Foals talk last-minute Reading set: “We’ll be back. It’d be a bummer if we weren’t.”

Early-afternoon show arrived one day on from ‘What Went Down’’s release.

Photo: Emma Swann

Earlier today, Foals played a last-minute set at Reading Festival, taking to the NME/Radio 1 Stage for a swift showcase of new album ‘What Went Down’, plus songs from their past three records - albums that have climbed the ranks at Reading & Leeds.

Speaking shortly after their set, frontman Yannis Philippakis and guitarist Jimmy Smith claimed they’d be back next year. “We’ll be back. It’d be a bummer if we weren’t,” says Smith.

As well as confirming they’d be playing a similar set at Leeds Festival tomorrow, they also spoke about the recent response to ‘What Went Down’, their chart battle with The Weeknd, and why they’re supporting their analog ancestors with surprise tape releases and polaroid photos.

Check out the full interview below.

Last time you played that stage - 2008?

Yannis: Ah, no. Apparently I got that wrong. I think I got that very wrong. It might have been 2010. I did say 2008, but yeah. It’s cool being back there. It’s a totally different vibe. It’s secret, obviously. We didn’t know what to expect going into it, and obviously it’s early. I don’t really like to play before it’s drinking time, but it was great, really enjoyable. The crowd was rabid - it felt like the new songs got as big if not a bigger reception than everything else. I’m really glad we did it.

How long have you been plotting this?

Yannis: We’ve known about it for a while, maybe a couple of weeks. But it was everything I’d hoped for and more.

It times nicely with the record being out - what’s the feeling with it being released finally?

Yannis: It’s been a day, but you know - I was painting my kitchen yesterday so I wasn’t following everything that’s going on. I was dipping in and out, and all of the responses feel like it’s been great, overwhelmingly positive. And it feels good for people to hear it. I’m not really interested in the reviews and stuff, I’m interested in the fans, and the reception has been incredible. I think we feel really good, and we’re at number one - which we didn’t expect.

Number one! With The Weeknd coming out too?

Yannis: We thought that he was going to lead it. Because it’s poppy, and he’s got Ed Sheeran on the record. We weren’t holding out for anything.

Jimmy: It’s game on, basically. It’s gonna be interesting this week, because he’s a bit of a unit shifter.

Yannis: Yeah, the big hit from that record is written with the guy from Backstreet Boys. But the fact that our band is able to compete and do well against those kind of artists, with that kind of infrastructure - it makes us feel good about the state of guitar music and the audience that listens to what we’re doing.

It feels like you’ve done things your way. Especially this week, with the cassettes being dropped off around the world.

Jimmy: You could see it all on Instagram - it was amazing. People holding up tapes from all over the world. South America, someone in Sydney, all over Europe. It was touching, to be honest. It’s a nice touch - you don’t know if people can listen to it straight away. It makes things unique.

Yannis: Long live the analogue resistance - that’s what we say. We’re showing respect to our analog roots.

This week’s been about starting small. How was the Rough Trade gig?

Yannis: It was great. Sometimes those instores can be a little bit frigid. But it was really good. We’ve done it before and it’s been odd. I was actually very considerate of their stock. I decided not to tread on their Korg diatribe machine.

Is Reading the end of this first stage, in a sense?

Jimmy: We’ve got Leeds tomorrow, obviously. That’ll hopefully be more of the same. And then it’s back to conventional touring, which we’ve been waiting for for ages.

Yannis: It’s good to get between some walls.

This time next year, are you going to be back at Reading?

Jimmy: Yeah. We’ll be back. It’d be a bummer if we weren’t.

Yannis: It’ll be a proper show next time. That’s the thing with today - it was short, so we’d like to come and really get stuck in.

Jimmy: All around Europe, the reactions to new songs have been really special. We did ‘Give It All’ yesterday and we’ve got a few more on the back-burner. Maybe we’ll have the others ready for next year.

Tags: Foals, Reading & Leeds, News, Festivals

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