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10

Painting Full-Throttle: The Art of The Kills’ Singer Alison Mosshart (@amosshart)

To see more of Alison’s paintings, head over to @amosshart on Instagram. For more music stories, check out @music.

Last year, Alison Mosshart (@amosshart) was looking for inspiration. Captivated by skid marks on asphalt, the lead singer of The Kills was determined to recreate them in her artwork. Her first idea was super rock and roll: drive her baby, a Dodge Challenger, through paint and over a ream of canvas, thus uniting her two loves of muscle cars and art. Unfortunately, it also would ruin her ride, so she nixed it. The second was rolling a spare tire around manually, a much easier idea to execute in her Nashville home studio. Then she realized without weight on the tire, she couldn’t get skid marks.

Which is how she found herself in a Toys R Us late at night, inspecting the treads and wheels on remote control cars like a fifth-grader composing a Christmas list.

“I got a bunch of monster trucks and went home. I turned into this madwoman driving a car around the studio, laughing to myself like, ‘This is the most fun ever!’” she says, while sitting in a booth at Los Angeles’ Café 101 and chewing on the straw in her iced tea. The finished tire paintings comprise much of her upcoming gallery show in New York.

Though Alison has been burning up stages alongside Jamie Hince in The Kills for over a decade, and Jack White in The Dead Weather since 2009 she’s been drawing since she was a little girl in Florida. Her mom, a high school art teacher, discovered she could plop Alison down with a packet of magic markers and keep her content for hours.

“I’ve been doing [music and art] forever — they feel like the same thing,” she says. “Painting and drawing is a part of waiting. I’ve been on the road touring since I was like, 14. Twenty-two years straight — so all my artwork is suitcase-sized.”

Until recently, her artwork was most prominently displayed in her mom’s attic. But when she bought her house in Tennessee, she designated a big room with lots of windows the “complete crazy chaos music and art room.” When friends visited and saw her paintings strewn on the floor, they told her she should start posting them. Within a week, she was offered her first gallery show in New York.

“I could not believe it,” she says. “This is insane. I just posted pictures of paintings!” She’s a prodigious poster, much to the delight of her fans, and even shares the stuff she hates.

“If I don’t like a painting, I’ll paint over it. My mom liked one I thought was so awful,” she says, pointing to a recent piece. “I posted it, still hated it. Painted over it and posted that and she was like, ‘Bring the other thing back!’ It’s too late, Mom. I hated it anyway!”

Her modesty is charming, but it’s not exactly a surprise that the art world, just like the music industry, has been receptive to her work. The inspiration for both comes from the same place. “The same feeling that makes me want to paint something is the same feeling that makes me want to write a song,” she explains.

With painting, “everything is really fast. Fast, fast,” she says, as opposed to her work in The Kills. “It’s a pretty long process with me and Jamie because there’s just two of us. Everybody has to do everything. It’s a lot of work,” she says.

That duality and state of flux play out in her drawings, too, many of which contain two or three or 23 faces, an eye bugging out here, a tongue sticking out there, as if different parts of Alison are fighting for the final say by way of brushstroke. “I can’t stop painting faces. That’s all that comes out,” she says. “There’s a lot of changing of the mind going on. That’s why things always have like three eyeballs.”

The one change she’s not so comfortable with is the lack of a place to retreat at her exhibit openings. “I’m quiet,” she says. That’s true in the literal sense — she speaks in such a gentle tone the diner’s lunchtime din nearly drowns out her voice. But her music, and now her art, is quite the opposite.

And with that, Alison drains her tea, smiles politely and ducks out the front door. Safe bet she left at least one set of tire tracks in her wake.

––Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music

5

How Slipknot’s Clown Spends His Halloween

To see more of Shawn’s photos, check out @6cl6wn6 on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

His photos are a nightmarish mix of black eye makeup, crooked teeth and clown masks with blotched skin and mangled lips. Who takes pictures like this? More importantly, does anything scare the person who does?

“I live in my imagination almost 100 percent of the time,” says Shawn Crahan (@6cl6wn6), also known as Clown, the co-founder of the heavy metal outfit Slipknot and the man behind the most terrifying account on Instagram.

For a guy who plays in a band known for its ghoulish attire, Shawn is surprisingly frank about what freaks him out: simply speaking, it’s not what’s in front of his face, but what isn’t. Being scared of the invisible means a worst-case scenario where anything and everything can come charging out from the edge. It all stems back to Shawn’s days as a kid, particularly on Halloween, where he spent time wandering around his neighborhood and staring off into darkness.

