We last caught up with London-based Wolf Alice last October. Since then things have accelerated for the rock four-piece, going from strength to strength with their highly acclaimed performances and recently both Brit and Grammy award nominations. “It’s a massive complement,” Ellie Rowsell, the band’s front-woman, tells me. “Hopefully our album will have further exposure, which is always good! It’s also a wider audience, which is really exciting.” Continually evolving their sound, they’re now poised for big things in 2016. Touring is a big part of their lives now, but the hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The US award recognition particularly came as a surprise. The band was on an American tour when Rowsell received a text simply saying ‘GRAMMY’ from a friend. “I’m not that familiar with American awards and then I got a few more texts and was thinking ‘what is this?’ So I Googled ‘Wolf Alice Grammy’ and saw it. That was a huge shock.”
Starting off as a two-piece in 2010, the present line-up of Rowsell on guitar and vocals, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey gelled a couple of years later. Working tirelessly to develop from dreamy folk-pop duo to a post-grunge alternative rock quartet, their music now oozes sophistication and stadium pleasing appeal. Yet elements of unpredictability pop up throughout their work.
The band’s attitude has always been to just go out and get things done. “We never really prepared ourselves and then did a gig, we just played live and then got around to preparing ourselves! From playing empty shows to playing packed shows was a turning point; we waited a long time for that.” Now Rowsell is just taking every day as it comes. She can remember being younger and wanting this kind of success, so she’s making sure it doesn’t just go over her head.
Effortlessly and unintentionally exuding all things synonymous with indie-rock chic, Rowsell is in this for the music and she’s in it for the long run. Part of her appeal as a focal point for the band is her energetic live performances, which are drawing increasingly larger crowds. “It’s hard not to get an adrenaline rush from other people being excited. There’s not really much you can do but soak that all in, commit yourself to it and remind yourself that these people have paid money and come a long way to see you.” She appreciates any show might be the last time or the first time a fan sees the band, so they have to give everyone a good night. “It’s not hard to pump yourself up…” The growing level of adoration at these live shows is plain to see, each song intro met with growing enthusiasm. The most energetic numbers are left for the end, by which point any nerves have been dispelled. “You really go for it and you don’t give a shit anymore. You’re just like, ‘LET’S DO THIS!’ and get fully emerged in your performance.”
Wolf Alice have been touring the UK for almost four years solidly, but their focus is gently shifting to Europe and America. The band’s visit to Brighton Dome next month will be a special show for Rowsell. Having family in the area, she came to the city as a child and has always loved it. “It’s a bit romantic for me and I don’t know why, maybe it is because of the seaside. I’m really stoked to play the Dome, it’s a beautiful venue, and we always have a good time in Brighton.”
After a lot more touring and a few awards ceremonies, thoughts will be turning to recording the follow-up to last year’s hugely successful ‘My Love Is Cool’ album. ”I don’t think it’ll happen until after festival season. Our last album was recorded in a month; we did five weeks in London, long hours but just like a normal job.”
Aside from a packed schedule, Rowsell is slowly adjusting to the other demands of being a nascent rock icon. Now how she presents herself appears to be topic for discussion. With Wolf Alice’s sharp rise in profile it might be something she’ll have to get used to. “I always liked picking out outfits and other things, but I don’t really care about the kind of stuff like hair and make-up. I mean I do care, just no more than the average person. When I’m asked to do interviews about what kind of make-up I use, that’s something I’ve never had to think about.”
Wolf Alice play Brighton Dome on Tues 22 March.
Their album ‘My Love Is Cool’ is available now, via Dirty Hit Records