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Phoenix

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The Creators Project: How important is it important for to you guys that the lights mirror the songs?

Laurent Brancowitz (Guitar): You can really ruin a particular moment if the rhythm of the light show isn’t right. We know that. We work on it a lot. The idea is to create the perfect state of balance. It’s very complex, because if you work on it too much, it just becomes an effect. It should be subtle to be a perfect blend.

Is the lighting guy a member of the band now?

Christian Mazzalai (Guitar) : He is. The lighting guy and the managers and the sound guys. It’s a big family. We really consider them as part of the gang. We are really reluctant of having someone new. We have a test.

You have a test?

LB: It’s very intuitive. It’s like a pack of wolves. It has to work. You don’t know what the chemistry is. But for us it’s very important for us to work with people we like and people we meet through life. We never pick up the best mixer or the best video artist. We are very confident that life will bring us the right people—and that’s what's happened. Everything we've done was been with people we me through life in its most poetic form, you know?

You’ve been together for ten years now. It must be very interesting to see how much more important the live show has become in terms of connecting to the audience—in terms of the live show as an event.

LB: Yeah, that’s really true.

Much more of your lifeblood than selling records.

LB: When we grew up in Versailles there was no live music, so we discovered music through records. For a long time, records were music for us. Then gradually we discovered real life—the magic that can happen in it.

How do you prepare for a show?

LB: A lot of martinis.

So you have been on tour with this album for a long time, right? LB: Yeah.

And you still have to do all the summer festivals. How do you stay sane within your brotherhood?

LB: The key is to improve and to change things. Whenever there is a moment when we don’t have new ideas for a live show, or to change things, that’s the moment when we stop. We just do another album. But right now we still have a lot of things to test, and to improve. And this feeling is really making it work. The feeling of this quest. And then there will be a moment where we won’t have any more ideas. This will be a moment of solitude. This is going to be the moment where we are going to just write new songs and start from scratch.

Maybe this fall?

LB: Yeah, this fall. We never write new songs on tour. It’s a rule that happened. Because songs written on tour are just bad—for us.

Are they? Why?

LB: I don’t know. We need a lot of time.

CM: Because they are not connected with reality. We need to take bikes and the subway to write solid songs, you know?

LB: Yeah, it’s true. You have free things everywhere on tour.

CM: Free martinis at 2PM, you know? It’s not reality. But we love it. It’s a danger, but it’s fantastic.

But it doesn’t produce good songs?

CM: If we write a song right now, on tour, it’s going to be a bad song. But I think we might take something from where we are now in six months. Just memories, lots of memories. Two years, all combined. It will lead us somewhere.

How do you choose your set list? Does it depend on what mood you’re in on the night, or is it quite set?

CM: Choosing the set list is the only moment where we argue, and we can really fight.

Fisticuffs?

CM: Almost.

LB: I never care. It’s a moment when I think about something else.

CM: He never cares. But the others, we are really fighting every night.

LB: But you can really ruin an evening with the wrong set list. Maybe not ruin it, but you can waste a moment of grace that could have happened. That’s a frustration, when you feel that it could have been amazing. Sometimes the set list is the reason, but it’s very complicated.

CM: When you try to analyze a concert, there are so many elements between the songs—the way you play them, the connection between us and them, all the little brains of the audience. So many brains, you know? The chemistry—it’s unpredictable. So, yeah, a single detail can collapse everything. It can be the setlist. But we always argue about details, even on records. Never argue about the main things—only details.

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At a glance

Pop music's greatest hope.

Names: Thomas Mars, Deck D'Arcy, Christian Mazzalai, and Laurent Brancowitz
Location: Paris, France
Profession: Musicians
Labels: Cooperative Music, Glassnote, V2 Records, Loyauté
Discography: Grammy Award-winning album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009); It's Never Been Like That (2006); Live! Thirty Days Ago (2005); Alphabetical (2004); United (2000)
Phoenix uses:
     • Yamaha CS80      • Korg Trident      • Roland JX 3P      • Yamaha VSS 200      • SK5      • Fender Bullet      • Fender Telecaster      • Fender Mustang Bass      • Fender Twin Amp      • Novanex Amp      • Esoteric Audio Research      • DigiDesign Comp/Lim      • Bitcrusher      • Vintage Ibanez Compressor      • Big Muff Fuzz      • VST Receptor 2 Player      • Kontakt 5 Virtual Sampler      • Custom Doepfer Midi Controllers
Connect:
     • Facebook: Phoenix / V2 Records      • Twitter: Phoenix / V2 Records      • MySpace: Phoenix / V2 Records