“What I like more than anything is to walk around on Halloween and just interject thoughts in my own mind,” he says. “Yes, it’s Halloween. We’re dressing up. We’re going to walk around. But I like to step outside of the brainwashed minds and go deeper into the intriguing thoughts of why people choose to be what they are and the real essence of what Halloween is.”

For most of the year, Shawn chooses to be a clown — at least on stage. The drummer and percussionist has had several different iterations of the clown look over the years, but typically opts for one with white makeup and neon orange hair.

“I’ve never really tried to make Slipknot Halloween, because it’s Slipknot. It’s a rock and roll band,” he says. “But because we do dress up, it’s kind of like we do live Halloween all the time.”

Perhaps that’s why Shawn doesn’t typically jump into costume at the end of every October. The last time he did, he was dressed as a professional welder that had been in an accident and had his face melted off. Shawn is a cryptic person by nature, so whether he’s in disguise or not, the core idea behind Halloween goes hand in hand with his thoughts and mediations. Today, while the holiday feels more in your face — it’s all about showing off everything that is happening right now, in the moment — he prefers the slow burn.

“I can remember being a kid and just walking around and going, ‘Anything I can imagine can be in those woods.’ And that was always scariest,” he says. “So my plans are always to look in. I live for the glitches in life.”

— Instagram @music

4

Makeup and Gypsy Jazz with Cirque du Soleil Cello Player @michaelcello

To see more photos of Michael’s work with Cirque du Soleil, check out @michaelcello on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Michael Levin (@michaelcello) has backed Katy Perry, played in a Christmas show with Andy Dick and currently is in the band for Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, which is helmed by the director of Madonna’s MDNA tour. What’s garnered him the most attention, however, is a makeup tutorial.

Filmed in time lapse, his nightly stage makeup application is mesmerizing. He lines, powders and contours with the precision of Kim Kardashian West’s makeup artist, and then caps it off with a Kim K-worthy, kissy-face selfie.

“That’s probably the most plays on any video I’ve ever posted of anything. Go figure,” the 30-year-old cellist says over the phone from Denver. “To be perfectly honest, that was the part I was least excited about in the beginning. Now, I get why girls go so crazy over it and try to find the right products. I don’t know how many types of eyeliner I went through.”

Michael didn’t quite run off and join the circus, but his trajectory is pretty close. He grew up in Arizona, the son of two concert violinists. Within two years of studying at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, however, he realized there was no way he could follow in the footsteps of his mother, who is in her 40th season with the Phoenix Symphony.

“I wanted to be in a rock band! I wanted to utilize the cello in a modern way,” he says. He gave school one more shot at Arizona State, but chucked it before the semester was even over and moved to Los Angeles.

L.A. can be crazy-making for a creative person, but Michael thrived on the uncertainty. He posted on Craigslist, handed out his card at coffee shops and wandered around Guitar Center playing the pianos and chatting with customers. He met actress Shannon Woodward in his apartment complex, and she introduced him to her best friend, Katy Perry. (“I was playing with Katy Perry before Katy Perry was!” he says).

Meanwhile, he’d also auditioned for the Cirque du Soleil database in 2009. “In order to become an artist in one of Cirque’s shows, you first have to audition online and be accepted into their database. From there, they’ll pluck their talent. It’s the largest casting department in the world. It’s like Cirque NASA,” he quips. A talent scout called him right away, but Michael was “knee deep” in bands and told them it just wasn’t a good time for him.

A year and a half ago, though, his schedule freed up and he signed a two-year contract to play the “gypsy jazz, electro swing” music of Kurios. Set in 1900s Paris, Cirque’s 30th anniversary show has a steampunk aesthetic and takes place under a massive big top. It’s a city that has to be moved on the wheels of 65 semi-trucks.

Barring another circus beckoning him, soon he’ll have the option to re-sign.

“I imagine I’ll stay for a while. The show will go for 10 to 15 years,” he says. “I’ve always been a very nomadic person. It’s a great way to see the world.”

Besides, he continues, “I’m good at doing my makeup now.”

– Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music

8

The Brat Pop Sounds and Futuristic Disco Western Style of HOLYCHILD

To see more of HOLYCHILD’s photos, check out @holychild on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

New music genres are usually a) ephemeral, and/or b) hilariously desperate. But once in a while a group comes along and introduces one with a snazzy name and a little bit of substance. Take HOLYCHILD (@holychild), who affectionately call their songs brat pop.

