‘Fuck Taylor Swift’: an interview with Wolf Alice

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I caught up with North London-based pop rock four-piece Wolf Alice. The band are on the rise to stardom, with around 30,000 likes on Facebook and having graced the front cover of NME multiple times. We talked Taylor Swift, Glastonbury, and the band gave me their advice for student musicians.

Hi guys, how’s it going?

Joel [drums]: Very well, thank you.

Had sound check already?

Ellie [lead vocals and guitar]: Yeah.

Sounded good?

Joel: It was sick, it’s a good venue.

What can we expect from your live shows?

Ellie: I think we try to keep it energetic. We try to make it more performative with a cover and new songs that no one has heard before, as well as old songs.

How’s the tour been going so far?

Joff [lead guitar]: It’s been a proper good laugh. Nice to have people come down to the shows, nice to be on tour with some really cool bands…

Superfood and… I can’t pronounce the other bands name?

Joel: Gengahr, that’s who’s playing now. Superfood actually aren’t here today, it’s just Gengahr.

Do you get nervous before you go out on stage anymore?

All: Yeah!
Joel: I still do, certain shows really scare the shit out of me, like I think I’ll be very nervous before Glastonbury and stuff like that. Even on the first day of tour I was probably the most nervous I have been in a long time. Every show is an adrenaline rush.

Could you sum up your sound in a few words?

Ellie: Pop, rock, grunge.
Joel: I like distorted pop, I’m going with that.
Theo [bass]: Yeah definitely!

Who would you say your major influences are?

Ellie: I think we all have different ones, so I couldn’t say for the entire band.

What about yourself?

Ellie: For myself, maybe like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nirvana, Queens Of The Stone Age, and more like pop-y things, like… I really don’t know, loads of stuff.

So your latest EP, Creature Songs, is out on the 26th May; could you tell us a little about it?

Joff: There are four tracks, two are out already: ‘Storms’ and ‘Mona Lisa Smile’. There are two more, which are a little more quiet and introspective. I’ve adopted that word this tour.
Joel: If only we knew what it meant. [laughs]
Joff: I feel like I need to eat something, really introspective.

Favourite track to perform live, or cover?

Theo: I love playing ‘Fluffy’, because it’s at the point in the set where if things have gone well it’s a real let loose thing and you can always see there’s a shift, and you can see people going a bit nuts. So I enjoy that.

What kind of process do you go through to write lyrics?

Ellie: I think it’s different all the time, but the process where the lyrics always seem the best is where I write them before I’ve written the music or the bulk of the song, and I’ve really decided in my head what it’s about. Sometimes you write lyrics as you go along, not really knowing what you’re talking about, and I always dislike those songs the most.

One for everything, cake or ice cream?

Ellie: Ice cream.
Theo: Ice cream, yeah.
Joel: Awh yes, ice cream!
Joff: [nods]

The good weather today must be getting you excited for summer! You’re playing Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds – all over. Are you excited?

Ellie: Yeah, really excited!

Glastonbury is huge for you guys!

Ellie: Playing loads of festivals I’ve been to before as a…
Joel: Baby.
Ellie: Yeah, as a young person.
Theo: You went as a baby?
Ellie: No! But yeah, it’s going to be exciting.

Any favourite bands at the moment?


Joff: Gengahr and Superfood are amazing, our supports.
Joel: Renegades.
Ellie: The 1975.
Joff: Crows, a band from London. There are lots of great bands around at the moment.

So what do you see happening in the future for Wolf Alice? Is there an album coming out?

Joel: Yeah, in September we’re going to go record our album in Brussels with the same guy that did the EP. And then it looks like it’s slated for release early next year. It’s going to be a fun one!

Any advice for student bands?

Theo: Student bands?

Yeah, I’m part of a university magazine and we have a lot of bands around the area!

Ellie: Drop out, do it full time.
Theo: Play as many gigs as humanely possible.
Ellie: If it’s what you want to do, don’t go to uni.
Joff: Honestly don’t go to uni if it’s what you want to do!
Ellie: You’re just wasting time.

