Rarely is “the next big thing,” an act actually worth getting excited about (Kate Nash is sort of the last example to come to mind…)… However, London quartet Wolf Alice are very worth getting excited about… The band have spent the year on the road, wowing festival audiences, blowing up Conan O’Brien, and demanding the attention of the likes of NME and Pitchfork, who are both huge fans (This February they kicked off their first-ever US tour at our very own exceptionally intimate Boot & Saddle, with a show I suspect attendees will be discussing for a decade to come.) Wolf Alice released their debut LP, My Love Is Cool, this June. Their music has been garnering a plethora of comparisons to ‘90s alt rock outfits, which is… well… accurate, but while the most frequent names dropped are Elastica, Hole, and Ms. Polly Jean, I really think that their sound, which they’ve described as “rocky pop,” is really more along the lines of the post-grunge bubblegum badassery of Veruca Salt. Wolf Alice, led by guitarist/vocalist Ellie Rowsell, who nearly matches the chops of Nina Gordon and Louise Post, are currently on another US tour, which will have them headlining the Trocadero this Wednesday, September 30th. I recently got the chance to chat with drummer Joel Amey, who told me all about what it’s been like to be a part of possibly this generation’s most credible, young, jet-setting musical rebels.
Izzy Cihak: So Wolf Alice is still a relatively new band, but you’ve already achieved a lot, from some pretty rave reviews to playing on some amazingly big and cool bills. For you, what have been some of the highlights of Wolf Alice so far?
Joel Amey: Wow, so many. For us, just getting the chance to get to the USA and actually have people turn up to the shows blows our minds. We’ve travelled to places we only dreamt of and had so much fun along the way. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the excitement of knowing we were actually going to America for the first time, and it’s never let us down.
Izzy: Have you noticed any patterns in the kinds of people who seem to “best get” or most like your work?
Joel: Not so much. I think the age differences and the range of people coming to our shows are what’s so amazing; it’s cool to watch all the kids dance away at the front while some of the older fans (who have all most likely seen my favourite bands first time round) chill at the sides. We feel very humbled to see so many different people from different walks of life at the shows.
Izzy: And how would you characterize your process of writing and recording together, if there even is a particular “process?”
Joel: I don’t really feel like we have one really. We’re still super loose, firing demos over to each other whenever we can, forever writing, and we’re just excited whenever we get into the studio. Everyone brings a certain something to the table, and it’s always a massive learning experience for us to spend time in a proper studio.
Izzy: At the moment, what would you consider to be your most significant influences, whether relating to music, other art forms, or just aspects of the human experience that inspire you?
Joel: There’s so many factors that have influenced what we’ve put out so far; everything from distortion pedals to films we’ve watched, even down to our initial naivety which, looking back, brought out elements to songs by accident. Currently I’m digging this band called Wand; amazing riffs, production and drumming. Also this older Siouxsie and the Banshees record called The Rapture; the title song is one of the most grueling and powerful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It’s really hit me of late. I’m really enjoying writing on tour at the moment; staring out the window across America sort of changed me, without getting too soppy about it, and I’d like to think a little something from those journeys will find themselves into what comes next.
Izzy: So this is a personal question, but you’ve been compared to Elastica, who I think are just like one of the 20 greatest bands of all-time: Are you a fan of Justine Frischmann and co. and, if so, any particular favorite works of theirs? (One of my proudest live shows of all-time is getting to go to their like fourth-to-last show ever back in 2000 at the 9:30 Club.)
Joel: The only reason I really know of Elastica is because one of their tunes was the intro music to an amazing English TV show called Trigger Happy TV when I was younger. Big riff. Other than that I’ve not delved into their back catalogue that much, but I keep meaning to. When we started off there were so many comparisons flying about it was hard to keep up… everyone seemed to know a new 90’s era, female-fronted band for us to be compared to, which was kinda weird ‘cause we had genuinely never heard many of them before. I’ve actually found myself discovering new music from seeing people write about bands they presume we’re influenced by.
Izzy: You’re going to be here this week playing in the states, so I’m curious what can be expected of your live show? It’s sort of already gained a reputation for being pretty incredible.
Joel: The show we’re touring at the moment is very reflective of the album; we’re playing every song, plus some of our faves from our other releases. We’ve literally just finished up our UK tour and the reactions from all the crowds totally blew us away, so we’re so excited to see what happens when we get over to you guys!
Izzy: Are there any cities you’re especially excited to get to visit and play?
Joel: So many. Washington is home to some of my favourite bands, from Bad Brains and Fugazi, etc., so to be playing a sold out show there blows my mind. We’re pumped to go everywhere, especially Philly, where we always have the best time and is where we played our first ever USA tour show earlier this year; fond memories indeed.
Izzy: And what’s next for you? What are your most significant plans for the remainder of 2015 and the first part of 2016?
Joel: Touring! We love playing live shows, and we feel like we’re only just getting started showcasing the album. All of us are writing at the moment, so while nothing is set in stone what so ever, it’s nice to be getting creative again and seeing where everyone’s heads are going next. Looking forward to Philly, hope to see you all there!!