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.”
Could u do one where Chloe is sad about something and Beca comforts her and cuddles her and is just super sweet to her
Beca’s phone lit up in the middle of her full-studio meeting, hidden beneath the table on her thigh, and though she’d ignored the series of messages from the Bella groupchat (The Pitches) and a certain “Aca-husband”, when she read that the message was from “Jiggle Juice <3″, she swiped right and unlocked her screen.
What’re you doing
Her boss rambled on, trying to get the television screens to work yet again, so she quickly typed a reply.
At work. What’s up?
Nevermind. My head’s not being too nice, is all.
Beca bit her lip, then, trying to make her grasp on her phone not obvious. Because the text was more than worrisome, and Beca considered the things that might be occurring to make Chloe break her facade even the slightest bit. Because the world might have considered Beca to be the closed-off broody one, they only did that because Chloe was infinitely better at distancing, closing-up, hiding. When Beca drew strict lines to keep her feelings tight, Chloe erased those lines completely, lowering everyone’s defenses so that they wouldn’t ever realize she needed help too.
Because where Beca had almost permanent storm-clouds on the horizon, Chloe was the sunshine girl. She was the girl who cried through her tears, or danced, or sang, or ran. Chloe was never the cut, she was the band-aid, decked out in Disney princesses or something of equal swagger. And though Beca knew that Chloe had her own set of stormy voices, neither she nor any of the other Bellas ever got the chance to hear them.
So a hint of badness or sadness or fear was enough to send Beca into a panic. Even worded to be candy sweet, it was dark for Chloe, and Beca immediately responded.
Sirius was strolling even though he had just 2 minutes for his 5-minutes walk to class.There would be ba new teacher today. Old Sluggy finally decided that he had enough. Too bad that happened when James decided that this class wasn’t for him. Now Sirius would have followed him.
But he liked this class and that didn’t have anything to do with the cute hipster in the class. Nothing at all. Just because Sirius tried and failed to gather the bollocks to chat him up during an entire semester doesn’t mean he was crushing on him. Not crushing at all. No sir.
I mean, everyone spends half of the lecture admiring their fellow students. Sirius knew the number of deep creases on Remus’ bottom lip, or that he usually worried his bottom lip with his sharp canine or that he almost wear a beanie. He had beanies of almost every colour. Okay, he conceded, amybe he was crushing. Just a little though.
Arriving in class, he stopped dead in his tracks. A small woman, dressed entirely in pink was smiling sweetly at him. Though the smile did not reach her eyes, which looked positively beady.
She let out a high-pitched giggle( Sirius almost expected a croak) and beckoned him.
“And you are?”
“Sirius Black.” He answered with his usual swagger though he felt himself a bit intimidated.
She giggled again and Sirius felt himself cringing again. “Well Mr Black. You will not be late again to class from now on. You will sit here.” She pointed to a seat and shit, it was just in front of cute hispter Remus. “I am your new Professor, Dolores Umbridge.”
“Now now I’ve heard terrible accidents happened here.” Dolores said.
“Sounds like your birth” Sirius heard Remus mutter and he almost had to choke a snort.
“Here are some rules that you will follow in my class: You will wear appropriate clothes to class.”
“So not like your ice-cream flavored horror dress” Sirius actually snorted this time. Umbridge turned her eyes on him and raised her eyebrows but said nothing.
“You will not talk in class.”
“‘Think’ seems like the word” Remus muttered.
And that continued for the rest of the class. At some point Umbridge even questioned him but he could only shake his head while he had a constipated look on his face form holding laughter.
At the end of the class, his face was all red. He was already making his way out when he heard a slight raspy voice calling him. “Hey are you alright? You look a bit red in the face.”
That was just his luck. On the only day that his face looked like an over-ripe tomato, his crush decided to talk to him.
“Erm yes. I’m fine. Grand even. Spectacular. Grandiose.” He wanted to slap himself. Spectacular? Grandiose? What was wrong with him?
Remus simply raised an eyebrow but he looked amused at least. “Okay then. I’m Remus Lupin.” He extended his hand.
“Sirius.” Sirius was pleased to note that his hand was warm, slightly calloused and how well it fitted into his.
Remus pulled his hand back and Sirius immedaitely felt the loss. “Well I’ll see you around.” He was already making his way when Sirius blurted out loud and all of a sudden. “WILL YOU HAVE A COFFEE WITH ME?” Remus turned slowly. He was smirking the bastard and Sirius felt himself flushing hard. Again.
And that was how they found themselves walking to the Uni cafe. Remus was swishing his hips ever so slightly and Sirius found himself captivated by the movement. He even kept brushing their hands and shoulders. The worse was him smirking each time he did that. He knew the effect he had on Sirius and was actually enjoying him looking all flushed.
Remus placed the order for both of them and joined Sirius at the table. Remus purposely sat really closed to him, with their thighs pressing against each other and their shoulders brushing all so often.
Sirius found all his concentration navigate to where their bodies were touching and to Remus’ mouth, which was moving but apparently, he hadn’t catch one word of what he had say. Remus licked his lips-his pink tongue `brushing on his bottom lip and then, he smirked.
“Sorry what? I didn’t catch that.” Sirius mumbled while being captivated by those amber orbs now.
Remus smiled. “I was actually asking you on a date with me. I mean, I’m throwing all those signs at you and you’re not even responding. So I thought I’d just ask you out.”
“YES!” Sirius let out and blushed immediately. “Sorry, I mean yes, I would love to go on a date with you.”
Remus winked at him and took his hand, rubbing his thumb over his knuckles. “This okay?” Sirius nodded. “Now will you tell me why you were so red after class?”
“It’s because of you!” Remus actually looked taken aback. “I mean I heard all your snarky comments about that Umbridge and had to hold all my laughter.”
Remus blinked at him and then, laughed. A full belly laugh, with actual tears flowing on his cheeks.
They discussed for some more time and lived happy ever after together.