Last week London garage-pop quartet Wolf Girl released their debut album via Odd Box Records. We Tried is a collection of articulate musings on the themes of sexuality, gender and the anxiety of the introverted. These themes may sound heavy, but in the hands of Wolf Girl they’re presented with enough humour and energy that a cursory listen could lead you to believe they’re the life and soul of the party.
Recorded by Wolf Girl between a Garage and a band members bedroom, We Tried is a record that thrives exactly because of its lo-fi recording traditions and DIY ethics. It has the energy that comes only from a coming together of like-minded individuals with a desire to make a record entirely their own way. Musically, We Tried is a melting pot of the members varied and eclectic inspirations; Sourpuss has the same emotive-scuzz of early Idlewild, Deep Sea Diver is innuendo-laden pop the match of Shrag or The Long Blondes, whilst Doom With A View has a chorus as hook-laden as anything Martha have put to tape.
Wolf Girl were kind enough to take some time out from the busy world of releasing albums to answer some of our questions, with topics ranging from the modern meaning of DIY, surprising influences from Kraftwerk to Tilda Swinton, the state of the London music scene and how a grumpy cat in a party hat ties into an “extreme dislike” of New Years Eve.
FTR: You’ve just released your debut album on Odd Box Records, tell us about the recording process?
We recorded it all ourselves. Most of it was done in a garage, but some overdubs were in Chris’ bedroom. We could have gone to a fancy place but between us (mostly Chris) we had enough knowledge to record something ourselves without it sounding too shocking. It took us a really long time though. Lots of blood, sweat, and beers.
FTR: How do you write music? Is it a collective effort?
It varies. Some will be mostly written by one of us and then we’ll flesh them out, whoever is on what instrument coming up with their own parts. Becky and Chris like to mix it up because they were both bassists first. But other times we’ll stumble upon something that sounds cool whilst messing about and work on it together before one of us goes away and starts on lyrics. Becky’s slightly obsessed with music that you can’t get out of your head for days and trying to replicate the perfect ear worm. There’s something disgustingly fulfilling and narcissistic about getting your own song stuck in your head. We’re also trying to get better at not following the same formula when writing music so we don’t become a one trick pony and keep stuff fresh. But we’re mainly just proud when we write a song that’s longer than two minutes.
FTR: Oddbox obviously has a reputation for its DIY side, do you consider yourselves a DIY band?
DIY as a label is a bit of a sliding scale. Some people would say you’d have to self-release everything to be truly DIY, we do as much as we can ourselves though. Chris does the sound engineering and mixing, Becky does some of the art, etc. It definitely makes more sense to do what we can on our own, but value help from anyone who is into what we do. There’s a lot of DIY freelancers within the scene that we’ve been working with/ would love to work with too. DIY currently feels less like a mentality where you do literally everything yourself but more of a community spirit where it’s ok to ask for help
FTR: Who are you influences? What were you listening to when you were making this record? What outside of music influences you?
I think we’re obviously each influenced by our own particular sphere of interest musically. Most of us are quite into fuzzy, garagey, punky stuff. And a lot of 60’s and 70’s bands, but also a lot of pop. Chris is particularly into garage rock bands like The Sonics and Thee Headcoats. Becky’s an early New Wave and musical theatre nerd. Christabel in particular is really into disco, although that probably doesn’t shine through quite so much. We all love Kraftwerk as well, but again that probably isn’t obvious. We’re all very into a lot of current bands as well and that’s probably had an effect on the way we sound. A lot of bands probably don’t like to admit it, but we don’t exist in a vacuum.
Lyrically we’re inspired by other methods of storytelling. Ranging from comics, films, books, theatre… At least one of our songs was heavily inspired by a TV show. That’s the great thing about good storytelling, we can apply it to our own lives and it’s still relatable. That being said, most of our lyrics are still quite personal. They tend to include allusions to gender identity and sexuality as well the anxiety that comes with that. Also Tilda Swinton is a BIG influence.
FTR: Which is more important to you, making records or playing live?