“It’s essentially sarcastic pop music, which is talking about the role of genders in our culture, and our culture’s obsession with fame, beauty, money, age, youth and health,” says lead singer Liz Nistico.

Hey, if you’re going to give your songs a never-before-heard description you might as well make it catchy. That’s the way Liz is approaching the group’s style too, referring to their current look as “futuristic disco western.”

“I didn’t really grow up with that much money, and my mom always said, ‘It’s not what you wear; it’s how you wear it,’” says Liz. “Things will come in and out of our lives, and it’s just like, ‘All right, how are we going to put this together and make it look cool?’”

That works just as well for Louie Diller, the group’s other half.

“Liz is our de facto stylist,” he says. “She collabs with a couple stylists in L.A., and the three of them just kill it. I mean, it’s so nice to have ‘em because I just sit there and they just hand me the coolest f—ing clothes in the world and tell me to wear ‘em. And I happily oblige.”

— Instagram @music

5

The Magic of Mexican Trio Kaay and Their First Latin Grammy Nomination

To see more of Kaay’s photos, check out @kaayoficial on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

María Bernal was standing by her father’s hospital bed when she found out her group, the Mexican trio Kaay (@kaayoficial), had been nominated for a Latin Grammy.

“I was with my father because he was sick — he fell down,” she says. “And he had a lot of complications and was in intensive care.”

After telling him the news, María began to sing one of the band’s songs, “Para Cuando No Esté,” which translates as “for when I am gone.” He passed away moments later.

“It’s weird, just the duality of life,” she says. “The good thing is he actually got to hear the news before he went away.”

Though Kaay’s first nomination was marked by sadness, María, along with fellow band members Cecy Leos and Renée Suárez, is ecstatic about the recognition. It’s a proud moment for the band, considering all the work they put into their last record, Desequilibrio.

“This album is our soul, our life. So it’s a great time for us,” says Renée.

Kaay’s story begins eight years ago, when María had the dream of starting an all girl band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments. At the time, she and Renée had been studying music together at school, so she invited her to audition.

“I was like, ‘What? Auditions? No way, I hate them,’” says Renée. “María said, ‘You have to go, it’s for my project!’”

Much to her relief, Renée made the cut. Now all they had to do was find a third member, which was easier said then done. Though they saw many musicians, none of them had what they were looking for — until Cecy showed up.

“It was like magic,” says Renée. “She was the exact piece, musically speaking, that we were missing. And then she played one song we have on our first album. And we absolutely fell in love with her music.”

That close relationship between the three members comes out both in their music and their photos, where they are always smiling, always together side-by-side, running off to their next adventure. Though the last eight years have been tough on the group (“It’s not easy in Mexico to do pop music,” says Renée. “Everybody wants to hear music in English”), the Latin Grammy nomination feels like the culmination of all the hard work they have put in — this despite the oddity of being an eight-year-old band nominated for Best New Artist. (The Grammys consider a “new artist” anyone who “has not reached a prominent level of recognition at a regional level.”)

“It’s better,” says Renée, “because we have a stronger career than our competitors so that makes us feel confident.”

You can follow along with Kaay’s trip the Latin Grammys over at @kaayoficial.

— Instagram @music

5

‘This is All I Know’: London’s Jay Prince Wants to Show You Something New

To see more of Jay’s photos, check out @loungeinparis on Instagram. For more music stories, head to Instagram @music.

Rapper Jay Prince (@loungeinparis) is East London through and through. He was raised here, has family here, got an education here. But his music is far from the grime-inflected tracks the city prides itself on. In truth, it’s more in tune with a stateside sound — his production and flow marked by a New York-heavy rhythm filled with soulful horns, electric pianos and a direct, syncopated flow.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I get that quite a lot,” says Jay, about being compared to US hip-hop. “I understand why — I have had a lot of American influences. I didn’t grow up on UK hip-hop heavily … I listened to grime when I was a kid, but I was like 50-50. I liked a lot of Lil Jon, Jay Z, Kanye, Common, Mos Def, some R&B and neo-soul.”

While his musical influences may be easily traceable, less so are his visual cues, which he shares in the way of portraits and city photos from his travels at home and abroad. Jay has spent time crafting a look and image through his photography — including the pictures he takes and the ones his friends take of him. Still, he admits to experimenting with his style, continually searching for one that fits.

“I am still trying to find it out myself,” he says. “Usually I am about a dark tone. It depends a lot on where I live. London is not always sunny, so you have to use the light that you have. Whereas when I went to Barcelona, it was so bright.”

