In-Flight Edibles, Rowdy Aussie Crowds & The “Sonic War” Of Their Next Album – Here’s Our Foals Interview
Gotta pass that plane time somehow.
Words by Amar Gera December 6, 2023

Image via Rashidi Noah //

We catch up with guitarist Jimmy ahead of their trip Down Under…

British rockers Foals are a rare sight in todays music world. The ability to craft commercial and festival-pleasing heaters while maintaining artistic integrity is a feat few pull off, a one that fewer actually make enjoyable. However, it seems Foals have perfected the art of the festival crowd anthem, and thankfully, they’ll be bringing their talents back to Australia over the NYE period for a bunch of shows around the country.

Slated to play the likes of Heaps Good Festival, Lost Paradise, Fortitude Music Hall and more, the run of shows will see the honorary Aussies bring their latest LP Life Is Yours (and its companion piece, Life Is Dub) across the country. Judging by our interview with lead guitarist Jimmy, this could very well be the the last time the album will be played out in its entirety, with Foals’ upcoming album seemingly already in the works. Which makes it all the more important that you catch them at the upcoming batch of shows.

To celebrate their upcoming Aussie shows, wee caught up with Jimmy from the band to talk Life Is Yours, their tips for flying to Australia and more. Check it below.

It’s a pretty busy time for you right now. You’re capping off a year of shows, a new LP, and a pretty crazy festival season. How are the energy levels?

Yeah, they’re pretty good right now. I think it’s because we’ve just had a bit of time off since September. So, we’re okay. We’re ready to do another LP and everything, I think.

Obviously, you’ve been playing music on this level for quite a long time now. After all these years, is the chaos of nonstop flights, shows, and so on, where you feel most comfortable?

I mean, post-COVID stuff is more annoying, like flying, airports and all of that. But yeah, we’re pretty used to it now. The show is such a tiny part of what the actual tour is. It’s all the hustle and bustle, and then a lot of time doing nothing.

Australia is pretty far removed from the rest of the world, which got me wondering, how do you kill time on that mammoth plane ride?

Just movies. If I’ve got my laptop, I might work on a song or something, that’s always pretty good. But then, the battery will always die in like an hour. So, yeah, generally I just take some edibles and watch some movies and enjoy it.

Edibles on a plane?

Yeah, I highly recommend it. I wouldn’t do it for the first time on a flight to Australia. I think that would be horrific if it went wrong.

Are you a window or aisle seat kind of guy?

If it’s below four hours, I want a window. If it’s above, I have to have an aisle because I can’t stand waking people up to go to the toilet.

Speaking of Australia, you’re playing a bunch of festivals and shows Down Under, including Heaps Good. How are you feeling for it?

I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve been to Australia, but it’s been a long time. So, we’re pretty psyched just to be coming down. And yeah, also Aussie midsummer again, it’s pretty good. It’s a good time to come visit. And yeah, those lineups are pretty good as well. I’m really excited about The Avalanches, I’ve never seen them. That’s going to be cool.

International artists always seem taken aback at how rowdy Aussie crowds are. In your personal experience, how do we compare to the rest of the world?

Yeah, you guys are surprisingly rowdy, considering the tropical setting. Aussie crowds bring this crazy European energy, like the stuff we see in the UK. But yeah, it’s good. I mean, I remember it was pretty surprising the first time we came and played in Australia. We were like, “Oh, shit. They’re actually pretty into it.”

Are there any specific memories from that first time in Australia that stand out?

I always just think of our first show, which was in Adelaide. We played a festival in Switzerland and then flew for two days or something, and then played in Adelaide the night we landed. Then, the same night, Edwin, our keyboard player, had a DJ set as well. And I remember the crowd went nuts for that set. That crowd was basically the only thing that got us through it all.

I also want to chat ‘Life Is Yours’. It’s been a year since that record entered the world. How has your relationship changed with it since?

I’ll tell you what, it’s been a quick year. I’m a bit bummed though. We haven’t played the whole record live, and I don’t know if we’re going to get to it. We’ve only got Australia left to do it. But I wish we could have played more of Life Is Yours.

