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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 09:54 GMT
Sound of 2008: Foals
Foals at the Field Day Festival in London in August

The BBC's Sound of 2008 list has gathered some of the best new music by asking critics and broadcasters to name their favourite up-and-coming artists.

Oxford indie band Foals kick off the coverage at number five on the list.

One act from the top five will be revealed every day until Friday, when the winner and full top 10 will be announced.


"We play guitar in a different way from pretty much any other mainstream indie band," declares Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis.

"We have a piano which is used in a different way to how most other bands would use it."

Guitar effects pedals are employed to "mimic the sound of the solar system", he continues, attempting to explain what sets this five-piece apart from the average rock band.

"We're just different."

Foals
We make music that tries to be progressive in some small way - in whatever way you can still do now
Yannis Philippakis (front)
Different but familiar, the Foals sound mixes intelligent, angular guitars with fluorescent dance beats, all laced with impassioned, impatient vocals.

It has gained them a devoted fanbase, a top 40 single and a tour supporting Bloc Party, arguably their closest musical relations among major bands.

Foals also claim not to know how to play guitar chords, do not know what the single notes they do play are called, and have influences that lie far outside the mainstream.

"Many indie bands would have been brought up listening to The Jam," Yannis says. "And we were brought up listening to folk music or world music, and then getting into all this post-rock stuff."

Foals believe their backgrounds and their unconventional recording techniques make them more inventive than most groups.

"We make music that tries to be progressive in some small way," Yannis says. "In whatever way you can still do now."

Foals have emerged from the insular Oxford music scene, which Yannis says is full of "drone bands" who are only interested in "making really weird music".

Foals
The band started out playing at legendary house parties
His previous band wrote 20-minute songs, but the singer says he got out because he wanted to do something less "ponderous".

"We wanted to make a pop band - or our idea of a pop band - as a reaction against stuff that we didn't like about what we'd become and what was going on in Oxford."

Pop, in the Foals dictionary, means "less elitist".

A good record should be capable of being enjoyed in any place in any era, Yannis believes.

"You put on a drone record or a math-rock record in Sheffield, you'll probably get beaten up," he says. "It's not that fun to play. It's liberating to try to make music that is accessible."

I think I've become mildly cretinous - certainly our scope of conversation is pretty limited
Yannis Philippakis
Although they take their music seriously, the response at gigs is far from serious, and riotous early performances at house parties have passed into legend.

Keyboard player Edwin Congreave recounts one in Manchester where the flat was so packed, it was a struggle to get through the door.

"When we played, the floor was bouncing to an extent that suggested the house was about to collapse," he says. "So it was exhilarating and unnerving as well."

Yannis recalls another in London. "People were breaking through walls with fire extinguishers," he says.

"There's a photo of it on our MySpace page that shows a wall that has been knocked all through, and all that's left of it is the door frame."

'We're thugs'

The band also have a reputation in the press for being "geeky" and "brainy" - mainly because Yannis and Edwin went to Oxford University (but dropped out).

"It's kinda funny because we're more thugs," Yannis says.

"I think I've become mildly cretinous. Certainly our scope of conversation is pretty limited since we left [university].

"Before, we'd sit there chin-stroking, talking about Kafka or whatever. And now we just talk about 'When's soundcheck?' 'Where's the rider?'"

Not so different from other rock bands after all.

  • Almost 150 UK-based music writers, editors and broadcasters took part in the Sound of 2008 poll. They named their three favourite new acts and their responses were used to compile a top 10.

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