1. What kind of goals did you have in mind while recording Holy Fire and how was it to work alongside Flood and Alan Moulder?
It was great working with them. I think that that actually shaped and informed the way that the record sounds. It was a really transparent process – it wasn’t like there were active goals. It just sort of evolved quite naturally. We had a lot of time as well in the studio so that helped. I think we wanted to make something that was more direct and that also came from a place that was less conscious. Decisions were made on intuitive feeling so if something just felt good in the room when we were writing it, we’d go with it. We wanted to make music that would be enjoyed – it wasn’t just a really internal introverted process. It felt like in some ways, the last record was kind of introverted and was more anguished. I think we wanted to do something that was more of a release. I think this record looks outward more than the ones that have come before.
2. Your live shows are known for being quite intense. What’s the process for translating recorded material to the stage?
We don’t really plan anything live. The thirst for playing live is to achieve this kind of loss of self on stage. From that comes chaos and energy. I think with this record as well, the way that it was captured was much more based on live performance. There’s less of a challenge to translate it live. There have been certain songs that we’ve written that become so crafted in the studio that to recreate them live is almost impossible. Whereas everything for this record – we’ll be able to convey the core of it without a lot of work live which is nice. Aspects of this record are directly linked to live energy that we’ve never captured before – particularly on ‘Inhaler’ and the opener for the album as well. We went in with a lot of material, we had a lot of excess songs that aren’t even on the record. Part of the job at the start was to do referenced versions of all the tracks in the studio – there wasn’t a consciousness that the red light was on – that often informs the way you play. Even subconsciously you tighten up or you start to become a little bit concerned about the way you’re playing – the intent of how you’re playing is changed. When we were doing the referenced versions, we just played without any kind of fear of the end result. What happened was that those core takes often were just what we used. There’s a bunch of tracks on the record where the whole body of the track was recorded all of us together live without much post-editing then we would just layer vocals or keyboards and stuff on top of what was essentially a very honest moment in a room. I think that’s really different to how generally records are made at the moment and to how we’ve made records before. I think there’s a temptation when you’re in love with the process of making records to want to labor and craft but actually the downfall of doing that is that you lose the humanity. One thing Moulder and Flood were really good at was capturing a moment of time of us in the room and then using that as the heartbeat and building around it but never losing the power of that intrinsic moment.
3. Every Foals album sounds precise and complete. How important is track selection and order when putting together the final touches?
There’s a lot of discussion. This album was a lot harder because it’s a lot more eclectic and it demonstrates different moods and sides of the band. We were definitely worried after we had finished that the record felt schizophrenic in some ways – or that it was really fragmented but then having the sequencing actually makes it work. For example, the first track – we thought it was really important to have it at the beginning, almost to counteract the sort of pop songs that come afterwards, to kind of weigh it. The ending tracks are dark – ‘Moon’ is my favorite track from the record, at the moment anyway. When we’re writing the music, we don’t have a particular idea or template how they will fit onto an album. Usually the process of putting the album together is something that is after the creative moment. Usually we take a little bit of space and then decide how to archive the moments we’ve already captured. ‘Moon’ – we kind of knew that that would probably close the record from the start because it didn’t feel like anything could follow it. We never write really with an album in mind – it’s much more to do with the expression of the moment and just enjoying the physicality of playing music with each other and releasing energy.
4. Is much attention paid to the current musical landscape when recording?
Not at the moment when you’re in the studio. We’re fairly aware. We definitely think about it – I think it worries us a lot less than it used to. I think because there’s a confidence in the band, in what we’re doing – a confidence that we have a place. Particularly in somewhere like the UK where we get quite a bit of press. Whereas maybe back in 2007 there was an anxiety about making our place. At that point in time we felt antipathy towards the way we were being perceived. I think some of the decision making within the band has been reactions against hype and against the threat of getting branded or being pushed. We like to feel like we’re transcending the current moments and we just try to make records that will exist outside any of those changing winds, basically. We want to make stuff that has a permanence and a timelessness to it.
5. What can you reveal about forthcoming remixes?
There’s a Hot Chip remix and a Friendly Fires remix that we haven’t released yet. Also Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. We had a Tom Vek remix done for ‘Inhaler’ that’s been out for a little bit and then we’re getting a bunch more done at the moment. I’m pretty in love with these codes on our web site – just making the content and remixes freely available. I like it being free and playful.