Wolf Alice: “We had a Mercury Prize nomination once, so I wanted it again”

Ellie and Joel talk going two for two.

Back stage at Reading Festival, Dork grabbed Ellie and Joel Wolf Alice to discuss their massive year – from touring with Foo Fighters, to working their way up festival bills, to receiving their second Mercury Prize nomination. Will they take home the prize? We’ll have to wait until this evening to find out.

Howdy, BBC Radio 1 Stage headliners Wolf Alice. How do you feeling about headlining this stage?
It’s pretty mad, to be fair. Personally, this was always my festival, the one that I always went to. I didn’t go to Glastonbury until we played it, I just religiously went to Reading. It was everything, the first festival, the first festival on my own, the festival where I got my GCSE results. I spent so many hours at this tent so to get the offer to headline; it’s crazy.

It’s one of those festivals where you can look back on past line-ups and see what was going on at the time, musically.
You can always see bands in little writing on the old ones, and then two years later they’re headlining, Arctic Monkeys were down here, then they’re up here, which was quite cool.

And now you can do that with Wolf Alice.
yeah we can. I remember we were at the very, very bottom because it’s alphabetical when you get down to that point, although it’s all sideways now, isn’t it?

How were those big stadium shows with Foo Fighters and Liam G?
They were really fun. With Foos though, it’s ruined things for us because everything seems quite small now. We get out on the stage and shrug; it’s pretty small. Obviously, they weren’t our own shows so it was a whole different ballgame but they were super fun. It’s fun to play at such massive venues, and they’ve got lots of fans. Of course, it’s quite scary because you’re playing to a lot of people that don’t know you, but because they’re such a nice band, I felt like they would have nice fans. Being kind is a big thing, you’d be surprised if they had horrible fans.
Joel: Yeah, if we got bottled it’d be like, what?

“I guess I knew what the Mercury Prize was, but not really. Now I know the industry.”
Ellie Rowsell

It’s been a year since your surprise show at Reading. How has the whole ‘Visions Of A Life’ cycle been?
 It’s been mental, we’ve done so many shows.
 Just the air miles and everything, we spent so many months in America and stuff like going on tour with QOTSA, it’s been a dream come true. With every album, you hope that as a band, you are stepping it up a gear. I feel like we definitely have with this record, which is exciting.

Did the record do what you wanted it to do?
 I’m not sure what I wanted it to do really, but I’m still so proud of it and so proud of playing it live. The fact it’s taken us through from first on Festival Republic to last on Radio 1 is amazing.

What’s next?
 I’d like to take some time off and get inspired. It benefits you to go away, recap, have some hindsight on the experiences we’ve had and then start writing some music.

A lot of ‘Visions’ was written on the road, wasn’t it?
 A lot was done on the road, yeah, but it hasn’t been that way this time, so much.
 We haven’t spoken about it amongst ourselves yet, so we don’t really know what’s next.

When was the last time you listened to the album?
When we got nominated for the Mercury, I went back and listened to it. When stuff gets nominated for the Mercury, I often go and listen to the things I don’t know. I hadn’t listened to it in so long, and I liked listening to it knowing that people at this moment in time were potentially listening to it for the first time. It feels like you can listen to it with fresh ears and it’s great. I really like it. Obviously, I liked it at the time because it was at the time, but you never know if it’s going to hold up for you. I still really enjoyed it.

And you’re two for two at being nominated for the Mercury, how do you feel about that?
 Amazing, really. The first time around, it sounds like I’m lying, but I didn’t know anything about the industry. I guess I knew what the Mercury Prize was, but not really. But now, I know the industry. I have more grasp of what it means, so it was much more ‘oh my god’. I didn’t think it was going to happen. Also, we had it once, so I wanted it again.

Taken from the October issue of Dork. The Mercury Prize 2018 will be announced tonight, Thursday 20th September.

Words: Ali Shutler

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