From Karpathos to the charts

«I have nothing to do with Alex Kapranos. First of all he’s blond,» says Yannis Philippakis jokingly of the lead vocalist of Franz Ferdinand to Kathimerini. The next Greek leader of the British rock scene, Philippakis is the 20-year-old frontman of the Foals, a band which has won kudos from the British press. Philippakis was 5 years old when he left Greece, along with his mother – an anthropologist – to set up home in Oxford. He attended school there and would return to spend his summers in Olympos, on Karpathos. At the age of 12 he heard the band Nirvana for the first time and «that’s when I said that I wanted to form a band,» he states. He continued with his studies, concentrating on English philosophy at Oxford University, but once he met the rest of the members of the group, fellow university students, he stopped studying and took up his guitar and the microphone. «My father was disappointed that I stopped studying but he supported me. He even bought me my first guitar. He is creative and understands what it is like to be driven by passion. He graduated in hagiography at the Athens School of Fine Arts, followed by architecture. He lives and works in Olympos and, in his free time, makes traditional folk instruments. I think that it is thanks to him that I have my love for music. He wished to turn me into a true born Olympitis and from a young age he taught me to dance the folk traditional songs and sing.» In Britain, Philippakis did not become well known thanks to his folk-singing skills but due to the band’s powerful guitar pop sound and the surrealistic lyrics that he writes himself. Starting out in student rooms and at parties, the Foals went on to produce three successful singles, «Hummer,» «Mathletics» and «Balloons,» followed by a much-coveted signing with a record label for their recently released first album «Antidotes.» «It’s the music of the iPod generation,» he says when describing the band’s sound. «We are influenced by New York punk and the funk beats and our sound represents the problems and feelings of 20-somethings.» One of the songs on the album is «Olympic Airways.» It is not criticism of Greece’s awkward national airline but more a nostalgic song that Philippakis wrote because of his «beautiful memories from my flights with Olympic.» In Britain, the press speak of their recent rise and strength on the indie scene and how they are touching the peak, dubbing the Foals the new Radiohead. Philippakis, however, remains grounded. «If these things had not been written about the group, it is very likely that we would not be speaking now,» he states. «It is a well-known fact that the way the media presents new bands may end up being the catalyst for the group’s catastrophe.»

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