I think it was a really necessary album for us to make, certainly because of COVID and all of that that was going on. I feel like it was the right thing to do. It felt nice to take our foot off the adventurous gas. We weren’t too pressured on ourselves about making the record. But I see it as a little calming record before whatever’s coming next, which I presume will be an all-out sonic war.

It’s pretty interesting that you followed it up with ‘Life Is Dub’, given that it’s pretty rare for artists to rework a new album to that extent. As a group, what was the reasoning behind it?

That was Dan Carey, one of the producers of Life Is Yours, and one of the guys we work with the most. He’s got his studio in South London and never leaves. It’s kind of a dream. I idolize him in a way because I want to live like that. I want to have my studio in the bottom of my house with my family up the top. But yeah, he was like, “I want to do a dub version.” And it was great.

Actually, I wish he’d gone a bit more out there on it. I haven’t seen him since it was released. But yeah, I really love it. Because I know that he’s got the capabilities to go really far out. I guess he doesn’t want to scare anybody though. But yeah, I thought it was really cool. I want to do more things like that, just in terms of weird releases and alternate versions of stuff we’ve done.

If ‘Life Is Yours’ and ‘Life Is Dub’ were two characters sitting at a bar, what would they be and what would they be talking about?

Life Is Dub probably wouldn’t need to drink any alcohol because it would already be so high. So, Life Is Dub would be on sparkling water or a Coca-Cola and would probably be talking about, I’m not sure, a new piece of musical equipment or maybe a tin hat conspiracy theory. One that doesn’t offend anybody, but it’s just a mystery.

And then, I feel like Life Is Yours would be quite positive and maybe reassuring Life Is Dub about their worries. Definitely would having a couple of drinks, maybe a cocktail. Looking slightly more ’80s than Life Is Dub, I would say. That’d be quite an interesting duo.

Your music’s pretty perfect for crowd singalongs. It’s a really moving thing to see in your lives videos. In terms of songwriting and instrumentation, is there a secret to crafting tracks that resonate so hard?

Yannis does all of the lyrics, but I would say that when you’re writing, there’ll be even just part of a sentence that pops out. And you’d probably be like, “That’s what they’re going to sing.” Because what we always naturally pick up on is slogans or catchphrases that pop out. And sure enough, there’ll be one at the end of a sentence, which the whole crowd will sing. It’s really cool. And then, similarly, they’ll just pick up on something that we haven’t even thought of, and sing that back at us, which is really cool.

You’re also playing a show in Brissy at The Fortitude Music Hall with Declan McKenna, Sycco, Felony and so on. How do you differentiate between festival and the more concert sort of set?

I don’t think we’re doing any sideshows so I’m glad that the Brisbane show is like a sideshow, because they are different. You can play for longer at a sideshow and you can play hard and fast with the set list, just because it’s like a no-pressured scenario. I think sideshows are more for having a bit of fun and connecting with your fans, whereas a festival show is more of a proper show, and it’s got to be a more crafted set list. Also, it’s got to fit into whatever allocated slot you’re playing.

It is a funny thing that I find interesting about festivals and I think its really impressive that all these bands actually manage to pretty much play for the allotted time and figure it out. Like we’ve gone over a few times. We’ve had sound cut by festivals and stuff, and I just find it so brutal that they invite these musicians to come all the way over and if they go a minute over because they’re enjoying themselves, that’s it. They’re like “How dare you?” How dare you encroach on The Killers’ headlines time?” So, yeah, I like the sideshows just because they’re a bit looser.


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You’re gonna be ringing in the New Year with us. What are your plans for the big countdown?

I don’t know, but I remember last time we did it in Melbourne we were at a festival. But it was actually quite depressing because we came back off stage really pumped, and there was just nobody around. Everyone had gone into Melbourne. So, we all just want to make sure that doesn’t happen again this time. Hopefully we’ll find a party, you’d think.

Lastly, can you give us a summary for Foals’ trajectory in 2023 and for the year ahead?

It’s all the things. Words like “Exploration” and “Oblivion” are popping into my head. But yeah, we’re just going to have a lot of fun.

Foals are returning Down Under at the end of this year. Be sure to cop tickets to their upcoming Aussie shows here.

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