- 17 Jan 22
Wolf Alice singer Ellie Rowsell chats to us about the band's opus 'Blue Weekend', which has scooped our International Album of the Year gong.
As soon as Blue Weekend, the eagerly awaited third album from English alt-rockers Wolf Alice, landed in June 2021, it made a major impact. Released through the Dirty Hit label, four brilliantly eclectic singles preceded its arrival: 'The Last Man on Earth', 'Smile', 'No Hard Feelings' and 'How Can I Make It OK?'.
Blue Weekend became Wolf Alice's third album in a row to earn a Mercury Prize nomination, with the band previously winning for 2018's Visions Of A Life. The LP debuted at No. l on the UK Albums Chart, also hitting the Top 10 in Ireland.
Embroiling their listeners in a rich cocktail of emotions, soundscapes and subject matter, Wolf Alice placed frontwoman Ellie Rowsell's elegant vocals at the forefront. Her voice is used as a raw and vicious instrument at times, and an angelic force for calm within other, wonderfully dramatic tracks. Either way, we are powerless - compelled to listen to her every confession.
Wolf Alice have officially cemented their position as one of the most compelling forces in modern rock, with an increasingly genre-defying, intricate approach, which has secured them Hot Press’ International Album of the Year for Blue Weekend.
"We haven't been to Ireland yet to play our latest album," Ellie tells us, "and it's honestly hard to gauge the reaction to an album release in another country without performing there. It's really great news that Ireland enjoyed it that much. We always have a good time when we come over. The Olympia is a favourite venue of ours, and we love the country itself- even when we go for personal reasons.
"The crowds are always super-fun, so I hope the new gigs don't get cancelled. We want to get there sooner rather than later."
Having been lauded by critics worldwide, it must be surreal for the quartet - comprising Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Theo Ellis and Joel Arney - to wrap their heads around the level of acclaim.
"It's amazing to see how well it did, but it's hard to explain how it feels," Rowsell considers. "I would have been happy with the result regardless, but especially this time around, when it was such an intense process of recording during lockdown. We had zero distractions at all, which gave us some form of runnel vision. By the end, I didn't even know what Blue Weekend sounded like anymore, because we were so fully immersed in the process.
"Watching the fan reactions validated us, because we couldn't see the woods from the trees. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had gone any way in terms of people's reactions, so it was a lovely result."
Does Ellie have any special memories off fan reactions to Blue Weekend?
"'The Last Man On Earth' was our first single in almost three years," she says. "Having not been able to play shows, we really wanted to see people's reaction. We asked the fans to film themselves listening to it for the first time when it came on the radio, and to send the clips to us. We spliced a video together and it was really moving. After such a long time of keeping that music to yourself, it was so powerful to see."
Is there a standout track for Ellie?
"Playing 'Lipstick On The Glass' is moving because I find it quite sad, still," she responds. "I love the musicality of the passage that comes after the second chorus. If I think about the lyrics too much when I'm playing it, the song makes me want to cry. It's a testament to the fact that we got it right that it still has the ability to move me.
"Each album is special to me, especially now when I've got hindsight. There's a nostalgia tied to them all; whether that's regarding what the songs are about, or the moments that came when we recorded them and played them live. I do feel more attached to Blue Weekend because with age and experience, you are able to do something that feels more like yourself.
"Perhaps in the earlier years, I was just figuring out who I was, so I couldn't really put it on paper. I was trying to be someone else, maybe. The older I get, the more I can produce something that's an extension of myself. This album is more me than the others, but I'm still learning. I'm excited for what will come next, even though I've been in a band for 10 years now.
"I've stilt only been to the studio to record an album three times in a decade, so I stilt don't really know what I'm doing, (laughs). We'll see what the future holds."
What are the group's plans for next year?
"Wolf Alice haven't got together to write or even chat about 2022," notes Ellie, "because we've still got a lot to do with this album in terms of live shows. Every time we meet up, it's still to do with Blue Weekend. I've got a bit of an itch, and I'm always conscious that I should be writing. Hopefully it won't be too long, because I've got to keep things exciting - for myself, at least."
Lastly, does Ellie feel that Blue Weekend will have an enduring impact? "It's really not for me to say," she considers. 'When I look back, I've always felt content putting out albums, because I knew I couldn't do anymore. I felt satisfied with the other two, even though there are always times where you listen back and have small regrets - but never to the point where I can't listen to them anymore.
"That being said, I found myself happier with this one. For me, at least, it will have longevity. Perhaps that means it will have longevity for someone else. I don't know if it will be a legacy album - I very much doubt it - but it might be an LP that someone else will return to and still appreciate someday."
Listen to Blue Weekend below: