28 Oct 2013

Foals frontman slams Spotify ahead of Mercury awards

Foals singer Yannis Philippakis talks to Channel 4 News about revealing all on his third, Mercury-nominated album – and why he would prefer fans to steal his record rather than stream it on Spotify.

2013 has been a good year for Foals: the five-piece headlined Latitude festival, their third album has been widely acclaimed and they’ve extended next year’s UK tour due to high demand.

But lead singer Yannis Philippakis told Channel 4 News that the latest album, Holy Fire, is so personal that he can’t listen to it around other people: “I can’t really be around people I know and hear the songs… I just feel, like, awkward – it makes my toes curl a little bit. But that was my aim.”

Formerly known for their cryptic “math rock”, Holy Fire was an attempt to lay bare emotion and strip away any excess, says Philippakis.

Fans can listen to the album on Spotify – along with their previous albums Antidotes (2008) and Total Life Forever (2010).

But Philippakis told Channel 4 News: “I’d rather somebody stole the record on vinyl than bought it or streamed it on Spotify. Because I think you should listen to music on vinyl, and I think basically anything’s better than that (Spotify).”

Spotify celebrated its fifth birthday this month, and it now has 24 million active users worldwide. But the rates artists are paid by the music streaming service is an “insulting pittance”, Philippakis added:

“It’s like going to a restaurant when the chef and all the waiting staff have worked their asses off, and you leave coppers as a tip, and you don’t even pay the bill. That’s basically what Spotify’s like, I think.”

I’d rather somebody stole the record on vinyl than bought it or streamed it on Spotify… I think basically anything’s better than that – Yannis Philippakis

His comments follow those made in September by Thom Yorke, who said that Spotify was the “last desperate fart of a dying corpse”. Yorke owns the rights to the back catalogue of his band, Atoms for Peace, and has removed it from the streaming service.

Foals’ third album, Holy Fire, has been nominated for a the Barclaycard Mercury prize, along with David Bowie’s The Next Day, Arctic Monkey’s AM and Disclosure’s Settle. It is the band’s second Mercury nomination, for an album that has been lauded for being emotionally more accessible, but also for its more streamlined, stadium sound.

Laura Mvula has overtaken David Bowie and dance duo Disclosure, and is now favourite to win the Barclaycard Mercury prize, according to the latest odds from William Hill. Other shortlisted artists include Laura Marling, Villagers, Jon Hopkins and Jake Bugg.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Roundhouse, London, on the evening of 30 October, 2013.