Cast your mind back to 2009.
The iPhone 3G was released, Gossip Girl was at its peak and Obama became president. A little-known band from Versailles also released their breakthrough record, featuring what was possibly the catchiest song of the decade: ‘Lisztomania’.
Now, eight years later, Phoenix has dropped its sixth studio album, Ti Amo.
Spending close to three years in the studio, Thomas Mars, Deck d'Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz have produced their most romantic release yet.
We were lucky enough to steal some time with Deck to discuss making music, solo projects and 30 years of Phoenix.
I’ve just been playing your new album, and I’m so excited Phoenix is back! Did you always plan to have such a long break between records?
(Laughs) Well, thank you. It’s always like this with every album. This time we stayed in the studio for about two and a half years, which is pretty average for us. We’re pretty slow and we like to take the time to make it right. We wish it could be faster but it’s impossible, I’m afraid.
I heard you guys rented an old Parisian operetta house to record in. What was that experience like?
Actually, I’m in here at the moment.
It’s basically a former operetta house of the 19th century. It used to be an old amusement park in the ’80s and then they renovated it into a digital arts centre.
It was very inspiring for us because we’ve always made music in a studio. It was a new vibe being in the middle of something very active.
We know we have a pretty strong DNA in the way we make music, so we try to change everything else... the location, the instruments, the setup... having a new way to record and a new way to produce stuff. We need to break our rules and habits.
Everything about this new album seems influenced by Italy. What drew you guys to Italian culture?
Originally, it wasn’t a concept at all. It just came out this way when we started improvising with the new setup.
We were recording a lot of stuff and some was coming out in Italian, which is a bit weird because Thomas doesn’t speak Italian. We have two half-Italian brothers in the band though. We’d been listening to a lot of Italian music in the last few years too, and it just subconsciously came through.
We never decided ‘OK we’re going to do something in Italian’, because it would never work anyway. Everything we try to do never works. I really mean it. We accept that we shouldn’t try to control it, as it won’t work. We just let it go and keep what feels good.
You guys have been together for a fair while now. It’s not uncommon to see bands come and go, and band members change. But you guys have been very consistent for the past 20 years. Do you attribute that to anything?
It’s funny, this comes up quite a lot at the moment. I suppose it’s fascinating.
It’s actually been more like 30 years. We were school friends, we met when we were very young – about six or seven. So we didn’t find each other in an ad in a music magazine, we just grew up together and listened to the same music. Our values are quite similar too.
We’ve also accepted that individually, we’re pretty weak. We absolutely do not make music by ourselves. We can’t. When we are together, I guess something is happening because we hit record and play shows, and people seem to enjoy some songs. Individually it’s a catastrophe (laughs).
So we won’t get any Phoenix solo projects any time soon?
I don’t think so. There has never been any temptation of that. Everything I’ve just said might sound a bit romantic, but I think it’s true.
What’s next for you guys after your American tour? Any plans to come Down Under?
I hope so! Australia is well-known for having an amazing crowd. It’s not just me saying that, every band in the world says that. It's so fun to play in Australia.
My daughter is half Australian too, so I definitely love Australia. I think something is getting prepared for Australia. I can’t say now, but if you want to know, I’m sure soon you will.
Ti Amo is out now.
This interviewiwas originally published in Fashion Journal 169. You can read it here.