Wolf Alice by Phil Smithies

Interview Wolf Alice talk headlining festivals: “This is what we wanted to do from the start”

We spoke to the band’s Joff Oddie about the news that they’ll be topping the bill at this year’s Standon Calling.

Wolf Alice are no strangers to playing festivals; in fact, they’ve probably appeared at just about all of them since first emerging. One thing that they’ve yet to tick off their bucket list, however, is becoming a fully-fledged festival headliner. And - spoiler alert - that’ll be changing very soon…

Having rounded off a triumphant 2018 by bagging themselves the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize and selling out two shows at Brixton Academy just before Christmas, the quartet are already planning a big one in 2019, when they’ll headline this year’s Standon Calling.

To celebrate this frankly brilliant occasion, we caught up with the band’s Joff Oddie, who assured us they can’t wait to get stuck in.

Hi Joff! So how does it feel to get to headline your first proper festival?
It feels great. This is what we wanted to do from the start really. We’re pretty ambitious. We headlined a very small festival in Margate, Dreamland Festival, in 2016 at the end of the ‘My Love Is Cool’ campaign, but this is our first outdoor three day festival kind-of vibe headline set. I had a little look at the poster and we’re at the top next to Nile Rodgers so that kind of feels very bizarre and there’s a big level of responsibility that comes with that but I’m so excited to crack into it.

Yeah, that must be a weirdly surreal thing. Have you felt ready to be festival headliners for a long time?
No. The goal posts are constantly changing as a band. You want to get your first big London gig and then you want to go on tour and then you want to play outside the UK and then you want to play festivals and then you want to play high up on the festivals… so this is all part of that process. But I feel like we’re ready to do this and I’m excited to have our name at the top of a poster at long last because it does feel fantastic.

How do you approach a show differently if you’re moving onto bigger and bigger stages? Are there things you have to think about differently?
The core stuff doesn’t change. You go out there and you try and play the songs the best you can and you try and engage the audience to the best of your ability. You need to think about production when it gets bigger, all the behind the scenes stuff gets ramped up but, you know, the ethos is exactly the same. You go out and you try make the audience listen to you and you try and give them a good time, no matter how many people are there. That’s the job.

“I feel like we’re ready to do this and I’m excited to have our name at the top of a poster at long last because it does feel fantastic.”

Joff Oddie, Wolf Alice

Obviously it’s still a few months away, but do you think you’ll have any new songs to play by the time summer comes around?
Who knows? It’s all up in the air. I shan’t give anything away.

Fair enough, then. In the past few years, it seems like you’ve played shows pretty much all over the world, but what’s been some of the highlights for you?
Yeah, we’ve played shows in a lot of bizarre places, especially in the last year. We played a couple of shows in India, which was an amazing experience, not really on the mainstream touring circuit, so it was great to be able to get out there. Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, down to South Africa, which is a little bit more emergent. We went to New Zealand for the first time this year. India was definitely an experience culturally. We had a bit of time off there and we got to nose around and eat some food and wander through towns, so that was definitely the most interesting experience I think.

You’re really well know here in the UK, but how do crowds differ playing in all these different places?
Wolf Alice crowds are incredible everywhere you will go in the world. They’re all fantastic. They’re all sick.

We bet. And is there anywhere you haven’t played that you’d really like to play?
We’ve still yet to go to South America. That seems like the traditional first place you go once you’ve done the traditional touring circuit, when you’ve been to Australia and America and Japan and stuff. Then you go off to South America, but not yet. But we’re still very excited at the prospect of being invited down there so hopefully that happens. There’s still the obligatory “Come to Brazil!” comment on every Facebook, Twitter, Instagram post, so I’m hoping at some point we’ll finally be able to come to Brazil.

Aside from headlining Standon Calling, what else have the band got planned for the rest of the year?
We’re gonna be making music at some point. Our head is in writing and recording mode, you know, there’s gonna be a very minimal amount of shows this year. So come to the festival, because you may not be able to see us for a while if you don’t.

Wolf Alice headline this year’s Standon Calling, for which DIY is a media partner, so keep your eyes peeled for news, previews and reports in the lead up to the festival.

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