Foals announce departure of keyboardist Edwin Congreave: “It’s been a wild ride”

Foals have announced the departure of their keyboard play Edwin Congreave, telling fans that he’s leaving to pursue a postgraduate degree in economics at Cambridge University.

Congreave was a founding member of the band when they formed in Oxford in 2005, but has now parted ways with the band due to his studies and efforts to “mitigate the imminent climate catastrophe”

This leaves Foals as a studio three-piece, following the departure of former bassist Walter Gervers in 2018.

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“We’re sad to say that we played our final show with Edwin Congreave as a member of Foals at All Points East festival in London. It was a helluva way to go out,” said the band in a statement. “After 15 years of sweet music making and surfing the globe together he’s decided to hang up his musical boots to pursue other avenues of life,” the band said of Congreave’s exit. “We met at a cocktail bar one sultry night in Oxford as techno-obsessed drop outs and could never have guessed what we’d achieve and experience in the coming years.

“It’s been a wild ride. We wish him all the best and thank him for everything, our friendship endures. Onwards & upwards friends. We’ve been writing music as a three-piece, which we cannot wait to share with you.

“Big love to Edwin. Yannis, Jimmy and Jack. Foals forever.”

Foals' Edwin Congreave. Credit: Fiona Garden for NME
Foals’ Edwin Congreave. Credit: Fiona Garden for NME

Congreave meanwhile, told fans: “I’d like to thank Yannis, Jimmy, Jack and Walter for inviting me into their nascent, spindly-legged band over 15 years ago. They gave a directionless dropout a desperately needed sense of purpose and belonging. I hope it’s not too melodramatic to say that Foals saved my life – really.  I’ve been moved over the years by messages from fans saying that our music helped shine a path through their hard times too. That will stay with me my whole life.

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“So what’s my new purpose? Next month I’m beginning a postgraduate degree in economics at Cambridge, and I hope in the next couple of years to join others in technical efforts to mitigate the imminent climate catastrophe. The future’s not what it used to be, as a good friend once sang.”

He added: “Music is a balm and a light, and so I couldn’t be prouder to have called myself a musician, and to have played a part in Foals’ journey from indie delinquents to bona fide rock stars. I’ve heard the new album – it is of course brilliant. Looking forward to next year, I’m thrilled to once again be able to watch the UK’s best live band from their best angle – that is, I mean, from the crowd. See you there.”

Hear Foals' new album 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part 2' on NME Radio first
Foals, for NME. Credit: Andy Ford/NME

This comes after Congreave was previously vocal about wanting to quit the band to avoid touring and adding to the climate crisis.

“I think that it would be quite easy for us and a lot of bands to tour differently,” Congreave said in 2020. “I don’t want to fly ever again.”

He continued: “This year I’ve had to kind of look at the question of whether I should be in the band – but if I didn’t go on this tour this summer then the obvious point comes up that someone else would do it. So it’s not like I’m going to stop the flying and I’m just not quite ready to walk out of my job.”

Foals at the Mercury Prize 2019. Credit: Getty

Speaking to NME in 2019, Foals said that they would be discussing “how we tour, how often we tour and where we tour” before heading out on the road again.

“Things are going to change very dramatically, very soon, and that’s inevitable, but there’s change with a capital C which is what’s needed and that’s something else,” said Congrave at the time.

“You can see it in small groups of people, and that’s one of the great things about Extinction Rebellion: you hang out with a small community and the change is already there. There are a lot of forces of darkness to get past.”

In a previous NME cover story, Congreave explained why he was “doing a degree in maths very slowly” in his spare time. “The music industry isn’t the place for mental activity, and I could feel my brain slowly falling apart,” he said. “I found myself getting quite concerned. I took some remedial action and five years later I’m still doing this sodding degree.”

Frontman Yannis Philippakis added: “We’ve come off stage drenched in sweat, there’s a bottle of bourbon getting necked, then within five minutes of us playing ‘Two Steps, Twice’ Edwin will be dry as a bone with his nose in a book. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Foals
Foals at the NME Awards 2020, where they won Best Live Act. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Meanwhile, Foals have been at work on the follow-up album to their 2019 sister albums ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part One’ and ‘Part Two’.

“We can see what the record is, and the future looks fantastic,” Yannis told NME last month. “We’ve been working away and writing all year. We’re just in the last stages of it and it’s feeling like a more optimistic record than the last two. It’ll be a more physical record. We’re really excited to have a record that’s almost ready, but not quite.”

He continued: “Thinking about what has occurred over the last period, we’ve been writing new music as a response to that and to transport ourselves out of that reality and into a brighter future – or just to take us out of the moment,” he said.

Yannis added: “We probably would have done that anyway after the last record, but then with the actual reality of the pandemic I couldn’t bare to write anything too depressing. I feel like the next record is going to be full of light. It’ll be the perfect soundtrack for nights out, being together again and wild abandon.”

Foals’ upcoming tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.

APRIL 2022
 21 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
23 – Utilita Arena, Birmingham
29 – Olympia, London
30 – Olympia, London

MAY 2022
1 – Olympia, London
2 – Olympia, London
5 – Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
6 – Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
8 – O2 Academy Brixton, London

JUNE 2022
29 – Castlefield Bowl, Manchester

JULY 2022
8 – Millennium Square, Leeds

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