Singer Yannis Philippakis explained the song's apocalyptic lyrics to NME: "It's like an observer charting the end of the world," he said. "Everything starts collapsing, life as you know it wilts and falls out of the sky, bits of you fall into the ground and then it has a progression and it feels like something's coming near. The sound sweeps over you and the lyrics are an acceptance of your fate. You're happy that this big, white fireball's heading for you."
Philippakis told NME this was recorded in one night - just him and Jimmy Smith (guitar/keyboards]. "We played it for five hours non-stop," he recalled.
The lyrics for this end of the world song was inspired by the opening scene of Melancholia by Lars von Trier, which shows things sliding off the Earth. Philippakis told NME: "I like this image of walking through somewhere and it being the end of days. It's just total, total decay. It's all just matter disintegrating into dust. Then there's a shift in the song and then you're accepting of it. It's like you're almost embracing the white light that's headed for you. It's death. It's one of my favourite songs, that one."
Philippakis admitted to Spinner that he is fascinated by apocalyptic images but doesn't subscribe to any fatalistic views regarding the future. "I don't believe in that doom-mongering, superstitious stuff," he said. "I think it's self-important to think we're going to be present to see the world end. There is a preoccupation with what it will look like, yes. It's virtually depicting a scene where everything was rocking and crumbling."
He added that Holy Fire was named more for pure drama. "It just felt like it was a good title for the record. All five of us agree it evoked the right thing in the record, the right kind of intensity," said Philippakis. "I like these huge words that have a lot of significance, they can make their own kind of a message."
Drummer Jack Bevan told Artist Direct
this is one of the few Foals songs where he had no part in the writing process. He explained: "That song was written by Yannis and Jimmy (Smith, guitar) alone one evening at our studio in Oxford. They went in there with a bottle of whisky and some cigarettes and jammed it out. A lot of our best songs just come out without any laboring. 'Moon' was like that. 'My Number
' came together in an hour or so as well."