FOALS‘ second album, Total Life Forever, is released tomorrow and if early indications are to be believed, it already showcases a new direction from the still young band. Speaking to keyboard player Edwin Congreave on a picnic bench in Hyde Park, we asked him about this, all-age shows, Carly Simon and their upcoming slot at Electric Picnic.
Did you specifically set out to make a different sounding record?
It’s not so much a reaction as a conscious decision. ‘Spanish Sahara’ and the entire album were written differently to Antidotes or early songs like ‘Hummer’. We previously used to record all piled into one room. It was getting to the point where it was too easy for us to lay down tracks where we are all playing our instruments and same time. This time round we tried to be more intelligent with the writing. Creating space in the songs and allowing each sound to breath. This in turn allows the song to develop almost naturally and to build to something that is more organic.
We moved away from the verse/verse/verse/verse structure to something that a lot of, or most, other bands have been doing for a long time but it was new to us and we wanted to push ourselves. Also our producer, Luke Smith [from Clor], wouldn’t allow us to add to the songs without sitting back and thinking about it. Leaving a song and coming back to it and we’d find that quite often what we wanted to add was unnecessary. Again, a lot of bands work this way but we have always been inclined to layer up. On this record less is more.
The bands we listen to these days are stripped back indie-pop. I mean the XX, who doesn’t like them, created something special and we really love that record. We now hear the similarities between songs like Black Gold and what the XX do but we recorded these in early 2009, before we even heard their record. But you know, we couldn’t be more different as bands, I couldn’t imagine the XX playing our songs or vice-versa even.
So how do you think fans will react to Total Life Forever?
We don’t think we will alienate any fans, we have been quite up front about evolving. We have always been evolving as a band. But you can still hear parts of like ‘Hummer’ in our new album, it’s just used more sparingly, for a greater effect. The songs have gone down well live but we are really looking forward to touring the album. We always have the live show in mind when writing and recording and our new material really works.
We hope to do more all-age shows, like we did with Antidotes, because it’s really important to us. Some of our fans, ok all our fans, ok everyone is a couple of years older than when Antidotes came out, but we hope those kids will stick with us. We are still a young band and we clearly remember what it is like to be 15. When we play all-age shows we see the crowd go crazy, like they have nothing to lose and that can be quite mind-blowing.
From what we have heard from the album, it seems to be a lot more direct lyrically.
Yeah, Yannis does all the lyrics and they are incredibly personal to him. What he did tell me is that he wants to communicate more, so that is probably why they seem more direct.
Have you been working on any remixes or collaborations?
Our drummer does all our remixes, I -m not sure what he is working on these days. We have some exciting ones ourselves. [New single] -This Orient’ has remixes by Starkey and Astronomer. As a band we all listen to different styles of music, but we all agree on Caribou. His new album is favourite of ours. Another favourite is Carly Simon, we’re really keen to cover her song -Why’. I’m particularly excited about recording that.
We’ll see you here at the Electric Picnic….
We are really looking forward doing the festivals this year. One of the best shows we’ve ever played was in Reading. I prefer to be indoors. I’m not sure what stage we are playing at Electric Picnic, I hope it’s in a tent.