03 Sep INTERVIEW – In conversation with Jimmy, from Foals, talking about Life is Yours, playing in festivals and Townes Van Zandt
Just before they went on stage at Les Eurockéennes, we met with Jimmy, Foals’ guitarist, to happily chat about their latest album, their best memories in festivals and the return of Walter in the band.
Sound of Brit: The first question we have is about you coming back to Les Eurockéennes. Last year, you were supposed to play, but you had to cancel due to unforeseeable circumstances. Are you excited to play this year?
Jimmy: Yeah, but we’ve had a really big buildup now because last year got canceled. Yeah, you know, it feels good, it feels really good to be here.
Is it the first time you play here, in Belfort?
No. I think we played this festival …. maybe it’s the third time? But it’s been a long time.
[They played in Les Eurockéennes in 2010 and 2016].
We’ve also heard about the return of Walter. What’s the context behind his return and come back into the band? [Walter Gervers left the band in 2018 and came back in May this year]
Well, he left probably like seven years ago, something like that. He just started a family back then, and I think, he felt the push and pull from them. He had a lot to deal with. So he took a step back, which is all fine and we obviously understood it was hard. We were touring a lot at that time, we were away all the time.
Then we got on with it, we’ve had two great bass players since, Jazz and Jack, they have stepped in very kindly and they were fantastic.
Then, Walter got in touch with us, he was like, « you know what? The kids are a bit older. I want to come back ». He was saying « I don’t want to regret it, you know ». We were like, « Yeah, of course. Can’t say no » And it’s been great and it’s felt very natural. It’s really great to have him back.
You’re currently doing the promotion of the last album, Life Is Yours. What do you prefer between the small clubs, small venues and the bigger festivals, for the promotion of the album?
Both ! Obviously, you can generate a large amount of energy in a small group. It’s quite easy and quick to get a crazy crowd going and have a really hot, sweaty, crazy show.
But then it’s also nice to play to a huge amount of people and to be able to play in a totally weird environment like a park or whatever this is. That’s cool too, but it’s, it’s really different.
The fact that you can listen to music in both environments, it’s cool. You wouldn’t want all of the small clubs I think. We did that anyway, for sure. We’ve done enough of that.
About the new album, Life is Yours, which is very good live, do you think that it’s maybe more pop than your previous albums? More dancy?
Yeah. It’s way more poppy and dancy, for sure. We needed something to lift us up a little bit. Because it was a bit of a bummer two years ago.
Does the audience react also more to this dancy and poppy vibe when you play it on stage?
I think so, yeah. Yeah I think so. It seems that way. I think people understand what we were trying to do.
Next question is tough. Among all your albums, which is the one that you personally find the best?
Oh, I can’t say, that’s for sure. That’s not fair, it’s definitely like if you were saying « Choose your favorite child ». They’ve all got their own qualities.
Don’t you have even a preference in terms of which album or which song to play live, personally?
Well, again, all of them. It’s the same for every album. Obviously your feelings change, you might have songs that you’ve played too many times. I guess some of the older ones, it’s easier to be like « oh no ».
Do you have some songs that are harder to play? Like, « Neptune » is amazing, but I guess it’s complicated to fit it in a show, more specifically a festival show.
Yes, it’s 10 minutes long ! We struggle to fit « Neptune » in because it could basically be another three songs.
I always wanted to do is to give Neptune its own anchor. That way, we could play the whole thing with some cool trippy visuals, for example. Then, do another anchor afterwards. But, for sure, that’s a hard one to play. It’s not technically hard. It’s just hard to remember a ten minute song.
It’s got quite a delicate vibe, actually, in the middle for quite such a heavy song. A large bit of the jammy treacles is actually quite delicate and if the vibe is not right, it falls apart, you know.
What’s your best memories as a musician and artists in the festival, like an amazing set or anything else…
There’s been loads over the years. I would say Glastonbury, you know. Glastonbury last year is probably pretty high up there. Also, the first time we ever played Glastonbury too, that’s pretty high up there.
What’s your favorite band?
What’s my favorite band? Radiohead. Obviously, I’ve got lots, but if I had to pick one, that would be them.
Last and traditional question on Sound of Brit. Do you have any artists or bands to recommend to us for our readers?
Oh, yeah. Well, I was just listening to him again today, but this guy, he’s really famous. He’s called Townes Van Zandt. He’s dead now, I think, … like, yeah definitely dead. But he’s this old kind of country folk dude. He’s written some of the best lyrics of all time. I think like Bob Dylan even said that he was like his favorite songwriter, something like that. Big mutual respect.
He’s got a song called Pancho and Lefty. He’s got loads of songs, but his most famous song is Pancho and Lefty. It’s like a sort of comedy tale of Two Bandits. It’s beautiful. Then things get really heavy and there’s a song called Waiting Around to Die, that’s just one of the best songs ever written, quote and it’s wonderful. There’s some good stuff on YouTube. He makes a grown man cry. I was watching that this morning. I definitely recommend that. There is a live record, live at the Houston Old Quarter on Youtube.
Interview by Claire D & Timothée L.
Modified for clarity
Thanks a lot to Ephelide for making this interview happen !