Published Jun 09, 2017French foursome Phoenix are responsible for some of the most uplifting pop-rock anthems of the past decade. They've wowed fans with big-tent bangers like "1901" and "Entertainment," and the new album Ti Amo (out now on Glassnote) is packed with yet more dazzling synths and titanic choruses. The album will be a guaranteed favourite at summer barbecues, but its breezy sound is actually the product of a long and arduous creative process.
The struggles that Phoenix endured while creating this latest feel-good album were partly circumstantial (harrowing terror attacks, troubling political movements) and partly self-inflicted (recording an absolutely ridiculous 2.8 days worth of music). Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars cheerfully tells Exclaim! about the agony that he and his bandmates put themselves through while recording Ti Amo.
1. Phoenix spend years at a time in the studio, making themselves exhausted in the process.
Thomas Mars: "We go until we are totally exhausted. On this record, a lot of things that ended up on the record came really early, and then it took us a very long time to make sure that we had things that were keeping our interests long enough. When we finish, we are totally burned out — and that's the moment when we have to go on tour."
2. They recorded so much material for Ti Amo that the hardest part was editing it down.
"I think overall we did something like 2.8 days of music. I'm not saying all of it is good — far from it. But the stress of missing the right thing to put on the record is always there."
3. They spent so much time in the studio that they lost the respect of their peers.
"When you're done with touring, you have this glow. People know what you're doing and they respect your work and they look at you like you're someone working and having a creative life. And then after, like, three years in the studio, they look at you like maybe they were wrong. Maybe you're a total scam."
4. Ti Amo is a joyful-sounding record, despite being recorded concurrently with the Paris terror attacks.
"When we were making this record, we were surprised, because we were making a record that was hedonistic and joyful — in total contradiction with what was going on. I think at first we felt slightly guilty, like we had no empathy for the world or something. And then you realize that it's just a selfish way to cope with what's going on. You just look for some light or some beauty or something else. It's not denial, it's not escapism — it's just a world of possibilities that opens up."
5. That said, the rise of France's alt-right didn't affect them too much.
"I live in New York City, so I've seen worse."
Pick up Phoenix's new album on vinyl here.