Foals Interview

Anne Fullerton | 23 November 2010

Foals guitarist Jimmy is enthusiastically impersonating a New Zealander for his fellow bandmates when the operator connects my call.

“It was awesome! She actually said ‘Nu Zelend’. Beached az brew, I love it! Uh… hello?”

For some reason I expected the band behind the sprawling, seven minute opus ‘Spanish Sahara’ to be just as intense as its music. It quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t the case. Taking calls from the back of the tour van somewhere in France, Jimmy chats about everything from the merits of Axl Rose, to the hazards of touring, to picking up bandmates in cocktail bars.

What are you up to at the moment?

We’ve just started the European tour, so right now we’re in the bus in a car park on the way to Nantes.

You guys are pretty popular in France?

Yeah, it’s pretty good actually. We played in Lille and we were pretty surprised how many people came out to see us.

Do you notice a difference between the crowds in different countries?

Definitely, they’re starting to kind of become one, become quite similar, but there are still some differences.

In what way?

Well the US is getting better… I mean, I don’t want to offend any US people.

It’s okay, we’re an Australian magazine.

[Laughing] Okay, sweet. It used to be very much the sort of arms folded, chinstrap-stroking crowd but now they’re sort of jumping up and down a bit and jiggling around. In Japan, they do this thing that really freaked us out – or used to freak us out but we’re used to it now. There’d just be complete, deadly silence between every song. There’d be really orchestrated applause and then deathly silence. We thought we were losing them. It makes going up to the microphone a really long walk.

What are the Australian crowds like?

Oh, dreadful! They’re the worst crowds! [laughing] It was pretty fucking mental actually when we came over to Australia because the crowds were so good, almost better than England even. It was fucking awesome actually.

What was the first record that you ever bought?

Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses on cassette. I only bought it because it had an explicit lyrics sticker on it, to annoy my mum. I revisited it recently and I still love it. I must’ve been 10 or 11. I went through several phases of music. There was the hair metal phase, that got pretty much eradicated by Nirvana when they came along. Then I went through a really devious trance phase, which luckily only lasted about a year, and then a kind of emo phase.

What phase are you in now?

I don’t know, I think I’m phased out. I’m just in the Pitchfork phase now. I’m just, like, on the trail of the next cool thing. No, I’m not really.

What’s your first memory of performing live?

It was with a band that me and Walter used to be in at school called Face Meets Grill. I think it was in this barn actually, we tried to put on a festival and ended up losing a lot of money. But my first memory is of feeling really, really nauseous and looking at my shoes the whole time and just not moving an inch. I was frozen to the spot.

What are you listening to at the moment?

We’re listening to the new Ariel Pink record, although that’s quite old now I guess. Caribou Swim, that’s been a real survivor that one. Deerhunter’s new album. I’m just trying to visualise my iTunes library!

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