East London quartet Evawolf have been honing their unique take on alt-rock since 2015. Joey, the band’s singer and guitarist, tells us about their evolution from a duo, the influence of Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, recording their debut EP, who taught them it’s OK to have a girl in the band, and why The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’ changed his life.
You’ve just released your debut EP, ‘Yellow Ribbon’. How do you feel you’ve developed since releasing your debut single back in 2015?
Our debut single was the best output that we felt we could initially accomplish as a two piece, and musically it was all about getting the most we could from as little as we had. Straight after we released ‘When the Truth Is Out’ we asked Natalie to join our ranks on violin, and Danny followed soon after on bass. Since then, constant writing sessions and regular rehearsals have helped us create a new sound, that obviously derives from when we started out, which feels more complete now.
The new songs sound like they have a new confidence and energy. Where do you think this came from?
We worked with James Kenosha (Rhodes/Birdy etc.) on the most recent recordings, and the tranquil and serene surroundings of James’ Yorkshire-based residential studios, coupled with his ability to capture the fullness of our sound, gave us a lot of confidence. We were also very excited to get our ideas down, as we had spent a good six months since Danny joined putting ideas to paper.
You’ve been playing live a lot over the past year. Do you think that’s contributed to the new songs?
As with a lot of bands: playing together live gives you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. We did agree not to put anything on the new EP that ultimately couldn’t be replicated live though.
How do you see yourselves growing or evolving even more in the future?
We’re actually working on our next batch of songs now – we’re looking to enhance certain aspects that we felt really worked for us on this last record, but we are also looking to approach some things slightly differently, and add in some new instrumentation too. We’re quite conscious of risking being too formulaic, but I like to think it’s always good to take something you think worked for you previously, and enhance on it. We’re excited to see where we can take it next.
You started out as a duo. What made you realise you needed to flesh out your sound with a violin?
We actually had Natalie play with us on violin on our first live performance in 2015. It made a lot of difference to the sound, and visually it was pretty striking too, so after we made we made ‘When the Truth Is Out’ together it seemed like the sensible move to get her in full time. Some of the shows we played after this point felt like they we lacking in depth, however (because drums are rhythmic, guitar is middley, and violin is top-end), so we asked Danny to join us and that answered that question too.
You’ve mentioned Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Smashing Pumpkins as influences. What is it that you learned from or admire about each of them?
Arcade Fire have a very defined style that utilises a lot of the same instrumentation and styles that we rely on too. We saw them at their first UK show and have been fans ever since.
Besides Fleet Foxes being harmonically flawless, Robin Pecknold’s songwriting is beautiful: abundant with themes of the natural world and our own futility.
The ‘90s Smashing Pumpkins we grew up with had a great image and also a great attitude in their music, plus they taught us that it was OK to have a girl in the band.
Could you pick one song or album that changed your life (for better or worse)?
The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’. When James and I set out, we went back to that album for its rawness, those seismic choruses, and its punky/garage rock delivery. When we were kids we used to listen to it at parties, and at the time no one could get over it. It’s funny how you can revisit an album like that a whole teenage lifetime later and it hasn’t lost any of its sheen.
And, finally, what Evawolf song are you proudest of?
‘Strings’, from our new EP, is my personal favourite so far. I wrote it some time ago, for a friend, and it has since taken on a huge amount of retroactive meaning. As a song that has a lot of build to it, it’s really satisfying for us to play live, and Kenosha did an amazing job producing it and bringing the layers to life.