Hi friends, back again with another exciting in store announcement – and this one gives us extra special pleasure…
We are proud to welcome back WOLF ALICE on Wednesday 24th June at 2:30pm – for a live intimate afternoon set.
We put these guys on at the Registry two and a half years ago, our very first Pie&Vinyl presents. It has been fun to watch them get bigger and bigger, whilst bumping in to them many times – they always come and have a chat with us, and ask about the shop. That makes us the BIGGEST fans – did I mention they are absolutely incredible songwriters who have learned and earned their craft? A joy to behold live.
Anyway, enough sentimentality – basically follow these steps:
1. Gather as many friends as possible, and tell them the in store of the decade is happening down Castle Road at Pie&Vinyl
2. Tell your boss it’s national ‘work a half day’ day – and ask for half a day off.
3. Get to the store at about 2pm or earlier – It’s free to get in of course, but only to the first 60 people who show that dedication is what you need. OR pre order using our Click&Collect service HERE to guarantee your entry and collect at the instore.
4. Enjoy show, whilst eating a pie
5. Grab a copy of the new record, get it signed and make it the soundtrack to your summer.
More info on the band below – see you there!
Wolf Alice are a bunch of characters. Ellie Rowsell plays the effortlessly visceral frontwoman onstage, but is quietly polite off it hoping to “not sound wanky” in interviews. Theo Ellis is the suave punk bassist, unapologetic about the dodgy tattoos he gets to kill time when bored on tour. His latest is a a black rectangle which is supposed to resemble a pint of Guinness. Guitarist Joff Oddie is the insular romantic, picking out folk tunes on an acoustic backstage then noodling the hell out of his solos when the lights go up. Last but not least, drummer and one half of a rhythmic bromance with Theo, Joel Amey provides the life and soul of the party. Joel is incapable of doing anything besides music. He collects oddball trinkets to decorate his chest like some 1970s road dog.
Together Wolf Alice form a gang of loveable jerks who have spent the past two years together chasing adventure, learning how to craft songs, playing them red raw and having the best time you possibly could in your early 20s, more often than not in the silly, unpretentious “museum” of Camden Town. “There’s so little going on for Camden culturally at the moment,” jokes Theo. Ellie: “It’s not cool. It’s also not cool to say it’s not cool because like, yeah, nobody disagrees.” Announcing themselves at the start of 2013 with the wallop of ‘Fluffy’, they’ve built a diverse canon of belters, evolving their sound and providing music lovers with a bit of everything on the Blush (2013) and Creature Songs (2014) EPs from indie ballads and folk-y anthems to grunge screamers and big poppy choruses.
They’ve crashed through cities in Europe and the US, leaving a path of destruction in their wake then apologising for the mess they made hoping they’ll be invited back next time. Their mischief bears an innocence that explains the contrast in light and dark on their highly anticipated debut ‘My Love Is Cool’, which comes out on 22 June via Dirty Hit records. Patience has allowed them to improve in scope and technique, rewarding them with an album they’re confident in. Finally. “Everyone kept telling us we were so eclectic and incapable of being pigeonholed,” says Theo. “The album is an expression of our sound, cross-pollinated by what’s come before. A consistent representation of those ideas.” Ellie scoffs. “You’re too eloquent for your own good, Theo.” Theo: “Fine, the drums are fucking sick. I love it.”
Produced by Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals), the band went into the studio with a sense of panic last November for five weeks in London’s Wood Green. It was an intense and emotional experience, bringing them closer together and allowing them to exorcise their demons. “It’s nice when something’s going badly and eventually you get there,” recalls Joel. “Especially for me and Theo doing takes over and over is so embarrassing. Then you get it and you’re like, Ah! I knew we were good.”
