Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice unpacks the story of their sophomore album Visions of a Life prior to their first-ever show in Hong Kong at Clockenflap
From bedroom pop to Kanye drops, we’re all about music and the way it makes us feel. We interviewed one of our favourites – British alternative four-piece band Wolf Alice – about the storytelling in their latest album Visions of a Life, as well as the emotional highs and lows of touring as a band.
A chat with Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice
Most known for their uproarious grunge rock energy, Wolf Alice was actually formed as a London-based acoustic duo initially in 2010. It soon turned into a four-piece alternative rock band consisting of Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Amey. Having released their debut full-length album My Love Is Cool in 2015, the band has gained significant traction with their hit singles like Moaning Lisa Smile and Bros. Not only was their critically-acclaimed sophomore album Visions of a Life ranked as one of the best indie albums of 2017 by multiple critics, it also won the 2018 Mercury Prize. If you fancy a pure rock frenzy, then definitely check out Wolf Alice.
Hi, Ellie. Congratulations on your Mercury Music Prize for Visions of a Life! Can you share with us some difficulties you’ve encountered along the way?
It’s difficult starting off because it can be frustrating when you feel like no one cares. It’s expensive being in a band even when you’ve garnered some success. It’s hard touring so much because you have to give up a normal life at home.
The album gravitates towards a storytelling approach, what inspired you to give birth to these stories?
Mainly just my life, my feelings and of the people around me. I like reading books, plays and films, so I guess I’ve learnt a little bit about storytelling that way.
The title track Visions of a Life really builds tension and momentum, can you explain the fear/frustration/anxiety behind that contribute to its sound?
Visions of a Life is an amalgamation of loads of snippets of ideas that didn’t become full songs that we just put together to make one long song. I don’t really know where the fear/frustration and anxiety came from. I suppose it’s because a song that long should have a lot of dynamic and tension in order to keep one’s attention.
You’ve had a hectic year touring around the world. How does it feel to have such a prominent recognition?
It feels great to know that people are enjoying what you’re doing and cheering you on. It’s intimidating too because there are people watching and analysing and criticising your every move.
Which artist(s) or band(s) have you been really into?
I love the London band called Sorry. I like the singer Rina Sawayama and the Australian band Confidence Man.
When performing live, what kind of atmosphere and energy do you seek to generate?
I want it to be fun, energetic and high octane but with moments of tenderness and self-reflection for the audience. It has to be an emotional roller-coaster!
Follow Wolf Alice here