Day one (of six) of Austin City Limits Music Festival is bursting with incredible acts. Trying to decide which bands to see at conflicting set times may result in anxiety, loss of sleep, and an aneurysm or two. If you’re struggling with who to see this Friday afternoon, we can help. At 4:00 p.m. there is only one place you should be: In front of the Samsung Stage waiting for Foals.
This decade-old English rock act has recently graced some of the largest stages in the world, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, Panorama, Osheaga, and Glastonbury. Now, they’ll spend two weekends in Texas, melting the faces off thousands of fans.
It seems impossible to me that their latest album, What Went Down, dropped a year ago. Every time I revisit their latest release, I find myself lost in a new black forest of their sound. Chilled by the coolness of their depth, terrified of the power in their potential.
But, these talented musicians aren’t always shrouded in shadows. In an interview with guitarist Jimmy Smith, we learned the perhaps the band balances their dark magic with some light banter, which leaves us dying for more. Smith jokes with us about cologne, onions, and why Foals just might be the best smelling band of 2016.
Let’s talk a little bit about your brilliant new album that’s been out for a minute, What Went Down. What are you most proud of on this release?
I think I’m quite proud of how quickly we did it, in a way it felt relatively painless. We just sort of knuckled down in our little practice room in Oxford, and just did all of it actually, wrote an album quite quickly. And a really good one as well. We’re all super proud how it turned out, so I think just proud of the whole thing really.
Is your latest album release always your favorite?
Yeah, for the time being, but then you never know in a couple of years time it might drop off the favorites list.
Have any of your previous albums dropped off your own favorites list?
Oh yeah. They’ve all been in the doghouse at one point or the other.
I’ve read, from multiple interviews, that What Went Down was recorded in the same space that Nostradamus was born and Van Gogh lost his mind. Talk to me a little bit about that. How did you guys decide on that location?
We discovered it when I watched that Nick Cave film “20,000 Days on Earth” in the cinema. He actually recorded some of this last albums there, and some of it’s in the film. I was watching it with my girlfriend and I was like, “Wow, I’ve got to take a note about that studio.” I found out it was the studio La Fabrique, and then we got there. It’s an amazing place. It’s kind of like it’s not like really old, but there’s some old rooms that are pretty cool to record in.
When do you do your best work?
Late night same day, or early morning next day?
Oh, late night same day...That’s actually an optimum period.
What would you say if the most rewarding aspect of being a part of Foals and what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging I suppose is being away all the time from our loved ones. It’s not much fun for them, and not much fun for us either. And weirdly, the most rewarding thing is doing all the traveling and meeting all these fans around the world and playing shows everywhere to like really nice crowds. It’s a bit of a catch 22.
I had read in an interview with The Guardian that Yannis said he’d rather kill of the band then slouch into a comfort zone. The question I have for you then is, what remains on your bucket list for Foals after 11 year? What do you still hope to accomplish? The second part of that is, if you did disband tomorrow what would you hope people remembered you for?
Well, I figure the bucket list is kind of weird, really not everybody. [We’re] sort of running out of things. I guess we got to play in Hawaii so we’ve done that. Maybe headline Glastonbury one day.
I think the bucket list is just make another good album, really. The next best album and then hopefully be remembered for that.
I might have another confusing question about that in a second to just pick your mind further.
Great. My mind’s like a vegetable right now.
I like to ask artists, what mythical award or superlative would you most likely win?
Oh dear, mythical award. Let’s see...Most Underrated Drinkers. No, I don’t know. Best Smelling Band of 2016.
Do you have a preferred cologne?
Yeah, Issey Miyake. I’ve forgotten the name of it now [L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme] but it’s by Issey Miyake.
When are you happiest?
When I’m chopping onions.
When you’re chopping...onions?
Yeah, I love it. I absolutely love chopping onions.
[Laughing.] Okay, chopping onions where?
At home, with my lovely girlfriend. That’s when I’m happiest.
Don't miss Foals, both Friday's of ACL 2016, at 4:00 p.m. on the Samsung Stage.