Wolf Gang, the four piece headed up by Max McElligott, are currently supporting Coldplay on their USA tour. After playing Coachella earlier this year, we had a chat with Max and Lasse from the band about childhood aspirations, a hazy night in Berlin and conquering America one state at a time...
Give us a brief introduction to Wolf Gang...
Max: We’ve done
one album so far; it’s very upbeat, melodic, indie-rock- pop I guess. We’ve done some festivals, been gigging round different parts of the world. We just got back from America performing at Coachella, which was amazing, and we’re working on the second album.
How did Wolf Gang start out?
Max: I already had the songs from the first album, and a record deal, so I was going round looking for someone to play with. Then I found Lasse, James and Gavin, and we grew from there. In fact, Wolf Gang started off between me and my sister...she came up with the name – we were brainstorming ideas and that’s the one that stuck, it sounded fun, theatrical and memorable.
Lasse: Wasn’t it to do with your wolf costume?
Max: Yea, well I’m called Max and when I was younger I loved Where The Wild Things
Are because of Maximillian – so Mum made me a wolf costume. I actually bit her, really hard, on the leg! I drew blood and wouldn’t let go! She had to shake me off.
What a lovely child you must have been!
Max: Yes – apart from that I was a dream to bring up.
What’s your musical inspiration?
Max: When I was writing the songs from the first album, it was all people who I loved from my parent’s record collection: David Bowie, Elton John, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac – the era that classic pop writing that had good clarity to it. The stuff we’re writing now still has those good classic references I think.
Lasse: But with more of a band sound now – it’s a bit of a poppy thing I think – like Bruce Springsteen, more upbeat.
Are you all writing the second album together?
Lasse: Yea we’ve been writing in his [Max’s] bedroom. We went to a studio in Berlin to write, but we found it more natural writing in his room.
Max, it must be a nice change to be writing with the rest of the band this time?
Max: It’s so good to have them to knock ideas around with, and get feedback. You really critique it more than when you’re with yourself – so the standard seems higher and it’s different. It’s fun.
Tell us about Coachella...
Max: We had a great time – we didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. It was kind of indicative for us about how we are doing over there, it was a way for us to see the results of the radio play we’ve had over in the states. But overall it was just great, it’s such a beautiful festival, we had so much fun, and it was amazing seeing other bands like Bon Iver and Radiohead.
Lasse: It’s such an eclectic mix of music, there’s a lot of different bands and ones that you haven’t heard about but then they kick off from Coachella.
Max: It’s like being in LA, it’s so glamorous. I’ve never seen so many beautiful women, everyone is on display, the whole thing is ridiculous – its one big catwalk!
When did you find out that you were supporting Coldplay?
Lasse: We found out when we were in Berlin, so we went out celebrating there. No one remembers anything from that night.
Max: Well maybe I remember some details....
Max [swiftly changes the subject]: It still really hasn’t sunk in. We love Coldplay and what they’ve done in their careers. You can say what you like about them but they’ve done incredible things.
How did it come about?
Max: The base player hustled to get us in, he’s a fan. It was pretty much all him I think! We’re looking forward to meeting him and having a chat – he seems interested in us which is great. Coldplay are the extension of everything that could go right in our career so it’ll be great to get some advice from them and play them our demos.
What’s the best thing about America for musicians and for tourists?
Max: Oh – big portions! There’s a real enthusiasm in America – and it’s so diverse because it’s such a huge territory. You sort of win one state at a time and it’s like a domino effect.
Lasse: It’s like a game of Risk.
Who are your icons, who you’d aspire to be at the same level as?
Max: That’s so difficult to answer. We all daydream but...
Lasse: I always liked the idea of being like David Bowie – he’s done some incredible things, which he’s known for, but he’s done some awful things too. He definitely didn’t get away with it – but I think that’s a good thing. There’s ups and downs in there but he’s famous for the best moments.
What about when you were children? Did you always want to be musicians?
Lasse: I think I wanted to be a nursery teacher.
Max: I wanted to be a washing machine, when I was very young. I didn’t understand the concept of humans and appliances. I wanted to be a swimming pool too.
That sounds like a very confusing time...
Lasse: “Mum, I’ve decided! I want to be.... a washing machine!”
Did you have a good connection with your washing machine?
Max: I must have done.... no one understood me quite like the washing machine did.
What is your band style like when performing?
Max: Speaking for the band – we have an element of smartness but we’re relaxed too. There’s nothing too pastiche or try hard. A bit of flare, a bit of subtlety.
You both live in London, where are your favourite places?
Max: Well for inspiration London is amazing, but after you’ve lived here it’s all about the nooks and crannies that you discover, like where you get your coffee.
Lasse: Hampstead Heath is a favourite of mine. It can be like walking into a Charles dickens novel.
Tell us something nobody else knows about the band... we want to hear about that night in Berlin.
Lasse : Hmmm, if nobody knows it, it’s probably for a good reason.
Max: There’s an inner circle. What happens in the bubble stays in the bubble.
- We want to be in the bubble! If you want to read up on the band then check out their website or take a look at their Facebook.