Foals is one of the few bands these days that has reached the top on their own terms. The past year has been the result of nearly a decade of sweat and hard work: Wembley gigs, a Brit Award nomination for Best Group and now – a headline spot at this weekend’s Reading and Leeds. At this pace, we trust that the guys are still going to be hitting it hard in another decade to come. We caught up with the bands just moments ahead of their monumental headline show at Reading and Leeds and here’s what the boys make of it all – before you see it all unfold on stage.
You’re just about to headline Reading and Leeds. What’s going through your heads right now?
We’re like a mixture of quietly confident that it’s going to be good and fun, but we’re also a little bit terrified. Whenever there’s a big show, there’s a big build-up towards it. You just want to get it done after a while. But it’s okay, everyone is in good form. That’s the thing with these things – it’s the sense of occasion that makes it a success. I like to think that we’ve sort of won anyways and if we just play through the songs, we should be okay.
You’ve been in the music industry for over a decade now. Let’s do an overview of how things were back in the day and what they’re like now -when you’re just about to do one of the biggest shows of your careers. What’s changed and what’s stayed the same?
The thing that stayed the same is definitely our attitudes toward playing live and how we operate as a band. We’ve definitely gotten used to more comfort, we travel a bit more, there’s more luxury now and all that stuff that just comes with being a bigger band I suppose. But what has definitely changed was the way we made music over the years. We figured out really early on, after our first record, that if we were going to have any kind of longevity as a band and success in the industry, then we needed to keep our fans and ourselves kind of on their toes. And basically change up everything we do, but still be true to ourselves. We haven’t done it perfectly, but we managed to do it. I feel the lifespan of the band would have been dramatically shorter if we were just going over the same ground and putting out the same record.
The charts were never a point of reference for you, as a band, and now you’ve become a household name. Do you feel that the music industry in the UK has a tendency of sieving out the unnecessary in time?
We consider ourselves lucky with the fact that we didn’t have this great success with anything that was like a one time hit. I really don’t envy bands these days that are in that situation because it’s almost impossible to follow up. If you can’t keep it up, you’re done. I think we’ve done well to avoid that. And I like to think that we’ve become a decent name amongst other bands.
I like how you’ve used the phrase ‘decent band’ when you’re just about to headline Reading and Leeds.
Well, the moment you think you’re really good – then you’re in trouble. We know we can be good but we also know that we cannot be that good. That kind of human element, cause we give it a lot of energy and a lot of effort , is also a part of our success right now.
Do you feel that there can be downsides to your increased popularity?
Straight off the top of my head, one of the downsides is that sometimes we do feel the pressure a little bit when the shows get bigger. Sometimes you feel like you can lose a little bit of the element of control. More and more people get involved. They’ve all been brilliant – the team that’s around us is incredible and we’ve been really lucky to have the help that we’ve had from our management and label. But there’s just no way you can keep control of everything and I think that element of sometimes losing control is a little bit of a downside to increased popularity.
What’s your take on your band’s current lofty position on the British rock landscape?
I like to think that we’re up there with the big boys. There’s a certain group of bands that are around at the moment – some of them are quite bigger than us – like, say, the Arctic Monkeys who’ve done considerably bigger shows and have more achievements than us, but I like to think that because of our longevity, we’re up there with many of those bands. I like to think that we’re going to leave some kind of mark on the British music scene.
Final words: what can we expect from your set at Reading and Leeds in the weekend ahead?
We’re treating it like a celebration of 4 records. So, we’re trying to do a little bit of everything, but we don’t have that much time to try and fit everything in. We’ve been trying to work out a set that’s kind of comfortable for us and we don’t miss too many things out. We’ve got some production, we’ve got some little bells and whistles and things that should probably make it fun and make it a celebratory upbeat thing. We’re in a good place. I hope it works out, otherwise…
What’s your FAULT?
I think it’s letting go of decision and trusting other people. I think we’re quite untrusting as a band and sometimes we need to realize that people do know what’s best for us.