Foals (band)

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This article is about the musical group. For young equines, see foal.
Foals - Roskilde Festival 2011 - Arena Stage.jpg
Foals performing at Roskilde Festival 2011.
Background information
Origin Oxford, England
Years active 2005–present
Associated acts
Members Yannis Philippakis
Jack Bevan
Jimmy Smith
Walter Gervers
Edwin Congreave

Foals are an English indie rock band from Oxford, England formed in 2005, consisting of lead vocalist and lead guitarist Yannis Philippakis, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith, bassist Walter Gervers and keyboardist Edwin Congreave. Since the band's formation, their line-up has remained constant.

They are currently signed to Warner Bros. Records,[1] and have released four studio albums: Antidotes (2008), Total Life Forever (2010), Holy Fire (2013), What Went Down (2015), one video album, six extended plays and nineteen singles.

The band have toured internationally and have featured on Glastonbury, Coachella and Roskilde festivals.[2][3] The band have won a number of awards, including best live act at the 2013 Q Awards while producers Alan Moulder and Flood were awarded 'UK Producer Of The Year' for their work on the album Holy Fire.[4]


Formation: 2005–2006[edit]

The lead singer of the band Youthmovies, Andrew Mears, originally formed the band Foals. He was present on the band's debut 7" single, "Try This on Your Piano/Look at My Furrows of Worry", but left shortly afterwards to concentrate on Youthmovies' debut album, Good Nature.

Jack Bevan, Lina Simon and Yannis Philippakis were originally in cult math rock band The Edmund Fitzgerald. The group disbanded, claiming that things had become "too serious" and that they wanted to have more "fun making their music".[5]

Walter Gervers and Jimmy Smith were part of a small Oxford band called Face Meets Grill.[6] They met at and formed the band from members of Abingdon School, the same school that Radiohead attended. They played gigs in and around Oxford, and recorded an EP in Hull. After playing Truck Festival in 2004 they separated to follow different paths and careers.

Guitarist Jimmy Smith is the only one of the band members to have completed his degree, at Hull University, each of the other band members quit their respective universities when the band signed to Transgressive Records.[7]

Antidotes: 2007–2008[edit]

In early 2007, the band released the limited edition 7" singles "Hummer" and "Mathletics", both produced by Gareth Parton.[8] "Hummer" later featured on the Channel Four teen drama Skins, and "Spanish Sahara" featured in one of their adverts on E4. Philippakis described this period as 'the music was almost a premeditated mix of blending techno and minimalism [and] we'd set ourselves these rules, like 'only staccato rhythms', and 'guitars must be played really high'.[7]

In the summer of 2007, Foals began working on their debut album in New York. It was produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio. However, the band decided to mix the album themselves, stating that Sitek made the first master copy of the album sound like "it was recorded in the Grand Canyon".[9] Philippakis has stated a number of times that Foals and Dave Sitek are on good terms, even though the mix by Sitek was rejected by the band. Foals released their debut album, titled Antidotes, on 24 March 2008 in the UK and on 8 April 2008 in the US. The album was a commercial success in the UK, debuting at number 3 on the UK Albums Charts.[10] The album was a minor success in other countries, charting in Japan, France and the Netherlands. Non-UK versions of the album include the early Parton-produced singles.[11]

Total Life Forever: 2009–2010[edit]

In August 2009, Foals started recording their second album at Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg, Sweden. The album, Total Life Forever, has been described by the band members as sounding like "tropical prog" and "like the dream of an eagle dying".[12] The band have described the album as being "a lot less funk" than they had originally planned.[13] The album was produced by Luke Smith, formerly of Clor. The album's title is named after an element of Ray Kurzweil's theory of singularity. The band's frontman, Yannis Philippakis, has professed a longtime interest in futurology, with it informing numerous songs on Total Life Forever.[14]

On 1 March 2010, the promotional single "Spanish Sahara" was first played on Zane Lowe's show Radio 1. The Foals' website was updated that night with the video for the track, directed by longtime collaborator Dave Ma, and on 6 March, the Total Life Forever site was launched. There puzzles revealed images, lyrics and sound clips of songs from the album. The last clip appeared on 12 March, with a password entry for Foals' new website. The site was opened on 13 March and presented the art concept and media including samples of songs, photos and videos. Lead single "This Orient" was released on 3 May 2010.[15] The album was finally released on 10 May 2010.

