from Lisa Schneider
There are favorite bands because they remind you of special moments in life. A love that was small, medium, and maybe huge, regardless of whether it was romantic or not. There are favorite bands that find you again after so many years, maybe because you’re moving and someone has to pack the boxes, but maybe because they’re still around, still making music – and just released a new album. Phoenix calls this current seventh album “Alpha Zulu”.
Most of the world music press is happy. Some allowed themselves phrases like “as good as Wolfgang Amadeus Fenix‘, the fourth Grammy-winning album released in 2009. Of course that’s not true, the hit of the same name is one, but it’s almost terrible (a mirror in Versailles shattered for every “huh”). It was at the castle, in a rented out suite, that Phoenix wrote these new songs.
But what the band is still able to do almost unprecedentedly, and that should be measured in the ‘favorite band’ tank in 2023, is perform live. It’s bombastic, gorgeous, and all the other big words fit only to a lesser extent on the “Alpha Zulu” album itself.
Phoenix has been on tour across the USA and enjoyed very good support work there, as they told us backstage at Columbia Halle in Berlin. Laurent Brankowitz, gently disheveled and wearing a very French scarf, Thomas Mars, more elegant than a rock star should be, perched on a black leather sofa. The surrounding space does not match the answers that the two give, they must be told – several times and with excessive enthusiasm – during the interview: You really paint beautiful pictures with words. When the aforementioned idea came up in the conversation, about bands, favorite moments in life (and partners) and a certain CD (it was, of course, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”), which was played a lot when we were driving together. Laurent says it’s good to hear. Because that’s exactly what they want to do: write music for the car. For the car as a space in itself, because it has a good atmosphere, a tonal intensity, but also, of course, for the idea that many have already followed: music for movement, music that wants to go forward.
Porches is the name of the support act for their USA tour, so every night Phoenix watched Aaron Maine and pop art highlights live, from different angles and in different states of mind (“A tour is a circus!”). If you could currently see another band playing every night, it would be Californian punk duo The Garden. Thomas Mars pulls out his cell phone, curses at something in French that requires an advanced level of French to understand, and then finds a picture of the group. The following words are spoken in such beautifully accented English that just writing them here would never do them justice: Oktoberfest, Commedia Dell’Arte, and Lederhose. Everything Please is too stretched, too emphatic, too cliched! Presentation in French.
Favorite songs fm4
Musicians talk about the songs that changed their lives. Always Sundays from 4 pm to 5 pm With Granada, AZE, KeKe, Wanda, Farce, Fuzzman, Danger Dan, and many more.
The Phoenix’s other favorite song catalog is, in the case of Thomas and Laurent, reasonably outdated. Brian Wilson, The Beatles, Joy Division. Also Neil Young, because Phoenix met him backstage in 2009 at the aforementioned Grammy Awards. Nice guy, like Paul McCartney anyway.
But let’s stay with the beautiful stories, which of course Phoenix is also ready in the scenes of the ugly, gray, gray winter Berlin – after all, they have been working on it for years, as they say themselves. Brian Wilson is a kind of “supercomputer” who beats everyone else in terms of harmony, tempo sequences, etc. Homer has something to do with John Lennon of course, and Thomas Mars forgets his lines on stage quite regularly. Perhaps the audience doesn’t notice and just thinks they’ve been asked to sing out loud, I’m interfering — especially when that happens with hits like “Long Distance Call.” “Actually, no,” Thomas Mars smiles as someone no longer needs to keep secrets. But the fact that people pray his songs without batting an eyelid no matter how hard always surprises and moves him. Soon he will be able to try it in Linz too: at the end of June, Phoenix will be part of the excellent group at the Lido Sounds festival. That was not the case!
Favorite songs fm4
Musicians talk about the songs that changed their lives. Every Sunday from 4-5pm with Ezra Foreman, AZE, KeKe, Wanda, Farce, Betterov, Danger Dan, Mavi Phoenix and many more.
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