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Interview with cool kids, the Foals

21 JUN 2010 | Posted By: Georgia

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Interview with cool kids, the Foals

Foals
 
Foals
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
 
Foals Total Life Forever
What makes a band 'cool'? It's a hard question to answer without getting out the dark framed glasses, pulling on an over-sized flannie and requesting that your coffee beans not be roasted in the urine of underpaid Ugandans. To toe the line between hipster and wanker, you need to be able to tick a few boxes. You need to have intelligent, witty lyrics that aren't overly political (unless you're Peter Garrett). You need to produce brilliant viral video clips that are actually as good as your music (unless you're OK Go). You need to not give a fuck about fame, but still not be an arse to fans and the media (unless you're Mariah Carey). And finally, and some would go as far to call this criteria irrelevant, you need to know how to play your instruments (unless you're The Sex Pistols).

Oxford darlings Foals tick all boxes, and then some. After dropping their sophpmore album Total Life Foreverˆ, Drummer Jack Bevan had a chat with Lifelounge about sipping Cristal in hot tubs, why they love Wu Tang, and how spliffs make the musical world go around.

Georgia Frances King
: I have to award you guys some kudos points for being an intelligent band. There’s so much mindless pop out there at the moment, and not only do you make great sounding music, but it also has all of these great sharp references and thoughts woven throughout it. Do smarts equal good music?
Jack Bevan: Well, I wouldn’t say that all of the best music is made by intelligent people, but you’ve got to have something to make really good music. And I don’t think that there is a place for boneheads within it… It’s a shame that there’s that disconnection between generally good music and pop music. Because there was a time when good music and pop music was the same thing. I guess it’s subjective, but yeah… We’ve just got to hold out for another Madonna, I guess.

GFK: Where do all of your cranial ideas come from? Did you all study philosophy at university? Or does it just come from sitting around at night with a couple of joints and thinking philosophical thoughts?
JB: I think that you’re pretty much spot on! [laughs] I mean on the joints, not on the philosophy degrees… We definitely didn’t do that… For the last year when we were writing the record, we all lived together in a house and we set up a studio in the basement. We had a lot of time on our hands to write. And when we weren’t writing, we were pretty much in the living room smoking spliffs! So after watching the news, we’d just be thinking about something – you realise at the end of the day that there’s a lot of change going on in our lives. And who even knows what kind of technological advances of physiological differences there will be within our lifetime… I can’t even imagine what’s next. It kind of feels likes we’re living on the edge of the lifespan of the planet as well, with all the problems going on. But as well as all of the doom and gloom, end of the world type of stuff we’ve also been reading more positively… We’re not all doom and gloom.

GFK: How do songs come about then? Is it cohesive, or does one person take the lead?
JB: With ‘Miami’, I had been listening to all of these new jack swing records – like, early '90s hip hop. And I was like, "Check out this drum beat." Then Jimmy [Smith, guitarist] just came up with the ‘Miami’ chorus on the spot, and it came out of nowhere. But the lyrics… [the rest of the band] don’t really get involved with that. Have you seen the film ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ by Metallica?

GFK: No, but I’ve heard it’s worth it.
JB: Well you should! It’s so good. There’s this scene where they’re going around the table writing lyrics in a circle, and it’s just… to a certain degree it’s kind of ridiculous.

GFK: That sounds like that childhood game. Y’know, you write a sentence at the top of a piece of paper, then someone else writes another sentence after it, but folds down the paper so that you can only read the sentence before. Then the next person writes another sentence flowing on from the sentence before, but they don’t know what came before that… By the end, you re-read it and you have one long, fucked up story.
JB: Yeah, yeah! I used to do that as well, except with drawing people. So someone draws the top, then you fold down, someone draws the eyes, fold down… and you end up with this awful drawing of a person.

GFK: Oh that’s cool – I didn’t play that one.
JB: I didn’t play yours either. It sounds great though. Maybe we should try it.

GFK: What if you did that musically? Like, you would have the carcass of a song, then one of you would compose the first 30 seconds, then the next person would have to write the next 30 seconds, but only after hearing the last five seconds of the bit before it?
JB: …I think that it’s potentially really exciting to do something like that.

GFK: We might have just found the concept for your third album.
JB: You might have done that! [laughs] There will be a thank you for you in the sleeve of the third record.

GFK: Thanks! I want to go back to something you mentioned briefly before – '90s hip hop. In every interview I read with you guys, Wu Tang Clan gets slipped in there somewhere... But your passion for them doesn’t really seep into your music stylistically.
JB: I think that the thing that we all love the most about the Wu Tang Clan, even beyond their music, is the way that it’s a group, and they’re kind of a gang that travel around branding themselves… It’s that gang mentality. Wu Tang is a collective… I don’t like the idea of being a band that people are like, "Oh, they’re just a white indie band." I like keeping it in the family.

GFK: I’ve got this great mental image of you guys now on the back of Harleys comparing knuckle tattoos.
JB: Gangster! I would love it if we were a hip hop group.

GFK: I’d buy that! I found a website the other day that was basically an anti-Foals website. I’ve always reckoned that once you start getting hate mail, that’s when you know that you’ve made it. Because people give a shit enough to actually have an opinion. When did you guys realise that you were, err, ‘big’?
JB: Especially in England it seems, when you cross the threshold of being this ‘cool new band’, and then all of the sudden you actually start selling records and people start coming to your shows, all of the sudden, you’re like, the enemy? [laughs]

GFK: We call that tall poppy syndrome in Australia.
JB: Yeah, as soon as our second record arrived, the haters arrived too. And we definitely didn’t feel like we’d made it. We weren’t sitting in a hot tub drinking Cristal or anything. I find that music snobbery is just… it’s just that ‘indier than thou’ attitude. I’ve got no time for that kind of stuff. All I want to listen to is Fleetwood Mac.

GFK: Despite being against the whole ‘indier than thou’ thing, you guys can’t deny that you’re the epitome of hipster right now. NME covers… Having your songs all over Skins… Do you feel like you’re losing control?
JB: It’s annoying when your music get used on… [laughs] Well there’s actually one funny thing. On our last record [Antidotes], ‘Cassius’ was played during a TV program called ‘World’s Most Embarrassing Diseases’…

GFK: [laughs] Oh God, please go on.
JB: Well, there was this section on it about this girl, and she basically pissed herself the whole time. Medical chronic incontinence. And they’ve just got our music playing in the background. And it was just like, ‘WHO put those two together?’

GFK: [snorts]
JB: I bet that there was some sort of intern there that went, "Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I put Foals on during the incontinence section?"

More at myspace.com/foals. The Foals will play this year's Splendour in the Grass.
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