Foals exclusive – ‘We won’t be ready to headline Glastonbury for another five years’

Reading And Leeds headliners say they’re ‘the biggest small band in the world’

Reading And Leeds headliners Foals
"Hello Glast..." "Not yet!" Foals hang around waiting to headline Glastonbury. Image Picture Nabil Elderkin

Foals have told Loaded that they’re not big enough to headline Glastonbury – despite topping the bill at Reading And Leeds Festival this summer.

The band turned down the chance to be second on the bill at Glastonbury’s main Pyramid Stage last year as a last-minute addition when Florence + The Machine stepped up to replace the injured Foo Fighters.

Foals singer Yannis Philippakis said then that the band were “too under-rehearsed” to take Florence’s slot. And he’s now admitted to Loaded that actually headlining the main stage isn’t yet something Foals are ready to take on.

“If we ever headline Glastonbury, it should be when we’re properly ready in five years’ time”

Philippakis told Loaded: “We’re not big enough to headline Glastonbury. You need to have a lot of weight behind you. We’d love to headline one day, but it would need to happen at the right time. It’d be premature right now.”

He added that the band want to wait until they feel ready, having previously headlined Latitude in 2014. He said: “As a band, we’ve always waited and never hurried anything. We do things at our own pace. We’ve never tried to jump the shark.”

Guitarist Jimmy Smith added: “There are some things that genuinely feel too soon, and headlining Glastonbury is one of them. If we ever do it, it should be when we’re properly ready, in five years’ time.”

Drummer Jack Bevan said: “We’re the biggest small band in the world. We’re the biggest live band that sells the fewest amount of records. But we love playing Glastonbury. It’s our spirit animal.”

Philippakis joked: “The fact we haven’t been asked to headline Glastonbury is indicative of the fact that it’s premature to talk about it.”

The five-piece, who release new single Birch Tree on Friday, recently finished their first arena headline tour. The band agree that their largest shows came at the right time.

Philippakis told Loaded at NME Awards: “Playing Wembley Arena was overwhelming, but it also felt right. It felt like we should be there, and it was the culmination of a lot hard work and passion.

“There’s no real difference to how we’ve always approached shows. There’s more bells and whistles, the crowds are bigger, but the intent is no different. It was still sweaty and savage, there was nothing corporate or pompous about us just because it was Wembley.”

The band played early songs such as Balloons on the arena tour, and Smith said: “We wrote Balloons in 2007 in Oxford with no idea where the band was going to go. To play it at an arena and get such a huge response was ridiculous. It’s mindblowing.”

“We have no ideas for new songs. But I like that, it’s a blank canvas”

Foals co-headline Reading And Leeds Festival on August 26-28 with Disclosure. Red Hot Chili Peppers also headline, with Biffy Clyro rumoured to be the festival’s other bill topper.

Having released new album What Went Down last year, Foals admit they haven’t begun thinking of a follow-up album as yet.

Smith said: “Our creative well is extremely dry. It’s all gone a bit Gobi desert.”

Bevan added: “We jam ideas in soundchecks, but we haven’t even had chance to do that lately. We’ll take a break after touring this album to reset ourselves a little.”

Philippakis concluded: “We have no ideas for new songs at all. But I like that. It’s a blank canvas.

“Boredom is the most under-rated tool when it comes to writing music. It’s important to remember that we started making music when we were 15, we were bored. We wrote music out of boredom and frustration. Now, we’re busy.

“So it’s important to allow the writing to happen at the right time, so that it can be urgent and hungry, rather than force something every day so it becomes prosaic and pedestrian.

“We want to write something that ruptures the boredom of everyday life, not become something we just do because it’s what we do for a living.”

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Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn

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