charity gig called ‘Bands 4 Refugees’ where you played with Swim Deep and Spector in 2016. What’s next from Wolf Alice as ‘activist musicians’?

We have nothing planned at the moment because we are so personally busy with this album. But obviously, it’s not something that can necessarily stop because the refugee crisis doesn’t just go away because a couple of indie bands play a gig. It’s important that it (the dialogue) is sustained so we want to do something. We were thinking of doing something around Christmas, but our tour schedule at the moment is so, unbelievably unforgiving that we only have 14 days at home in like in like four months. So it’s a bit tricky for us at the moment, but we’re going to figure out something we can do…I don’t know if we’re ‘activists’, I feel a little bit guilty with that title. I could do a lot more.

I suppose it’s more than a lot of musicians, or even a lot of people, do. It’s good to see musicians out there talking about these issues when you have that platform. But i’ll stop examining your activist status for now…

The second single from the album, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ is a rousing shoegaze number and seems to take a different direction for the band, had you been listening and taking inspiration from other, classic, shoegaze artists when you came up with this one?

We’ve always listened to a lot of shoegaze generally. I mean, My Bloody Valentine is one of everyone’s constant reference points; I love the Jesus and Mary Chain and loads of other artists of that ilk. With ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ we were more referencing, quite directly, like, feelings rather than bands, which is a really weird way of writing a song and it sounds really pretentious what I’m saying. I don’t know how to describe it, we were trying to emulate the feeling of having your head out the window and driving really fast, stuff like that. We were thinking, ‘how do we make it sound like what it feels like when you’re running to see your favourite band at a festival?’. It’s quite hard to reference a feeling over bands, it’s like sonics. It’s quite an interesting way of working though.


You’ve spoken quite openly about the ‘weird comedown’ you experienced after the end of the last tour cycle, Ellie has said she returned feeling ‘isolated’. With that in mind, how are you feeling about getting back on the road and possibly, in turn, returning to that dark place in your minds?

I mean I think we’re all nervous about it. It’s a lot to do, you know. Obviously, it’s the most amazing thing in the world to be given the opportunity and to be put in the position that we’re in, it’s everything you ever dream of. But when you do tour that much, you know, to spend four months constantly playing a show, a different city, a different country – it’s intense for anyone. We’re nervous, but we’re embracing it, getting excited and what to play great shows. It’s a little bit conflicting but it’s exciting, to be honest, and we’re all pretty young so it’s not really a problem.

We’re expecting to see you play the Academy, Newcastle in November; can we expect any big changes to your onstage manner with everything you’ve now learnt from your first time around?

I think we’re still figuring that out at the moment. It will be a mix of new stuff and old stuff. It will be very much a Wolf Alice show, very high energy and very eclectic. We’re trying to figure out how to make it more unique, but I can’t really figure that out until we’ve done that.

Lastly, we always love some hot tips for new music; what new bands are you listening to right now?

There’s a group called The 404 Guild that I love, from South London and then there’s a band called Vinyl Staircase who I really love. And, um, oh yeah! I like the new Happy Meals Ltd stuff too.


Wolf Alice play Newcastles 02 Academy on 13th November, tickets are still available…


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