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14th Aug 2015

Exclusive interview with Foals ahead of their fourth album ‘What Went Down’ – Part one

Lia Nicholls

“Sometimes I don’t think we get enough credit for how hard we party,” says Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis.

“It’s a well-kept secret, perhaps that’s for the best, maybe we should keep it that way…”

The band aren’t long back from playing a festival in Romania where, after the gig, they pulled an all-nighter with a whisky effort so epic it resulted in Yannis missing his flight home. 

“By the time I woke up, the rest of the band were back in England,” he says, smoking with a smirk.

Their partners in crime were another British band basking in record sales glory at the moment, The Maccabees. They too were letting off some steam after having finished – and topped the charts with – their latest album Marks To Prove It. Both bands joined forces and off came the studio shackles quite spectacularly…

“I partied them (The Maccabees) out, says a gleeful Yannis. “They (his bandmates) tried to wake me up the next day but couldn’t. We’d just got back from Australia and I was jet-lagged, and I took a couple of sleeping pills, I was out for the count, clearly.”

Sitting on a hotel balcony overlooking East London the 29-year-old frontman is relaxed, even if he is chain-smoking throughout our chat.

Foals’ fourth studio album ‘What Went Down’ is soon-to-be released (August 28) and has already clocked up a wave of rave reviews. I’ve listened to it; it’s an aggressive, gutsy record but very delicate and pure in parts, to become a 2015 favourite I’m sure.

But true to Foals form, it is in the live setting where much of their material takes hold and becomes its own forceful beast.

It was a quick turnaround; it took from September 2014 to February of this year to write the album, but Yannis isn’t going to sit and pick holes or wish they had more of this or that sound. He’s genuinely pleased with their follow-up to 2013’s ‘Holy Fire’.

“I do feel like as a band we’ve found our stride…this record came about and it was quick and it was flowing.

“There is always anxiety before it goes out but I think we did the best we could and I feel proud of the record. Even if I could, I wouldn’t go back and change much.

“I definitely feel confident it is as good a record as we could have made in the time at this time.”

The five-piece wrote it in their hometown of Oxford before decamping to the South of France to La Fabrique in Saint-Rémy-de Provence, an 18th century studio-converted pile, which, of course was laden with crates and crates of the finest wine.

“We had this big old barn and huge rooms and we lived in the studio, we could record 24-hours a day if we wanted to, which we didn’t, but yeah, there was fuck load of wine.”

Look out for part two of our exclusive interview, where Yannis talks more about life in Foals, published on JOE next week.

Pre-order What Went Down now at