For a band with a relatively young career, London four-piece Wolf Alice, made up of Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Theo Ellis, has been a howling success so far, blazing a trail through the alternative music scene with their earworm choruses and unique blend of folk-tinged pop melodies and grungy riot grrrl hooks. The band, whose name is taken from a short story by Angela Carter, has already come some way since its formation five years ago, having first been brought together by Ellie’s bedroom writing. Now headlining shows across the globe, the foursome is guzzling up the perks that come with rising stardom. “We’ve just come back from Australia, and everyone told me that I was going to get eaten by a spider or killed by a kangaroo, but everyone was really nice. Whenever we’ve gone abroad, it’s always been nice because there’s always been people there. It’s always nice when people turn up to the shows,” Theo tells me, his dry humour unwavering throughout our conversation.
Despite the Andrex puppy level cuteness of the cover for their debut single
‘Fluffy’, featuring two pug puppies playing in the snow, the song, with its ballsy riffs and tumultuous drums, is anything but. “We definitely do have these darker and more introspective, quiet moments but then we have the ability to play really loud, a bit punk, in-your-face and angry stuff,” says Theo. This ability to cross over from soft, melancholy melodies overlaid with Ellie’s breathy vocals, to the anthemic rockier tracks, is what lies at the heart of Wolf Alice’s unique appeal.
“As individuals, we have some differing and similar music tastes. It’s very much a melting pot,” he states, “and I think that’s quite obvious with the music that we output – there’s a lot of different things going on. But I think we’ve got a good dynamic as a four”; their second single, the poppy ode to friendship and loyalty, ‘Bros’, is emblematic of the band’s bond.
The band is about to go on tour with Alt-J in the US, in yet another exciting chapter of their own short story. Theo seems excited about the prospect. “I actually can’t wait to sleep in a little coffin that goes down the motorway.” But things haven’t always been quite as hopeful for the foursome. “There was a point when we had quite a lot of hype but we didn’t really know how we were going to make the album, and who was going to help us do that and that was quite scary. We were kind of figuring out whether we needed to do a Kickstarter campaign to make that album, or have a car boot sale or something. But we’ve always been very determined to release at least one album, and it’s definitely going to be this year.”
Their second EP, Creature Songs, funnelled the band into the category of alt-rock/grunge with its rockier, riff-heavy tracks, which Theo declares, “benefits us for playing the big stages where you’ve got loads of space to run around and do stuff that’s more theatrical”. But the sharpening of their sweet-sounding songs into fodder for headbanging types has perhaps narrowed people’s perception of their sound. “We’re in the middle of finishing the album at the moment, and I think that when people hear the album, it’ll be easier for people to understand, because I think we’ve matured a little bit.”
I ask Theo if there’s anything else they have on their tick list for 2015. “Releasing the album and touring is pretty much all we’re doing this year. I don’t know if there’s any extra kind of thing that we can achieve, maybe get on Graham [Norton]? But I think just touring and playing some great festival trips this year. That’s what we really want to achieve.”
Were he not in a band, Theo says he’d still be trying to do something within the musical realm, “Or, fuck it, maybe a fireman or something. Though I’m not brave enough.” But with no sign of their feverish energy or soaring international fan base dying down soon, the future is looking bright for these ‘heavenly creatures’…