Though music is Jay’s primary passion, photography plays an important role in his life as well. His goal is to combine both areas into a diverse, creative portfolio. That’s why he devotes time getting better at each — writing rhymes, making beats, investing in cameras. For the pictures, Jay began developing his skills while on tour in the States, where he connected with some photographers. They began to meet up in different cities to take each other’s portrait.

As for the music, Jay started rapping when he was 14. While East London has a rough-and-tumble reputation, he managed to side-step most of it by focusing on hip-hop. And though he wasn’t involved in drugs or gangs, he was certainly aware of what was going on.

“I had friends who were kind of involved and would have fights and stuff,” he says. “Growing up in East London, it was fun at first — you try to understand yourself a little more, you try to build friendships. As I got older, it was bad — people started getting hurt. I started questioning a lot of things. And you have to kind of look out for yourself and be careful. It was about watching your back.”

Instead of putting his energy into the streets, Jay would put it into his music. He had a voice and he wanted to use it. (As he says in his track “1993” off his EP, BeFor Our Time, “This is all I know.”) And it all came from the opportunity given to him by his parents, who immigrated to the UK from Africa before Jay was born.

“I remember my mom always taught me, ‘When we came here, we gave you an opportunity.’ And I never understood. Like, I was born here. I wasn’t born in Africa. What type of opportunity?” he says. “As I got older I started realizing and appreciating it. If it’s really true that there is an opportunity here, then I am going to test it. That’s when I got into music. And I was like, I love this. And I know I got that opportunity because of my parents. It was for me to build myself and have my own platform to build my own future and build my own career. And now I am a musician. I have worked and built my own world.”

—Instagram @music

6

Singer Lou Doillon Learns to Embrace the Selfie

To see more of Lou’s photos, check out @loudoillon on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

For the cover of her first album, Places, singer Lou Doillon (@loudoillon) used a professional photograph. And why wouldn’t she? For someone who’s modeled for everyone from Givenchy to Gap, she deserved an image that was best in class. But when it came time to design the artwork for her second album, Lay Low, she took a decidedly different route.

“Everyone has taken the selfie to whatever direction they wanted to take it to. I had fun having it as a kind of testimony of something bare,” she says, about the colorful album artwork of her sophomore record. “There is something in a selfie that is really funny. There is the smart side of having flipped the image — it’s the image you’re seeing in the mirror; I feel like I know myself better that way. And also, it’s me taking a picture of me, so it’s not a collaboration or a point of view of another photographer. When I had to choose an album cover, the music was just so personal and so raw, I realized that all the [professional] pictures that I had were in a way too beautiful.”

— Instagram @music

8

One Photo Only with Guitarist, Producer and Photographer @otisserie

To see more of Otis’ portraits, check out @otisserie on Instagram. For more music stories, check out @music.

Name a gig in the music business, Otis Barthoulameu (@otisserie) has probably done it: he was the guitarist for punk bands Fluf and Olivelawn, a sound engineer for Dinosaur Jr., a producer on Blink-182’s first record and a roadie for Muff. He’s also a veteran photographer. Lately, he’s been shooting a new series of images – a throwback to the days before we had the ability to take thousands of pictures without blinking an eye.

“I got this thing I made up called 1 Photo and 1 Photo Only,” says Otis, over the phone from Southern California. “I was just challenging my friends. I go, ‘Look, you guys take 50 pictures and you edit them forever. I am going to take one and it’s going to be better than any of yours.’”

For each series, Otis always goes in with a plan. A few months ago, he tried it out on his friend, Black Flag and Off! singer Keith Morris.

“I was like, ‘Let me take one picture,’ and he didn’t know what to do,” says Otis, who typically goes by “O.” “He was messing with his hair, and I took him outside. I got him while he was putting his hair in his hat. ‘Like, hold it out here real quick.’ I had to pose him a couple times. I had to drag his hand around. He was getting mad at me the whole time. Then afterwards he was like, ‘I like that. It was an awesome photo.’”

–Instagram @music

7

Weird Nights and Artistic Adventures with @badsuns Frontman @christobowman

To see more Bad Suns’ photos from the road, check out @badsuns and @christobowman on Instagram. For more music stories, check out @music.