They entered the North London space with 20 songs spanning from 3 years to a few weeks old. Only two of their previous releases – ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Bros’ are on the final LP, Ellie insistent that the rest of their catalogue has already lived its life. Their decisions around which songs would make the cut were based simply on the ones they still had feverish performances for, something Crossey helped tease out. “Nowadays you can conk the shit out of things and make it sound alright but it needs an energy,” says Theo. Joel: “I found myself doing more weird shit, unafraid to make mistakes. When Mike stood up when I was drumming he’d give me a buzz and I’d be thinking, Yes mate! I’m fucking Dave Grohl!!”
It’s that sense of playfulness, of realising their dream to be a proper band, that shines throughout the 11 tracks on ‘My Love Is Cool’. The fact it’s fun doesn’t overshadow its ambition. The band were conscious that expectations – their own included – were building. Even the familiar ‘Bros’ and ‘Fluffy’ have been re-worked, now displaying pointier teeth and sharper claws. The former contains a new chorus. Whereas the latter features spoken word from Joff, which still has Theo cracking up: “I love that so hard.”
From the enormous riffs of single ‘Giant Peach’ to the muffled, urgent melodies of ‘Lisbon’ and hip-hop rhythms of ‘Silk’, ‘My Love Is Cool’ is a masterful, explorative statement of Wolf Alice’s multiple characters. It unfolds like a play, and ends on ‘The Wonderwhy’ which contains echoes of other tracks within, like a final reprise. For a band named after a literary reference, fiction is a conscious part of their manifestation. They lament the lack of theatre among upcoming bands and don’t want their appeal to be limited to new music fans who pride themselves on championing the Next Big Thing. ‘My Love Is Cool’ is for music lovers period.
It’s also the real-time result of a collective coming-of-age. Joel wasn’t the only one with pre-album jitters. “The thing I’ve noticed most is being able to sing!” says Ellie. “My favourite moment was re-doing vocals on ‘Your Loves Whore’, going for it proper X Factor style. Like, WHOA! It was really funny. Hahahahaha. I felt like a singer!” She gives out a comically monstrous Dr Evil laugh, like the one at the end of ‘You’re A Germ’. The foursome’s live performance has developed from opening up for a host of indie bands in UK basements to supporting Alt-J on European arena tours. They never look to be playing a space too big for them. But with Ellie, the progress is staggering. She cringes at the thought of old gigs. The first sign of her voice on opener ‘Turn To Dust’ conjures an otherworldly etherealness that shapeshifts throughout the album.
Those vocal flourishes are attributed to Ellie’s time studying big vocals: Sia (“so pop it’s kinda gross”), Lana Del Rey (“the way she has two sides to her”) and Andre 3000, She doesn’t want to emulate them but it’s helped her understand how to push new characters she didn’t know she had in her repertoire. The songs are all characters in their own right, too. “’Giant Peach’ is delivered in the style of a brat. Because it’s a bratty song, you know? That’s why it’s shouty, like a tearaway kid.”
Together they’re fascinated by personas. Theo cites ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ from Tom Waits. “The way he sets the scene and creates Frank, blurring the lines between spoken word and music, what an amazingly vivid creation for a song.” Joel nods to Nick Cave’s blending of reality and fiction. “He puts in so much more effort than everyone else. His songs are movies”. Ellie bigs up David Bowie. “Everyone thought he was a fucking alien live on Top Of The Pops.” Joff aspires to Warren Ellis. “A wild, feral guy who is just fucking constantly in the moment. He’s not human.” ‘My Love Is Cool’ is an ode to performance art. ‘Silk’ was written about the socialite Edie Sedgwick who Ellie became obsessed with. “There’s just something about her. She didn’t do anything but everyone loved her anyway.” ‘Lisbon’ was named after the Lisbon sisters in ‘The Virgin Suicides’.
“I think that’s why the Beatles are one of the biggest bands ever,” says Joel. “It’s four sick writers who are all just mates making these weird little theatre songs.” Theo: “Like ‘Rocky Raccoon’ – they’ve got these narratives. Fucking bizarre.” Joel: “Then you listen to ‘rock’ bands and they’re doing the rock song with the rock drums and the rock chords. Eugh. I’d rather hear something weirder.” Wolf Alice never set out to be a certain type of band. They just wanted to write great songs, regardless of genre.
