Foals: 'Popularity is good, it means we can eat'

Frontman Yannis Philippakis speaks after secret Oxford gig

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Foals have spoken after their secret gig in Oxford last night (January 27).

The band played a surprise show at The Cellar in the city late in the evening, and explained they picked the venue as it was the place where they started gigging.

"Oxford's Cellar is where we started playing and the show's for our friends,” explained frontman Yannis Philippakis. "We formed the band at the same time as the club night Abort, Retry, Fail started and its where our friends hang out.

"We thought it'd be really nice to do one show here this year because we're going to be away a lot. The Oxford show's sold out and our friends would never bother buying tickets anyway, so the people tonight aren’t the normal gig crowd."

After using the show to showcase several tracks that will appear on new album 'Antidotes', Philippakis explained the band were excited as anyone about its release in March.

"We're excited to have other people hear it - hopefully they'll like it,” he said. "It's been finished for a while so the songs aren't that fresh for us at the moment and we’ve been playing them a lot. We've started writing new stuff already so we’re getting excited about that.”

He added that the controversial decision not to include singles 'Hummer' and 'Mathletics' on the record was down to how the album fitted together, and not an elitist act.

“The singles were never really part of the album, they were just our first batch of songs,” said Philippakis. “We'd already released them and made a definitive recording at that time, whereas songs like 'Balloons' had only ever been a demo so we wanted to get those on the album."

He added that he was not anti-commercial as had been previously suggested, he just cared whether Foals and other acts' music was good or not.

"Indie's different in England than in America. I used to listen to what I consider alternative rock bands and in the '90s bands like Nirvana became very mainstream when they weren’t really intended for that," he explained. "I'm not really that interested in whether a kind of music's commercial or not - if it's good, it's cool.

"I like Gwen Stefani but then I like stuff that will only sell three records. I won't not listen to something because it's commercial. That's a weird idea that you enjoy a band but then the moment they become more palatable to more people all of a sudden they're not as cool. There's something almost elitist about it, like you're only into bands that are part of some secret Masonic thing - free masonry - secret handshake, the way you fold your letter when you send your demo to the press. Popularity's good, it means we get to eat, otherwise we'd be washing dishes - the more pop kids that like our music the better."

For more reports of from the Oxford scene check out of NME.COM’s music blog filed straight from the city.

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