With Foals having been announced to headline Latitude Festival 2022 alongside Lewis Capaldi and Snow Patrol, frontman Yannis Philippakis has told NME of the band’s storied history with the Suffolk festival – and why they owe a lot to Latitude.
Ahead of the release of new album ‘Life Is Yours’, the band will top the bill at the event for the second time this July, continuing a long and eventful relationship with Latitude.
“The first time we played [in 2008] was memorable because we played in Spain the night before and had got caught up in a big fight the night before with Kele from Bloc Party and John Lydon,” Philippakis told NME referring back to whenKele Okereke accused the Sex Pistols frontman of a “racist attack” on him backstage at a festival, with Yannis and Kaiser Chiefs‘ Ricky Wilson stepping in.
“I got handcuffed and a security guard put me in a neck lock and I blacked out,” Yannis remembered. “We flew in and then played Latitude for the first time on zero sleep.”
A slightly less eventful second performance then came on the tour for second album ‘Total Life Forever’, though Yannis remembered the show being stopped due to crowd surges and pressure on the barrier. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh shit, there’s all these people that really, really want to see us’.”
Then, in 2013, Foals topped the bill at Latitude for their first ever festival headline set, in a career-defining moment that changed the trajectory of the band forever. “They were the first people to give us a shot at headlining a festival,” Philippakis said. “That was obviously a pretty amazing night for us, and I think it arguably it changed the trajectory of our career. It definitely was a significant moment for us.”
Alongside Foals, UK indie royalty such as The Maccabees and Wolf Alice have also been given their first major festival headline slots at Latitude, and a top slot at the festival has become a defining moment on the road to success for countless British guitar bands.
“It’s a great harbour for having bands work their way up,” Yannis agreed. “They take risks on their headliners and it has broken bands into becoming headliners. As daunting as it can be to headline a festival, it’s like there’s something about Latitude that feels receptive and warm as an environment. You’re not gonna have bottles of beer thrown at your head!”
The frontman added: “I think it benefits the music industry and the British music industry at large, because you have bands that are there realising their potential [at Latitude], who can then go on and headline festivals abroad and other festivals. It makes a palpable difference on the shape of the music industry and the health of the scene in the UK.”
When headlining Latitude 2022 in mid-July, Foals will be armed with seventh album ‘Life Is Yours’, a record made for communal euphoria and with dancing and movement at its core. For Yannis, it feels like a perfect festival album.
“The album was created in a very live manner, and in many ways the songs are designed for [festivals],” he said. “We wrote this record in isolation, obviously, but not with an insular mentality. We wanted to be the soundtrack to people’s parties, and we were craving live shows and we were craving nights out. So it’s made for that.”
Speaking about the band’s new album to NME in a Big Read cover feature last month, Philippakis said: “This is our idea of a going out record. We were thinking about parties, club nights and being drunk on the bus at 2am trying to get home. All of it: the excitement before you go out, meeting up with your friends, the wild abandon. ‘Who’s got the pingers? Where are we going?’ This is all of that youthful excess of going out.”
Comparing the upcoming festival to a potential third ‘summer of love’, he added: “As we re-emerge, this could be like ’89. This has the potential to be an iconic year, and I’d love this record to be the soundtrack to that – to be there for that house party, that barbecue, that drive to the ocean, when the face masks are a distant memory and it’s just you hugging your mates in the middle of a field.”
Read our full NME Big Read cover interview with Foals here, where the band also discuss becoming a trio, their party-ready new album, solo albums and side projects that members have in the works, no longer feeling competitive with bands like Arctic Monkeys, and hitting out at the UK Conservative Government’s “mass corruption”.
Ahead of the Latitude performance, Foals are set to embark on a UK headline tour in April. It follows a bill-topping appearance at last summer’s All Points East festival in London.