|Awards aren’t always indicative of a band’s cultural worth. However, if a group does manage to rack up enough of these trophies, it helps demonstrate this act just might be worth following. That’s at least the case for English rock band Foals, who in the last 10-plus years have earned plenty of awards and a fan base that spans the globe.
The music begins
Foals officially formed in 2005 in Oxford, England. Since its inception, the band’s lineup has featured singer-guitarist Yannis Philippakis, keyboard player Edwin Congreave, guitarist Jimmy Smith, percussionist Jack Bevan, and bassist Walter Gervers. The members played together in several other bands, including Face Meets Grill and The Edmund Fitzgerald, before uniting as Foals. This experience contributed to Foals’ multi-faceted sound, which references everything from punk rock and prog to minimalist electronic music.
By 2007, the band had gained something of a local following around Oxford, and released a 7-inch, “Hummer” between “Mathletics.” Later that same summer, the members traveled to New York City to work on Foals’ debut alongside Dave Sitek (of the band TV on the Radio). Antidotes debuted in March 2008 and immediately peaked at No. 3 on the U.K. Albums Charts. The LP also landed at No. 28 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart.
Foals toured heavily behind the record, hitting up the U.S., Japan, Eastern Europe, and beyond. Finally, they landed in Switzerland in August 2009, where the members of Foals began work on album No. 2. Total Life Forever, produced by Luke Smith of the band Clor, was a huge hit, thanks to tracks like “Spanish Sahara.” That track was featured in several different TV campaigns, including those for “Skins” and the U.S. show “Entourage.” The album was also nominated for a Mercury Prize, which honors the top albums in the U.K. While the album didn’t win, it was later awarded equally illustrious honors by NME magazine and MOJO magazine. From 2011 on, the band continued touring into sessions for its third full-length album.
Burning right on
After a minor delay, Foals’ third album, Holy Fire, debuted in February 2013. In support, the band spent much of the summer touring across the world, including extended jaunts in the U.K. and festival gigs like Latitude. Holy Fire was also nominated for another Mercury Prize, an impressive feat for any band. The album also helped land Foals several other big awards, including the 2013 NME Awards’ Best Track for “Inhaler” and the same year’s Best Live Act from the Q Awards.
After all the promotional work and touring, Foals picked back up again in spring 2014, hitting the studio to record album No. 4. What Went Down finally hit shelves in August 2015, and was another success for the band. The LP landed at No. 58 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and No. 3 on the U.K. charts. The album was then supported with more touring, which eventually bled into dates across the U.S. for fall 2016.
With an impressive trophy case back home in the U.K. and throngs of adoring fans, Foals are one of the most exciting young rock bands working today.