60 Seconds with…Yannis Philippakis from Foals (Metro, 2nd Feb 2016)


The Greek-born singer, 29, is the frontman of British indie band Foals, who are about to embark on a six-date arena tour.

You’re setting off on your biggest UK tour yet. How do you feel?
Excited. Wembley Arena is such a legendary place. There’s always the concern when you go into these bigger places: what if you lose something? All the energy we have at the smaller shows will just be amplified in a bigger place – it’s going to be more explosive.

The band’s been together for more than a decade. Does it feel strange?
Yeah, really strange, really surreal. I don’t think any of us went into this thinking we’d be doing it for that long, especially at the level we’re doing it. We thought we’d be playing parties and small shows around Oxford [where the band formed]. So, to be four albums in and for things to be going the way they are, it can be a bit ‘pinch me’. We have to take advantage, it’s not going to last forever – let’s just enjoy it and be the best we can.

Would it be fair to say you wrote your last album What Went Down with more of a live ethos in mind?
I think we just captured the energy better in the studio and a lot of that was to do with producer James Ford encouraging us to get it on the first or second take.

And you’re nominated for Best Band at The Brits…
Yeah, it’s exciting! It’s just a chance to put on a suit and go and get smashed really, isn’t it? I don’t think we’re going in taking it that seriously, but we think it’ll be a laugh.

Are you competitive as a band?
We’re creatively ambitious but I wouldn’t say we’re competitive in terms of keeping tabs on what other people are doing. There’s definitely a big internal pressure we put on ourselves, trying to make great records and to play every show well. We’re pretty hard on ourselves but it’s not relative to others’ success. Another man’s success doesn’t take away from your own, you know?

You’ve been touring for ages. Do you like travelling?
You can always have too much of a good thing but I wouldn’t ever complain about touring. I think it’s a blessing to be a musician who’s able to play on stage every night. So, even if it can get a bit strenuous, the hangovers can pile up, and the homesickness trebles… I kind of like that. It can get pretty gonzo and I enjoy that, I feel restless when I’m at home. I think everyone in the band would say the same, we thrive off the mania. It’s like being on a sort of strange debauched Lord Of The Flies school trip where no one’s in control.

You made the move from Oxford to London a couple of years ago. A good decision?
Yeah, I love London now, I think it’s the best city in the world. I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago – I used to find it kind of overwhelming. I love that you can walk down the same street that Oliver Cromwell and Johnny Rotten walked down.

Are you getting into DIY and gardening now?
Yeah, I’m actually at home right now with a couple of mates who are helping me out. One of them is glowering at me as I make him paint while I’m talking!

From your Instagram account, you seem a bit of a cat person?
Yeah, she’s called Pigeon and I’ve had her for four years. She’s the best – very idiosyncratic and quite needy, and I like that. She’s not one of those elusive cats, more like a dog or a little furry person. I have to leave her at home when I go touring, though.

Your lyrics delve into your subconscious and dreams. How do you harness that?
I just sleep badly and make sure I’ve always got a notepad. I feel that writing is like a muscle that needs to be kept in shape. Even if half of what is written down is bozzwollocks, it doesn’t matter, because there’ll always be something you can use.

After the Holy Fire tour, you went straight into writing What Went Down. Would you do that again?
We’ll definitely need a break, just for our sanity. Also, we have a well-oiled way of working and I’m interested in seeing if we can disrupt that. We want to surprise ourselves on the next record and I don’t think that can happen if we just run straight into it.

Amy Dawson
Foals’s tour starts on February 10 in Dublin, foals.co.uk