That’s why each track on ‘My Love Is Cool’ is unpredictable – a living, breathing, unfolding tale. You might think ‘Swallowtail’ is Joel’s calming moment of self-reflection, till it fires off into a grunge freakout. ‘Silk’ is a three-part legend in itself, with a cinematic opening featuring eerie whisperings, followed by a piano-led middle ripe with vocal harmonies, then climaxing in a clattering finale. The fact it’s followed by the obvious pop genius of ‘Freazy’ is a testament to how far they’ve come. Here’s a band who can experiment with their passion for heavy music, then jeopardise that darkness by throwing absurd light on it within seconds. You want Deftones breakdowns? Take ‘Lisbon’. You want ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints via Radiohead’s ‘Creep’? ‘Freazy’ is coming right up. “You know how in rap music there’s a We’re The Fucking Best song?” says Ellie of the song’s lyrics, written after they got home from a support slot one night and read a barrage of disparaging comments about them online. “It’s our haters-gonna-hate song.”
The biggest thrill is that ‘My Love Is Cool’ isn’t what you were expecting . “I remember Faris Badwan from The Horrors once said that a record could exist in itself and the performance would be full of another energy,” says Theo when challenged on how they might interpret the LP’s bolder aspects onstage. “We will incorporate the DNA of the album in the live show but I don’t think it’ll ever necessarily be exactly the same.” Why should it be? The album is a just another way to experience the quartet’s power. Ellie explains it thus: “We don’t just wanna write punk songs so we haven’t. We’ve been in a band for so long, unsigned with no money that we’ve learned how to play our songs with limitations and don’t wanna lose that. But we also don’t want to compromise our album and not put synths on it just because we don’t actually own any. How can you be slick and recreate your album in such a precise way, then still want to jump into the crowd?” Wolf Alice can do both. “That’s why I grew up watching garage bands,” says Ellie. “When I was younger I came away from the show thinking, That’s so fun. I could probably do that even though I don’t have any money or any friends…”
“I loved that quote about The Velvet Underground. The one about how their debut only sold a few thousand, but everyone who bought it formed a band. I’d like us to be like that some day,” adds Joff. Joel: “I grew up in Surrey with no venues and no outlet. If this album inspires someone else growing up in a similar place to flunk school, go to the nearest city and start something… a band, a night, whatever, that’d be cool. And we wanna be Number 1! In all the countries!” Theo: “Everywhere. Kuala Lumpur. That’s the only place where Coldplay weren’t Number 1 on their last record.” Joel: Yeah actually I only wanna be Number 1 in Kuala Lumpur. That’s cool.”
Young, invincible and full of potential Wolf Alice have made exactly the type of debut they should have. ‘My Love Is Cool’ is a reflection of four individuals, all pertaining to different tastes and senses of humour. They provide a collection of songs to get involved in, an invitation to be part of their gang. Like the title, the emotional response it conjures can’t be done justice with words alone. “’Cool’ as a sentiment is so weird. How can you be ‘cool’? Alien characters are ‘cool’ but not necessarily good-looking or clever… The coolest thing is to just have something about you.” “’Cool’ and ‘Love’ are just MASSIVE words,” mocks Joel. It’s the perfect title, not confined to mood or place. Theo: “It’s fucking TIMELESS! That’s the quote right there.”
History will tell whether or not that’s true. But for now here is an aspirational record by an aspirational band. That fleeting feeling you get when you’re with your best mates and know you can take on your version of the world however small? That’s the dream Ellie, Joff, Theo and Joel are beginning to make reality. “Brody Dalle followed us on Twitter the other day!” spits Theo. Ellie: “My mum’s stopped slipping leaflets about new courses for Nursing at City of London under my door.” “That’s when you know you’re on your way,” says Joff. And then they all fall about laughing, Theo embraces Joel in a headlock, Ellie slips on a dress readying herself for stage time and Joff starts playing some Laura Marling chords. What a mess, but it all makes sense.