"Spanish Sahara" was featured in trailers for season seven of Entourage, season four of Skins and Outcasts. It was also used in the soundtrack of the second season of the E4 drama Misfits. It was released as a full physical single in September 2010, featuring an edited remix starring the strings of London Contemporary Orchestra. In 2015, it was used by French studio Dontnod Entertainment in the game Life Is Strange as the music for one of its final endings.

The album was nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize.[16] In an interview with online magazine Coup de Main, Jimmy Smith said how the band members live together on and off the road – heading to Australia to record demos for their next album together. "It's just like touring with your family, it's nice".[17]

The group returned to Hull as part of Hull's Freedom Festival alongside musical acts such as 2010 Mercury Prize nominees Foals, The Saturdays, Alesha Dixon, The Wanted, Fyfe Dangerfield, Diana Vickers, Starman, Roll Deep, Skepta and McFly[18] Freedom Festival also showcased local bands and artists in the marina and Fruit Market districts.

Holy Fire: 2012–2013[edit]

Foals being interviewed live on-air by Phantom 105.2 at 2013 Longitude Festival in Dublin.

Holy Fire was released in both the UK and the US on 11 February 2013. The album's lead single, "Inhaler", received its first radio play on 5 November 2012. They played the song "My Number" for the first time on Later... with Jools Holland.

Holy Fire was produced by Flood (producer) and Alan Moulder, who have worked with many artists, including Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine. The album was recorded at Assault & Battery studios in London.

Yannis Philippakis stated that the recording process had some unconventional moments: "At one point we even made these poor studio interns collect bones. We were inspired by voodoo, these Haitian rhythms. We collected some ourselves, from butchers in Willesden High Road. Mainly cows, I think often they had gristle and cartilage on them, mainly cow and occasionally sheep. We had to order these big pots because one of the shoulder blades was too big! We boiled the flesh away so we could use them as percussion! We wanted to get primitive!"

According to The Guardian: "Their producers, Flood and Alan Moulder, even tricked them by recording their rehearsal in order to capture a more uninhibited sound."[19]

In late November to mid-December, Foals toured the UK for an album preview. The tour was supported by Petite Noir (a close friend of Philippakis'). In summer 2013, they attended a number of festivals and headlined Latitude Festival in Suffolk in July. The band have recently played a World and UK tour, which ended with two sell out shows at Alexandra Palace in February. The two shows were in stark contrast compared to playing the same venue 7 years earlier to an almost empty room while supporting Bloc Party, a sentiment which lead singer Philippakis did not fail to mention during the live shows. Holy Fire was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2013. Q awarded Foals with the Best Live Act award the same year while "Inhaler" received the Best Track award from NME. Not only this, but in a reader-nominated "Best Album of 2013" poll, Holy Fire topped the list; as did single "My Number" in a "Best Song of 2013" poll, beating NME favourites Arctic Monkeys, amongst other acclaimed bands.

What Went Down: 2014–present[edit]

On 2 April 2014, in an interview with NME, Yannis Philippakis said "Over the next month I think we're going to start writing tentatively. We've already got some bits and bobs around some riffs and some vocal melodies. I think until May we're gonna go back to Oxford and write in the 'stinkbox' and see what happens." On 9 June 2015, Foals unveiled a short video teasing an upcoming album in 2015.

Foals shared album track "Mountain at My Gates" on 20 June, premiering the song via BBC Radio 1 as Annie Mac's 'Hottest Record'.[20] On 29 July, the band followed up the track with an accompanying 3D video, filmed on a GoPro HERO.[21] On 6 August, Zane Lowe premiered new song 'A Knife In The Ocean' on his Beats 1 radio show on Apple Music. Foals made public a lyric video for 'A Knife In The Ocean' the same day.[22]


Foals are recognised as one of the top UK live acts, having won the 2013 Q Award for Best Live Act [23] and twice being nominated for the NME Award for Best Live Act (2011 and 2013).

The band have released several live EPs (Live At Liars Club, iTunes Live: London Festival '08 and iTunes Festival: London 2010), in addition to the full length concert film Live At The Royal Albert Hall, which was directed by Dave Ma.

