13:29 Thursday 21 February 2013

Foals have the number for mainstream success

Written byBY JAMES BRINDLE

OXFORD band Foals have come back strong with third album Holy Fire which narrowly missed out on the top spot in the UK Album Charts last Sunday. However, the band are basking in the most successful period of their career and the Mail caught up with bassist Walter Gervers ahead of their upcoming sell-out UK tour.

THREE albums in, art rockers Foals have well and truly hit their stride with the release of this month’s Holy Fire.

Both creatively and commercially the record is another leap forward for a band that have always enjoyed critical acclaim.

Last Sunday they were just pipped at the post by the huge-selling soundtrack to the movie version of Les Miserables to getting a number one album.

Much of that success has been sparked by the mass radio airplay of the band’s latest single and their catchiest and poppiest moment to date – My Number.

Bassist Walter Gervers told the Mail the song showed how far the band had come since their emerged on the scene in 2007.

He said: “My Number came out of a writing session where Jimmy (guitarist Jimmy Smith) had this rhythm he was playing.

“It was very poppy but it an example of how we’ve changed as the old Foals may have just decided it was not us and not gone any further with it but we made something from it.

“We’ve definitely matured and developed as musicians.

“It has been a while since the debut album and a lot of things have changed and you naturally progress as you learn to do things better in the studio environment.

“We are comfortable writing a range of songs and not over complicating things now.

“I think some of the best songs are those that you have not tried to over complicate.”

Foals third album Holy Fire is a truly accomplished and confident piece of work.

Gervers said the process of making the album had been long but ultimately worth it and he is proud of what they have produced.

“It was a great if long process,” he said.

“We started writing in 2011 and had little bits and pieces and jams but nothing really concrete but when we got back to Oxford and stopped touring we shut ourselves away in a little studio.

“It took a long time but these things do and you don’t want to rush it.

“I feel really good about what we’ve come up with and I think we have managed to make a really honest record from start to finish. I think it has got something for everybody on it.

“It’s an exciting time now. We were a bit apprehensive leading up to the release as it is something that we feel proud of but you don’t know how the public will react.

“It has been a relief to get it out there and see some good reviews.”

What is most noticeable about Holy Fire is the lack of excess flab of any sort.

It is an album of 11 tracks all playing a part in bringing the album together as a whole with none of the usual filler in sight.

Gervers said despite having 19 or 20 songs to choose from, the final tracklist was relatively clear throughout the process.

He also spoke of the importance of first single Inhaler, arguably the band’s most dynamic and best song to date.

He said: “It was quite easy in the end to get it down to the songs and tracklist we wanted.

“We definitely knew songs that were going to last from the start like Late Night and Milk & Black Spiders as we knew they were really strong points on the record.

“Inhaler was one of the last songs as we could not work it into a song as it originated just as a bit of a live jam.

“It was quite a turning point. Jack (drummer Jack Bevan) was championing it in the studio and saying we should crack on with it and people were quite dubious but all it needed was a slight chord change and Yannis (frontman Yannis Philippkakis) had a big riff that worked.

“Songs like that surprise you in a way as you write them off and they end up being central to the record you eventually produce.”

Foals begin a full UK tour next week, reaching Birmingham and Nottingham in March.

Gervers said he looked forward to getting back on the road, even if the schedule was a bit daunting.

He said: “It is just great to have a whole new set of songs to go and play live as it is really exciting when you have something fresh.

“We are looking forward to it though it is a bit nerve-wracking when you are staring down the barrel of a few months away coming up of intense touring.”

The tour is a sell-out and features two dates in a day at the prestigious Albert Hall in London.

Gervers said: “It is great. To see people in the current climate still wanting to come out and see us play – that is what keeps us going and we would not be able to do this without that support.

“The Albert Hall shows will be particularly special – just because of the nature of the building itself and the history it carries. Although the two shows in one day could finish us!”

Foals perform at the HMV Institute in Birmingham on March 6 and Nottingham Rock City on March 12.

Their third album Holy Fire is out now.

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