Wolf Alice release their new album Visions of Life tomorrow and in case you can’t get enough of them catch them at HMV in Glasgow on Wed 4th October for a signing – grab your biro! Singer-songwriter/guitarist Joff Oddie chats to Student Rag’s Susie Daniels about dark times and sharing something special with Ellie.
Yuk Foo is quite punk sounding. Punk music seems to affect audiences – spitting or throwing various items on stage. Anything like that happened to Wolf Alice?
We’ve never been spat at! One show was a bit weird. A couple of pairs of shoes were thrown at us at a gig in Cambridge. We were all sitting back stage thinking ‘was that a good thing?’ Was someone thinking, ‘I’m having such a good time, I’ve taken my shoes off and I’ll throw them on stage?’
Or did they think ‘this is rubbish’?
You’re known for your love of guitars, especially your 1962 Fender Jaguar reissue. Is the Jaguar your baby?
I have more than ten guitars! My main guitar is the white fender Jaguar and it’s undergone a lot of changes in the last couple of years. It’s all beat up and disgusting. I bought it second hand on Gumtree from a bloke in America who had just put it to one side for two years.
The black Telecaster Ellie plays is mine. That was my birthday present when I was 14 or 15. It’s rather special. I’m not precious about Ellie playing it cos electric guitars can take a pounding.
You make guitars and have one that’s a Telecaster/Jazz Moster hybrid. Will we be seeing a Joffie guitar in the near future?
(laughs) Yeah, the Joffuar. I did make a guitar hybrid but it’s rubbish – not very nice at all. I have a big block of wood at home waiting to be carved into a guitar. It’s my next endeavour.
Who is inspiring you at the moment?
I’m listening to a lot of Philip Glass (1960s composer) at the moment, William Basinski, (avant garde 1980s composer) some ambient neo-classical stuff. I’ve had a bit of a renaissance in my music. Broken Social Scene and an old Jackson C Frank song, ‘Blues Run the Game’ – a famous song covered by a lot of people like Nick Drake in the Seventies. Nick’s cover is a very primitive sound.
What music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up on Indie music; The Strokes, The Libertines, Kings of Leon, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes.
That was really a fantastic time for music. Also Oasis, The Stone Roses, quintessentially British music.
Was it important to get a second album out quickly after My Love is Cool was so revered?
Yeah, you have forever to write your first one – we had 23 years! This one we had two and a half years since our first album and two of those years we were touring. We finished that in August last year and we had five months to record. It was a case of knuckling down. When we finished touring we got in a little rehearsal room five days a week. It was a lot of work. We took 18 or 19 songs into the studio and came out with 12.
What inspired the material for Visions of Life? Did you feel pressure to experience things to help with the song-writing?
You can’t force personal experience. You can make yourself available. A lot happened to Ellie on a personal level.
Any songs that are particularly personal to you?
St Purple & Green – it’s a beautiful song that we’ve always believed in strongly and I’m going through a similar thing. It is about the loss of a loved one and something similar is happening as we speak, to my grandma down in Cornwall.
How does Visions of A Life compare to the feel of your debut, My Love is Cool?
The first album felt like a transition away from childhood and growing up and a transition into the first steps that are a little more adult. Visions of A Life is more the age we are at the moment and the start of being a little more grown up.
You all contribute to the album. Do you all wear your heart on your sleeve when it comes to song-writing?
I think all of us like to be a touch more guarded and think we like to generalise experience and not completely be subjective. A lot of things on the record everyone experiences such as love, loss and confusion. It’s a nice way of releasing it. Ellie always says the greatest thing about song-writing is you’re not alone.
Ever tempted to do lead vocals?
I’ll happily leave that to Ellie. I’ve always wanted to but my voice is not really as versatile and strong as Ellie’s.
The album includes different music genres from punk and rock to grunge and folk. Do you ever think of making more of a genre album?
It would bore us to death! To be honest it’s intentional and not intentional. When you’re working on a song and the music for a song we try and work out what musical pattern reflects the emotion.
Has the path been a long one of knocking on doors and gigging to get to this point? What advice do you have for budding musicians?
Me and Ellie were playing to no one for two years. Open mics are a great source for that sort of stuff.
I was in my first year of uni, training to be a primary school teacher when we were doing that. You’ll never have a point like uni – three years when you’re available to do that. Make the most of that time. It’s about playing with people and jamming with the friend across the hall so go and have a jam!
You once said that some bands making it big were non-mortal rock stars that you couldn’t remotely relate to. Are you there yet?
I don’t care in the slightest. If that’s something you aspire to then that’s weird.
will play Glasgow Barrowland on November 11 and 12.