Though they’re barely into their 20s, the four members of Los Angeles’ Bad Suns (@badsuns) – singer/guitarist Christo Bowman (@christobowman), guitarist Ray Libby, bassist Gavin Bennett and drummer Miles Morris – are wise beyond their years. Since forming in 2012, they’ve released an acclaimed album – last year’s Language & Perspective – drawn comparisons to Imagine Dragons and The 1975, played Coachella and Firefly and completed two headlining tours in 2015 alone. As Christo tells it, the success stems from calculated risks and years of watching musician friends run into roadblocks.

“Gavin and I were always trying to hang out with the older kids,” he says from his Southern California home. “We also kind of had a chip on our shoulder because we were younger and felt like maybe we had something to prove in order to be able to run in those circles. Just because we’re younger doesn’t mean that we’re idiots or that we don’t know how to make music. We wanted to be very smart because we didn’t want to make those mistakes we learned about from the older kids, the people who signed a bad record deal and nothing happened.”

Bad Suns was courted by a number of major record labels, and ended up signing with independent Vagrant Records because, as Christo explains, “no one there is going to lie to your face.” Rather than put all their eggs into one full-length basket, they took their time and introduced themselves to the world with the 2014 four-song Transpose EP, which included the standout tracks “Cardiac Arrest” and “Salt.” Three of those cuts ended up on Language & Perspective, released just five months later and featuring a slew of danceable, melodic alt-rock tunes.

Though he prefers being home in L.A., enjoying time at the beach and working on new tracks in the studio, Christo is still riding high after the headlining tours. In addition to sold out shows, highlights included a visit to St. Louis’ City Museum, which he describes as “a choose-your-own adventure” experience of exhibits. Aside from watching TV and movies, the band – the name of which is taken from a song by The Bravery, but doesn’t have any specific meaning to the members – tries to broaden its horizons. “We get introspective and have conversations about music,” Christo says. He also just enjoys seeing and snapping pictures of interesting sights along the way. “Sounds and vision go hand in hand, obviously. Photography is a great way to inspire and be inspired.”

That’s not to say they don’t indulge in some youthful antics. After Coachella, a cross-country, stir-crazy bus ride led to their photographer and merch guy playing a game of “nut ball,” where they threw shoes at each other’s crotches. Another photo shows their tour manager holding a gun over a pile of cash, with Christo’s caption reading “Weird Night.” A friend of their merch guy came on board the bus to tattoo some of the band members and took the gun out of his pants for comfort. Their tour manager happened to drop the band’s cash pouch, and, as Christo explains, “all the money was just on the ground. Someone threw the gun in there and took the picture and we thought it was hilarious. The only way to sum that up was ‘weird night.’”

For now, Christo is mostly enjoying some downtime in L.A., visiting his girlfriend at UCLA and working on the band’s sophomore album in between one-off gigs. “I think it’s going to be our saving grace that I was intentionally vague on our first album,” he says of the lyrics on the new LP, which is in pre-production. “I wasn’t in the place to give myself away. We wanted people to hear that album and say, ‘Man, I wonder what they’re going to do next’ as opposed to, ‘Well, I hope they don’t ever make another album again. This is all I need to hear.’ This next record is going to be a lot more personal. There’s a bit more depth to it. We’ll see.”

After all, he has a great reason to be unsure about where the new album is going: “I haven’t even heard it yet!”

– Dan Reilly for Instagram @music

6

Be Yourself: The Grunge Art of Illustrator LaKendra Huckaby

To see more art from LaKendra, check out @le_huck_badu on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

You could say LaKendra Huckaby’s (@le_huck_badu) art career began when she was a crying toddler. “Some parents will put you in a corner, but my mom was giving me paper, a pencil and some crayons,” says the Columbus, Georgia, native.

Encouraged by an art teacher, LaKendra would later work in the print shop of her local school district, eventually receiving an associate’s degree in multimedia design from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Currently, she’s enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, while making a living creating her own digital prints, watercolor and acrylic paintings, sketches and even some custom clothing.

LaKendra describes her work as “grunge art,” something that elicits raw, human emotion while also exploring the themes of empowerment and self-expression. “I feel that in our society, a lot of people are walking around, not doing what they really feel they want to do,” she says. “In my art, I try to express fully how I feel about things. Grunge is just being you and not being afraid to show who you are in the rawest way possible.”

She gets a lot of that inspiration from Miguel, one of her favorite musicians. In fact, LaKendra was able to get a copy of the psychedelic, rainbow-like print she made of the R&B star into the hands of his drummer, who then gave it to Miguel, who then shouted her out on Twitter. “I cried,” she admits. “I’ve been in love with his music since like 2006.”

