Wolf Alice: ‘We have no filter, we’re a whore for gigs’

PUBLISHED: 10:53 19 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:53 19 November 2015

Wolf Alice. Picture: Jenn Five

Wolf Alice. Picture: Jenn Five

Copyrighted by Jenn Five

Ahead of the Mercury Awards, the north London group talk to Alex Bellotti about their early days, recent success and adapting to a digital age.

Of all the 2015 Mercury Prize nominees, Wolf Alice are quite possibly the most hyped, and for a number of reasons.

The most predominant, of course, is that their music simply deserves it: every song on their debut record, Your Love Is Cool, cuts slices from the cloth of ‘90s shoegaze and folk, sidestepping pastiche by the way of consistently infectious melodies.

Beneath that though is the fact that they are tremendously hard working – as drummer Joel Amey elegantly puts it, “we have no filter – we’re literally a whore for gigs”. You get the sense this also extends to the publicity circuit; when we speak, Holloway resident and lead singer Ellie Rowsell in particular sounds exhausted, the likely fatigue from carrying out dozens of interviews a day.

Nonetheless, the band – consisting of Rowsell, Amey, Joff Oddie (guitar) and Theo Ellis (bass) – are delighted with the extra recognition they’ve received from the Mercury shortlist.

“I think we’ve been away for so long that we haven’t had a chance to check [record sales], but it’s all been very exciting and we’re really pumped to be involved,” says Ellie.

“Definitely,” adds Oddie. “It’s really nice to be acknowledged and it kind of validates you, tips the hat towards the hard work you’ve been doing all year. Whatever happens, we’re really happy to just be on that list.”

Wolf Alice began in 2010 as an acoustic act between Rowsell and Oddie, and as Amey and Ellis joined, Camden became the breeding ground for their progressively heavier, grungey sound.

As Finchley-raised Ellis explains, their willingness to play any show without hesitation means that every stage of the band’s development is online for all to see.

“You can very much see our formulative Bambi-like stages on YouTube of us just being really s*** at playing our instruments. I think it’s really benefited us as a band, we cut our teeth just playing lots and lots of gigs, as many as we could, and we never had any preconceptions about whether a show’s not cool enough to do. If we got offered a gig, we just played it and that’s really how we found ourselves as a live act, and in the studio as well.”

Alongside the live circuit, however, the internet has also been integral to their success. As part of the ‘digital native’ generation, the group knew they had to put their music out there, and once the bloggersphere took notice, it was only a matter of time before they were signed by Dirty Hit Records.

“I think a lot of blogs just post about what other blogs have,” Ellis continues.

“So you only need to get on, what, about four core blogs and then you’re on 20 by the end of the week. Which is great, because it’s essentially like a network of journalists who just write for themselves, but then if you’re a tastemaker like Gorilla vs. Bear (once called ‘the New Yorker of hipster blogs’) or whatever, then you’ll produce fans through this electronic word of mouth system.

“Now, you don’t have to tour for six months around the country because there are probably six blogs that can do that work for you. Which is good and bad – you can hear a band on SoundCloud, but when you see them live discover they’re f***ing s***.”

Having conquered audiences nation-wide following appearances on Jools Holland and Radio 1 live lounge, there’s little chance of Wolf Alice falling into the same category. It only adds to the anticipation for their March shows at the Kentish Town Forum; whether they will arrive there as Mercury Prize winners will be known by the end of the awards ceremony tomorrow.

Visit wolfalice.co.uk

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