Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Five minutes with... Foals.

An Interview with Walter, bassist in Foals before their show at Leeds O2 Academy on October 29th 2010.

Joseph Sheerin : It’s the first night of your second UK tour of the year in support of Total Life Forever, how is it being back in Leeds? Your show at Leeds Met in May was pretty memorable…

Walter Gervers: We’re very jetlagged! It’s very good to be back at home after having spent 5 weeks in the US touring. It’s incredible to be home but we’re in the middle of a very long run so hopefully we can hit the ground running starting tonight. It normally takes a few dates to get going but this time we should be well practiced!

JS: You’ve had a very successful 2010 with a Mercury Award nomination and a second Top 10 Album. Could you imagine this after having nearly a year out of the limelight?

WG: It’s weird. I mean, we purposely took our time with this record and gave ourselves some space after Antidotes being so hectic. We decided to remember what it is like to be in a band and enjoy some time back at home in Oxford. We were not conscious of any chart success and it’s always dangerous to be like that, it takes your mind away from the purpose of the record. It’s not healthy for the band.
The Mercurys on the other hand was a more pleasant surprise. We had no expectations of winning but it is just good for the record to be critically important and it’s nice to know people voted for it. It was such a pleasant surprise and of course, once you get there, you are kind of hoping that you might win as you do have as much chance as everyone else but once it happens you just think it’s a good platform to go on to album number 3.

JS: Total Life Forever shows a real musical development and maturity after Antidotes – what changed around this record?

WG: Our biggest influence, I think, was not wanting to repeat what we had done before. We had purposely more time for this album. Antidotes happened so fast and it was such an experience. We learnt a lot afterwards and decided to put it into practice. We changed the way we wrote and recorded, we mixed it up; whether it was Yannis and Jimmy writing together or separately. The lyrics were more important this time. For Total Life Forever we wanted the lyrics there from the beginning in comparison to Antidotes where they were the last thing we were concerned about. It made it less comfortable for us which probably, in turn increased creativity. I mean, we could’ve stayed at home and recorded in London with all the usual distractions but we wanted to write a record with a beginning, middle and end; a real story/. But this isn’t the end, it’s just the second stage, we’re still learning.

JS: How was it recording at Svenska Grammofon studios? They’re meant to be amazing to work in.

WG: It was great but really nerve wrecking. When we got there it was a bit daunting, it has a lot of rooms and is very professional. But once we settled in – we lived above the studio – we were like kids in a sweetshop, we had the whole place to ourselves. Recording with Luke Smith (ex-Clor) was also fantastic. We played live for him and he made sure the bedding of songs was live and they were often used as a skeleton for the finished articles. We’d record the same track nearly 20 or 30 times and not know which one he would use but it sounded great and gave us a real groove and vibe and it was the studio that made that possible. We were out of our comfort zone, being away from home for so long but it gave us a mission to finish the album. It was hard work – at the end you’re all full of cabin fever but it was a fantastic experience.

JS: So what does 2011 and beyond hold for Foals?

WG: Well before Christmas we’re back to Europe on the never ending tour! It’ll be great though, Europe always is. Then we have Bowlie 2, the Belle and Sebastian-curated ATP event before a special NYE show we’re doing. Afterwards, it’s back to Australia for a few shows, but hopefully before we go we’ll get a chance to do some demoing and writing so we can get right back into the swing of things once touring finishes. We want to get our ideas ready to go instead of letting them pile up in our minds and not materialising properly. It’ll be time to get our heads down!

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