Wolf Alice on new LP Visions of A Life and Irish dates
Mercury-nominated indie rockers Wolf Alice are gearing up for the release of their second album Visions of A Life. David Roy spoke to bassist Theo Ellis about nailing that difficult second album and their upcoming Irish gigs
LONDON indie rockers Wolf Alice are eager to let everyone hear the highly anticipated follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 debut album My Love Is Cool – but fans have another few weeks to wait yet until the quartet's magnum opus is finally unleashed.
"I'm really excited for people to hear it," enthuses bassist Theo Ellis of the imminent Visions of A Life, which has thus far spawned three rather different sounding singles; Yuk Foo's punky scuzz, the hazy synth-tinged Don't Delete The Kisses and the 90s pop-influenced Beautifully Unconventional.
"It's weird to think that there's only been three songs come out so far. But the more I've sneakily played it to my friends the more confident I've got with it.
"We all love the record but when we were going thought the process of mixing it, it became quite hard to see the wood for the trees at some points.
"I personally haven't listened to it in about two months – so I'm excited to get fresh perspective when it finally does come out. I'll probably sit down and give it a whirl on the Tube somewhere or something."
Making that 'difficult second album' in the wake of such a successful debut was always going to be a somewhat pressurised affair for Wolf Alice, who were formed in 2010 by singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell and also feature drummer Joel Amey and guitarist Joff Oddie.
However, Visions of A Life is a confident-sounding collection which further highlights the quartet's penchant for mixing various styles and textures while also breaking new sonic ground for the band.
According to Theo, the choice to release the splenetically snarling rocker Yuk Foo as the album's lead single was deliberate.
"When we were conceiving the record in the early stages, we wanted people to be at our shows and be excited about it," he explains.
"Because Yuk Foo is a more angry, jumping around kind of thing, we thought that song was the best opening statement we could make.
"Then, with Don't Delete The Kisses, we were just proud of it as something that was – I hesitate to use the word 'mature' – but like definitely a bit 'progressive' sounding or something.
"But that still makes me sound like a t*** though!"
Ellie Rowsell clearly isn't overly worried about what other people think of her this time around: she seems particularly energised on the US-recorded album, combining her familiar breathy vocalisations with spoken word and the odd bit of cathartic screaming while delivering lyrics which err on the side of heart-on-the-sleeve honesty.
"There are some quite angry and sensitive stuff and introspective moments on there," admits Theo of the new album, "but we're a very collaborative band: everything is open for one another's opinion and up for change and debate.
"Although the lyrics seem quite personal because they are written from a first person perspective, the record is a collective representation of how everyone has changed over the past two years.
"A song like [album centrepiece] Sky Musings is quite obviously a sonic representation of a panic attack happening on a plane, so I don't think she touches on stuff that all of us haven't experienced as well.
"I mean, obviously Ellie's one of my best friends – if I thought she was having a breakdown I'd be like 'are you all right, mate?!'"
Having begun life as a duo with Ellie and guitarist Joff, Wolf Alice took a few years to find its current line-up (Theo and Joel joined Ellie and Joff in 2012) and begin building the 'brilliant new guitar band' buzz which culminated in the release of My Love Is Cool in 2015.
Since then, the band's star has continued to rise inexorably, to the point where they have now collected Brit, Mercury and Grammy Award nominations and are regularly toted as being 'one of the best bands in Britain'.
Acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom has even made a new film featuring the band: set to premiere on the same day as the new album is released, On The Road is a fictional love story set amid the real life chaotic tour for My Love Is Cool.
But have they had time to enjoy it all?
"Yeah, I think I've enjoyed it as much as possible," says Theo.
"We definitely didn't take anything for granted. When this was all kicking off for us, we definitely made a point of savouring all the most exciting moments – because you don't know if they will ever happen again, like playing Glastonbury or going out on a tour bus or whatever.
"Now that we're getting a little bit older (he's 25) and it's starting to sink in that this is a career thing, we're starting to be a little bit more adult with it all.
"Like, we want to understand how to do it properly rather than just being drunk all the time!"
If Visions Of A Life tops the album charts as is currently being predicted, the newly (whisper it) mature Wolf Alice should have a good few more years ahead of them to savour.
But while the band members themselves are quietly confident of their new record's quality, it seems a couple of their most trusted soundingboards are yet to pass judgment on the forthcoming LP.
"I think the two people I trust the most in terms of the music would be Ellie's dad and Joel's mum," Theo tells me.
"Both of them are like, brutally honest. They've known what we do for a very long time, so I really trust their opinions.
"But I actually haven't spoken to them about the album yet – so we could be f***ed!"
One thing is for sure: the London quartet are looking forward to coming back to Ireland this winter, for a pair of gigs which will come just a couple of days after their biggest hometown headlining show to date at Alexandra Palace.
"We've played Belfast two or three times now and The Olympia in Dublin is one of my favourite venues in the world," enthuses Theo.
"We've played it twice and I love it there, it's amazing."
Wolf Alice, Monday November 27, The Ulster Hall, Belfast / Tuesday November 28, The Olympia, Dublin. Tickets on sale now via Ticketmaster outlets. Visions Of A Life is released on September 29, pre-orders at Dirtyhit.lnk.to/visionsofalife