Foals on “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1”

Two For One

May 07, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
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Wait four years for a new Foals album and then two come along at the same time. Almost. If 2015's What Went Down was the record that elevated the Oxford outfit to rock's major league, then the follow-up would undoubtedly provide a leg up to the next stratospheric level. 

Not that Foals have ever been a band to concern themselves with such things as world domination. They are a genuine word of mouth success story that's built through years of relentless touring while making great records to boot. Foals are here for the long haul and their outright refusal to conform to whatever scene was around at the time undeniably served them well, proving to be the catalyst for the band's longevity.

In 2019 they are releasing two albums: Everything Not Saved Will Be LostPart 1, the band's fifth album, in the spring, which is set to be followed before the end of the year by Everything Not Saved Will Be LostPart 2. It's a bold move in an era when the album has become an understated commodity and three-minute radio friendly tracks are encouraged instead. In the past iconic artists such as David Bowie would release two albums in the same year, but it's more of a rarity these days, with artists routinely taking two to five years between albums. For Foals, when they began recording there was no intention to make two albums.     

"There really was no preconception of any album from the outset," explains singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis. "We just went in with some ideas and they grew. So when we ended up completing the amount of songs we did it meant we were faced with the question of what to do with all this material. We felt all of it was vital to get out, and the way we thought was most exciting to do that was to sequence two separate records that were both of equal quality and would be complementary to each other yet also able to stand-alone. So we could release them months apart to allow all the songs breathing room. There's something a bit naff about double albums. You have to sift through however many tracks to find the best ones and we didn't want that. We thought it would be better to space them out, which would also keep touring fresh for us as well."

The two albums were recorded after the departure of the band's bass player, Walter Gervers. Philippakis and the rest of the bandJimmy Smith (guitar), Jack Bevan (drums), and Edwin Congreave (keys)convened at 123 Studios in Peckham, London. "We worked locally so we could just walk to the studio," Philippakis says. While Philippakis is sad about Gervers' departure ("He's a great guy and we're a brotherhood"), he admits that, "musically, in some ways it was a catalyst for us to mix things up more."

It partly led them to work without an outside producer, with Philippakis taking the production reins, "which made us work more intensely throughout the whole process," he says.

Everything Not Saved Will Be LostPart 1 is quite a political record, although that wasn't necessary the band's initial intention. "It's impossible not to be engaged with what's happening around you," Philippakis concedes. "We're so plugged into the flow of information and algorithms. You literally have to be living under a rock to not feel almost assaulted by the amount of information we get as news, and most of that is negative. It's negative and concerning. There's a feeling of powerlessness we feel as individuals.... Life is for the individual pursuit of happiness, and yet all of these problems we face that cause us anxiety can't be solved by an individual decision. So there's this strange paradox between these two big narratives we're confronted with daily and that has definitely fed into the record. It wasn't necessarily entirely by design. It wasn't as if we set out to make a record like that, but over the months when I was writing lyrics and started to write about these themes it would have been a purposeful decision not to have it in, which I felt would have been a kind of self-censorship. So, for me, the correct approach was to allow that narrative into the record."

The political chaos of the modern world also fed into the shared title of the two albums. "Everything that is on the agenda right now played a part in this record, whether that's Brexit, the environment or ecological concern," Philippakis explains. "The album title could be equally applied to any of those. We're going through a period they're calling the fifth extinction. Everything that isn't saved will be lost. It's a truism and I like the fact that's pertinent to what's going on now because it is happening on multiple levels."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 65 of Under the Radar's print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.foals.co.uk

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