ACL Interviews: Phoenix
Let the ATH ACL festival madness begin! So we’ve started off light with a few spotlights on lesser known ACL artists and now we’re really getting serious with artist interviews. Last year we spoke to some pretty big bands and we hope to reach as many artists as we can this year. To start off our interview series, we have none other than French pop hit makers Phoenix. Guitar player Christian Mazzalai recently sat down with us to chat a bit about his now 10 year old band. Follow the jump for full interview.
ATH: The new album has a lot more electronic presence, as far as synthesizers and what not….was this a concious decision to make a more dance appropriate album, or the natural evolution of the group?
Christian: Well we had really done it before on the first album so it was more of just a natural progression for us. It was really a natural thing to go that way.
ATH: You’ve been hitting the festival circuit pretty hard this year with the likes of Bonarroo and now ACl. As a group, or do you get more out of the quaint atmosphere of a smaller venue, or out of a large festival audience?
Christian: We love both really. The best is playing a really small venue and then playing the big stages so you can see the nice contrast. Not sure I actually have a preference for either one.
ATH: Having had a career spanning a decade have you noticed much change in the way bands are run these days, especially abroad? Is it easier/harder?
Christian: As far as relationships go, it’s really about the same with everyone. For us we feel like we have a lot more control over things with the internet and things like that. We can give things directly to our fans and don’t have to go through the long processes you used to have to go through. So it’s a little bit of the same, but also some things are different.
ATH: Has the rising popularity of file sharing/internet download helped or hindered Phoenix’s progress as a band?
Christian: It has done nothing but help us. I mean we were able to give a song away for free before the album came out and we didn’t even currently have a record label. The internet is so big and it’s so easy to make things available to so many people. We may be less rich because of it but we have a lot more freedom with our music and that’s what’s important to us anyway.
ATH: Being from France was appearing on Saturday Night Live as major of milestone than it would be for a band stateside? Did it feel like just another gig?
Christian: It was a very big thing for us. I mean we knew it was going to be big but then we got here and it was a huge deal and it was a really unique experience to us. We had so many rehearsals and so many actors were around and you realize how much pressure you are really under to do well. Like if you screw up, a million people will see it but that’s what makes it kind of beautiful really. It was a huge deal here.
ATH: Can you give us a description of the French music scene, as we’ve never been to France, and all we get are the bands that are large enough to make it abroad. Do you consider yourself part of this scene, or a reaction to it?
Christian: We are very much a part of the music scene in France. I would say that a lot of the bands here are all primarily electronic like Air, Daft Punk and Justice. We are all friends with those guys and we are all part of the French scene. We all also work very hard at making and producing our own music without any compromises. That’s what the French scene is all about.
ATH: What’s some current music you can’t live without?
Christian: I really like the Dirty Projectors, they are very good. We also like Grizzly Bear a lot. Those are the two main bands we follow. We of course like the great Serge Gainsbourg and like that he is getting more popularity currently.
ATH: It’s been a while since you guys have come to Austin. What are you looking forward to most?
Christian: We played Antones the last time we were there and we really love that place. Austin is very exotic and we are really happy when we are there. We also love the cheap American beer you guys have. It’s mostly shit to us but we like it… Like PBR. If I can drink PBR in the streets of Austin, then I’m happy.
Well I think that can be arranged Christian! Looking forward to seeing you guys at ACL and thanks again for making the time for us. You can catch the guys live at ACL fest on Friday at 4:30 on the AMD (West) stage.
Thanks to nathan.lankford and mwilliamrice for jumping on board and helping with the interview.