Alice in rock wonderland

Wolf Alice. PA Photo/Jenn Five.

Wolf Alice. PA Photo/Jenn Five.

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“Where’s my plane?” bemoans Wolf Alice bassist Theo Ellis.

It is fair to say the rock’n’roll lifestyle is not exactly what the Londoner expected.

“I used to watch bands in my teen years and think ‘look at them on stage, I’ve bet they’ve got about 12 planes each’, but it’s not really like that,” he admits, defeatedly.

Theo is one-quarter of the alternative rock band from North London, who play in Sheffield next month, along with Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie, both on vocals and guitar, and drummer Joel Amey.

And Ellie has been equally shocked since Wolf Alice started gathering momentum three years ago, culminating in the release of their debut album, My Love Is Cool, earlier this summer.

“I would watch bands at places like Shepherd’s Bush Empire,” says the 23-year-old, “and they’d look so together and composed, and not for a minute did I think there might have been nerves before the show.

“I just thought they’d be like, ‘Another day, another gig’, and completely self-assured that everything would run smoothly.

“I am so scared going on stage, thinking about the people I know in the crowd and all sorts of things, and all those other bands must’ve been too.”

If she is scared, she hides it well, commanding a presence in the centre of the stage with her big voice, sweet one second, a throaty howl the next.

After the line-up was completed three years ago, the band released their first singles and EP, which immediately put them on the map.

The wave of bands they came through with, such asSwim Deep and Peace, have all released debuts and either have second albums out already, or ready to be released soon.

There is, however, something pleasingly old-fashioned about the way Wolf Alice took their time, toured the country and got better and better as a live band before attempting their debut.

If they had any plan, it was to have no plan, and to say yes to any gig offered.

Ellie says: “We just wanted to play. We said yes to everything, but aside from that and the whole ‘we’ve recorded a song, let’s release it’, we never thought long-term about where it was all going.”

She does not feel the band have changed much in the last three years, but admits they probably have.

And Joel says: “We don’t realise how much we’ve changed, I don’t think. We’ve come so much further than we realise.”

My Love Is Cool reached number two, missing out on top spot to Florence + The Machine on the back of the band’s headline slot at Glastonbury.

“It was scary, actually,” says Ellie. “We built up a lot of momentum and people were talking about us before the record was made, but we worked hard not to let that change anything.

“As soon as we made it, we felt really proud of it. And we really like it ourselves, which is obviously important.”

For now, as they gear up for six months of touring, kicking off with Australasia, Reading and Leeds, followed by a string of UK shows, Wolf Alice have jumped their first hurdle with ease, and have given themselves a target for their second album.

As for fame, “there’s no downside,” says Theo.

“We feel like a proper band now we have the album,” he says. “We have something to show the grandkids, anyway.”

Wolf Alice play Plug, Sheffield city centre, on Tuesday, September 22. For tickets, priced from £14, visit www.the-plug.com