Wolf Alice have been a busy band touring for the past couple of months around the UK and America doing in-store gigs. They show us that performing live is still the most valued aspect of being musicians. Following on from an album review I did of ‘Visions Of A Life’, I had the pleasure of chatting with Joel Amey, the band’s drummer during a brief UK stopover before they head out to Japan…
The Badger: Hey man, how are you?
Wolf Alice: Heya, you alright? I’m doing good, thanks.
TB: You guys recorded the album in LA, and you did a few in-store gigs in California a few weeks ago. What was it like being back there to play the album on tour?
WA: Erm yeah, it’s been really fun actually, it’s been cool watching people react to different songs and ‘Visions Of A Life’ goes down really well, which is cool. And people in America really appreciate taking risks and stuff, so it’s always quite fun to play.
TB: You also recently played at CAL Jam with Foo Fighters, which must’ve been immense fun.
WA: Yeah it was really, really fun actually.
TB: What are the other stand out moments you’ve had whilst travelling?
WA: Oh shit, I mean loads. Like we’re going to Japan this weekend, we’ve got Australia coming up in January, being able to travel to these places and play music is a real thrill, and we’re super humbled that we get to do that.
TB: There’s a myth that surrounds the success of sophomore albums in the music industry, essentially that they aren’t as successful. However, you entered the charts at number two (damn Shania Twain), and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Did you sense any pressures from the industry or your fans when creating this album?
WA: I was just happy to be back in the studio, I mean we always put pressure on ourselves anyway, we always do that because we want to be good. I don’t think we ever really felt suffocated by the pressure of the label or whatever… it was a really creative time.
TB: Wolf Alice seems to symbolise a different kind of musician, you’re not part of the frivolity of pop music, and you don’t necessarily follow the norms of what’s expected of a rock band. So, I guess in terms of the industry would say it’s something that’s romanticised or glamourised still and is their much truth to it?
WA: I think we live modern times and there isn’t the same sort of excessive money that was around, you know years ago. We’re not those kind of people anyway, we don’t enjoy needless destruction just because we’re in a band, it’s kind of fucking lame. I think we just… we kinda do what we would in any era really, which is just enjoying the music and enjoying playing live. We don’t see the need to like climb out of and break windows, and it’s not really Wolf Alice to get involved with that sort of bullshit.
TB: The first time I saw you play was when you were supporting The 1975 on their album tour a few years ago. Would you say your approach to performances has changed much over the years? (Production/energy wise)
WA: Nah I think we’ve got much better. I think we were fucking shit at one point when we played live because we didn’t even know what we were doing. We were playing at these massive shows, and everything would break, and then we just got good, in my opinion, yeah and that’s from playing loads. I mean, we rehearse all the time and take it really seriously, and that’s one aspect of our band that we don’t take lightly, and we really want [our live performance] to be the best it can be.
TB: And based on the recent in-stores you’ve done, would you say your approaches to smaller venues is different or are you aware of a different level of intimacy with the fans?
WA: Yeah I mean it’s obviously a completely different kind of show and that’s more a feeding off [of] the crowd and it’s really fun just to connect and you’ve got to do that as well in the bigger show but when you’re at an intimate venue it’s a different experience. Wolf Alice can kind of do both, you know?
TB: I guess with some songs on the album that do bring this intensity it must be nice to contrast that…
WA: Yeah totally, the dynamic is paramount to things.
TB: Your album even garnered support from Corbyn, I am aware of the band’s vocal stance on politics. Would you agree that his support is symbolic of a new youthful politics?
WA: Yeah, I mean I hope so. I think when I was young I probably would’ve felt more connected to politics if I saw people like Ellie voicing her opinion. I always felt quite alienated by politics personally growing up and didn’t really feel like any relation to it, even though I [did] have, and everyone does. So, I think it can be important for a lot of people who maybe feel like they don’t know how to approach politics and they see somebody they can relate to doing it. It’s like for anything, isn’t it? I think in these times it’s very important because things are changing so much and people seem to be aware that there’s a power in their hands if they wanna have it, you know? And it’s shifting al the time, and there’s so much changing right now, globally everything’s starting to shift towards the people [general public] a lot more, and I think politicians know that.
TB: Yeah, I get that. You’re visiting lots of different countries, and you’ve spent some time in America, and now you’re back here, and it must be important for musicians to create a voice and use [it] to help other become a part of the conversation.
Well, I think our time is ending so I want to thank you for spending some time with us. Enjoy the tour, travelling to Japan; I’m really jealous (Joel laughs). I look forward to seeing you in Brighton as I will be there.
WA: Oh cool, yeah Brighton is always really fun. I love that venue.
And after some polite mentioning of mutual acquaintances and linking up after the show, Joel and I said our goodbyes and I felt the confirmation that Wolf Alice are as mint to talk to as they are to listen to.
Interview and Words: April Izzard