With Oxford indie quintet Foals touring relentlessly since the release of Holy Fire earlier this year, it’s hard to believe that they have time to catch a breath, yet alone an interview. I was lucky enough to catch Foals bass-player Walter Gervers last week to discuss the future of Foals, Australia and board games.
Where are you and what are you wearing? What am I wearing? (Laughs) Right now I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about to play a show here tonight and I’m wearing jeans that are very unsuitable for the 100 degree weather outside, and a t-shirt, that’s about it. I’m in an air conditioned room now though, so I’m doing okay for the moment. Your English skin will be safe in there. Yeah, it’s so hot here; it’s too much for me. I’m not designed for it.
It’s been 5 years since the release of Antidotes; did you ever anticipate the album would reach an international audience as much as it has? When did it really hit home that you had finally made it? Well, I don’t know, it’s weird. We never really thought about it, it’s like drawing a line in the sand and “making it or not.” It was kind of like, a real pleasant surprise when Antidotes did so well, and even better feelings to be able to write Total Life Forever and actually keep people interested. I think that is such a danger from the first record to the second; that people will lose interest if you don’t do something quite as good, or if your sound changes slightly, or you kind of naturally evolve. You can actually lose people rather than gain people so yeah, quite glad we’ve gained rather than lost.
With the announcement of second shows in both Sydney & Melbourne, plus the ab-so-lutely sold out Big Day Out sideshows earlier this year, there is no point in denying that us Aussies completely adore Foals. What do you love about Australia? What keeps drawing you back to the land down under? It’s all the corny, tacky stuff that all us Brits love. The awesome weather, the great people, fantastic food. It’s just really exciting. I also like the fact that it is such a big distance between the cities. That actually makes you feel like the next town you go to is totally different. Brisbane has its own identity to Perth and Melbourne too. It’s really great. We were lucky enough to spend some time in Sydney and get to know it a little bit. We stayed with our friend Jono Ma (Jagwar Ma) for quite a bit and we even got around to doing some recording with him during that time. So yeah, it feels like it’s not just ‘another stop’ on the tour map anymore, it’s like a place that’s really worthwhile and the people are good to us there. We do love Australia a lot.
Do you have any favourite cities in Australia? Byron Bay was pretty great. We were lucky we got to spend a decent amount of time there. That was wicked. One night we all went out swimming pretty late, which I’m guessing is a really dumb thing to do, but at the time it was way too exciting to resist. We are all terrified of sharks, so I guess the danger added to all of the excitement. Yeah, Byron Bay is a very cool place.
With a bit over a month until you hit our shores again, what can the fans (like myself) who missed out earlier in the year expect to see on the stage this time around? Well, for one thing I think we’ll be a bit more prepared for the climate and play a lot more songs off the new record, Holy Fire. We do always try to mix it up as much as possible, so that we’ll definitely be playing some old songs as well. Big Day Out really took us by surprise. It was so hot, especially in Sydney. We were all super jet lagged as too. Those shows were probably a bit of a mess for us, so we will be better prepared this time around.
That day in Sydney was actually one of its hottest in its history. It was crazy, lucky for us we were playing a little bit later in the day, so it kind of cooled down a little bit by then. I really felt for the bands playing at like 1pm in the afternoon in the 46 degrees or whatever crazy number that was!
So, let’s get into the nitty gritty, hard hitting, personal stuff. What’s your favourite board game? Shit, it’s been so long since I’ve played a board game. The rest of the boys play Risk, but I’ve never really learnt how to play that. I’m much more of a simple gamer for like, Snakes & Ladders or Chess. I actually started playing Chess on tour with Edwin (Congreave – keyboardist) but then he kept beating me, so I stopped.
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why? (Laughs) Probably a higher alcohol tolerance. Like a ‘no hangover’ super power would be amazing. I really suffer these days, way more than I used too. I think we’d all like that one.
Which is better: Neighbours or Home and Away? Neighbours. Well, I don’t know actually. I was really stubborn about Home and Away, but my flat mate always used to watch it religiously. Everyday he’d have a strawberry Nesquick, a piece of toast, and he’d sit down and watch Home and Away, and that was his daily routine. So, I probably got more familiar with that one, but back in the day, definitely Neighbours.
What does the future hold for Foals after touring Australia? What can we expect in 2014 and beyond? Well, we’ve still got quite a lot more to do, I think early next year we’ve got a big UK tour which will kind of round off this record and then probably a few more festivals. Then we’ll probably end up going abroad a bit more, we want to go back to Japan and play some shows there as well. So after all that’s done, then I guess we’ll head home for a bit, spending some time in the same country for a while, which will be really nice. Then I we’ll probably go somewhere to do some writing, maybe we’ll even go away for a bit, rather than doing it at home in Oxford; which is how we usually work. I’d like to go on a bit of a ‘writing excursion’ to somewhere really remote, where we’re we can let the juices flow and just naturally to come up with some great new stuff. I think everyone’s ready to hit the studio again actually.
Foals will be in Australia from September 22. Not all shows have sold out just yet, so you better get in quick. All gig details can be found on their tour page.
We’ll finish with one of the album’s greatest singles, ‘Bad Habit’: