Foals

Foals

Surfer Blood, Blondfire

Fri, May 3, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

$30

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Foals
Foals
2013: the year that Foals broke through the barriers. Relentless touring saw Foals play 155 shows across the world and travelling 135,110 miles, appearing high up the bill at festivals around the world and playing their first ever UK festival headline slot (Latitude), it’s no surprise then, that British media coined Foals as one of the hardest working acts of the year. The hard work paid off - by the end of 2013 Foals won a number of awards: Best Live Act at the Q awards, Best Live Act at The Sun Bizarre awards, Best Single (Inhaler) at the NME awards and a Barclaycard Mercury Music nomination (the band’s second). In December Foals topped the NME readers album and track of the year poll, beating Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA to pole position. Reading & Leeds Director Melvin Benn summed it up in the summer of 2013: ‘Foals are the most in touch guitar band in the world - I don't think anybody's matching them'.

Detroit. Willesden. Olympos, on the Greek island of Karpathos. “The inside of our skulls” - these are the places that made up Foals third album, their most direct and fully realised album yet. Holy Fire entered the UK charts at number 2 in February 2013 (their highest chart entry to date) and gave the band their first Number 1 album in Australia. Electrifying come back single ‘Inhaler’ and won ‘Best Single’ at the NME awards the same month, whilst the beautiful ‘Late Night’ (April 22nd) came complete with a shock and awe style video from critically acclaimed director Nabil (Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Nas) and premiered on www.rollingstone.com. So igniting was the relationship, Nabil also went on to make the video to follow up single ‘Bad Habit’ which premiered on www.guardian.co.uk June 2013.

Holy Fire is Foals highest selling record to date, reaching gold status in the UK just three months after it was released. In March 2013 the band played two shows in the same day (which sold out in 15 minutes flat) at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, to rave reviews; ‘privileged punters realised they were witnessing one of the gigs of the year’ said The Times, 'Foals are the best live band the UK has to offer' said The Fly, whilst Evening Standard added 'Foals are ready for their arena moment'. Foals continued their live assault across the UK throughout the summer with a set of high billing festivals shows – Glastonbury Other stage second from top, Reading & Leeds main stage third from top, and their first ever UK headline performance at Latitude Sunday night - 'They gathered the strongest reaction of the weekend from the huge crowd assembled’ said NME, 'Foals lit up the closing night' said Metro.

Foals’ third album was produced by Flood and Alan Moulder. Much like the classic Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins albums that the duo have previously collaborated on, Holy Fire found Foals uniting the personal with bigger themes – specifically feelings of contemporary dread. Other influences included, says Yannis "The Delta, voodoo, the swamp, sexuality, byzantine iconography and music, syrupy rhythms, the mountains, the abyss, the decline of the bee populations, hip hop and stoner rock." Then there's the folk music of the American Deep South, captured by Alan Lomax just before it passed into history: “most of the players of the music are long deceased, but you can still be part of these moments that were recorded in fields in the Delta," says Yannis. "You feel like there's a direct communion happening between you and a ghost."

Holy Fire is a record of contrasts, of Foals feeling themselves liberated to create a record that perhaps they didn’t even realise they had within them. "To make, it was the least harrowing of all the records,” says Yannis, before adding, ”in a lot of ways it's not been harrowing at all, and I think a lot of that has been Flood and Moulder. We vacillate between our experimental side and the side that enjoys the possibilities of what pop music can do, that it can speak outside it's own barrier. If anything we feel that we've made a record that doesn't exist between those two subsets. I feel content that we've made a record that is just what it should have been.”
Surfer Blood
Surfer Blood
It is rare to come across an album as personal, dynamic, and intriguing as Pythons—but then again, rarely do bands these days have a story similar to the rise of Surfer Blood. Originally the dorm-room project of guitarist/vocalist John Paul Pitts, the band—which also includes guitarist Thomas Fekete, bassist Kevin Williams and drummer Tyler Schwarz—quietly released their debut albumAstro Coast in 2010 on indie label Kanine Records. It ended up garnering acclaim from nearly every vital music site and put them on the same stage as bands like the Pixies. Now, three years later, they’re ready to show how much they’ve grown, both as musicians and people, during their remarkably organic road to international acclaim.

Produced by the legendary Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) Pythons maintains the same dreamy surf rock sensibility of the band’s debut but sees them buffing their pop gems into dynamic songs that feature expanded arrangements and a more focused approach to their craft that is at least partially due to Norton’s input. “We had never worked with a producer before and I think Gil’s biggest strength was taking all of our ideas and helping us arrange them in a way that made sense,” Pitts explains. “Gil pushed us really hard on this album and there are a lot of really awesome harmonies that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for him.”

Before trekking from their hometown of West Palm Beach, FL to Los Angeles to team up with Norton, the band took time to disconnect from the outside world and hone in on their collective vision for the new album. They took a trip to Chicago for the sole purpose of refining their songwriting together and demoing new tracks, a mature creative endeavor they had never experienced before. “On the first album we were writing songs and piecing them together as we were recording them, but for this one it was a lot different,” Pitts explains. “We came up with 20 songs before we even went into the studio and made sure they were great,” he continues, adding that it’s hard not to romanticize the fact that they tracked Pythons at EASTWEST Studios, where the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds. The result is a similarly timeless collection of songs that fit together to create a cohesive album instead of a collection of singles—although to be fair every song onPythons is the perfect soundtrack to a summer road trip.

