ACL Interviews: Foals

ACL continues to draw ever closer and we here at ATH are starting to get hyped up for the festival. In preparation, we had an opportunity to send some questions over to Walter Gervers of Oxford band Foals. We really dig the sound these guys have created on their two album career so we were excited to hear what they have to say about their music. Follow the jump for more.

ATH: English festivals are known for their massive crowds.  Have you guys played any festivals in the US, and if not, what are your expectations for playing an American music festival.

Walter: We have had only a few experiences of US festivals, the best being red-rocks in colorado. The landscape was amazing, almost like a set from an early star trek episode. We were pretty short of breath that day due to the altitude, it felt like a great use of a space and setting. Lollapalooza was really exciting for us when we played in 2008, playing a big american festival that you have been aware of since you were much younger, and realizing you are part of the bill now was a good moment.

ATH: The band seemed to change the artistic aesthetic on the new record, Total Life Forever.  Is there a reason for the shift, and if so, does it align with a musical shift as well, or solely a separate artistic approach to the presentation?

Walter: We feel the aesthetic has gotten stronger, rather than changed. Any musical shift is a natural progression within the band, and this record is very different but has built on what Antidotes started. We allowed ourselves more time to write and let songs grow and be spacious, and approached recording in a more thoughtful manner. We definitely did not want to repeat ourselves, rather than trusting old formulas. I suppose the artwork side does align with the music, the same unified idea is there, but executed differently. We still have tinhead involved in what we do, but wanted the design of the record to be bold and simple, and we decided to use a Steve Guillick photo as the cover later on, once we saw them developed. It looked oceanic and eerie, you cant make out the depth of the water, it seemed to sum up a lot of the feel of the record for us.

ATH: Even though Austin is known for its keen music ear, I’m sure there are a lot of people that will be at the festival (no offense, I have both records) who might not have heard of your band.  How do you plan to win them over?  Would you like to start an early advertising campaign here?

Walter: None taken! We are used to playing to people who may not know the songs, it can be a good challenge. Its fun to play to new crowds, we just do as we always would and not treat a show differently. We are comfortable playing live after a lot of touring.. and you cant really have tactics for shows, as you cant predict what the reception will be like, which is a good thing.

ATH: Your band has had great, well-deserved, success in the UK, but the United States seems to be a bit slow on the uptake.  Do you guys think there is reason for the difference?  For example, the differing promotional aspects in the UK vs the US, or the varying cultures between the countries?

Walter: We are aware of the difficulty of reaching everywhere in the states, partly due to the sheer size. Having not been back for two years, its definitely a slower process than perhaps in the U.K. We know that we just need to keep revisiting cities and playing again, despite all the long drives… It’s been worth it, and so far the response from the crowds has been really encouraging. As for promotion, radio is so important here, and i imagine a lot of major stations are out of bounds for us, but college radio support has been strong. Our job is just to tour and play and make the most of it.

ATH: You’ve just spent an hour rocking on stage, sweating your heart and soul through your shirt, and its over.  What do you guys do next?  Is it sort of a ho-hum, we’re finished attitude, or do you spend a little time basking in the glory of the performance? Any rituals?

Walter: Wow, um.. I suppose it varies. We try not to over analyze shows, especially not straight after coming offstage. There is very little ‘glory basking’ as we are still improving and tweaking things at the moment, its an ongoing process really. Crowd reaction usually determines how we feel, we feed off the energy, it’s a two way thing i think. The crowds are as important to us on the stage to make the show a memorable one. No rituals, just a few stiff drinks each and some cold water on the face.

ATH: We’re always looking for the next big thing from the UK to take over the United States. I have a feeling you all might have a bit of a different take on the new music in the UK, as opposed to say NME.  What bands should we be looking out for, and what bands are getting some love that aren’t worth a minute of our time?

Walter: Recently in our home town of Oxford, there has been some really exciting new things surfacing. Some of the bands like Jonquil, Trophy Wife and Pet Moon are old friends of ours and we have shared living and recording spaces with. We are lucky enough to be able to take them on tour with us later in the year and they all can be found on myspace. Special mention should also be given to Pulled Apart By Horses, if you like it hard and fast.

ATH: You’ve just released your second album as Foals. How long do you plan on touring this record?  Do you have plans to go back in and start recording all over again, or is there a break lined up in the near future, just to catch your breath and enjoy the rest of life’s offerings?

Walter: There has been little breathing time for us, but we like it that way. It’s definitely better to be a busy band right now than not. We are not stopping til Christmas, after this month in the U.S, then a U.K tour, then a stint in europe. After the new year, we are going to head back to Australia and Japan, then who knows. The plan right now is to not leave such a long gap between recording, and demo things as soon as we can. We are already writing bits and pieces, and need to get things down so they aren’t lost. Life’s other offerings will have to wait for the time being, while we are in the thick of it.

ATH: So, besides music, we’re huge football fans (soccer to the US kids).  You all have to have a favorite EPL team, right? Who is your most hated team?

Walter: I saw Chelsea play once when i was younger, but we don’t really follow club football. The italian and south american leagues seem way more interesting to me though, more flair on display.

ATH: A foal is a young horse, up until its about four. Then it becomes a pony usually.  You’re over the age of four as a band, and you’ve matured a great bit, so any intent upon changing the name? Does it hold a different meaning for the five of you versus the dictionary? Expain.

Walter: Ha! well thought out… but a name change right now may be seen as a little counter productive maybe? Foals was decided by a friend of ours now in Pet Moon, Andrew Mears, who was originally in the band when it formed. The previous two bands of Yannis and Andrew had some equine references in the titles, so the merge seemed right to be Foals. Shame you always have to say it three or four times until people hear it right..

Many thanks again Walter for making some time for us.

Foals will be playing on Sunday at 1:15 on the Honda stage.

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