When you’ve been a band for over a decade and then one of the cogs is removed, it can break the entire machine. Yet when bassist Walter Gervers decided to leave Foals ahead of beginning work on the follow up to 2015’s ‘What Went Down’, the now-quartet decided to use their new dynamic to their advantage.
“We physically couldn’t write in the same way anymore because we couldn’t just get in the room and bash everything out with two guitars, keys and bass,” begins frontman Yannis Philippakis, “so it meant between us it was more fluid. Edwin played bass, I played some bass; I was producing more so I’d sit back in certain ways that maybe I haven’t done before. It lead to this creative peak that I feel like we’re in because we mixed stuff up and shuffled the deck a bit.”
Recorded and entirely self-produced by the band with Yannis at the helm in Peckham, following an enforced break where the four members “allowed our worlds to get smaller and domestic again until that got unbearable”, the tactic worked so well that the band are now sitting on not one but two new albums – ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part One’ (due 8th March) and a second part, set for release in the autumn.
Initially unplanned, the double whammy comes simply from reaching a natural creative purple patch. “There was a lot of material, but also we just loved it all; we didn’t feel like there was anything that was chaff,” says the singer simply. “We were concerned that we didn’t wanna make some kind of indulgent prog record, but the feedback from everyone was that it was all too good to lose…”
"It deals with the perilousness of the situations we find ourselves in as people."
— Yannis Philippakis
The first taster – and a pretty damn good signifier that they weren't wrong – comes in the form of recently-released lead single 'Exits'. Following in Foals' tradition of curveball album introductions, it nixes 'What Went Down''s gargantuan riffs in favour of something more electronic with a heavy groove. Lyrically, meanwhile, it sees Yannis turning his gaze outwards. "It deals with the perilousness of the situations we find ourselves in as people," he explains. "Every time you open up a newspaper, all the bees are dying and civil liberties are being infringed and the world is going through all these things; I think everybody feels exasperated at how to deal with it, so the song is dealing with that frustration."
Thematically frustrated it may be, but Foals are clearly having no such troubles themselves. Welcome to the year of the horse.
'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part One' is out 8th March via Warner Bros.
As featured in the February 2019 issue of DIY, out now.