Foals are a five-piece dance-rock band currently living in and native to the town of Oxford, England. That’s where Yannis Philippakis (vocals/guitar), Edwin Congreave (keyboards), Walter Gervers (bass), Jimmy Smith (guitar), and Jack Bevan (drums) met and bonded over a shared sense of humor. Bored with the interchangeable electro records they heard at every party, they decided to make the kind of music they wanted to dance to. “We wanted to make music that was very technical, that wasn’t just party music, but at the same time you could dance to it,” explains Yannis.
Christening themselves Foals in a nod to Yannis’ surname (which means “little lover of horses” in Greek), the band installed themselves in a tiny rehearsal room and started bouncing ideas off one another. Tensions ran high. “I was shocked by how critical every one was of each other,” says Edwin. “We’ve always been very self-critical,” expands Yannis. If the high-pressure atmosphere strained intra-band relations, they quickly identified a winning formula: driving percussion high in the mix, guitars played above the 12th fret, no chords, plus splashes of synth color. The result was pristine, perfectly-formed dance rock such as “Balloons,” “Hummer” and “Two Steps, Twice.” Clean lines, like the schematics for a piece of precision engineering, and there’s something strange about those guitars.