Rising rockers discuss their debut album, The 1975, the Manics & Limp Bizkit
Andrew Trendell

15:34 19th May 2014

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"I don't know how it happened - it just happens," shrugs Wolf Alice drummer Joel Amey, musing over the hype that surrounds them - before a devilish smile spreads across his face. "Especially with how naughty we are all the time - karma will catch up." 

Naughty they may be, but karma and luck have little to do with it. The buzz around Wolf Alice at the moment is down to one thing and one thing alone: they're consistently awesome and are proving themselves to be one of the most promising new guitar bands in Britain. Whether they're grunge or indie or Britpop is a mystery and irrelevant - but we'll get on to that later on. However, it wasn't easy to get here - so dismiss any blog that does them a huge disservice by calling them an 'overnight success'. 

"Yeah, it didn't happen like that," admits bassist Theo Ellis. "Joel and Ellie have been playing together for about two and a half years. You can watch the track history of this band, from when I was the last one to join about a year and a half ago, online. You can watch us from when we were shit!"

They're playing the long game, and seem to be winning.

"We just played gigs," continues Theo. "This isn't attacking any band that has that formula, but there are bands where this song appears online and then it's been packaged with the right PR and gone to the right blogs. That's not a bad thing, it's a phenomenal opportunity, but it's not what we did. We just made a song, it went out, and we got really lucky that people liked it. We just went out and played a bunch of gigs."

Joel chimes back in: "That's what bands should be. There are great bands out there like Drenge, who just worked their way into being one of the most ferocious live bands by just playing. Fat White Family are the same, they just threw all those parties down in South London and stuff. No one would go but that wasn't the aim, the aim was just doing something worth doing. They're the bands that we admire."

Part of that graft of being a brand new band is of course winning people over. For every gushing, hype-fuelled blog post comes a non-believer, ready and raring to stick the knife in. Wolf Alice of course, have come face to face with a fair amount of criticism too. 

"Oh yeah," nods Joel. "The 1975 tour was pretty hard, because you're playing to a bunch of kids where some of them get it, but it's always part of the parcel that some people aren't going to like it. If you can't hack that, then this is no place for you."

Fans of The 1975 are one thing, but a generation of angry critics on Twitter is a whole different kettle of fish. 

"You can fucking search Twitter and find someone who thinks you dress like a twat, and it's subjective," chuckles Theo, looking down at his ripped plaid trousers. "There's plenty of bands that I don't like but I wouldn't do that. Criticism can be constructive, but the only criticism I don't like is when it's pointless and just sensationalist."

However, in true fighting spirit Wolf Alice not only survived The 1975 tour but found a following in their fans and kindred spirits in the band themselves - unlikely as it may seem. On paper they're from polar opposite ends of the spectrum between pop and indie, but it's easy to see through that and just find yourselves with two great bands, making music for only the right reasons. 

"It was really good," nods Theo. "They get a lot of shit that they don't deserve. They've paid their dues and they can go anywhere in the world now and sell it out - and they totally deserve it. They've nailed it basically.

"They've done things in a similar way to us. They've been going for 10 years and it's all very natural. You listen to them and think their influences are a lot of Quincy Jones stuff, but they listen to At The Drive In and Deftones."

Joel agrees: "We loved it. They're really connected to this, not 'generation', but 'right now', if a certain type of person turned on the radio they would know The 1975. They have become a phenomenon.

"And they are really nice guys, all of them. We hang out with Ross when they're not on tour and stuff and Matt's a legend, they're all just great guys. You see it happen to some bands who just don't value it or treat their fans right but then there's The 1975 and they do deserve it and they do know their fans. They are phenomenal musicians and they love melody as much as aggression and they are greatly misunderstood."

Then at another end of the spectrum entirely, Wolf Alice also found themselves sharing a bill with Manic Street Preachers earlier this year. The honour of supporting such a monolithic band was not lost on them. 

"They are great guys, and we were very flattered to be asked," says Joel. "We played a couple of dates and they asked us back again, which was even more flattering. James, the singer, was hanging out a lot and he's just really cool. Massively into music.

"Their history is just amazing.  Backstage at venues, if a band sells it out then they put their picture on the wall, and there's like everyone you can think of. But there were Manics pictures everywhere, so for them to give us a shot was amazing."

When you read about a band who can support both The 1975 and Manic Street Preachers and go down a storm with both camps, you begin to paint the picture of a band who are somewhat schizophrenic and struggle to be pigeonholed. That is exactly who you find in Wolf Alice - a band who lean on aspects of folk, grunge, indie and pop. A band with a natural born gift for guitar anthemics, but hell-bent on being DIY and doing it well. As a result of the idiosyncrasies that make them so awesome, they've been plagued by misconceptions - but which is the most common? 

"That we love Elastica," sighs Theo. "Not that we don't love Elastica, but every reference I read is Elastica and Hole. We love grunge and I know there are massive characteristics because we're a product of our generation and we grew up in the 90s. There are going to be influences."

Joel shakes his head: "That we're subconsciously trying to be a grunge band just because we like distortion. It's weird, because people are talking about the bands that were over before we were born. Not that it's a bad thing, but we're not trying to emulate that. I grew up listening to Limp Bizkit, but we're not trying to sound like Limp Bizkit.

"They're one of the bands that we really grew up with, and journalists have bands that they grew up with so that's the only thing that they can reference it to. You become a band of references, and that's probably the greatest misconception. We aren't trying to sound like the bands we may just happen to sound like."

Theo smiles: "But we do understand that, you can't invent a new genre - like 'funge', which is folk and grunge. Or 'grindie'?"

Grunge, indie, grindie, whatever, it doesn't matter Wolf Alice do from here on out - as long as it maintains that unhinged pop charm of all that we've heard so far. 

The album, suprise people? A: It will sound like us, but it might not sound the 'us' people are expecting it sound like," says Joel, proudly turning to Theo. "Know what I mean?"

"No!" burst Theo in a fit of giggles. 

"Well, never mind," continues Joel. "We'll release it, and we won't see any eclecticism in it, but it won't necessarily sound like anything we've done prior. That's what people are maybe accustomed to. That's what happens when a band evolve faster than the listener want them to, if that makes sense. I'm not comparing us in any way, but we look at someone like Bowie, and to keep up with someone like that all the time, inventing different genres with each album, but that's the greatest thing that we'd happily admit to aiming at.

"You do want to always evolve, it's not something you want to force - it just happens. We will do largely new stuff and maybe re-do some old stuff but we haven't recorded it yet. We're just in a nice creative place at the moment, and it's quite freeing. Songs just keep coming out, which is great, but it will happen this year."

And with Wolf Alice around, what a year it's going to be. They may not know how exactly, but they're about to become Britain's biggest guitar band - without luck, without labels, just good old-fashioned, intelligent rock and roll. As naughty as you like. 

Wolf Alice release their new EP Creatures Songs on 26 May, 2014. Pre-order it here

 For more information find Wolf Alice on:
- Facebook
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- Soundcloud
- Youtube 

Wolf Alice's full UK tour dates are below. For more information visit Gigwise tickets


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