Frontman Yannis Philippakis is known for jumping off balconies and crowd surfing during the extended interlude of "Electric Bloom." In October 2013, Philippakis got into a confrontation with a security guard at the Auckland Town Hall in New Zealand, as the security guard attempted to prevent him jumping into the crowd. At the end of the show, Philippakis told the crowd: "I want to say a massive thank you to you and f*** that security guy." [24]


The band's musical influences are varied, with the band members citing minimal techno, Arthur Russell, the Irish-based math rock band The Redneck Manifesto, Krautrock bands such as Harmonia, Talking Heads, as well For London (previously known as The Jester People) as their main sources of inspiration.[25]


  • Yannis Philippakis – lead vocals, lead guitar
  • Walter Gervers – bass, sampler, percussion, vocals
  • Jack Bevan – drums, percussion
  • Jimmy Smith – rhythm guitar, rhodes, synthesizer, backing vocals
  • Edwin Congreave – keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals


Main article: Foals discography
Studio albums


Total Life Forever was nominated for the Mercury Prize in July 2010, losing to The xx's xx on 7 September that year.[16] The album was tested again the following year for Best Album in addition to a nomination for Best Cover Artwork at the NME Awards. The single "Spanish Sahara" was nominated by the same group for Best Track on top of being named all-around Best Band and Best Live Act.[26] In July, the MOJO honour awards also nominated Foals alongside Canadian band Arcade Fire for the calibre of their live performances.[27]

Mercury Prize
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 Total Life Forever Best Album Nominated
2013 Holy Fire Best Album Nominated
Ivor Novello Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2010 "Spanish Sahara" Best Song Musically and Lyrically Nominated
NME Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2011 Foals Best British Band Nominated
Best Live Act Nominated
Total Life Forever Best British Album Nominated
Best Artwork Nominated
"Spanish Sahara" Best Track Won
2013 Foals Best Live Band Nominated
"Inhaler" Best Track Won
2014 Foals Best British Band Nominated
Q Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2013 Holy Fire Best Album Nominated
Foals Best Act in the World Today Nominated
Best Live Act Won
2015 Foals Best Act in the World Today Won
Brit Awards
Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2016 Foals British Group Nominated


  1. ^ "WBR Artists". Warner Music Group. 
  2. ^ "Watch Foals live at Coachella". 15 April 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  3. ^ Lachno, James (29 June 2013). "Glastonbury 2013, day one: as it happened". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  4. ^ Bychawski, Adam (14 February 2014). "Foals 'Holy Fire' producers win Brit Award | NME.COM". Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  5. ^ "Foals". Botanique. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "NEXT UP, SOME PUREBRED INDIE-ROCK WITH FOALS!". Ameba Production. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (6 May 2010). "Foals: 'I built an enamel around myself'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  8. ^ Foals Discography. Discogs. Retrieved on 2 April 2012.
  9. ^ NME Album Reviews – Foals. Nme.Com (12 March 2008). Retrieved on 2 April 2012.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Foals – Antidotes (CD, Album. )Discogs (8 April 2008). Retrieved on 2 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Foals: 'New album will sound like the dream of an eagle dying'". NME. 30 July 2008. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "Foals – Total Life Forever (2010) (Record Club)". Split Inc. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Bennett, Matthew (3 June 2010). "Blood, Sweat And Fears: Foals Interview". Clash. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. 
  15. ^ de beste bron van informatie over angryape. Deze website is te koop!. Retrieved on 2 April 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Foals 'tricked' into attending Mercury Prize nominations ceremony". NME. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  17. ^ FOALS talk 'Total Life Forever' and their third/next album. (27 February 2011). Retrieved on 2 April 2012.
  18. ^ "Freedom 2010 is coming...". Visit Hull & East Yorkshire. Retrieved 9 September 2010. 
  19. ^ "Foals on Holy Fire: 'We were inspired by voodoo'". Guardian. 25 April 2013. 
  20. ^ "LISTEN: Foals’ new song ‘Mountain At My Gates’". Never Enough Notes. Never Enough Notes. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "LISTEN: Foals’ share video for ‘Mountain At My Gates’". Never Enough Notes (Never Enough Notes) (Never Enough Notes). Never Enough Notes. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Mind your Ps and Qs: Foals share lyric video to dramatic new track ‘A Knife In The Ocean’". Never Enough Notes. Never Enough Notes. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "Foals Win Q Award". 
  24. ^ "Foals scuffle makes show unforgettable". Stuff. 6 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "Foals Total Life Forever Review". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Foals lead field at NME music award nominations". Reuters News. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  27. ^ "Arctic Monkeys nominated for two Mojo honours awards". BBC News. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 

External links[edit]