Just get out there and like record and release?

Ellie: You’ve just got to know that you’re good. If you’re unsure then just stay.
Theo: Get your mum to tell you honestly, then play as many gigs as you can humanely fit in – [to Joff]sorry mate.
Joel: [to Joff]You did uni.
Joff: We were touring and I was in my last year. It can be done, but it was fucking hard work.

What did you do at university?

Joff: I trained to be a primary school teacher.

Big change from primary school teaching to a band?

Joff: Yeah.
Theo: Not really, babysitting.

Haha yeah, babysitting everyone! So you guys must get interviewed a lot, what’s the most annoying or common question you get asked?

Joff: Ugh, ice cream or cake. [all laugh]

You get asked that often? Oh that’s so unoriginal haha, oh I’m so sorry. [all laugh]

Ellie: I hate ‘where does your name come from?’. I can understand why you’d ask it, because I always want to know, but we’ve been asked it so many times now that I’ve almost forgotten myself…

I always try to steer clear of that question with bands.

Ellie: No, I mean but like Gengahr or something, I’d be like where does that come from. So it is a fair enough question.
Joel: Gengahr is the little shadow Pokémon. The little black one, the little ghost.
Joff: Oh yeah.

Any guilty music pleasures between you?

Joel: I’m not guilty of any music I like.
Theo: Hundreds and hundreds of things that are deemed not cool.

Any Taylor Swift fans?

Joel: There was one song that I quite liked, but I can’t remember what it’s called.
Theo: Taylor Swift? She’s boring. Fuck her. Fuck Taylor Swift. Give me Miley, all day every day.Taylor Swift is really boring, I’m really pissed off about Taylor Swift.
Ellie: I like anything bad.
Joel: I spent so long being a fucking grunger, like deliberately hating on all pop music, that it’s only now that I realise why it’s massive.
Joff: I haven’t listened to them in ages, but I was always really guilty about Los Campesinos!
Joel: Really?
Joff: I kind of really like them, but I don’t really remember listening to them very much.

What do you guys think about the whole Spotify debate? I know quite a lot of bigger bands are complaining about royalties.

Joel: It’s weird that the bigger bands are always complaining about it. It’s not like they don’t have enough cash anyway.
Ellie: I think it’s terrible, I think it’s bad. I think it’s making people not buy music. But I’m a hypocrite because I love it.
Joff: As a product, it’s great.
Joel: It’s too good to be true, it doesn’t help us, and I use it all the time. I found bands through it and I love it. I think it’s hypocritical for someone to bring out a rival version to it like someone is doing.
Ellie: The premium Spotify should not exist.
Joel: You can get albums for free. I’ve got loads of bands for free. It is bad, it’s like legalised piracy.
Joff: It’s going to happen anyway, it’s always going to happen. If there’s a way to regulate it then… maybe it hasn’t been regulated quite right yet.
Theo: It hasn’t been regulated at all. From my perspective, lots of bands just want to be heard at the beginning, and not to cheapen your music but you will just do anything to get people to listen to it when you start out. But then you get millions and you’re like… I want to keep them.

Joel: I think there are bigger problems with the record industry than just Spotify.

You guys use Twitter and Facebook. Do you think having an online presence for a smaller band is important these days?

Ellie: Its one of the most important thing these days.
Joel: It’s just the way it is now innit. That’s it now.

But like Superfood, at the start. They didn’t have a big online presence and were really hard to find out about. They were kind of mysterious in that way, I guess.

Joel: It’s cool right. There’s no doubt it’s not at romantic as what we perceive people were doing in the 60s, but things change. It’s easy to be against it, but it’s actually really helpful and there’s so much you can use it for.

Think that’s all I’ve got! Thank you very much for your time and good luck tonight!

Joel: You’re coming tonight?

Yeah, I’ll be in the crowd, see you later!

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Head of Events for The Edge magazine. Keen concert goer and angry feminist. Shared recycled oxygen on a 12 hour flight with Foals.

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