Foals Talk "Holy Fire", Heavy Metal, Movies, and More
Fri, 26 Apr 2013 14:29:56
"We had a day off yesterday, and we've been spending the whole day by the pool in Phoenix," smiles Foals drummer Jack Bevan. "We can't complain".
Foals deserve some fun in the sun. They unleashed one of the year's most intriguing and invigorating records in Holy Fire. It's as incendiary as its namesake would hint, and it blends their heaviest and most hypnotic elements together in one utterly unforgettable roller coaster. This is as powerful as 21st century rock music gets…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Foals drummer Jack Bevan talks Holy Fire, movies, heavy metal, and more…
Did you approach Holy Fire with one vision or vibe in mind?
With this record, we allowed ourselves a little bit more freedom. We'd never made a record before the first album so it was just a collection of songs we'd written in the year-and-a-half beforehand. With the second record, we decided what we wanted to do, stuck to it, and it colored the way we made the songs. We basically knew what the record was going to be before we started making it. With Holy Fire, we basically told ourselves we were going to write whatever came naturally and not worry whether it was going to fit together until much later on. We wrote a much more diverse array of songs than we'd ever written previously. When we had 19 songs, we edited it down into something that was going to work as a cohesive record. I hate to use the term because it sounds cheesy, but it feels like more of a journey than before. The record takes you to so many different places. I feel like it's a more polarized journey than what we've done in the past. There's material that's heavier and faster than anything we've ever done before. Then, there are songs like "Moon" and "Stepson", which a lot more delicate and spacious than anything we've ever done before.
Both ends of the spectrum have been amped up.
That's what we hoped to achieve when we went in.
What ties everything together thematically?
Lyrically, for Yannis, it's a much more honest and soulful record. He wanted to communicate more directly on this record. It's less than thematic than previous records. There's thematic consistency on Total Life Forever. It wasn't a concept record, but it was tied together by a notion of the future, technology, what's going to happen, and being lost at see. Whereas this album has a lot of different stories. I wouldn't necessarily say it has a theme. I think the color of the record is what ties it together for me. I tend to listen to music, and it gives me a mood or color. It feels very dark brown, sun-kissed, and orange whereas our last record felt blue and colder. I can't explain it any other way [Laughs].
Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
Definitely! I think we're always going to want our music to be something you can get lost in and used as escapism. We're never going to be writing about our day jobs or mundane everyday life. That's not exciting to us. Because of that, we end up painting pictures, and we end up experimenting with different sounds in the studio so it doesn't sound like five guys playing guitars, drums, and keyboards in a room.
How did "Moon" come together?
I love that song. I especially enjoy listening to it because it's one of the only songs in the band where I had no part in the writing process. That song was written by Yannis and Jimmy alone one evening at our studio in Oxford. They went in there with a bottle of whisky and some cigarettes and jammed it out. A lot of our best songs just come out without any laboring. "Moon" was like that. "My Number" came together in an hour or so as well. I can listen to "Moon" objectively. I'm not hearing myself and critiquing it. I'm hearing it for what it is. It sounds lush, and it's a lovely stop to the record. It's the first time we've ended the record as best as we can, in my opinion.
What's the story behind "Inhaler"?
We had the chorus riff for a while. However, it came together during the last minute in the studio. I kept bugging the guys to play it because I thought it was going to be great. One day, we put two riffs together, and we had a song. It was a happy studio accident. It's great for us because it's so much fun to play live. It's different. I've never written anything so "rock" before, and it's fun to play.
What are some of the heavier bands you're into?
We're all fans of metal. We used to listen to Slayer growing up. Over the last couple years, I've gotten really into Mastodon. We listen to Lamb of God. We also like more stoner metal bands like Sleep, Earth, and Isis. Some people are surprised we'd come out with something so heavy, but those elements have always been there. I think that comes across live more than it does on our previous records. Yannis and I used to be in an instrumental metal band essentially. We've been into this stuff for years.
If this album were a movie, what would it be?
That's a tough one. Each song feels like a different movie to me. I feel like "Prelude" is very Apocalypse Now. It's that color of sunset, and it has that tension. "Moon" reminds me of Melancholia by Lars von Trier. There's that opening scene where everything is stuck in slow motion and certain things are moving but not really. Maybe Apocalypse Now could cover the majority of it.
What does Holy Fire mean?
We came up with the title after we found the artwork. It fit well with the feeling we got from the songs and the cover. We chose the cover very early on. We needed something which fit with the image of horses riding out to sea at sunset. Holy Fire is ambiguously spiritual. It's not a religious reference. It's spiritual in an indirect way.
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