Interview: Wolf Gang
London four-piece Wolf Gang supported Coldplay on the band’s Mylo Xyloto tour in North America. We asked frontman Max McElligott to tell us how they got on.
Hi Max, how are you?
Very well thank you!
You’ve reached the end of your dates with Coldplay, how have they been?
We had the most amazing time, it really exceeded our expectation of how it would be, which was already pretty high!
For Coldplay fans who haven’t yet heard Wolf Gang, what do you sound like?
I suppose we play melodic rock/pop, our set for these dates was pretty upbeat/romantic, we don’t shy away from big choruses.
Was this the first time you’d done an arena tour?
Yes it was, we’ve played to large crowds for one-off supports with the likes of the Killers or at festivals, but this was the first time where each night our workplace was a huge arena!
How was it playing in these big venues?
Well let’s just say it really gets the adrenaline going… you can’t see everyone’s face like at a smaller show, but you still feel an overall presence that is quite empowering.
Presumably you have to approach support shows slightly different to headline ones?
Actually we put as much energy into a support as we do with a headline show, you won’t see us shying away from the dancing and the falling around the stage just because it’s not our show! Obviously you don’t play for as long, but that just means you have to use up all the energy in a shorter amount of time…
Do you think there’s an art to playing a good support show?
When we were discussing what or setlist would be for these shows, we settled on mostly upbeat punchy songs, because you have to capture the attention of a crowd that doesn’t necessarily know or care who you are. So you have to hustle and try and win them over, which is a fun challenge. And you must always thank the band who’s stage you are sharing!
Were the Coldplay audiences receptive?
I genuinely think that the crowds we played to enjoyed our set, we had a really positive response on our Twitter and Facebook, and each night we would go and do a meet and greet for whoever wanted to come and say hi, we were kind of taken aback at how many people turned up each night!
Have you guys toured America before?
We’ve played SXSW in Austin, Coachella in Palm Springs and one or two shows in LA and New York, but nothing quite like this before.
How were you getting around?
We were driving around in an increasingly smelly bus. The scale and diversity of America really becomes apparent when you’re seeing it all slide by past the window. We’ve seen some beautiful things on this trip.
What was the longest journey?
We had a 14 hour drive through what I think may have been Louisiana…
How do you kill time on the long trips?
We had internet on the bus so I’d be responding to tweets and working on music on my laptop. There’s an Xbox on the bus so I think Lasse and James were getting really into a boxing game. Listening to music is always a soothing way to pass the time…
Did you manage to do any sightseeing?
Well we wanted to cram as much music in as possible on this tour so whenever there was a day off, we went and played our own headline shows, in Dallas, Jacksonville and Boston. So that ate into our free time. I guess the sightseeing will have to wait until next time…
What were your favourite experiences of the tour?
The first support date we played in Dallas was just epic, as we’d waited so long to jump onto that stage and play our hearts out, it felt amazing.
Any idea how you came to be on the tour?
I’m can’t be 100% certain but I hear that Guy Berryman had heard the songs and liked them so apparently it came through him.
Were you a fan of Coldplay?
We grew up hearing their songs all the time, I used to play the piano parts just for fun, it was quite educational to see how each song was structured, it was a good insight into solid songwriting.
What do you think of their show?
We all agreed it’s probably the best live show we’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re into, it’s just an undeniable feast for the ears and eyes, a real jubilant euphoric celebration of epicness… you forget how many amazing songs they have.
Did you have a chance to hang out with the band at all?
We bumped into them a few times backstage, they all seem like very down to earth and friendly chaps. They filled our dressing room with Champagne and a card for when we got off stage after the first show which was a nice touch.
What have Wolf Gang got planned for the rest of the year?
We are returning to America actually in October, we’ll be playing our own shows on the East and the West coast, and hitting up the places we played with Coldplay for round 2!
Finally, what’s your favourite Coldplay song?
There are too many to pick one, but I used to listen to ‘Amsterdam’ religiously. It has a really lovely piano part, that starts off really introspectively and ends with a huge release. Tugs the heart strings.
For more information on Wolf Gang, head to wolf-gang.co.uk