As Foals prepare to return to the stage this week, frontman Yannis Philippakis has spoken to NME about what to expect from their comeback gigs and their “optimistic” new material.
Tonight (Thursday August 12), the Oxford band perform at Cardiff Castle to kick off a handful of huge summer dates and their first gigs since February 2020 before the pandemic took hold.
“I feel like playing live is in my lifeblood, but this is the furthest we’ve ever been from it,” Philippakis told NME. “It almost doesn’t feel real that these shows about to happen. With that, there’s a chance that they might be some of the most special shows we ever play. We’re rehearsing and it’s feeling good to slowly envisage being on stage.
“We’re not in the depths of touring, so it’s just going to be explosive and fun. It’s going to feel fresh and different to anything we’ve ever done.”
After Cardiff, the band will be performing at Boardmasters festival in Cornwall before headline shows at Swansea’s Singleton Park and London’s All Points East Festival. While originally intending to tour throughout last year in support of their 2019 sister albums ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part One‘ and ‘Part Two‘, Philippakis said that these shows will be more of a celebration of live music returning rather than focussing on those records specifically.
“We’re going to play some tracks from ‘Part One’ and ‘Part Two’, but ultimately just the songs that people want to hear,” he said. “We’re going to play quite a long setlist. We’ll play ‘Neptune’, along with some oldies that fans requested online.
He continued: “In some ways with that period of ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, we’ve just moved on and the world has moved on. We’ll just play as monstrous a set as we can. It’ll be a set that prioritises the fact that people haven’t been able to be together, dance together or express joy together.
“We’re weighting it towards that side of the material. It’s not the time for an introspective show or an acoustic show. It’s going to be maximum party Foals, big time.”
While promising some songs that they “haven’t played for a long time”, including some deep cuts from their acclaimed second album ‘Total Life Forever’, Yannis also said there would be “space for a new improv section”. However, the frontman was unsure if any new songs in full would be debuted.
“We have new material that’s being written and sounding super-exciting,” he revealed. “It’s a new iteration of the band. I don’t know if it will be possible to get it ready in time for these shows, but there might be some new music. You’ll have to come and see.”
Speaking to NME about the follow-up to the ‘Everything Not Saved’ project back in February, Yannis said: “I wouldn’t say that the oven has reached its proper temperature yet, but the ingredients are being gathered in the kitchen”. Continuing that metaphor today, the frontman revealed: “We’re cooking now. The pot’s on the boil. The cake is on the rise.”
“We can see what the record is, and the future looks fantastic,” he said. “We’ve been working away and writing all year. We’re just in the last stages of it and it’s feeling like a more optimistic record than the last two. It’ll be a more physical record. We’re really excited to have a record that’s almost ready, but not quite.”
Following on from the apocalyptic themes of their last two albums, Philippakis explained that the new material was a reaction against that, as well as the dark mood created by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thinking about what has occurred over the last period, we’ve been writing new music as a response to that and to transport ourselves out of that reality and into a brighter future – or just to take us out of the moment,” he said.
Yannis added: “We probably would have done that anyway after the last record, but then with the actual reality of the pandemic I couldn’t bare to write anything too depressing. I feel like the next record is going to be full of light. It’ll be the perfect soundtrack for nights out, being together again and wild abandon.”
Check back at NME soon for more of our interview with Yannis Philippakis.
Foals’ upcoming tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.
12 – Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
13 – Boardmasters, Cornwall
14 – Singleton Park, Swansea
30 – All Points East, London
21 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
23 – Utilita Arena, Birmingham
29 – Olympia, London
30 – Olympia, London
1 – Olympia, London
2 – Olympia, London
5 – Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
6 – Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
8 – O2 Academy Brixton, London
29 – Castlefield Bowl, Manchester
8 – Millennium Square, Leeds