Wolf Alice: What they're reading, watching and listening
Two hours before Wolf Alice's first performance in Singapore as part of Laneway Festival, guitarist Joff Oddie and drummer Joel Amey strolled into the media tent. The North London rockers were warm and at ease, unfazed by the day's blistering heat. Lead vocalist Ellie Rowsell and bassist Theo Ellis were shown to the other side of the tent, scheduled for group interviews. Meanwhile, fellow Laneway recruit Billie Eilish was setting up her set at the Bay Stage next door. Wolf Alice had just 10 minutes to spare — it was tight.
But a treat, considering their hectic touring schedule. The foursome had just gotten into Singapore at 6 the previous evening, and was due to leave for Auckland the next day. They're roped in for the whole Laneway stretch, which will hit key cities in New Zealand and Australia. The last we had an intimate exchange with the band was through the big screen two weeks ago at The Projector, which screened Michael Winterbottom's docu-drama, On The Road. Capturing a fictional romance of two tour personnel on the backdrop of Wolf Alice's U.K. tour, it poignantly gave us snippets of a musician's life.
It's been quite a road since Wolf Alice's debut, My Love Is Cool, in 2015. Last September, Rowsell and co. put out Visions Of A Life, which featured the crowd favourite, 'Don't Delete the Kisses'. The anthem placed Rowsell's vocal prowess on display, melding both vulnerability and grown-up angst in a downtempo synthpop package. The critically-acclaimed album displayed Wolf Alice's heaviest and softest sounds, which Singapore finally had the pleasure of experiencing later that evening. But first, a quick chat.
We got to see Wolf Alice behind the veil of stage curtains in On The Road, which screened here recently. Was that the most intimate look at the band that has ever been seen?
Joel Amney: It definitely highlighted the most unprecedented access for us backstage, but I guess we've probably been more honest in our interviews. We weren't meant to acknowledge the cameras and stuff. I wouldn't say it's necessarily the most real portrayal of the four of us because certain things wouldn't be used in the film. But in terms of the honest monotony of what touring can sometimes be like, the good with the bad, it's pretty good.
Joff Offie: Like Joel said, they had the most access. It's only over like three weeks. You know, that's not really long enough for you to completely forget about the cameras. You're always kind of aware of them. So, I think I've maybe got about two lines in the film.
Your tour schedule's pretty intense. How do you separate from that performing side to breathe and do another creative thing?
Joff: We're quite good at that. We'd be quite happy to make some music in the hotel rooms or just chill a bit.
You've covered songs such as Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren' and Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game'. How do you approach covers and put your own spin to it?
Joel: I think that some of the best covers we've done are so minimal. It sounds corny but the song just does what it does, really. When the song is so amazing, you don't really need to do a lot to make it fantastic. It's a really lazy approach but it works.
Joff: There's the guy from The Only Ones. There's The Only Ones' cover of 'Another Girl Another Planet'. That guy heard us and we've done covers of that before and he delivered a Tweet for us.
What are you currently listening to and reading?
Joel: I just read this book that I got in America. It's called Zeroes. It's super trashy but I really liked it. It's about these hackers that are taken by the American government. I really suck at reading but I read that really quickly and I quite enjoyed it. I'm listening to this band called Dasher at the moment. She's a one-woman drummer, and it's like super brutal, heavy, really beautiful and angry, but feminine and hardcore.
Are you binge-watching any shows? Are you a Netflix and chill kind of person?
Joel: I can't say that I've watched anything since last year. I'm really bad at keeping up with that stuff. I've never seen one episode of Black Mirror.
Joff: I've mainly seen three episodes and I don't know why I don't watch all of them, but the one where the prime minister has sex with a pig — that's one of the best pieces of TV I've ever seen. The other one that sticks out is the virtual old people's home, the third season I think.
Oh, is it where two lovers can go back in time whenever they want because they are dying?
Joff: Yeah, that's really beautiful. That was a really, really good one.
Joel: The guy who originated it, Charlie Brooker, had this thing called Screenwipe. It'll just be him sitting in a room giving his opinions about TV programmes. He's always so satirical and cynical and it still surprises me that he's gone into this. It's really smart.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Joff: I've really been into Leo Kottke. He's a really great guitar player. I'm doing a short course on philosophy and I've been reading textbooks. I needed to do something on tour to stop me from going mad.
And have you learnt more about life along the way?
Joff: No. The annoying thing about philosophy is that you get a lot more questions than answers. You get very good at smoking but in terms of actual real life insights...
I don't think real life insights come from a textbook anyway.
Joff: That's a quote. Can I say that? Say that I said that!
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