Foals on no longer feeling competitive with other bands like Arctic Monkeys

"We’re just drifting around on our own iceberg now"

Foals have spoken about how they now feel comfortable being “in a lane of one”, adding that they no longer feel competitive with other bands.

The Oxford band were speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read cover story to launch their upcoming new album, ‘Life Is Yours’. While this upcoming record will be Foals’ seventh album, frontman Yannis Philippakis “balked” at the suggestion that the band were now “indie statesmen”.

“I mean, I don’t agree with the ‘indie’ bit, I guess, weirdly – or the statesmen bit,” Yannis told NME. “I don’t agree with any of that, really! I balk at that a little bit. But I definitely feel that we’ve endured.”

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Drummer Jack Bevan went on to describe the band’s current standing: “Say you have a house party: it’s that feeling that you’re in the middle of it and you haven’t got to the early hours of the morning where people start leaving, and it gets a bit grim. The fact that we’re still in the prime time bit of the party feels good. Inevitably with a lot of bands, you sense a trajectory in decline. It still feels like we’re coming up.”

Foals cover interview
Foals on the cover of NME. Photography by Ed Cooke

Philippakis went on to admit that he may have had “a rep” and “competitive edge” in the past (with some instances including having previously called David Guetta “an abomination” and “just bullshit” and stating that “you don’t need Elvis Presley impersonations” to succeed when beating Arctic Monkeys to Best Live Act at the Q Awards in 2013). Now, however, he said he feels at peace with Foals existing “in a lane of one”.

“There are obviously bands who are bigger or whatever, but we’re in our own space,” Yannis told NME. “When you’re in a young band coming out, it can be a different vibe. I used to be a more prickly person, but now I’m mellow… a little bit.”

Bevan admitted that Foals’ former competitive spirit may have come from “insecurities, ambition and a fear of the unknown”, noting a very, very brief rivalry with Friendly Fires until the two bands met and hit it off.

Guitarist Jimmy Smith added: “A few years ago, it actually really bothered me because we were trying to be competitive with Arctic Monkeys.” He explained that he told his fellow bandmates: “‘For starters, they’re so much bigger! I think you guys are forgetting that they headlined Glastonbury fucking twice! That’s big!’”

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He added: “I really like them, so I was like, ‘Oh no, not them!’ We’re just drifting around on our own iceberg now.”

Yannis Philippakis of Foals
Credit: Tom Oxley

Read our full NME Big Read cover interview with Foals here, where the band also discuss becoming a trio, their party-ready new album, the upcoming third summer of love, solo albums and side projects that members have in the works, and hitting out at the UK Conservative Government’s “mass corruption“.

Last week also saw the band release their new single ‘2am‘, the second single after ‘Wake Me Up’ to be taken from their upcoming album ‘Life Is Yours’, which is due for release this summer.

Foals kick off a European and UK tour in March.

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