Tuesday, May 11

Forever and Ever, Amen: Foals

. Tuesday, May 11

Foals are one of the few bands to emerge in recent years who can truly say they have achieved success on their own terms. On paper they sound like a commercial disaster, singing songs about Andy Roddick in French or competitive maths competitions set to angled rhythms; yet in practise this most improbably theory resolves itself triumphantly. Where do Foals go from the success of ‘Antidotes’ though? Keen to move on and progress but knowing that they will have to reveal their previously hidden souls in order to so, the band took it back to basics and moved into a house in Oxford.

“Moving into that house was what made this album”. Says lead singer Yannnis Philipakis, a man who speaks almost entirely in pull quotes. “We wrote everything there and it allowed us to be naïve again. We could play at any time and didn’t have to be at a certain place at a certain time so in that sense it didn’t feel like a job at all, even though we knew we were working towards making a new record.”

Having amassed a wealth of new material whilst touring ‘Antidotes’ Foals suffered the polar opposite of writers block, if anything they had too much material. “We felt super ready to move onto something new. The strange thing about touring is that you’re playing things every night that are a year or two old and writing stuff all the time but not getting to air it. So when we finished all the touring for ‘Antidotes’ we basically had to play catch up with ourselves. So we went into recording this new one with a real hunger.” Says Yannis.

The results of this process are the brand new album ‘Total Life Forever’ released this week. Warmer and more expansive than its predecessor, the album sees Foals opening their arms and inviting the world to embrace them. The band see the differences as much more however, stating that their two albums thus have practically nothing to do with one another. “The thing with ‘Anitdotes’” says synth player Edwin Congreave, “is it’s a record. It was never designed to be the definitive statement of who we are, it’s just a singular moment of time in our lives. There is so much pressure on bands to produce something that has to represent them wholly but the way we see it is you make a record then you get to make another and if you’re lucky you get to go on and make more. If you look at an album as singular rather than in broader terms then you see that it’s just a small part of a multi-verse.”

This self-proclaimed ‘multi-verse’ saw the band living, Monkee’s style, together in Oxford and attempting to shed the awkward and abrasive skin they had developed on their first time out. Speaking of how the band previous were fraught with trying to achieve some notion of perfection says, “One of the things that Dave (Sitek, who the band worked with on eventually scrapped sessions for ‘Antidotes’) taught us was not to have such rigid roles within the band. By loosening up and not just being five guys behind their specific instruments it allowed us to spread out a bit and relax, making the whole thing a freer process.”

Something Edwin agrees with, “One thing we never want to lose is this gang mentality.” He says.

Total Life Forever is the sound of a band of brothers united and looking out on the world they have created. The sharp edges have been rounded and a truth has been discovered throughout. This shift in song writing style is something the band are keen to stress. “We used to think of songs very structurally but writing this album and even as far back as touring the first one we started to dismantle our music and move away from that idea”, says Yannis. “The patterns are still there in the new songs but they are more fluid than they once were for sure. It’s more about feeling than method.” Said feeling is what colours between the lines of Foals in 2010, from the dance floor fillers of ‘This Orient’ and ‘Miami’ to the open wounds of ‘Spanish Sahara’ it’s all still Foals as we know them, only now the angles are provided by emotion rather than guitars.

More than anything Foals hope you take Total Life Forever at face value and forget any tags that may have previously been attached to them. “At one point we were math-rock and we were supposed to be afrobeat and nu-rave and sound like Bloc Party and all sorts. Says Yannis when discussing the way the media has treated his band in the past. “It’s all just words and if people base their opinion of us on some spiel they read somewhere then they’re missing the point. If we make an album and you can’t decipher exactly what kind of band we are then we’ve succeeded.”

You get the feeling that if Foals can unite the nations youth in arms with songs as obtuse as ‘Hummer’ then the flesh they’ve added to their bones on Total Life Forever can only see the band get even bigger. What remains utmost in the bands mind however is that they do it on their own terms, “We definitely feel that we shouldn’t have to compromise to somebody else’s static idea of what we should be. It’s unfair of people to expect bands to repeat themselves and we feel that we have done what we always said we’d do which is to progress.”

Originally on Gigwise.com


Anonymous said...

progression is what this band and their peers are all about

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