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Foals’ Yannis Philippakis discusses album five at Oxford Union talk

"I think we will experiment"

Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis has discussed the band’s progress on their next album as part of a talk at Oxford University’s student union this evening (October 20).

The singer/guitarist was invited to speak at the prestigious university as part of their frequent Oxford Union Q&A sessions. Kanye West famously spoke at the Union in 2015, while other speakers have included Glastonbury Festival’s Michael Eavis, Dizzee Rascal, and ‘Gangnam Style’ star Psy.

Speaking tonight, Philippakis discussed the Oxford band’s history, connections to their hometown, musical process and more. In addition, he opened up on their progress on their follow up LP to 2015’s ‘What Went Down’.

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“We’ve just started writing the new record,” Yannis confirmed. “We’ve taken a year out – we needed it. We’d been on tour for a long time. It was fun, but sometimes the more fun a tour is, the more of a toll it takes on you.”

He continued: “Me and Jimmy [Smith, guitarist] have come up with some sketches and some early ideas. We’re actually writing on the road at the moment.” Joking that he’d play some early material to the audience after the talk if they liked, he added: “It doesn’t sound good yet, but…”

Foals new album

Later, he discussed how the band would approach their sound on their next, fifth full-length record: “I think we will experiment. I feel excited about that.”

Referencing the big sonic shift between debut album ‘Antidotes’ and its less math-rock-influenced follow-up ‘Total Life Forever’, he continued: “The last two [‘Holy Fire’ and ‘What Went Down’], they’re like buddies. What we need to do is go through some sort of violent change and make sure, whatever the next record is, it’s not friends with the last two… We’ve built a wide palette that we can draw from. It would be a shame not to keep pushing that. It’s evolution vs. extinction.”

Finally, Yannis revealed one perhaps unexpected influence on the new album. Speaking on the impact of “certain events that have happened here and in America, and generally the global climate,” he cited a Twitter account called Extinction Symbol as something that ‘keeps him up at night’.

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“It makes me feel really bad to be a 21st Century human,” he revealed. “I think, in some ways, that might emanate in the record.”

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Prior to entering the studio in August, Foals have previously discussed their new record. Speaking to NME in July, Philippakis said: “We’re in the marinating stage of thinking about getting onto the next record. We have a couple of bits written but it’s in the very early stages. We’re in the conception stage, we’re not pregnant yet, we’re just trying to have the kid.”

“I think it’s good to be hungry and want to make big leaps between records and keep things surprising and keep it unpredictable and to grow. It’s important for bands to evolve and I think it’s one of the reasons that it’s still exciting for us after having done four records,” he added.

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