For us we feel it’s important that our live sound sounds as close to our recorded sound as we can get it, having said that we like the freedom of the studio. The last song on our record was written and recorded during the recording process and we mainly improvised a lot of the takes. However this one is a bit of a challenge to replicate live. We’re getting there though! We really enjoy playing gigs, even though our stage banter varies from awkwardly hilarious, to just awkward. Playing gigs outside of London is always good, as we don’t really have any other excuse to explore other cities.
FTR: You’ve got your album launch coming up this month, what should we expect?
The album launch is going to be a lot of fun as we’ve somehow persuaded our extremely talented friends to play as well. We’ve been big fans of Chorusgirl since we first heard Silvi’s demos, so it’s going to be really special seeing her do some stripped back versions of the songs on the night. Their album was one of our favourites from last year and Silvi’s one of the most original songwriters around. DIRTYGIRL are pretty new but already amazing live. We love their EP and their artwork is rad. It’s great to see a band that has a strong visual style as well as musical. We might also make everyone wear party hats to get in the spirit of things.
FTR: Do you think London has a strong music scene? Do you feel part of something?
At a grassroots level it definitely does. When we first started out we didn’t feel connected to any other bands and struggled to find shows with musicians who were interested in the same kind of approach as us. But we slowly found more likeminded bands and as we’ve played with them we’ve definitely stumbled into some kind of community, even if that’s just that we all recognise each other’s faces now. It’s great to be in a scene where bands aren’t really competing, everyone tends to help each other out. DIY Space For London opening up has definitely brought a lot of that together recently, especially since various other London venues have closed.
FTR: You’ve got some excellent t-shirts with a grumpy cat in a party hat – does that cat in anyway represent the views of Wolf Girl regarding parties?
Our amazing friend Emilie Majarian created the artwork for that shirt as well as the album sleeve and it perfectly sums us up. The main inspiration for the both came from our song ‘Sourpuss’ that deals with Becky’s extreme dislike for New Years Eve. It’s always such an anti-climax when everyone’s trying to celebrate whilst at the same time dwelling on everything that they need to change and improve in the coming year. A lot of our lyrics tend to be about being very introverted and anxiety ridden but the music we put behind them always has a poppy energetic punch that completely contradicts everything.
FTR: Your albums on a rather fetching yellow vinyl, what do you think of the vinyl revival? Is it just a fad?
It’s definitely a fad, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any worth. As audio technology has evolved towards being less tangible it makes sense for someone to want an album, or whatever, that they’re really into in a physical version as well. It raises it above the rest, particularly if music is something you’re really into. We all buy stuff we really like on record and probably will continue as long as bands continue to put out music in that format.
FTR: Are you involved in any other musical projects?
It seems like everyone’s in multiple bands within the scene currently, which is great as it means there’s suddenly been a wave of amazing music hybrids coming out. We’re all just starting to branch out into other musical projects, which is pretty fun as you get to approach music in a different way and see how other people work. Christabel currently drums in Suggested Friends with Faith Taylor and Kirsty from Actual Crimes. Becky’s in a few bands, including The Whooperups with Anna from The Spook School and Camille from Charla Fantasma. Carl plays guitar in Camp Shy who are putting out a tape soon. In fact all these bands are just starting out, so expect some future releases.
FTR: What’s next for Wolf Girl? Releases/touring/album number two?
We’re hoping to venture out a bit more, and tour to places we haven’t played yet and we’ve already started writing some new songs that will hopefully become album number two. We’re very conscious however about not just repeating what we’ve already done. There’s nothing worse than ‘second album syndrome’ where a band just replicate the first album in a sub-par way. We’d like to maybe mix it up a bit and surprise people. We’re quite interested in incorporating other elements into our sound for future stuff, there’s only so much you can do with two guitars. Who knows what will pop up on the new material? Maybe some kazoo? An entire orchestra? We’re up for anything.
We Tried is out now via Oddbox Records. Click HERE for details of all upcoming Wolf Girl shows.