We always want to push ourselves musically when we’re writing and we always want to play good live shows. We want to stay friends – Foals
English band Foals have been on the road promoting their most recent album What Went Down and played a rousing gig at this year’s Osheaga. We had the chance to sit down with Jimmy Smith, the guitarist, and he gives a glimpse of what it’s like on tour, their plans for the rest of the year, and their goals as a band.
CONFRONT: What do you think of Osheaga so far?
JIMMY: It seems really nice. We just drove past that big dome thing, the biosphere, that was pretty cool.Backstage looks pretty good.
CONFRONT: How do you find festivals have changed over the years?
JIMMY: I guess they got a bit more organized. Festivals are always unorganized, but things like catering, back stage stuff is getting better. I think people started to get stick of boiled meat and potatoes. It’s still like that at most festivals.
CONFRONT: How would you say your band’s sound has progressed since the first album?
JIMMY: It’s got a bit heavier over the years. Maybe a bit moodier. It’s kind of a hard question. Definitely the last album there were songs which were the heaviest we’ve ever done, but also some of the quietest songs we’ve ever done.
CONFRONT: What was the main source of inspiration for What Went Down and what was the message you were trying to convey?
JIMMY: Well I don’t know what message it was trying to convey. I come from a pure musical background. It was quite a natural album to write. So we didn’t start off with any clear plan or concept to it. We weren’t like oh, this is what we want to do with this album, we want to reach these people. You know? It was just an extension of touring and the last album. We basically just got in a room and started writing music so in a way it was completely concept-free. Lyrically might be a bit different.
JIMMY: Just keep on doing what we’re doing. We always want to push ourselves musically when we’re writing and we always want to play good live shows. We want to stay friends [Laughs]. So whatever the balance is between those three things, we want to find the perfect balance and hopefully keep doing this for as long as it’s satisfying.
CONFRONT: How does touring in North America compare to the UK and Europe?
JIMMY: Well it’s a lot bigger, which is the biggest difference. In the UK, the longest drive between gigs is like five hours whereas here routinely it’s a 13 hour drive and you’re sleeping on the tour bus. It’s a huge continent. You’ve got like mountains and deserts and fucking swamps and beaches and ski resorts. In one tour you can go from winter to summer back to winter. It’s cool in that aspect, though sadly we don’t see much anymore because we’re always asleep. But when we used to tour it in a van, that was really cool. We did actually get an idea of how big the continent and how beautiful it is.
CONFRONT: Are there any plans for more touring or another album?
JIMMY: We’re going to tour till the end of the year. I think we’re coming back in October/November to do another North American tour with a couple of Canadian dates. Might be just one Canadian date, but I can’t remember. And then we’re going to stop touring at the end of the year and take some decent time off. Maybe six months, maybe longer.
CONFRONT: Which of your songs means the most to you right now?
JIMMY: At the moment, I’d say since we’re touring a lot, the song “What Went Down” is quite good. It’s quite aggressive on stage and you can get out a lot of anger and release a lot of tension. So it’s kind of therapeutic to play, ‘cause all your frustration of the day that builds up without you knowing you just release it and you then you feel great.
CONFRONT: What would you say is your motto these days?
JIMMY: [Laughs] I’m just a log in a river. That’s my motto. ‘Cause you know touring’s kind of weird ‘cause it’s always so hectic and you’re always moving and always with people. It’s hard to relax sometimes. So it’s basically go with the flow. I’m just a log in a river.