Foals formed in Oxford England in the mid 2000s as a protest of sorts against the music popular in the area, The five long time friends decided to perfect their own mix of new wave and atmospheric rock. Playing local clubs, the band’s membership and musical influences changed before the release of their first album in 2008.
The first album Antidotes was recorded in New York and was a popular album in the UK. Among the unusual techniques used in the recording, drums were recorded in alleyways on cassette tape recorders and then reprocessed through outboard gear to vocals being sung while moving round the room and brass performed by members of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra directed to not play directly into the microphone.
Foals has changed over the years into what is now a commercially viable rock act, but they started in a different direction. Yannis Philippakis said he wanted to make techno with guitars: “I almost set out a manifesto. No chords, everything played staccato, really clean.” The result was a wonderfully strange collection of stop-start bangers. Back then, he sang with the microphone facing stage right. Finally, a manager intervened: “You’ve got to start facing the crowd.’”
Foals latest release came out in two parts Everything not Saved Will Be Lost, Parts 1 and 2. The lyrics were written in six weeks, mostly in pubs and Philippakis says that he hoped to archive, naturally, “the insecurities and perils” of what it feels like to be alive today.
Over the past three years, the group has lost two founding members. Bassist Walter Gervers left in 2018 and last month keyboardist Edwin Congreave announced his departure to pursue a postgraduate degree and take efforts to “mitigate the imminent climate catastrophe”.