Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell on Their Upcoming Debut, ‘My Love Is Cool’
During their short tenure, Wolf Alice have dabbled in genres as far-reaching as stripped-down folk to squealing grunge and moody shoegaze. As a result, critics have been trying to figure out just how to, well, figure out the London alt-rockers. But just when you think you’ve got them pinned down, the foursome – Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis – take a left turn and throw you for a loop again... in the best way possible.
Since dropping their debut single, “Fluffy,” back in 2013, Wolf Alice have followed it up with a pair of EPs: 2013’s Blush and 2014's Creature Songs. During that time, they traveled from the dreamy, XX-esque “White Leather” all the way to Creature Songs’ “Moaning Lisa Smile” – a track that perfectly encapsulates Wolf Alice’s ability to blend their grimy guitar rock with pop smarts.
Now the quartet are slated to drop their debut full-length, My Love Is Cool, on June 22. And if the lead single, “Giant Peach” (which Rowsell appropriately described as “a song to lose your s--t to”) is any indication, the album promises to be a coherent summarization of the band’s output thus far. Ahead of My Love Is Cool’s arrival and a string of U.S. tour dates, Rowsell spoke with us about the upcoming album and the diverse influences that inspire them to stick their “fingers in all genre pies.”
Can you walk us through the recording of My Love Is Cool?
We went to Livingston Studios in Wood Green with Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Keane), with 18 songs both old and new, and proceeded to record the ones we were most excited about. We came out with 13 – 12 of which we used. It took us six weeks minus weekends and we finished three days before Christmas so [it] was a perfect way to end the year.
Did you feel like you gained newfound perspective and direction from your previous EPs that helped drive the new album?
Every recording experience we’ve had has been so different. So in that way, we still have so much to learn. But, yes, we had more perspective and direction for the album and had learned to go with our gut and be brave, which is difficult but important.
What can we expect in terms of sound compared to the EPs?
It’s bigger, a bit braver and hopefully a whole lot better. It sees a lot of the same vibes from across our two EPs, but taken a bit further -- so the heavy stuff is heavier and the pop stuff is poppier.
Youth and coming of age seem to be a prevailing theme in your music – from the Angela Carter story that inspired the Wolf Alice name to the inspiration behind “Bros.” What about those concepts helps drive your creative process?
I think when you are “coming of age,” your brain is at its most introspective, thoughtful, emotional and weird. That’s why a lot of our songs are about that time. Just like coming-of-age books and films, the themes resonate with people because they’re so personal. But everyone goes through similar things no matter where you’re from and who you are.
You’ve said that “Bros” has taken on new lives since you originally wrote it back in 2013 to the version that appears on My Love Is Cool. Could you expand on how it’s transformed over the past couple of years?
We basically had two versions of it: a home demo and the version we recorded for our single release in 2013. For the album, we wanted to do something that was in between the two. We also wanted to play around with giving it more of a chorus and this felt like [this was the] perfect opportunity to revisit it and do so.
What do you make of writers scrambling to assign you to a single genre even though no one categorization seems to sum your music up?
I get it. It’s tempting to try and summarize someone’s sound and I will be interested to see what people say after this album. No one can really say what kind of music you are before you put out an album because we are just experimenting and sticking our fingers in all genre pies.
Since you can’t really be pigeonholed into a single genre, what are some of your influences?
I’m influence by dark, heavy guitar music; the experimental use of vocals, lyrics and production in hip-hop and rap music; the melodies and production in pop music; and everything that comes in between all that stuff.
Are you guys at all reluctant to be attached to a ‘90s grunge revival?
There [are] aspects of ‘90s grunge music I adore, but there are parts of it I really don’t connect with and had no relevance in my life. I’m not offended by the description; I just hope we won’t be pigeonholed by that description because we have more to us than a ‘90s grunge influence.
What are your plans for touring once the album arrives in June?
Hopefully we will do a full album tour in as many places as possible until we have a whole new body of work to play.