Foals

by Foals

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2013: the year that Foals broke through the barriers. Relentless touring saw Foals play 155 shows across the world and travelling 135,110 miles, appearing high up the bill at festivals around the world and playing their first ever UK festival headline slot (Latitude), it’s no surprise then, that British media coined Foals as one of the hardest working acts of the year. The hard work paid off – by the end of 2013 Foals won a number of awards: Best Live Act at the Q awards, Best Live Act at The Sun Bizarre awards, Best Single (Inhaler) at the NME awards and a Barclaycard Mercury Music nomination (the band’s second). In December Foals topped the NME readers album and track of the year poll, beating Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA to pole position. Reading & Leeds Director Melvin Benn summed it up in the summer of 2013: ‘Foals are the most in touch guitar band in the world – I don’t think anybody’s matching them’.

Detroit. Willesden. Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. “The inside of our skulls” – these are the places that made up Foals third album, their most direct and fully realised album yet. Holy Fire entered the UK charts at number 2 in February 2013 (their highest chart entry to date) andgave the band their first Number 1 album in Australia. Electrifying come back single ‘Inhaler’ and won ‘Best Single’ at the NME awards the same month, whilst the beautiful ‘Late Night’ (April 22nd) came complete with a shock and awe style video from critically acclaimed director Nabil (Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Nas) and premiered on Rolling Stone. So igniting was the relationship, Nabil also went on to make the video to follow up single ‘Bad Habit’ which premiered on The Guardian in June 2013.

Holy Fire is Foals highest selling record to date, reaching gold status in the UK just three months after it was released. In March 2013 the band played two shows in the same day (which sold out in 15 minutes flat) at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, to rave reviews; ‘privileged punters realised they were witnessing one of the gigs of the year’ said The Times, ‘Foals are the best live band the UK has to offer’ said The Fly, whilst Evening Standard added’Foals are ready for their arena moment’. Foals continued their live assault across the UK throughout the summer with a set of high billing festivals shows – Glastonbury Other stage second from top, Reading & Leeds main stage third from top, and their first ever UK headline performance at Latitude Sunday night – ‘They gathered the strongest reaction of the weekend from the huge crowd assembled’ said NME, ‘Foals lit up the closing night’ said Metro.

Foals’ third album was produced by Flood and Alan Moulder. Much like the classic Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins albums that the duo have previously collaborated on, Holy Fire found Foals uniting the personal with bigger themes – specifically feelings of contemporary dread. Other influences included, says Yannis “The Delta, voodoo, the swamp, sexuality, byzantine iconography and music, syrupy rhythms, the mountains, the abyss, the decline of the bee populations, hip hop and stoner rock.” Then there’s the folk music of the American Deep South, captured by Alan Lomax just before it passed into history: “most of the players of the music are long deceased, but you can still be part of these moments that were recorded in fields in the Delta,” says Yannis. “You feel like there’s a direct communion happening between you and a ghost.”

Holy Fire is a record of contrasts, of Foals feeling themselves liberated to create a record that perhaps they didn’t even realise they had within them. “To make, it was the least harrowing of all the records,” says Yannis, before adding, ”in a lot of ways it’s not been harrowing at all, and I think a lot of that has been Flood and Moulder. We vacillate between our experimental side and the side that enjoys the possibilities of what pop music can do, that it can speak outside it’s own barrier. If anything we feel that we’ve made a record that doesn’t exist between those two subsets. I feel content that we’ve made a record that is just what it should have been.”

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