Foals are a five-piece band from Oxford, UK. Frontman Yannis Philippakis and drummer Jack Bevan played in bands together since the age of 15 and have described their first band The Edmund Fitzgerald as “heavy”, “technical” and “mostly instrumental”. Yannis and Edwin Congreave (keyboard) were studying at Oxford University but dropped out in order to pursue their music and were joined by Walter Gervers (bass) and Jack who both also dropped out of university. The only member of Foals to finish his degree was guitarist Jimmy Smith (guitar, synths)who studied Geography at the University of Hull. The quintet started out by arranging gigs at house parties through MySpace and leaving houses ruined in their wake.
Their debut album Antidotes was released in 2008 and didn’t include two of their most popular songs at the time, ‘Hummer’ and ‘Mathletics’. The album was recorded in Brooklyn and Jack recorded some of his drums in alleyways there in the middle of the night. TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek was producer, with the band working from 4pm until dawn every day for five weeks. However, the band were not happy with Dave Sitek’s final version of the album and so they ended up remixing it themselves. The most successful single on the debut was ‘Cassius’ which was written about the fall of Rome. 2008 also saw Foals voted second ‘wildest’ performers by NME readers.
The follow-up album to Antidotes was Total Life Forever, released in 2010. Producer Paul Epworth was ditched by the band at the start of recording and Luke Smith was recruited instead. Yannis has spoken about how the album was inspired in part by the deteriorating physical state of Mike Tyson. It was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden. ‘Spanish Sahara’ won an NME Award for Best Track.
The band relocated closer to home to record their 2013 album Holy Fire, which was recorded in London. They worked with producers Flood and Moulder, who picked up the award for UK Producers of the Year at the Music Producers Guild Awards 2014 for their work on the album. Foals made their first major festival headline appearance at Latitude 2013. Holy Fire was voted for by NME readers as album of the year and ‘My Number’ was named readers’ favourite track of the year, in both categories beating off Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA.
Foals are to headline Parklife and Bestival this summer.