“There are fewer bands than in the past. There’s less money. Bedroom producers will become the norm and bands will sink into a niche.”
So reads the somewhat distressing worldview of Jack Bevan. The Foals drummer, whose band have “hopefully reminded some people that guitar music isn’t dead and buried” since the release of debut album Antidotes in 2008 (and there’s little doubt they’ve succeeded in doing so) has a wistful philosophy about what the band have witnessed in the past five years of their lifespan. “It would be nice to undo the effect the Internet has had on the business,” he ponders, “without losing the infinite amount of exposure it’s allowed new bands.” A chilly outlook, to be sure, but one ultimately based in the grim realities of the current industry landscape: you can rack up as many YouTube hits and SoundCloud plays as you like, but that alone, as they say, won’t stick bread on the table.
Foals themselves, of course, have certainly benefitted from the popularity and present prosperity of the web: like all savvy bands, they harness it not just as a tool to access and promote, but a means of interacting with a fanbase which has grown inexorably in the past half-decade. The title of Holy Fire, the Oxford five-piece’s upcoming release, was in fact revealed by the band on Facebook in October 2012: “dig it,” posted Edwin, “or don’t. Either way it’s coming soon.”
Soon is never soon enough to some, but the five-month gap between that announcement and the record’s release date was fairly brief, especially when contrasted with the two-year-plus long breaks between each of Foals’ three studio albums to date. Does a break make for better music? “It depends, I think,” muses Bevan. “The Beatles wrote a lot of the best music of all time over 13 records in just 7 or 8 years. However, some artists take forever [like] Dre. I’d be happy to start writing for album 4 right now.”
Indeed, this restlessness to get started on a new record seems to have been something which the group felt even after the phenomenal success of 2010′s superb sophomore album Total Life Forever. After all the tours and promotion on the album was finally done, Foals only had a break of “about a month or so. The urge to write builds throughout the touring cycle because we’re primarily performing rather than being creative.”