Interview: Wolf Alice

Sorley McLean sat down with Wolf Alice at their most recent Glasgow gig to talk about South by Southwest, Glasgow venues, and their favourite up-and-coming bands.

So this is your first UK gig back from your US tour, what was the experience like out there?

Ellie Rowsell – Singer/Guitarist: It was amazing! It was our first full length tour there and I guess I didn’t really expect so many people there to come out and see us. It was a good adventure.

Theo Ellis – Bassist: We got back yesterday at about seven in the morning so we might fall asleep onstage.


You played five shows in three days at SxSW as a part of that tour, that must have been crazy!

Joel Amey – Drummer: As soon as you finish you have to dart from one room to another, load in and set up again. We had it kind of easy compared to what some bands put themselves through.


Which show did you feel you had the best reception?

Theo: The very last show we played was at a venue called The Mohawk, and yeah it was just great. I so didn’t think that that was gunna happen in our last show but the vibe was just amazing and it was in a tiny little fucking room, really sweaty and really fun. The crowd was so good and there was really good energy and it was such a nice way to end the festival, and it was the end of our whole tour too.


The last time you were in the UK, you were supporting Alt-J right?

Theo: Oh yeah you’re right! At the O2 (Arena London).

Ellie: Yeah… Oh no! We played a little competition show.

Theo: Ohhhhh yeah…

Ellie: It was in North London. You could win tickets through Converse, it was in a 100 cap room.


That must have been very different from the Alt-J gig.

Joel: I don’t think it could be more different!


The O2 Arena must have been the biggest venue you have played so far.

Theo: Yeah that’s the biggest place we’ve ever played. It was fucking massive.


How does the O2 compare with smaller venues? Do you prefer smaller venues?

Theo: We’re not at Alt-J level, they’ve got two albums under their belt. At the moment I feel this size of room is really suited to where we’re at as a band, and obviously you want to surpass that someday, but yeah this is more suited to us right now.

Joel: It is quite funny though when you think about it, playing to thousands of people when we’re not used to it. Like, we would play to about 20 people not long ago and now we’ve just played to 20,000 people. But I don’t feel like we need to rush that stuff, this size is good for us.

Coming back to Glasgow, we’re in Oran Mor right now. Have you played here before?

Theo: Yeah, we supported Swim Deep here.

Oh really? That tour was the first time I ever saw you, in Leeds! Circa Waves were on that tour too right?

Joel: Yeah they were and nobody knew their name or something.

Ellie: They wouldn’t announce their name.


I remember I had to shout at them in The Cockpit (Leeds music venue) “what’s your name?!!” after like every song. It was getting me vexed. 


Ellie: Why wouldn’t they tell people their name?

Theo: It was fucking bollocks!

Joel: That was a great gig, it was really fun.


Unfortunately The Cockpit is closed down now.

Theo: I loved The Cockpit so much I have so many great memories of the Swim Deep tour… Oh wait, that was the Swim Deep tour! Oh no I’m talking about Live at Leeds, the first time we played there.

Joel: I remember when we saw Peace at Live at Leeds, at that venue, and we were like “they’re the best band we’ve ever seen!”


That was one of the most unreal live performances I have ever seen.

Theo: Peace were fucking amazing weren’t they?

Joel: Such a shame, is it going to be another venue or is it shut down?


It is shut down.

Joel: What’s the point?!


I think it is something to do with maintenance. To be fair the venue is underneath a train bridge, so I do not think I would risk it if they think the building is a bit dodgy!

Joel: I’d be the first one to complain if a train fell on me.


A huge shame… But back to Glasgow! Do you have a favourite venue in Glasgow?

Theo: Probably here (Oran Mor).

Ellie: Well King Tuts is really nice. It’s supposed to be a legendary venue so that’s quite cool.


Does it feel special to play at King Tuts?

Ellie: Yeah quite a lot. When people are talking about it and you’ve seen what bands have played it and stuff, you feel lucky to be part of the history, you know?

Theo: It’s where Oasis got signed isn’t it? Apparently they played I Am The Walrus and that was apparently why they got signed. They do a fucking awesome cover of that song. King Tuts has a stage at T in the Park as well doesn’t it?


Yes it does. What do you make of T in the Park?

Ellie: It was fun.

Joel: I’ve found there’s always an extreme bunch of dudes who always seem to be there. Scottish crowds are so much fun.


Looking at some past setlists, you never seem to play Wednesday live. Is there a particular reason behind this?

Ellie: Well it was written before we were a band. We have played it live before in different forms. But it’s not on our album and it’s not on any of our EPs.


What is the song about?

Ellie: It’s not really about anything it’s more like just a stream of consciousness, you know? I don’t even know if I would remember the lyrics. It’s not relevant, but maybe it will come back one day.

Joel: There’s a guy who always asks about it, we can finally play it to him. He comes to like every gig for ages and always asks us-

Theo: Play Wednesday!

Joel: It wasn’t going to happen then it’s not going to happen now.


When playing live, do you try to recreate your studio sound the best you can or do you want it to sound different?

Theo: Sometimes in the studio you explore different avenues so much you can’t actually emulate exactly what you’ve recorded live. We’ve had that problem and so we’ve tried to treat live as a bit of a separate entity. If you do sound like you do on the record I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either.

Joel: It depends who you are.

Wrapping up, are there any small bands you think people should be looking out for at the moment?

Theo: Both Crows and The Magic Gang who are both supporting us tonight! Also there’s a band we’re friends with called Our Girl from Brighton, really good.

Ellie: Sunflower Bean, from New York.

Joel: They’re getting bigger, but the band Girl Pool are really cool. They’ve got something really unusual about them which I’m quite liking, quite B-52s quite punky I like it.


I can not wait to hear your new song Giant Peach tonight, but what is your favorite song to play live?

Theo: I reckon tonight that one might be the favourite one.

Ellie: Yeah I’m quite excited to play that to people who will know it.

Theo: We haven’t played that since it’s been out. This is the first UK time we’ve played that song. People will know it now. So if this time there’s not a fucking circle pit then… (collective giggle)

[Sorley Mclean – @SorleyMclean]

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