STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Their name comes from the main character in a dark short story from “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter.
Originally formed as an acoustic duo in 2010, the band , and the haunting voice of singer Ellie Rowsell, seems to have captured the attention of their fellow Brits suddenly out of nowhere. BBC Radio 1 downloaded their song “Leaving You” off the Wolf Alice Soundcloud page and started playing it, then long-time tastemakers “New Music Express” (NME) started writing about them.
Meanwhile, Stateside, the breakout song “Moaning Lisa Smile” popped up enough on alternative radio — as well as appearing in HBO’s “The Leftovers” — to earn them a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance.
“That’s not something we expected at all,” said bassist Theo Ellis in a phone call from York, U.K. a week before Wolf Alice was due for three sold out shows at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London.
In a press release from RCA Records, Rowsell had this to say about “Moaning Lisa Smile”: “It’s got this almost metal riff. It’s funny because we all love ‘The Simpsons’ and we based it on Lisa Simpson.”
The winners of the 2015 NME Award for Best Live Band, Wolf Alice’s tour brings them to Philadelphia’s Union Transfer April 1.
From the sound of it, the Grammy nod has a lot more people taking notice of the band. “It’s such a different world. We’ve been very lucky,” Ellis commented.
Wolf Alice’s feral sound strongly evokes the distinct atmosphere, attitude, guitar attack and melodic sensibilities of ‘90s alternative and college radio rock. While Ellis agrees with the observation, he says it’s done subconsciously.
In the press release bio, drummer Joel Amey stated: “When we first met, all of us were doing different musical things, but they were nothing like this band. We all wanted to do something like this. It wasn’t anything we ever overtly discussed though. It came out quite organically by working on each song individually. We ran with whatever excited us.”
Ellis and Amey were brought on board when the rhythm section that Wolf Alice founding members Rowsell and Joff Oddie had originally recruited couldn’t commit to an increasingly demanding schedule. “We all knew each other since we were younger, so it wasn’t a random thing,” said Ellis.
A line from the recent single “Freazy” goes: “You can hate us all you want/but it don’t mean nothing at all.”
“That was a cool day,” said Ellis of the shooting of the song’s video — a trippy romp thanks to heavy use of green screen technology.
So what about a follow up to their 2015 full-length album “My Love is Cool?” According to Ellis, the group is making new demo recordings. “We don’t want to lose any of the momentum,” he said.