I’m not sure there are two genres that rest on more polar ends of the musical spectrum than folk and grunge. However, such duality has become the calling card of British rockers Wolf Alice. With their debut album, My Love Is Cool, set to be released on June 22 and tours around the world booked, Wolf Alice have ruptured onto the global rock music scene with sudden force and animated hype.
Speaking with drummer Joel Amey, Wolf Alice seem perfectly in control of how their meteoric rise has been orchestrated, and how they intend to go even further in the future.
Wolf Alice originally began as a two-piece folk duo between lead singer Ellie Rowsell and guitarist Joff Oddie. By the time their first EP, Blush, was released in 2013, Wolf Alice had expanded to a four piece with a fully fleshed folk-pop sound. With Blush, Wolf Alice was the single most blogged about band in the UK in 2013.
The band switched things up with their second EP, Creature Songs, with the move to ‘a thrashy demonic sound’, as described by Amey. Such moves would usually resonate to outsiders as markers of inner confusion and restlessness, yet, according to Amey, Wolf Alice proudly displays Creature Songs as a ‘progression of who we were at that time.'
Creature Songs afforded Wolf Alice their big break on the international scene with lead single ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’. The hit song was instantly adored across the world for its 90s throwback sound and progressively explosive chorus.
The song also brought increasing attention from media outlets in anticipation of a debut album. Wolf Alice would ‘never change the song writing to appease media outlets,' states Amey, but they are ‘equally aware that people are taking note of what [they’re] doing’ and are viewing the pressure as 'excitement to give it 150 per cent.'
If there has been one drawback from the popularity of ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ it's that Wolf Alice have been pigeonholed by music outlets as a grunge act. ‘I have no problem with grunge,’ explains Amey, admitting he can ‘see where the comparison comes from.'
However, it’s the suffocation of being trapped in one genre that bothers Wolf Alice. While My Love Is Cool contains some grunge elements, 'it's not a grunge record,' says Amey, and the band is ‘not as one-dimensional' as these labels make them out to be.
That being said, it was an interesting move by Wolf Alice to release 'Giant Peach' as the lead single from the new album, a similarly heavy and volatile track. I was left wondering why they chose to release another grunge-esque track if they were so hesitant about mislabelling from music outlets, but, according to Amey, ‘it was the song we liked the most, and was the best representation of the band.'
Fair enough. It’s a great track, and releasing such a song stays true to the Wolf Alice methodology of not altering their recipe to the tune of media expectations.
That attitude follows true in My Love Is Cool. Amey feels that the new album is a mixture of the two EPs and definitely a representation of what the band feels to be their ‘best collection of songs’. My Love Is Cool also features re-recordings of previous Wolf Alice singles ‘Bros’ and ‘Fluffy’, a choice that Amey is sure ‘will piss people off’ but which they feel was justified.
‘It’s what felt right for the time and for the album,' he says. Wolf Alice are not looking to ‘create the most polished album’ but rather to amass a body of work that leaves fans tingling with its raw energy and raucous sound.
It seems Wolf Alice aren’t fussed with the supposed decline of guitar music. If anything, they're a symbol of the genre’s vitality. ‘Guitar music hasn’t gone anywhere and it never fucking will,' declares Amey, who believes that guitar music doesn’t ‘need to be selling out stadiums to be healthy’ and alive.
‘There’s always going to some kid who wants to pick up a guitar and play chords and sing about how he hates a girl, or a girl who is going to sing about how boys are shit.’
Indeed, to describe something as 'over' or dead is merely to ‘sensationalise not looking for things,' muses Amey, especially when there ‘is so much space for it all to exist.' For Wolf Alice, ‘there is so much happening that no one can possibly know all about; you just got to look for it.'
Luckily for us, it will be very easy to look for Wolf Alice in the future. The band is excited to be making the trek down to Australia for Splendour in the Grass and a slog of sideshows across the country.
Wolf Alice promise they are going to ‘grab attention’ at Splendour. 'There's a million things everyone could be doing, so we are going to turn everything as loud as we can, show the crowd how happy we are to be there and fucking blast it,’ exclaims Amey.
Playing alongside the likes of Blur, Florence and the Machine and Tame Impala, who Amey believes ‘are the best fucking band of the last ten years', Wolf Alice only want us to know one thing: they are 'going to have the best time.'
They're here to make an impression, and that’s really all you need to know to check them out.
Wolf Alice are playing the following Australian dates:
The Corner Hotel – July 23
Oxford Art Factory – July 24
Splendour in the Grass – July 26
Wolf Alice’s debut album My Love Is Cool is out on June 22.
Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.