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WOLF ALICE Formidably Cool

British rockers Wolf Alice have proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Their excellent debut My Love Is Cool made a mark on the world, and now their second album Visions Of A Life is cementing their place as one of Britain’s best new bands. KIERRA POLLOCK spoke to drummer Joel Amey from the band about their new album and their upcoming appearance for Laneway Festival at Esplanade Reserve and West End, Fremantle on Sunday, February 11.

Visions Of A Life seems to have a bit more of a shoegaze feel to it, was that intentional?

We all like shoegaze, I think maybe there’s just more sonics on this record because there was more time for Joff to go down the rabbit hole and explore different textures. The same for Ellie as well. I think we weren’t exactly trying to follow shoegaze, we were just having fun. We were just expressing these walls of noise. We do like shoegaze; we’ve liked it for a long time.

Formidable Cool is an excellent track, can you tell me a bit more about it?

Formidable Cool we put in the middle. We wanted the rhythm to be more of a dance rhythm. There are a few rhythms in our old songs that are quite straight, and I just had this vision of people dancing to Formidable Cool. We were listening to stuff like Can trying to get these drum tones and rhythm tones and stuff. It was actually the first song we tracked for the record. It just kind of followed from there, and it’s been really fun to play live, I’m really excited to play it on a bigger stage.

You have already said in many interviews that you didn’t have that difficulty with the second album that many artists seem to experience, but did you find it to be a different process to My Love Is Cool? And what was it like working with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Paramore)?

I think we were just really dedicated with what we wanted to do, and we went into the rehearsal space five days a week and just worked on all these ideas we had. Everyone is asking what went wrong, but during that process there wasn’t really anything. We just kind of got on with it. The album just kind of appeared before we knew what we were doing. When we took it to Justin, it was another stepping stone to completing the record. He listened to what we had and we worked a lot on the pre-production and he just really facilitated getting the best out of the ideas that we had. He was really a joy to work with.

When you released My Love Is Cool, there seemed to be quite a bit of anticipation for the album, was there a different feel releasing this one to the first one?

Yeah I think so. There was a lot of expectation. In many ways, because of the way the press built Wolf Alice up with this hype they had around the singles, there was so much riding on the first album and it took a long time and it just felt quite unusual. Then when it came out and people started connecting with it, it was a huge relief. Fluffy came out a couple of years before and it ended up on the album. This time around we were recording songs that we’d only had for about six months. Even though the earliest written one was probably two years ago, we had only spent about six months intensively working on them, so it was a different vibe. I think this time we had a bit more confidence to go into the studio and we knew what to aim for.

Planet Hunter is another great track from Visions Of A Life, what is the story behind this track?

Planet Hunter is a funny one, we kind of kept forgetting we had it and it was one of the earlier songs that we had. We kept saying “Oh what songs do we have?” “Oh we have Planet Hunter!” Then something else happened, and again, “What songs have we got?” “Oh yeah, shit, Planet Hunter.” It kept creeping back up on us. Eventually we thought it was one of the best ones we’ve got. We played it to a few people and they loved it. I remember we played it to my mum live, we were just rehearsing it in London, and she’s very hard to please when it comes to music but she said, “That’s really good.” It was really fun to work on in the studio as well. Joff had this sound that you hear come in, that was an introduction that we had to our set last year or the year before, and we really wanted to put it in somewhere.

Was it difficult deciding which songs to keep and take off the setlist considering you have a lot of hits and fan favourites from My Love Is Cool and your EPs?

I think we want to try and make a setlist that’s fresh, but also fun, and also includes songs that the Wolf Alice fans want to hear. I think we’ve got to try and find that balance, and we don’t want to just repeat the show we had on last tour. We’ve just finished our setlist for what we are going to do in November and stuff, I think it’s going to look really good. I think it’s going to be really fun.

You guys are coming back to Australia in February for Laneway Festival; it’s been a while between tours here, and now you’ve got the two albums, how are you feeling about coming back?

We feel a lot more confident. When it came to playing last time, it felt like a big step up, so we weren’t well and truly with it. This time we’re a lot more confident, and we are miles better live, without trying to sound like a dick [laughs], we are just a much better live band now. I’ve never heard of Fremantle before, so I’m excited to go there. The line up is really exciting for me as well. I am obsessed with Father John Misty, so I can’t wait to follow him around Australia, and Mac DeMarco. BADBADNOTGOOD are playing as well, and there is just loads of bands that are genuinely my most favourite bands, it’s going to be a pleasure. It’s been ages and we love Australia, it’s going to be a joy to come over there and we can’t wait!

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