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Foals' Yannis Philippakis Announces New Project With Late Fela Kuti Drummer Tony Allen

Allen, a legendary drummer who popularized Afrobeat alongside Fela Kuti, died in 2020.

yannis philippakis tony allen
Source: MEGA

The collaboration has been in the works since 2017.

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Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis has officially announced a new project with Tony Allen, the pioneering Nigerian Afrobeat drummer who died in 2020.

"Introducing…Yannis & The Yaw. New music featuring Tony Allen coming next week," Philippakis wrote on Instagram on April 10 alongside a brief preview of new music.

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The upcoming collaboration has been in the works since at least 2017, years before Allen's passing. "I've been writing with Tony Allen, Fela Kuti’s drummer," Philippakis told NME at the time. “I started doing some tracks with him last year and then I was on tour. So I went back to finish them in Paris. So he’s writing a record and hopefully some of the tracks we’ve been working on will be on that album.”

"It was awesome," Philippakis said of working with Allen. "He's 76. He smokes hash all day. He drinks whiskey. He basically invented a genre with Fela Kuti. He’s like an octopus on the drumkit. He’s an incredible drummer ... It's been a real honor to get to write with him. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been writing bits here and there, but I don’t know if it’s for Foals yet. We’re not in a hurry."

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tony allen
Source: MEGA

'He’s like an octopus on the drum kit. He’s an incredible drummer' Philippakis said of Allen.

Philippakis gave an update on the project last year, telling NME, "The songs have amazing grooves obviously, with Tony Allen on drums. They’re quite dirty, quite rough, fun, polyrhythmic, and some of them are quite uplifting. There’s something generally liberating about having a separate project. It feels like a holiday, in a way. Even thought I always put 100 per cent of myself into everything, by virtue of it not being a Foals project it feels liberating in certain ways.

"The lyrics are slightly different and slightly more political. They’re less introspective and have more of a social edge. I was walking to studio in Paris through trash-filled streets due to the strikes, so some of that crept in. I don’t want to give too much away. I want it to be a document of the time that we were together in Paris and for it to be faithful to this Parisian band with Tony as the drummer."

"It’s pretty done now," he added. “We’re in the very final mixes. David Wrench has mixed it. It’s going to come out next year. I need to figure out how to present it to the world and come up with a name for it. Hopefully we’ll play some shows to honor the project and to honor Tony. I’m really excited and think people are going to love it.”

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When Allen died in 2020, Philippakis took to Instagram to share a tribute.

"RIP my friend Tony," he wrote. "One of the great joys of my life was to have had the chance to spend time with you & make some beautiful music together which will hopefully see the light of day soon."

"He was a beautiful & strong man. Funny, irreverent & wise. He emitted an energy like no other. Will be drinking & blasting yr records out tonight. Thank you for everything. The master has left the building but his drums play on forever."


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