INTERVIEW: Foals

Foals - mid

FOALS seem to find it very difficult to stay away from Australia and I’m sure none of us are complaining either. Earlier this year they played the national Big Day Out tour, as well as a couple of extremely intimate sideshows in Sydney, which as expected sold out in about 10 minutes time.

In September/October they’ll return to play some proper headline gigs to support their killer new album Holy Fire. We recently got on the phone to their drummer Jack Bevan to have a chat.

You’ve just finished a UK tour with your Australian friends Jagwar Ma. How’d that go for you?

Yeah, it was amazing! Jagwar Ma are great friends of ours. We did some recording actually with Jono in Sydney a few years ago and a few bits ended up on the latest record. It’s been great. We’ve been away from playing shows in the UK for a couple of years so it was good to finally get back out and do it. Jono from Jagwar Ma is a great man as well. We’ve just got their record which has just been finished and it sounds fantastic. I think they’re going to be doing really well this year.

While you were here for Laneway Festival in 2011, Jimmy & Yannis were seen jamming at a small Sydney bar with Jono Ma. Did anything like this happen on your recent tour with Jono?

Not really on this tour. I played actually at that Flinders thing as well and so did Stella from Warpaint, she drummed as well. She’s an incredible drummer. But no, nothing really happened on this tour but hopefully next time we go to Australia we’ll do a similar thing at The Flinders. It’s a great venue for that sort of thing.

Your second Oxford Art Factory show in Sydney was the fifth time I’ve seen you live. I’ve always considered your band to be very energetic on stage but this time around, you really seemed to step it up a notch further. Do you think your latest material has had a positive impact on your live show?

Yeah, I think with this record it has a lot of tracks which are really fun for us to play. It’s a lot more of a live record than say Total Life Forever was. Tracks like ‘Inhaler’ or ‘Providence’ are some of the most energetic songs we’ve written so I think they require and deserve a lot more energy when they’re played live.

Is there anything you and the other band members do to help energize yourselves before a set?

A lot of the other guys drink a lot of Red Bull, I know that helps! (Laughs). I personally don’t because I’m pretty highly charged anyway. We definitely take time before a show to get revved up though. We can’t sit around on our laptops, get up and then go on stage, it’s just not the right approach for us. We need to feel like we’re ready to run a race or something.

Over the past three years, you’ve played Splendour In The Grass, Laneway Festival and Big Day Out, as well as your own headline shows. What are some of the reasons why you tour here so regularly?

I guess we’re just lucky enough that people want us to play over there, you know. It’s something that we never expected, being a bunch of guys from the other side of the world. We have a lot of fun out there. We love the country. I think we were pretty surprised to have number one on Holy Fire in Australia because we’ve never had a number one in England so that was quite amazing. I guess we’re just really lucky that our music gets to translate over there.

We’re really excited to come over in September. We’ve played at the Enmore Theatre before and it’s one of the best venues we’ve played so we’re really psyched about that. It’s going to be really nice to come over and do our own shows because I don’t think we’ve done that yet. We’ve only been over to do festivals and the shows around them so it’ll be amazing to come over to literally play her own shows because we’re not competing with every other band that’s at a festival.

At your Big Day Out show in Sydney earlier this year, you were almost unable to perform due to a potentially dangerous sudden gust of wind. Can you describe what was happening backstage on that particular night before you and the others decided it was safe to play?

Yeah, it was quite bizarre actually. Before the Big Day Out, we hadn’t played any proper big shows for a couple of years because we had obviously been recording and writing. We just did a small tour in England with only 200 capacity venues or whatever. So yeah, we got ourselves ready to go to the Sydney show and then we were told that it might not even happen because there was a wind risk or something. It was weird. We got ourselves so mentally and physically ready to play a show and then they said that we won’t be able to play for a while, maybe not at all.

We obviously really wanted to play but didn’t know whether to relax or to stay focused and then eventually they said we could go on. I’m glad it happened because it would be a real bummer for us to have come all the way over and have to cancel our first show.

That whole day was crazy! I think it was 47 degrees or something in Sydney and someone was telling me that it was the hottest day on record. That was pretty unbelievable to us because in England it never gets above about 25 degrees, even in the summer.

As the drummer of Foals and having just toured the UK, which song do you most enjoy playing live?

That’s a tough one. It’s weird because there are songs that I like more on record that aren’t necessary as fun to play live. I still really enjoy playing ‘Two Steps, Twice’ off our first record live because we have this big breakdown in the middle of it and I can kind of do whatever I want in that bit. Some of the new songs we’ve been playing over the past couple of months have been great. ‘Milk and Black Spiders’ is one we’ve only been playing for about a month and now it just feels really nice. It’s a lot more delicate than some of our other songs to play.

One of my favourite tracks off Holy Fire is the opener known as ‘Prelude’. As much as I like the instrumental aspect, I was wondering if you’d be able to tell us what Yannis’ distorted lyrics are a minute or so into the track?

I think it is “one is too much for me, one thousand is never enough” which is a motto in the AA handbook we picked up somewhere which I think is quite cool. I guess that’s the phrase relating to addiction or whatever. Apart from that, I actually don’t know any other lyrics so you’d have to ask him.

Since the release of ‘My Number’, there have been some great remixes by artists such as Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Trophy Wife. Which one is your favourite?

I do really like the Trophy Wife one I must say. I lived with one of the guys in Oxford and I just think the bassline and the chorus is amazing. It’s got like a cool kind of wonk to it. I like that one a lot! There are some remixes that are going to be coming out for ‘Late Night’ in the next couple of weeks that are really, really good. I’m really excited for them to be released.

Your shirt in the ‘Inhaler’ film clip looks like an indigenous Australian painting. Where’d you get it from?

(Laughs). That’s a shirt from Burberry actually! It’s a mixture of an African, Nigerian style print and an Aboriginal style print. Yeah, I’m into that! I think it’s very much a Vegemite style shirt, people are going to love it or hate it!

Is there anything you’re really looking forward to doing in your spare time here in Australia?

One of my favourite things that I like to do, especially if I’m jet lagged, is skateboarding at Bondi Park. It’s pretty amazing so yeah, I’m definitely going to bring a skateboard. I’m also looking forward to some swimming, visiting some nice restaurants, parties, all of the standard things I guess.

After the world tour is finished, what’s next for Foals?

Well, the world tour, I don’t even know how long that’s going to go on for yet. I guess once that’s done, we’ll probably take a bit of time off to become human beings again. We love touring but after a year of it we definitely need a break. After that I guess we’ll start writing for the next record.

Foals Australian Tour:

Sunday, September 22 – Metro City, Perth (18+)
Tuesday, September 24 – HQ, Adelaide (Licensed All Ages)
Friday, September 27 – The Palace Theatre, Melbourne (18+)
Saturday, September 28 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (Licensed All Ages)
Wednesday, October 2 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)

Words by Tony Kingston.

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During the week Tony works in a busy retail corporate office. Once day becomes night, there’s a good chance you’ll see him at a gig or DJing at a house party.