Three years. Six months. Eight days. By the time that Part 1 of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, the new two-part double album by Foals, is officially released, this will be the exact amount of time between it and the band's last album, 2015's What Went Down. It's the longest time Foals have ever gone between releases, and the fact they've returned with a surplus of new material would appear to be a band making up for lost time. By the band's own admission, however, they've been looking for an excuse to drop a double-spud for quite some time.
“It's something we've always talked about,” says Edwin Congreave, the band's keyboardist. “As naff as it might be to say, we like our own music. When we're writing for weeks on end, we end up with a lot of new songs more often than not. We'll want to record and release all of them, and that's usually when someone from the label shows up and suggests that we just release the ten best ones instead. This time around, however, something was different. Our manager heard the songs and saw what we saw – that they were all great. As soon as he suggested doing two albums, it was just a green light from there.”
The end result is Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, a collection that simultaneously explores the darker side and the brighter layers of Foals' sonic spectrum. Don't get it twisted that these two albums don't have their own sense of cohesion, though – the band have endeavoured to go the extra mile to ensure both parts tell their own story and maintain a sense of completeness. “We were swapping around tracks from album to album right up to the last minute,” says Congreave.
“It was an ongoing debate – we were trying to navigate how to make these albums balance, and how to make them coherent in their own way. The way it's worked out means that the first album has a groovier, slower pace, while the second album has a vibe that's a lot rockier and a lot heavier. The first albums has more synth-based songs, and I'd say it has some songs on there that sound the least like our old ones.”
In curating these two albums, Congreave believes that fans are getting a well-rounded sense of everything that the band aspires to musically – perhaps even more so than any of their previous releases.
“For better or worse, all of our previous albums have had us trying to cram in as many identities as possible,” he says. “You only have ten to twelve songs to do that in, which means the albums more often than not tend to be completely all over the place. There's less pressure on that now that we have this split between the two albums – especially on the songs themselves, which often had to carry the weight of representing the entire band and the entire album as a whole. All of the usual concerns have just faded away.”
The band worked on Everything Not Saved... throughout 2018, operating as a four-piece for the first time in their careers following the departure of bassist Walter Gervers the January prior. Four-string duties were split between Congreave and frontman Yannis Phillippakis, with the former spending a lot of time with the instrument during jams and writing sessions.
“It was pretty much just a matter of me being around, able and willing,” says Congreave with a laugh. “I'm not the best bass player, but that doesn't really matter when you've got the amp turned up and your distortion pedal on.”
Going forward, the band will have an extra pair of hands joining them live – their bass player for the upcoming tour will be Jeremy Pritchard, who normally plays bass in fellow UK indie-rockers Everything Everything.
“They're not touring this year, so the timing couldn't have been better,” says Congreave. “He's been a good friend of ours for awhile, so we're excited to have him coming out with us. We've got another friend of ours coming out to play percussion, too. It's gonna get pretty crowded up on stage, that's for sure.”
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 is out now via Warner Music.
(Image credit: Alex Knowles)