Interview with Foals
Journalist Lisa Forster sings the praises of Foals’ fourth album, What Went Down. This, however, does not negate the fact that when meeting with her, frontman Yannis Filippakis and guitarist Jimmy Smith were in an exceptionally crappy mood. Overdone with entertainment. Ah, there it is. But the interview, however, turned out to be entertaining. Perhaps that is why.
The problem of the famous millennium indie groups is that they often do not want to listen to their new material. As a rule, after a couple of first releases nothing more convincing appears. What are The Hives doing? Or the vines? There is probably a reason that no one knows the answers to these questions. But it is also clear that for some this fate has passed. MGMT, for example, released their best songs after “Time To Pretend” and “Kids”.
Foals has the same story: “What Went Down” is their fourth album. And the best at the moment. There are awesome guitar riffs sneaking through your nerves. The sharp, riotous drums, and in addition to them, Yannis Filippakis turns himself inside out, demonstrating what he saw in his nightmare dreams. The long tracks on “What Went Down” aren’t far from old hits like “Cassius” with its mathematically torn sync. But after their first album “Antidotes” Foals were sometimes criticized that their songs are not emotional enough, and the lyrics are far-fetched.
When Jan and Jimmy appeared in Berlin to give an interview, they only grumbled in exasperation: “How critics were mistaken,” Filippakis said. “How damn wrong they are. They are so stupid.” Both musicians today are pretty squeamish: “Sorry, we went a little too long yesterday with fun,” they explain, while taking a couple of puffs by the window.
Then Filippakis admits that he wanted to make changes in the group’s work in the process of development: “In the beginning, we wanted to do minimal techno with guitars. Little is left of this idea now.” Smith: “We took a steam bath so as not to cycle and be more free,” he says, opening the standard with some pills.
But what about the old stuff in the meantime? Today Smith says of “Cassius” that it is “the most annoying combination of notes that has ever been on paper.” “What Went Down,” on the other hand, represents a rather original mixture of stoner and British indie. The unyielding, unison-playing guitar riffs counteract the choirs singing “Whoo.” Every now and then typical buzzing melodies of guitars are added and all this sounds like resonant wood in the wind. The voice of Filippakis sounds louder, but can also suddenly turn into an indescribable monster. The album itself is quite lively: at one moment the instruments sound very dirty, then the sound is converted into gentle, smooth melodies. Sometimes it’s an exciting mix, as on the release of the single “What Went Down”.
The song begins with synthesizers, sounding like a frustrated barrel organ, and loose riffs, and Filippakis sings in agony: “I buried my heart in a hole in the ground.” The instruments seem to be in a tense expectation of something bad. In the video, at that moment, a tormented girl swims into the sea, fleeing from something or someone. A look at the light reflected in the waves. A look at the man’s eyes twisted with rage on the shore. Pause. And then Filippakis, howling again and again: “When I see a man, I see a lion.” Guitars and bass roar, drums full of rage. All this translates into incredible power.
The vocalist says that when he wrote the song, before his eyes there was a city from dystopia, “like in A Clockwork Orange.”
“London has always been dominated by a latent sense of violence. The British love good fights.” He describes a principle that applies not only to the first single, but to the whole album: “The song is aggressive and arrogant, but then becomes its own opposite. There are these soul-tearing lines about the girl who left you. But the next minute we’re talking about the seizure of the city, about the highest degree of feeling of power. ”
“Mountain In My Gates” is the second single from the album. In an instant, the sound of the guitars becomes very springy, the keys and drums play very harmoniously again, because of which there appears a swinging and precisely calibrated groove. Jack Bevan is a great drummer with precise movements. The snare drums in this track sound like a knife sharpened with quick movements.
Foals found themselves in a pleasant ear, but unbridled sound. The texts have become more complicated, with many nightmare-like plots: a fire blazing into the sea, hundreds of blown bulbs hanging overhead, someone is drowning in quicksand. Did Filippakis want in this way to give a gloss to the secret of fear that has lurked so far?
In the conversation he is again grumbling: “Lyrics come to me at the moment when I think about it … from somewhere.”
This is the moment in the conversation when you have to somehow endure the laconicism and silence of Filippakis until he says something else interesting:
“The only desire that arose when writing texts was that they also have a strong visual range. A code like a Rubik’s Cube.”