Oxford Drop-outs – A Foals interview

By Hayley Cook, The Linc

It’s not unknown that Foals were formed when all of their members dropped out of university to pursue their dreams. But what does this 5-piece band from Oxford think of their recent success?


Hayley Cook spoke to lead singer Yannis Philippakis about smoking pot and that fiery temper of his. | Photo: Samuel Cox

Hayley Cook: How’s your tour going so far?

The Foals: It’s our biggest tour to date and its going really well. We’re a week in and all the shows have been fun, the crowds have been awesome.

HC: You played in Lincoln ages ago at the Bivouac, and this is your first major tour. Does this still seem a bit surreal to you?

TF: It feels a bit surreal when you stop and think about it but it’s not been that instantaneous. We’ve been on tour for like a year and a half non- stop, but I think when we stop the tour and look back on what we’ve done over the past year, it will seem surreal.

Things are pretty different than it was a year ago, both as a band and as individuals, for us now, but it’s good. We had no real ambition for the band when it started; we just never thought any of this would happen.

HC: So, what are your plans?

TF: We want to make a great record. We think Antidotes is a good record, but we want to make a better one. We just want to make music.

HC: It’s not unknown that you guys quit university, especially yourself an Edwin who quit Oxford University. Despite knowing it was a good decision now, was it a bit of a risk at the time?

TF: Obviously it was a risk. But I like risks and I think risks pay off. I’ve always taken risks.

The decision was almost already pre-determined as well because from the age of 13/14, me and Jack skived school all the time and played music; I stopped playing sports and started smoking pot. We would never have got involved in music if we weren’t going to take it to the next level.


Foals’ guitarist Jimmy Smith smashed a tooth during a frenetic house party gig in Cambridge in 2007. | Photo: Samuel Cox

HC: So, why did you decide to go to university?

TF: I like reading and I do like learning. I didn’t have anything against uni but it’s a rare privilege to be able to make music every day. We had s**t jobs, I used to wash dishes. I wanted to either study or make music but the choice between the two was quite an easy one.

HC: You were thinking about recording your new album in Hawaii. Have you had any more thought about that?

TF: Not really. We’ve got some ideas about who we want to work with and what kind of sound we want the record to have and some of it fits with going to Hawaii.

HC: Do you class yourselves as an ‘indie’ band?

TF: I see that as someone else’s job, not in a rude way. We make music and it’s not up to us to tag it. It’s obviously guitar music so I can see why people call it indie; I don’t have a problem with that.

We’re just a band at the end of the day; a band that was formed out of friendship and a love of music. Because of that, we’re probably not always going to have commercial success because we might put out music that others might not. I think we’re a band that’s going to evolve and change.


Foals regularly perform DJ gigs (Edwin - pictured above - is the main DJ in the band) and as well as playing V Festivals and nights such as Field Day After Party at The End. | Photo: Samuel Cox

HC: You did a London gig last September where it was reported that you trashed some of the equipment at the end. Regardless of what was happening at the time, do you think doing things like that makes you the stereotypical lead singer of a band, and is that a good thing?

TF: I do like shows that are chaotic. I think because alternative music is becoming more mainstream, you lose a lot of the ferocity and the raw frustration; everything becomes plastic and scripted. I don’t like that. If that comes out in an act of destruction then so be it.

We play physical shows. We come from a generation of music that isn’t supposed to be on TV; I didn’t use to read NME and like the music in the charts. We come from a background where you put on shows in your kitchen to your friends and trash things.

It’s not all groomed where people have nose jobs and really straight hair, that isn’t the kind of guitar music I grew up with and want to be associated with. So if having mosh pits and trashing things gets us away from that manicured element of rock music, then long may it live.

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