Wolf Alice

Ahead of the release of their highly anticipated second album, we got a chance to chat to drummer Joel Amey of Brit-rock breakthroughs, Wolf Alice.

Interview by Katie Manning

The new album is titled Visions Of A Life, how did you decide on that name?
It was a lyric and it was kinda just floating around, and when going through that thing of “what are we gonna call the record”, we were trying to find something that’s not too wanky and has got meaning and is all encompassing. And it worked with the artwork as well, it looked like Ellie’s [Roswell] Aunty was having visions of what she was gonna do. So, there was lots of little factors that influenced it, and it ended up being something that felt quite right. I remember when we had My Love Is Cool [Wolf Alice’s 2015 debut] and we thought “yeah that’s quite a cool title” – you just kind of know when you know.

Your first single release, Yuk Foo, is a totally explosive track, why did you choose this as the first thing for people to hear on the new album?
I think when we were writing it, the conversation was there of Yuk Foo being quite a gut punch back into the wider world. It wasn’t like a bratty, or for a better term, “fuck you” kinda thing, it was just me thinking about the first track back, putting myself in other people’s shows and thinking what would I wanna hear or what would impress me, and trying to think of it that way. Having Yuk Foo [as the first single] was quite definite between the four of us.

You won best live band at the NME awards 2016, so what’s the best thing about playing live and touring?
Quite a few things, I really like the fact that we’ve gotten to a stage now where we’re on a bus, so you wake up in the next city. I used to hate flying, or we used to be in a smaller van which meant hotels and driving. But the bus is cool because you get to see America out the window, and that was a big thing for me growing up wanting to see bits of America, so it’s great to look out your window and you’re in Montana or waking up in Miami. It makes you lose your senses a little bit, and you’re like “what day is it”, but it’s super fun. And the gigs are always fun.

You had huge success after your first album, what was it like going on international tours after one record?
I don’t really know what to compare it to. I know we’ve always been really thankful after everything that happened with the first record, we definitely did not expect it. I remember when we were recording the record, being down the pub after we’d finished being like “wouldn’t it be weird if it got a Mercury Prize or something”, I say looking into my beer. It is quite strange to think of international touring; we did do shows before the album came out that weren’t in the UK, but to have a fanbase and tour America and people know the words in St. Louis, or have people sing with you in Japan – you have to take a step back and see how lucky you are, not many bands get this opportunity four albums in!

Now to bring you back home, what do you make of the Yorkshire crowds?
[Laughing] they’re so fun. I have a really fun memory of one of our guitar techs, Adi Vines, who’s from Yorkshire – I think it might have been in Manchester or somewhere, I’m gonna get this story wrong but basically someone shouted “You Manchester” or something like that, and he was tuning the guitar and went “I’m Yorkshire” and after that the crowd started doing that “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” chant you always get in Yorkshire and he started that off, and that was a fun memory that I’ve not remembered in the right way but it was really good. It’s always really fun to play up there, and I’m excited to get back.

Before the main tour, you announced and quickly sold out this intimate venue tour. What made you want to do it?
I think, when you’ve made a new record and you’re trying to gage what things work, you haven’t been in the situation we were the first time round where it was like you play the songs for 2 years or whatever, and see people’s reactions to see if it works, or if it’s a bit slow, or just various things. We didn’t have that chance this time because we went into writing it, and then recording it, and then playing it. Playing these shows is something we’ve done for years, and I remember playing a few of these venues on the tour when we released [the single] Bros for the first time, and they were just very intimate and fun and almost no one was there – luckily there will be people there this time, but it’s just a really good way of gaging and seeing people react in front of you. In big venues, past the twentieth row or even closer than that, you lose scale and it’s nice to have control of the scale you’re looking at.

Visions Of A Life by Wolf Alice is available 29 September 2017.