It’s been three years since Foals released ‘Total Life Forever’, their seminal second album that was nominated for the Mercury Award and a slew of other accolades and cemented them as one of Britain’s premium rock bands. We sit down with Edwin Congreave to find out why they’ve waited this long to release a follow up and why any bad behaviour won’t make headlines.
YOU HAVEN’T RELEASED A FULL LENGTH ALBUM IN NEARLY THREE YEARS – WHY THE WAIT?
We actually finished this one last year but for dull as dishwater label reasons it was only scheduled for release now. Before then we needed a little time to recompose ourselves and our lives and of course spend some quality time composing quality songs.
‘TOTAL LIFE FOREVER’ WAS NOMINATED FOR THE MERCURY PRIZE – HOW HARD WAS IT MAKING A FOLLOW UP TO AN ALBUM THAT RECEIVED SO MUCH ACCLAIM?
We’ve always been hungry for the next step so while ‘Total Life Forever’ was received very well we knew there was better and bigger stuff to come.
WAS THERE PRESSURE ON YOU TO RELEASE A FOLLOW UP RECORD MUCH QUICKER TO CAPITALISE ON THIS SUCCESS?
Not at all. I think if there had been big commerical success then perhaps there would’ve been some pressure. But we’re playing the long game, and everyone around us seems to appreciate and respect that.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH ‘HOLY FIRE’ AND WILL PEOPLE BE SURPRISED BY THE SOUND?
It was approached patiently, and with less anxiety than previously. we had enough time to write songs that we felt spoke for themselves with more confidence this time round, so we could go into the studio and just…well, ideally just let them ‘be’. There’s more diversity in this record, so some people might be surprised at the ‘heaviness’ of parts, but also the soulfulness of others. Yannis’ vocals in particularly have surprised us!
HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS ALBUM TO THE PREVIOUS TWO?
It’s less different to the second than the second was to the first but, actually, no, I have no idea. We have no decent perspective on this!
DID YOU ALL AGREE ON HOW IT SHOULD SOUND, WERE THERE MANY CLASHES IN THE STUDIO?
We had the luxury of recording for about three months, so as you can imagine there was time for a lot of disagreements, but also for those disagreements to be ironed out. We’re all learning to be grown-up about the recording process.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE EVOLVED BOTH MUSICALLY AND AS PEOPLE SINCE FOALS STARTED?
Musically we learnt how to write songs, and Yannis learnt how to sing, rather than writing instrumental party jams. And as people, well, I don’t think we have evolved very much at all! I would like to think I’ve become a lot less uptight, but doesn’t everyone like to think that?
ARE YOU FANS OF THE CURRENT MUSIC SCENE – DO YOU FIND ANYTHING INSPIRING OR IS BRITISH MUSIC IN A RUT?
I really think it depends on where you’re looking. British guitar music is like one big hamster wheel continually rehashing the same sounds, but that’s ok, if people enjoy it. There’s so much fresh pop and dance music out there if you know where to look, or are simply less judgemental to begin with.
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY THESE DAYS IS ALMOST SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST – HOW DO YOU PLAN TO STAY RELEVANT?
There hasn’t been a conscious plan, but we aim to constantly spur each others’ creativity, and I think we all have a lot more to learn and say, so I don’t doubt that we can’t push ourselves more in the future. Whether or not we stay relevant depends on what’s around us though.
THOUGH YOU’RE IN A ROCK BAND YOU’VE NEVER REALLY BEEN IN THE LIMELIGHT FOR ‘ROCKSTAR BEHAVIOUR’ THAT FOLLOWS MANY CELEBRITIES. IS THIS A SCENE YOU ACTIVELY AVOID?
We’re not celebrities, and we don’t go to the parties that celebrities go to. I think we prefer to keep our bad behaviour to ourselves.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CAREER FEARS?
To be boring.
WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?
Right now, peanut butter on toast.
‘Holy Fire’ will be released on 11 February