Then there’s the painting she did of Frank Ocean, which she drew on a paper bag she got after buying a Tyler, the Creator album. “There was a song that was playing when I was walking out of the store and it was ‘White’ by Frank Ocean,” says LaKendra. “I just felt inspired. I didn’t have a sketchbook, I didn’t have anything but the paper bag, so I took the CD out and said, ‘I guess this is my medium now.’”

For LaKendra, inspiration can also veer toward the more personal. In the “Catch,” she drew a beautiful, Afro’d woman, surrounded by different colors, cityscapes and Biblical phrases. The piece came at a point of career frustration, when she thought she wouldn’t be able to afford to travel and show her work at an art festival. “I guess you could say I thought all hope was lost,” she admits, noting the resulting piece is one of her deeper works. “I have words in that painting — words like ‘frustration,’ words like ‘love,’ words like ‘confused.’ The colors all reflect how I was feeling, because I have red in there for anger, but I also have blue in there for trying to stay calm.”

Whether she’s portraying them realistically in watercolor, or in a psychedelic, mystical way with acrylics, LaKendra’s images of black women are all marked with the tag #curvygirls.

“Throughout my childhood, I was bullied for parts of my body I couldn’t control,” she says. “Being a black woman, I’m curvy and people always talk about my lips because they’re larger. As I got older, I noticed that more women were going through this and it honestly infuriated me. These are women being discriminated and treated terribly because of their natural bodies — beautiful things that God gave us.”

One image in particular is called “Chill Wave,” which shows a woman sitting at the edge of a pool, enjoying her day as an “unbothered black girl,” as LaKendra puts it. It’s her way of sending a message, one that’s helped her become such an excellent, eclectic, promising artist. As she explains, you just have to “go out there, have fun and be yourself.”

— Dan Reilly for Instagram @music

7

Foals’ Guitarist Jimmy Smith on the Benefits of Touring and Hairy Spider Legs

To see more of Jimmy’s photos, check out @jimmyfoals on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

There are two kinds of musicians — those who like being on tour, and those who hate being on tour. Foals’ guitarist Jimmy Smith (@jimmyfoals) is the former.

“You feel like a bit of a renegade, going against the flow of normal society,” he says over the phone, freshly off a recent set of shows across Europe. “The very first time I went on tour, I went to a service station and saw all these people commuting or picking up their coffees, and we were just operating on such a different time scale. Musicians are allowed to go careening around the world doing whatever they want.”

Well, successful ones like the members of Foals are. One of the buzzier indie bands of the late 2000s, Foals quickly became cool kid darlings, booked gigs at Glastonbury and Coachella and now trot all over the globe selling out big venues. Last month, they released their fourth album, What Went Down, which opens with the vicious, muscular title track that sees the guys taking a victory lap smack dab in its middle. Don’t be too intimidated by their swagger, though.

“Bands who seem so effortlessly cool always impress me. Because you know they’re going through the same stuff every band goes through. They’re probably nervous. You’re always a little bit nervous,” Jimmy says. “If you think about it too much, it is quite a strange thing going onstage and playing music for loads of people. It’s really easy to freak yourself out. The best thing to do is not think about it.”

In service of not thinking about it, the bandmates aim to spend their days on tour distracting themselves from the looming “black cloud” of the show. Their latest method is finding a basketball court near the bus and shooting hoops, but drinking cheap wine and eating tapas works, too. Or getting caught up in the animal world, like Jimmy.

“I was obsessed with nature documentaries as a kid,” he says. “I used to think I had some sort of special connection with animals. Even now there’s a spider on my balcony and it’s pretty amazing just to sit there and look at its hideous hairy legs.”

Jimmy grew up in and around Oxford, England, and played the piano and a classical guitar his mother left lying around the house. He joined the school band and bought an electric guitar by the time he was 15, but picked geography as his major in university. After he graduated, he joined Foals while working a “rubbish” data entry job.

In comparison to poking at a keyboard all day, the cons of touring — “trying to sort out what sort of condition you’re in, how bad the hangover is and whether a good juice will get rid of it or whether it needs a Bloody Mary” — are cake. So much so that when Jimmy’s off, all he wants to do is be back on.

“Sufjan Stevens’ album this year was a big inspiration, and I saw him play a couple days ago. There’s an absolute magic in watching a good band play a good show. I always get really jealous, especially if we’re not touring and it’s time off,” he says. “Touring is relentless. It’s really bad for you. Physically and mentally it can be draining. But I just wanna be doing it.”

– Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music