A Different Kind of Beast
Dec 02, 2015
Photography by James Loveday Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Sitting in the lobby of a Best Western hotel just a few hours before his band will perform a sold-out show at Austin, TX's Holy Mountain music venue, Wolf Alice guitarist Joff Oddie says he recently experienced a bit of an epiphany: since vocalist Ellie Rowsell first found and contacted him through local online classifieds back in 2010, the London outfit—also featuring bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey—have already released two EPs; performed across the U.K. countless times; appeared on the bill of numerous large-scale festivals including SXSW, Reading and Leeds, and Glastonbury; opened for alt-J across Europe; and toured the U.S. on four separate occasions, all without a full-length album to their name. "It's bizarre. I was talking to our manager the other day about it. And he's a seasoned professional. He knows the structure of stuff that goes on, and we were talking about how you tour an album, how an album cycle is usually a year to 18 months where you're constantly on the road. And I wound up turning to him and going, 'Fuck. We haven't even started that, have we?' And he said, 'Nope.'"
With their newly-released debut LP My Love Is Cool, Wolf Alice finally have something to show for their long-gestating breakthrough status. Recorded over the course of a few weeks late last year at London's Livingston Studio with producer Mike Crossey, the record provides the sensation you get when you see a pair of glowing eyes stare at you in a pitch-black night. There's the allure. Then there are claws and teeth.
An amalgam of elements both hard and soft, the tracks on My Love Is Cool whiplash between melodic, dark pop to sample/synth minimalism to unhinged, guitar-thrashing grunge across its 50 minutes. "I think there's this thing these days where you're in a band and you choose what genre you are and you stick to that for at least one album and gradually change, but I don't think we're like that," says Rowsell. "I think it's pretty clear on this album we're not into one thing."
"I think it's kind of boring," adds Oddie. "These playlist cultures we've got today, I don't think a lot of people want to sit through a record where there are 12, 13 songs that sound exactly the same. I think we're products of that. We're digital music consumers. We've grown up with YouTube and Spotify and being able download on iTunes and being able to play what we want. We don't necessarily have to buy a record. We grew up having a massive amount of choice, and it wasn't maybe 20 years ago and you only had so much cash so you kind of had to say, 'Well, I'm going to invest in this genre, pick something that speaks to me and throw myself into that.' The climate that we grew up in, it's possible to listen to absolutely everything. And I think the album reflects that, definitely."
With performances scheduled to take them across the borders of even more countries throughout the rest of the year, Wolf Alice will have plenty of opportunities to showcase their diverse material to an already expanding audience. "We love doing this, and we want to do it for as long as we can," says Oddie. "At the very least we're really going to use those 18 months. Every single one of them, in full."
[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September/October 2015 Issue. This is its debut online.]
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