Interview: Foals talk festivals: “Glastonbury is just the best - you can do anything you want”

Foals talk festivals: “Glastonbury is just the best - you can do anything you want”

As the band prepare to headline Reading & Leeds in August, guitarist Jimmy Smith looks ahead.

Few have risen to the top of the live game with such grace as Foals. From scrappy, house party beginnings, through ever-swelling venues, we’ve tracked them every step of the way. Despite it all, though, their triumphant moment at Wembley Arena felt like the beginning - not an end - and this summer’s incoming Reading & Leeds headline slot looks set to be its crowning moment.

With similarly huge s lined up at Glastonbury this weekend, we pinned down guitarist Jimmy Smith for a quick catch-up, to talk all things fields and frivolity.

Default ad alt text goes here

So… Reading & Leeds headliners! Silly question, but how far up the excite-o-meter are you all right now?

At the moment Reading seems in the distant future, so not really thinking about it too much, but I’m sure closer to the day we’ll blow the top off the excite-o-meter.

It tops off a pretty excellent year or so, really, doesn’t it?

Yeah it’s been a great year - and there is more to come after Reading as well - but right now, sitting in a hotel room in Connecticut, it all feels a bit surreal. Like, is Reading actually happening or is it a cruel prank?

Was headlining something that ever crossed your mind, way back when you began your life as a band?

Absolutely not, we were just focused on trying to get shows and write the first album. As long as we had a fiver a day for food and cigs, then that was as good as headlining to us!

Do you feel you’re ‘flying a flag’ as it were, for artists working their way up bills now?

I hope we can show that you can get far through hard work and touring. I think people can get jaded pretty quick when they are surrounded by pop stars pretending to be in a band, or the other way round. Everyone is cheating using backing tracks live. All that can get you down when you are just trying to do things naturally, but its worth it in the end…

“My welly filled up with turds.”

Jimmy Smith

Who do you think are most likely to make the same step up as you in future?

I don’t know - it’s impossible to predict - but I’d love to see Everything Everything, The Maccabees, Wolf Alice, Yak, Savages… there seems like a lot of powerful bands out there and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Which is your favourite festival to play (and why)?

Glastonbury, for sure. It’s just the best in the way that once you are in you can do anything you want. No dealing with security all the time, you can just disappear off the map for five days, which is a nice feeling.

Which festivals did you grow up going to? If any!

Glastonbury and Truck Festival.

Has there been one particular set you saw at a festival that was life-changing?

Pretty much everything I’ve seen on the Pyramid Stage [at Glastonbury] has been mind blowing. I remember the White Stripes being great, Interpol were awesome, PJ Harvey, Aphex Twin at four in the morning… too many to remember, plus my memory is a little dodgy!

What’s the worst thing to have happened to you at a festival?

I fell down some sort of sewer at the really wet Glastonbury a few years ago. My welly filled up with turds, and this was five minutes after I’d crawled out of my tent. Some of my friends got actual trench foot that year.

We’ve had our fair share of shitty festivals as a band, but no specific horrors stand out. It’s all just a smorgasbord of terrible catering and full pitch black portaloos, only having Coke Zero and no water on the bus with a category-5 hangover, that sort of thing.

Foals play Open’er (29th June - 2nd July), Bilbao BBK Live (7th - 9th July) and AMA (23rd - 29th August), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.