North London four-piece Wolf Alice catapulted themselves to the top of the indie music scene with their 2015 debut album ‘My Love is Cool’. Having played to crowds of thousands since then, the band felt it was time to revisit some smaller venues on their recent tour. Murray Jones caught up with Theo Ellis (bass) and Joel Amey (drums) before their sell-out show at the Tunbridge Wells Forum.
Photos by Rose Bainbridge
THE last time Wolf Alice played the Forum it was to about 30 people, including their mums, according to drummer Joel Amey. This time the 250 tickets sold out in seconds.
“Everything has changed for us,” says bassist Theo Ellis. “Life is completely different now. You go from trying really hard to make this your job, and then it’s your job and you’re away all the time. It’s crazy but it is amazing.”
Since the chart success and critical acclaim of their debut 2015 album ‘My Love is Cool’, the band, fronted by Ellie Rowsell plus guitarist Joff Oddie, have gained notoriety for their raucous but refined live shows.
Their meteoric rise culminated last summer with a performance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. So how does a show at the world’s biggest greenfield festival compare to a former public toilet in Tunbridge Wells?
“It’s physically different for sure, but in terms of how we approach it, it is always the same. No matter the show, we always try to give it the same amount of energy and passion,” says Theo.
“We’ve done more of these than we have Pyramid stages, so that’s the alien thing. These shows feel quite comfortable. We did these tours two years ago to literally no one. So to come back and play these small sweaty shows full of people, which is the fun way of experiencing these small venues, is really rewarding.”
After being warmed up by local acts DJ Dave Holman (father of Slaves’ drummer/singer Isaac Holman) and Lady Bird, the crowd were treated to a pulsating cocktail of old and new Wolf Alice. While 250 or so devotees sang their hearts out to favourites from the first album, the fresher tracks didn’t slow down the crowd at all.
Unusually, the highlight of the night came in the form of the as-yet unreleased Formidable Cool from the upcoming ‘Visions of a Life’. The stylistically-meshed song still delivered their signature hyper and heavy heartfeltness.
Wolf Alice’s second album, Visions of a Life, is out September 29.