The French band Phoenix is made up of Thomas Mars (lead vocals, drums), Deck d’Arcy (bass, keyboards), Christian Mazzalai (guitar) and Laurent Brancowitz (guitar). The group rose to fame with their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
Now, Phoenix is back with a new album released last year called Alpha Zulu. The record is a return to form for the band, with its catchy melodies and anthemic choruses.
How did you approach writing this album?
Thomas: We wanted to make an album that we would enjoy listening to. We write for the four of us, and if we like it, we hope others like it too. But we don’t think too much about what other people might think.
Christian: We also wanted to experiment a bit more on this album. We tried different things and pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones.
What are some of the new elements you experimented with?
Christian: On this album, we used a lot of synthesizers and drum machines. We also incorporated more electronic elements into our sound.
Thomas: I think the biggest change for us was the way we wrote the songs. In the past, we would start with a guitar riff or a drum beat. But on this album, we started with ideas for melodies and lyrics first. Then we built the song around that. It was a different way of working for us, but it was really fun.
What was the inspiration behind the album’s title, Alpha Zulu?
Thomas: It’s a military term that means “first light.” We liked the idea of starting anew and having a fresh start. And we thought it sounded cool [laughs].
What are some of your favorite tracks on the album?
Christian: I really like “J-Boy” and “Ti Amo.” They’re both really catchy and have great melodies.
Thomas: I also really like “J-Boy” – it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. I also really like “Tuttifrutti” – it’s a bit more experimental and has this dark, mysterious vibe that I really like.
What was the recording process like for this album?
Thomas: We recorded the album in Paris and Los Angeles. We worked with our friend Philippe Zdar, who is a great producer. He helped us capture our live energy on the record.
Christian: It was a really fun process. We would work all day in the studio, and then go out and have dinner together and listen to music. It was a great experience.