As they descended on Mad Cool Festival 2022 this week, Foals knew exactly what they needed to do to smash their closing 1am set. “These sets are always quite fun, because The Killers are the headliners and then we’re sort of doing the party set afterwards,” drummer Jack Bevan tells NME before they take to the stage. “The only sad thing about that is then when you finish, the whole festival finishes, and you don’t get to have that hour where you bask in the aftermath of your set. The doors are closed and everyone goes home.”
Guitarist Jimmy Smith agrees: “Yeah, then you come back to the backstage area and you’re like, ‘Guys!’ and there’s no one here. It’s just tumbleweed and cigarette butts. I also wish someone would move their fucking walkway out of the way [from the stage]. I think it’s either The Killers’ or Imagine Dragons’.” Bevan replies: “We’ll just use it. You’ll go up there!”
Unsurprisingly, Jimmy does not make use of the gangway during Foals’ set. But frontman Yannis Philippakis gladly obliges, while Bevan also makes the actually quite-long trip from his drum kit to the very edge of the walkway many a time, even nabbing a gifted shirt from a fan at one point.
Needless to say, Foals were the party that we needed in the early hours of Friday morning (July 8). Before their set, we had a chat with Jimmy and Jack about fanboying over Deftones and Radiohead, their historic set at Glastonbury 2022, thoughts on a new album, solo projects, and Dan Carey’s dub plans for their latest record ‘Life Is Yours‘.
NME: Hello Foals! We just caught you watching Deftones. Did you enjoy their set?
Jack: “It was pretty great. It was the first time I’d seen them [live] in like, six years. I just met Abe [Cunningham] the drummer outside, and I’ve gone all shaky because he’s one of my biggest inspirations ever in drumming. He’s just the best, and he was really nice.”
Jimmy: “I was in a room with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood for the first time the other day. They played in London and I was too scared to talk to them. I was too tired to talk to them, actually. I was like, ‘I don’t want this to be the day that I talk to them’. There were lots of other people in the room, or it would have been pretty awkward.”
The last time we saw you was when you headlined The Other Stage at Glastonbury a few weeks ago. How was it for you?
Jack: “That was fun. There was something about that particular Glastonbury. Obviously we’d never headlined a stage at Glastonbury before, and it felt like one of the most important gigs – maybe the most important gig we’ve ever done. With it being the first Glastonbury in three years, and the first night at Glastonbury in three years, the excitement in the crowd all day was palpable. To end the show was pretty exciting, and we got pretty over-excited.”
Did you enjoy the rest of the weekend?
Jack: “We stayed late on the Friday until about 6am, because we had to go to Dublin for another show. Also, I don’t know if it’s my age but I’m really good for going in hard one night, then I really want to be tucked up in a comfy bed somewhere. I can’t do the three-day thing anymore.”
Jimmy: “I felt really sad to leave because the sun had just started catching all the flags. It was sunrise and I was thinking, ‘All my friends are in there’.”
Jack: “My last memory was just looking for any food stands open on my way out, and I found a burrito, but the wrap was made out of a Yorkshire pudding. I was delicious and sacrilicious!”
It felt like your new album ‘Life Is Yours’ was written for nights like that…
Jimmy: “When we were writing the album, we were like, ‘Wow, imagine this one in front of a festival crowd’. You always think of Glastonbury, so in some ways it was.”
Jack: “We haven’t done that many festivals since COVID. That was definitely the biggest at that point. Glastonbury is where the mind goes when you think about festivals. It felt celebratory.”
Has ‘Life Is Yours’ made you feel like more of a ‘party band’ on stage?
Jimmy: “I don’t know. It’s just one of the many avenues that we like to explore!”
Jack: “The set feels really exciting at the moment. It feels really nice having these lighter, dancier, poppy songs because we never had problems in the past with the end of the set. All of the heavier, more intense ones have always slotted in to make a really good end of set. It’s the first half of the set in the past where we haven’t had enough of those lighter, dancier songs. There were a few, like ‘Olympic Airways’ – Jimmy’s favourite song to play – where we played that at basically every show ever. Now we’ve got songs that we can poke out in between in those places.”
You released a remix collection during lockdown. Can this album be remixed if it’s already so ravey?
Jimmy: “Well, Dan Carey is remixing it! He’s doing a dub record.”
Jack: “It’s pretty nuts. It’s a proper dub record, so that’s pretty cool. There are some songs like ‘Wild Green’ that lend itself so well to that.”
That’s become a real fan favourite. When are you going to start playing ‘Wild Green’ live, you lazy, lazy men?
Jack: “So up until the record came out, we were only playing a few songs from the album. I think it’s good to play one or two songs before they’ve been released, but because the record came out when it did, we only had about eight shows after that. We’re going to have a bit of a break and then we’re going to learn all of the new ones, and then we’ll start alternating them. For me, ‘Wild Green’ is going to be a new ‘Providence’-style live favourite – or at least I’d be sad if it wasn’t.”
Jimmy: “I think we need one more set of rehearsals and then we’ll be able to play the whole record.”
Do you think you’ll explore this dancey avenue even further on the next album?
Jack: “We’ve sort of been talking about it, but we don’t really know. Watch this space.”
Jimmy, we know you’ve got some solo material in the can that we’re going to hear soon, right?
Jimmy: “Yeah, definitely. Watch this space!”
Jack, would we ever hear a ‘Beaker’ solo record from you?
Jack: “Well, I’m actually building a studio in my new house, but it’s going to be the sort of record that I might never release.”
Jimmy: “Would it be too scary?”
Jack: “Yeah, it would be too scary! Really demonic moaning and growling!”
Jimmy: “Demonic electronica.”
Demonica? Foals, thank you very much.
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