This year has been busy for French band Phoenix and their catchy, feel-good album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.” The alternative rock band has landed headline slots for music festivals on both sides of the Atlantic including Lollapalooza and Glastonbury.
Currently, Phoenix is preparing for their sold-out concert at Cornell University on Oct. 17.
The band’s guitarist Christian Mazzalai spoke with Staff Writer Jared Dionne about the band’s success in the U.S. as well as what members have up their sleeves for the upcoming tour.
Jared Dionne: You guys have got to be one of the only bands that have a record that has influences of jazz, rhythm and blues and rock. How did you guys become so stylistically diverse?
Christian Mazzalai: No one was listening to music in our town where we grew up. There was only one record shop. I remember the first vinyl I bought was Shaft and then a Neil Diamond EP. It was just pure luck and we discovered music like this. In the shop, there were very few things that were good there.
JD: There was a great deal of evolution between “United” and “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.” How did that happen?
CM: We have to find new ways of writing songs and producing them. For every album we end up trying new things otherwise we are depressed, we are sad.
JD: Were you surprised that an album that had all these European influences became such a hit in the U.S.?
CM: Yes, of course. We never thought it would be successful because when we did it, we really did it just for the four of us. We didn’t want to please everyone with this album, but I don’t know why Americans and everyone in the world find something in this album. It’s very hard to explain. It’s very exotic for you Americans. It’s true we used a lot of European culture in this album; we think that’s the reason behind it. For you, we are like exotic animals.
JD:For those who haven’t seen you live before, what can we expect from your live show?
CM:We prepared some big surprises for this tour. I’m very excited. You can expect a French Revolution with beautiful lights. We still don’t know what we expect, but we worked a lot on doing something very, very special, very unique on this tour.
JD: You guys have won a Grammy and headlined basically every major festival out there. What has been the highlight for you so far?
CM: There are so many American TV shows for us [to play]. You also have fantastic [bands] that I love. Dirty Projectors and Grizzly Bear are two. We go on tour with them and we share things with them. We have so many good memories. It’s crazy.
JD: How excited are you guys to headline at Madison Square Garden (October 20th)?
CM: I cannot believe it and believe me, we are working hard to do something very, very special that night. We have a big surprise for that night. We’re going to play with Dirty Projectors too. They are really the best band right now. We are proud to play with them and play with Wavves. It’s kind of iconic music [for a] big arena. I think that’s a victory for us and our music. We’re going to try and do something that’s iconic that is not usual. We have a big surprise, I cannot tell you, but we have something that we are very excited about.