IF Foals head to The Other Stage for their headlining slot at Glastonbury Festival next Friday, it’s going to be a special night.
And it’s a show that the band’s frontman Yannis Philippakis is more than looking forward to.
“Yes, I think this year’s Glastonbury will be even stronger than usual. It gets emotional.
“And it’s the perfect slot for us. I can’t wait and I think it will be a real highlight for us.”
Former Glastonburys have been seen playing behind Muse’s headlining slot on The Other Stage in 2016 and performing a secret set on The Park stage in 2019.
It will be a double celebration for Foals – Philippakis, drummer Jack Bevan and guitarist Jimmy Smith – who are releasing their brilliant seventh album Life Is Yours today.
A post-pandemic party, it’s the perfect album to go out and have fun.
And when he meets the Oxford band in Brighton ahead of their headlining show on Glasto in the middle of a sold-out tour, Philippakis is in good spirits.
“We recently played at Birmingham (Utilita Arena), which was the biggest indoor show we’ve ever played,” says Philippakis.
“And it was just amazing and we made a club out of it. We turned an arena into a bouncing, swaying dance floor – it was awesome.”
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While Foals’ 2019 album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost — Part 1 (followed by Part 2 seven months later) was somber and almost a harbinger of the pandemic, Life Is Yours is full of color and energy.
“Yeah, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost was almost prescient,” says Philippakis.
“We were melancholy while writing this record.
“Then, with the pandemic, there was enough darkness and bad news in everyday life that the last thing we wanted to be resourceful about was investigating these issues.
“The entire past two years have been deeply unnatural. It was pretty odd circumstances to be making a record anyway, so we wanted these songs to take us anywhere but where we were.”
Life Is Yours has been dubbed the Foals’ “rave rock” album. A sister album to their 2008 rhythmic debut Antidotes.
“I don’t know how I would describe it,” says Philippakis. “I definitely think this is our dance record.
“When we were first signed, new rave was the big thing. It was all about Klaxons and we were part of that scene.
LET PEOPLE GROOVE
“So in a way this record looks back over the shoulder at our beginnings.
“We used to play these crazy house parties. It means it’s just possible to get people to groove.”
Philippakis, 36, says it’s important to approach this record as a whole project and not as a series of individual songs.
He says: “We tried to make it really cohesive so the whole album has a real journey.
“Sometimes on our records we’ve made it a priority to write many different types of songs.
“And have really explored the ways we can write songs, but sometimes it means there’s more contour to the listening.
“It bounces and throws you from one side of the room to the other.
“With this record we wanted to make a record that if you put it on at the beginning of a night you don’t skip a track or change the flow too much.
madness of the night
“It’s all about the madness of one night – because that’s what we’ve all been missing in lockdown.”
The first song that got the ball rolling was 2am, a glitzy track that evokes the end of the night after a hedonistic evening of losing your friends and needing to go home.
Other tracks include the funktastic Wake Me Up, a dancefloor call to arms and the rave-up The Sound.
Final track Wild Green is arms in the air, pure joy. It’s an album you can’t sit down to.
The 2am video was shot by Ukrainian director Tanu Muiño and saw the band travel to Ukraine to film the party scenes just before the country was attacked by Russia.
“To be honest, I didn’t think there would be a war,” says Philippakis.
“There was a discussion about whether we should go as it was becoming a real problem.
“But we were there for three days and the video was fantastic.
“The sad thing now is that people who worked on the video, I’m pretty sure they’re fighting now.
In many ways, Life Is Yours marks a fresh start for Foals, who had whittled down to a trio after keyboardist Edwin Congreave decided to leave the band to pursue a postgraduate degree in economics at the University of Cambridge and focus on to help with the climate crisis.
Bassist Walter Gervers also left the band in 2018.
Philippakis – who left Oxford University after just a year to study English literature to devote himself full-time to the band – says: “During the tour Edwin graduated from the Open University – we finished a show, got on the bus and he’d open the books while we all shot tequila in the front of the bus.
“Well, glory be to him.
“Then when the tour ended with the pandemic and we started writing the new album, we had to have the discussion, ‘Is it worth starting writing if you’re not touring?'”
The singer admits it wasn’t a shock, unlike when Gervers left the band.
“We didn’t expect it when Walter left. I thought the five of us would stay forever so it was sad Edwin left.
hung out with pirates
“And we live very close and he came to Birmingham for the show, so we’re still pretty good friends.
“Even though me, Jack and Jimmy were the main writers on the last two albums, Edwin was still in the room.
“He participated and wrote some of it too. So, this album is really the three of us and it took some adjustments and some getting used to.
“And one reason we’ve been able to continue as a trio is because we needed to expand our roles. Don’t get me wrong, it was challenging but also fun to keep it fresh.
“Jimmy also moved to the States, so I sent him music all the time.
“Now we have more space to try different ideas. It’s also more intense since three is an odd number.
“It took some getting used to going from five to three.
“Edwin and Walter were probably a bit simpler characters than the three of us, so now we’re left with these three points of a triangle. That’s what made Foals interesting.”
Returning to playing live is where Philippakis enjoys life at Foals the most.
“What excites me the most right now is just playing great shows,” he says.
“When the pandemic struck we were in Asia and then flew to Thailand as the entire tour stalled.
“The game was over so we flew to an island off the Philippines called Boracay – so we were tourists for a while and even hung out there with some pirates.
“But live music hasn’t existed for a long time. Even pubs were closed.
THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY.
“So this tour is something that we put together that will now take us through the next couple of years.
“It was a lot of work in the beginning – the stage, the film, everything, but it’s going and it’s been really great.
“The only thing I can’t take like I did when I was young is the wild nights on tour. I can’t hit as hard as I used to.
“I’m definitely still overdoing it, but they’re definitely more painful.
“And I have to take care of my voice a bit. I have to be more aware because I don’t want that to stop and I don’t want to let anyone down on a show.”
On the subject of celebrations, Philippakis has outraged the Partygate political scandal after photos were released showing the Prime Minister drinking at an event during a Covid lockdown.
“I find the behavior of those involved simply reprehensible,” says Philippakis.
“I’m not going to add anything new to the debate, but you have people who didn’t attend funerals, who weren’t allowed into the maternity ward when their children were born, who couldn’t say goodbye to people.
“It’s ‘we’re superior to you.’ And you won’t find out. And now we know, well, they won’t be punished. There’s no accountability. It’s gross.”
It’s been 17 years since Foals formed in Oxford and they’re getting bigger with every album.
“It makes me happy that we’re here and playing the way we are,” says Philippakis. “I think it’s the music, but some of it has to do with us.
“We played Spanish Sahara on tour, which is now ten years old. And we get such a reaction to old and new songs.
“A lot of people write good music, but we’re really loved. And I think that’s because we approach every album the same way.
“It’s us, in a dingy little studio without any comfort. We are stripped of any ego and we make these brilliant records.
“I am proud and very happy.”
- Life Is Yours is out today. Foals play the Other Stage at Glastonbury next Friday.
https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/5579883/foals-post-lockdown-album/ Foals on capturing the “madness of a night” on a post-lockdown album