U.K. alternative rock group Wolf Alice hasn’t been on tour since December 2018 for their Mercury Prize-winning sophomore album, Visions of a Life. Ahead of the release of their latest album Blue Weekend, web services coordinator Nora Onanian sat down with half of Wolf Alice - guitarist Joff Oddie and bassist Theo Ellis. They chatted about the upcoming album and shared their excitement about the return of live music.
YOUR NEXT ALBUM, BLUE WEEKEND, COMES OUT IN JUST OVER A WEEK. SO I WANT TO START BY ASKING HOW YOU'RE FEELING ABOUT PUTTING IT OUT INTO THE WORLD.
Joff Oddie: It's crazy. We were having a meeting earlier and we were going ‘it's next week!’ And I went, ‘oh my God, I can't believe it's come around so quickly.’ Just so, so excited to get out and see what people think about it. Yeah, we've had it for a long time now, so it's time for it to go its own way.
YEAH, I SAW THAT THE ALBUM WAS INITIALLY SET TO COME OUT JUNE 11TH, BUT IT WAS PUSHED A WEEK EARLIER TO JUNE 4TH. WAS THERE A SPECIFIC REASON FOR THAT CHANGE?
JO: No, not really. I think really boring stuff - the manufacturing process happened quicker than we thought it was going to be. We got an earlier slot. And the really boring stuff, the schedule of the lead-in was really long and we went, ‘oh, let's just bring it forward a bit.’
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'VE GROWN AS ARTISTS FROM WORKING ON THIS ALBUM? AND YOU CAN TAKE THAT QUESTION INDIVIDUALLY OR ABOUT THE BAND AS A WHOLE.
Theo Ellis: I think we've grown. I think one of the things I witnessed when we were recording the album specifically, was kind of seeing how much we've grown in the time between the first two. Kind of watching everyone getting even better at their individual traits and skills within the band. And not having to worry about how to figure out how to achieve things, just kind of having the knowledge innately in them from the experience of touring for so long. Being in studios, learning different recording tricks, and playing their instruments for a longer period of time, understanding them better. Things like watching how Ellie can use her voice in multiple different ways to kind of explore different characters and personalities on the record and create different shades of emotion.
I feel like it's always when we go to make the next album, I realize how much we grew from the last one. So I haven't got that bit yet, but I saw how much we've grown in between the second and third one when we were making the third one.
I WAS JUST GOING TO ASK, HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS ALBUMS? YOU KIND OF TOUCHED ON THAT.
TE: Yeah, me and Ellie, we just did an interview and we were saying that we think it's a huge departure from what you would know as Wolf Alice. But I think it's maybe - this sounds like a sales pitch, but - the best package. The best-rounded version of us in an album. Because I think on the second one, we kind of drifted off into different directions and really went as far as we could in those directions. We were exploring different things. And the first album we were finding our craft. And this one, I think we've kind of got a bit of a balance of things overall. I think - it's not out yet, so maybe we were wrong.
SO FAR, THERE HAVE BEEN THREE SINGLES RELEASED OFF OF THE ALBUM. THERE'S “THE LAST MAN ON EARTH,” “SMILE,” AND “NO HARD FEELINGS.” I WANTED TO ASK ABOUT THE RANGE OF THESE THREE SONGS. I KNOW YOU JUST TOUCHED ON HOW YOU FEEL THAT THE ALBUM IS MORE BALANCED OUT. “SMILE” ESPECIALLY STANDS OUT MUSICALLY. IT'S A LOT MORE BASS-HEAVY AND METAL THAN THE OTHER TWO. WHAT DOES THE REST OF THE ALBUM HAVE IN STORE SONICALLY?
JO: Oh, it's got tons of stuff. There's a song called “Feeling Myself,” which is a bit more synth-heavy, which is a first for us. Yeah, in typical Wolf Alice form we kind of touch on a lot of different musical techniques within that kind of alternative umbrella. So, yeah, I hope there's plenty in store for people to get their teeth into. Some old kind of stuff that is a nod to the old Wolf Alice and maybe some stuff that might be nodding to the future of Wolf Alice.
COOL. IS THERE A STYLE OF SONG THAT YOU GUYS LIKE TO PLAY THE MOST?
TE: I think it's always fun to play those kind of upbeat songs, like “Smile” and stuff like that. “Smile” is kind of a tricky one. I feel like I'm concentrating too much when I'm playing that one. But maybe something like, we’ve got a song called “Play the Greatest Hits” on the new record. That will be really fun to play because it's of a similar vein. But I don’t have to concentrate as much while playing it.
JO: I think one of the best things about Wolf Alice is we get to do loads of things. So it's not necessarily one style. It's the fact that we kind of get to do a lot of different things.
AWESOME. CAN YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THEMES THAT INFLUENCED BLUE WEEKEND?
TE: Yeah, I mean, it kind of speaks to what we were talking about earlier. It's very Wolf Alice in the sense that it speaks about quite a lot of things that are just to do with human emotion and things you go through, from sadness to happiness and everything in between. I think we haven't really had an overarching theme that connects everything aside from being alive and feeling stuff, which is kind of, I suppose, a big concept album. I wouldn’t want to speak on Ellie’s behalf, but I think that there's a lot of different things that I think would be, in a way, relatable to most people who are listening to it, having spent some time on the earth - without the “The Last Man On Earth” pun intended in that (laughs).
YEAH, I KNOW ELLIE IS THE PRIMARY SONGWRITER, BUT WHAT IS THE SONGWRITING PROCESS LIKE? DO YOU GUYS COLLABORATE AND TAKE PART IN THAT?
JO: Yeah, I think part of the reason that there is a difference in the songs is because of that. It’s a different process that we have for songwriting. Sometimes Ellie will come with a song, sometimes another member will come with a song. Sometimes it will be a couple of ideas kind of merged together, and sometimes music and songs will come from jamming and collaborating in that kind of way. Yeah, there's no real kind of set way in which we approach writing.
SPEAKING OF COLLABORATING, I READ SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT HOW THE BEGINNINGS OF THE ALBUM CAME ABOUT ON A LITTLE ESCAPE IN SOMERSET. COULD YOU TELL THE STORY OF THAT?
TE: We just hadn't seen each other for ages. We kind of took some time in between the second and third album, and between the second album and getting back into the studio mode. We’d been on tour for a long time. We toured for a while continuously between these albums. Pretty much we were away on the road. And I think it got to that point where we hadn't seen each other for a little bit, or we hadn't seen each other in a Wolf Alice setting.
We figured a good way to just get into sharing ideas and being in a room just the four of us making, writing songs, was to just get a little Airbnb, which we got in Somerset, which is a lovely bit of the English countryside. It was a converted chapel and we had a computer and the four of us and some guitars and instruments. And it was just a really kind of, no holds barred, friendly, fun week of making tunes. And it just kind of kicked off that process. It just was the spark to getting into this album, hopefully.
AWESOME. ALRIGHT, I'VE GOT ONE MORE QUESTION. I SAW THAT YOU HAVE SOME TOUR DATES PLANNED, AND SO I WANTED TO ASK HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING BACK TO IT.
JO: Very excited. Very excited. We will be touring as soon as we are allowed to. It's been such a long time. We did a couple of festivals and stuff in between finishing the album, touring for Visions of a Life. The album tour for Visions of a Life finished December 2018. So it's been such a long time. We cannot wait to get to Boston as well. It is such a cool town. I'm not just saying that - I really love it. We had some really, really great shows up there.
WELL THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SAY THAT YOU DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT?
TE: No, just please, can we get back to touring and come and hang out?
Wolf Alice’s third studio album Blue Weekend is out June 4th.