From the airy, organ-augmented feel of the opener and first single “Demon Dance” to the sweetly syncopated drive of “Say Yes To Me,” Pythons is teeming with infectious hooks. Fekete insists Surfer Blood’s ability to eschew the sophomore slump is at least partially due the band’s hectic touring schedule over the past few years, which ultimately helped them bond as a unit. “MakingPythons was a really natural process for us. We had all this energy from spending so much time on the road that once we all got in a room together these moments literally just flowed out of us.” Pitts adds that “Gravity” and “I Was Wrong” were written a week before the band went into the studio. “Those are two dramatically different songs that sort of happened at the last minute and they add a lot of dynamics to the record that wouldn’t otherwise be there.”

Lyrically, Pythons is an extremely personal album that gives insight into what the members have experienced over the past few whirlwind years, both from a personal and professional standpoint. “When I was writing this album I didn’t leave my apartment for months and stayed up all night just disconnecting from everything and everybody for a while to try to capture exactly what I wanted to say,” Pitts admits, citing that the story of his own relationships lie at the core of this collection. “It all just came together and the cohesiveness of it all is sort of an accident,” he says, “they are all little snapshots of different days in my life, you know?”

The same can be said for the rest of the band. “JP came to talk to us for ideas and it really felt like collaboration,” Fekete explains. “I’d say everyone in the band has at least one song that comes directly from something that happened in their lives over the past few years.” That cohesive spirit carried into the studio, where they continued to fine-tune and perfect their songs collectively.

Surfer Blood may have started in a cramped bedroom, but with Pythons it’s clear that they have grown into a self-sufficient unit whose potential is limitless. So instead of continuing to analyze where these songs came from and where the band are going, let’s step back from the tornado of excitement surrounding the band and just listen. No matter where you are or what kind of day you had, listening to Pythons will make you realize that the sun is shining somewhere. Let’s bask in it together.
Blondfire
Blondfire
"We were driving around with friends and someone said 'I smell a bonfire,'" recalls Erica Driscoll, lead vocalist-keyboardist-guitarist of the brother-sister duo Blondfire. "We thought they said 'Blondfire,' and at first we kind of jokingly said it should be our name – but it stuck. We liked the fact that it was masculine and feminine at the same time. It represented who we are in a cool way."

That push-pull of elemental forces is fundamental to the siblings' sound. Winsome, melancholy vocals and '80s-influenced melodies float atop shards of guitar and propulsive beats, leavening Blondfire's infectious pop tunes with real punch. Alternately haunting and ebullient, their Warner Bros Records debut Young Heart represents the purest example yet of Blondfire's unique musical hybrid.

"We tend to write sweet, dreamy melodies," agrees guitarist-drummer-sequencer-backup singer Bruce Driscoll, "and having a rhythm section that's more aggressive – and not too straight – gives it that gutsier, edgier feel." Like Erica, Bruce grew up loving bands like The Smiths, The Cure and New Order. But when it came to drums, Led Zeppelin skinsman John Bonham always occupied a special place in his heart.

The formula has resonated strongly with listeners. Blondfire became the first unsigned act to hit the #1 spot on the iTunes Alternative chart and one of very few unsigned bands to be added to the Sirius Alt Nation playlist, on the strength of the evocative, bouncy "Where The Kids Are" and its arty video. "I submitted that song to a few blogs and it just took off online," Erica marvels. "According to Hype Machine, we became the #1 most talked-about band on the internet!"

"Where The Kids Are" is the lead single on the self-produced Young Heart, most of which they wrote and recorded, Bruce reports, in "about a week" at his home studio and Hollywood's historic Wax Studios (formerly TTG). The set was mixed by Wally Gagel (Muse, Folk Implosion, Gorillaz). "Wally mixed 'Kids,' and he has a great grasp of what we're about sonically," volunteers Bruce. "He has a real knack for pressing the 'sound big' button."

Young Heart is the duo's first full-length album since their 2008 indie release My Someday. In the interim, the band has developed a homegrown following in Los Angeles through live residencies and radio airplay from KROQ, KCSN, 98.7 and KCRW. Their music has also been heard in the films Besties and Get a Job; on TV via ESPN's Australian Open Tennis, The Client List, MTV's Awkward and The Collection and in an ad for Ecco shoes.

Bruce and Erica grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan; their U.S.-born dad plucked classic rock and pop on the guitar, while their Brazilian mom – a classically trained pianist – exposed them to bossa nova and music lessons. By her teens, Erica was mad for '80s pop and teaching herself guitar.

Bruce was initially obsessed with film soundtracks, which no doubt ultimately contributed to Blondfire's emotionally vivid musical textures. "My dream was to score a Batman movie someday," he remembers. Later he got into drums (partly as a rebellion against piano lessons); although he soon switched to guitar, he retained his preoccupation with beats.

"Once Bruce started playing guitar, that's all we wanted to do," Erica says. "In Michigan there isn't much to do, especially in winter. So we just holed up in the basement, writing songs and recording them on our 4-track machine." They began gigging soon after.

And that Brazilian thing? "You can hear it a little in the way we use melodies," Erica muses, "and in the way that Bruce likes to put all kinds of variations into his beats." Bruce adds that he leans toward certain chords that lend a melancholy feel one could trace back to Jobim and other Brazilian songwriters. "It's not obvious," he says. "But it's in there." And just part of the one-of-a-kind recipe that makes Blondfire sound like nothing else.
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019
http://www.terminal5nyc.com/