Wolf Alice talks to us about performing at the iconic Union Chapel in London and its latest album

The band is made up of singer Ellie Rowsell, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey

Anagha M Published :  12th October 2021 04:30 PM   |   Published :   |  12th October 2021 04:30 PM

Wolf Alice at Union Chapel. Pic: Nick Helderman

Union Chapel in London is a Gothic-style church built in the 19th century that also serves as a live music venue. Elton John, U2, Amy Winehouse, and many more legendary artistes have performed at the iconic location in Islington. And now, as part of the Jim Beam Welcome Sessions concert series, British alternative rock band Wolf Alice takes the stage at Union Chapel to perform the song Lipstick on the Glass from its 2021 album Blue Weekend. Collaborating with a local choir, the song takes full advantage of the acoustics of the church and that makes it a very haunting and moving performance. 

The band is made up of singer Ellie Rowsell, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis and drummer Joel Amey. With songs such as Smile, Heavenly Creatures and Don’t Delete The Kisses, the band has garnered fans all across the world, including in India, where they performed in 2018. We chat with Wolf Alice about how it felt to be back on stage after the pandemic, the album and who’s on their playlist nowadays.

Tell us about the venue Union Chapel. 
Joel: The Union Chapel is a really special venue in a city that has an abundance of really special venues. And it still stands out in its own way. If I hear the words Union Chapel I’m going to expect a certain kind of performance which you probably won't get elsewhere. It has its own history and its own way of challenging different artistes. That gives it its uniqueness.The building is also very special.

Behind the scenes at Union Chapel. Pic: Nick Helderman

Our performance there is very different from anything else we have ever recorded. We are very grateful for the opportunity to bring in that amazing choir that we were able to play with. That was really incredible. 

Does it have a special significance for the band? Have you played there before?
Ellie: I played there a few times when I was younger. I was with a community choir which was right around the corner. And they used to do their Christmas concerts there. But no, we haven't played there as Wolf Alice which was another reason why this was special.

Why did you pick the track Lipstick on the Glass to perform?
Theo: We realised we had the opportunity to collaborate with a choir in some way. There are so many layered vocals on the track, that we thought maybe this song will lend itself to that environment really well. The acoustics in a church, and whenever you hear anything choral, can be really moving. When the choir came down and showed us how the arrangement, it was really, really moving to hear them singing acapella in that environment. So it was just that song fitted the environment, and also fitted what we were trying to do - collaborating with those other singers.

The album Blue Weekend has been highly critically acclaimed. Did you expect that?
Joff: It’s difficult to say really. We worked on this album longer than we’ve worked on any other album. It took quite a long time to get this album ready. And then we were waiting on it longer because of the pandemic.So I think it is quite difficult to answer. When you have worked on something for years and years, it's tough to have any sense of whether it's good or not. It took a while after the recording and mastering was finished, for us to go, “Ya I really like it. I think this is a good record.” But I don't think anyone saw the level of praise that the album got. None of us saw that coming so it was amazing the kind of feedback we received. It was lovely. 

How much of an impact did the pandemic have on the album? 
Ellie: With this album we didn't have the plan of going on tour looming on the horizon. So we didn't feel the need to rush the recording process. We took our time more and experimented a little bit more. 

How did it feel to perform live after such a long time?
Joff: It was absolutely incredible. We missed performing live last year hugely. Performing has been a predominant part of our adult lives. It's kind of what we do and who we are. We are performers and not getting to do that was rubbish. 

Who are you guys listening to right now?
Theo: There’s a really great post-punk band called High Vis from London that I really like.  
Joel: I am listening to Drug Store Romeos, who are a band from Fleet, which is a sleepy little place in England. I also really like the new record by the punk band Turnstyle, it has some really amazing visuals as well. 
Ellie: I've been listening to this artiste on the same record label as us - Pretty Sick. And I've been listening to the new Salt album. 

The Jim Beam Welcome Sessions are a series of concerts that invite global artistes to perform at iconic independent venues. Watch Wolf Alice’s performance at Union Chapel here: 



Wolf Alice