“This is the best spot we’ve ever done an interview in,” Phoenix’s frontman Thomas Mars proclaims, as we sit on the edge of the lake at Western Springs Stadium, backstage before the legendary French band play their first ever New Zealand show - and I would have to agree.
Coup De Main spoke with Phoenix as the sun was setting on a late Summer’s day, and the thudding bass of Future’s set could be heard in the distance - about finally making it to New Zealand, what they find rewarding about the band, and more…
We were like a distillery, in the end there’s just one drop from all the work.
COUP DE MAIN: It’s your first time in New Zealand! How are you enjoying New Zealand so far?
PHOENIX - THOMAS MARS: It’s amazing. Devonport was like Connecticut, and then it turned into, I guess, New Zealand.
CDM: You covered Whitney’s song ‘No Woman’ recently as part of Triple J’s Like A Version. What was it about that song that made you want to cover it?
THOMAS: We toured with them.
PHOENIX - CHRISTIAN MAZZALAI: We toured with them, and it was the last song on their set when they were playing, so it was a ritual for us to hear this song. It’s a very powerful song for us.
CDM: “For every seven hours of recorded stuff, the band ended up with one minute on the album,” you shared in your interview with GQ. How do you decide what makes the album?
THOMAS: I would say it’s less. Probably, 70 hours turned into one minute.
CHRISTIAN: That’s why it’s very long, there’s no real-- every album is a new recipe.
THOMAS: We were like a distillery, in the end there’s just one drop from all the work. It’s comforting because I know we’re not the only ones that have this system. I don’t think we have more-- there’s a great quote, ‘I don’t have more genius, I have more method.’ So every record we have a method, and we take a lot of pleasure in creating this method. We enjoy the path that leads to making an album more and more, because we know it is essential to enjoy it.
MY FAVOURITE SONG ON 'TI AMO' IS...
CDM: Do you prefer writing and recording music, or touring with an album?
THOMAS: It’s very satisfying for us as musicians, because you have a wide spectrum of things to mess with. When we’re making the album, or writing a score for a movie, we were also working on the production for this show, we were making all the music videos, so when we get bored of doing something, we do something that’s different. It’s very fulfilling, and also the fact that the four of us are in this together, the pressure is not just on one person.
CDM: What’s the most rewarding part about being in Phoenix?
CHRISTIAN: When we find something, when it’s working - it’s the best feeling.
THOMAS: Building something together. It’s even more rewarding when it’s an adventure when you build something and you see the result, but the fact that you each contributed and it worked together and you’re all satisfied, that’s when we know a record is done. The four of us-- that’s the only signal we have that the record is done, when we’re all relieved and ready to let go.
HOW WE FEEL ABOUT FINALLY PLAYING IN NEW ZEALAND...
CDM: Christian, 'Bankrupt!' featured some toy keyboard sounds that you found in a pawn shop. Have you guys found any more vintage pieces of equipment recently?
CHRISTIAN: All the time.
THOMAS: We are beta testers and nerds when it comes to musical instruments.
CDM: One of my favourite things you guys have done was feature in Bill Murray’s ‘A Very Murray Christmas’, as the chefs! Is it fun for you to be a part of things like this, which are totally separate to your work within the band?
THOMAS: It’s fun as long as it has a bond with music.
CHRISTIAN: There’s a scene where--
THOMAS: Oh true, there’s a scene when we’re chefs and we enjoyed it.
CHRISTIAN: Because we had the best person [Bill Murray] in the world with us. It was a very unique moment, we were stuck, it was really snowing outside the hotel, it was a crazy night.
THOMAS: It was four in the morning, and everybody was very drunk.
Phoenix’s album ‘Ti Amo’ is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the ‘Role Model’ music video below…