Speaking to NME for last week’s Big Read cover story, the band discussed the making of their upcoming new album ‘Alpha Zulu’, which was recorded at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Palais du Louvre.
They also spoke of their kinship with Vampire Weekend, and how the collaboration with Koenig came about. On ‘Tonight’ being a duet, guitarist Laurent Brancowitz said that he was initially hesitant of the format.
“I was saying ‘show me one classic song that’s a duet’”, he told NME. “I was resisting, and then [frontman] Thomas [Mars] came back with a list of duets that were classics and I had to admit I was wrong.”
Of Phoenix’s relationship with Koenig’s band, Mars added: “There’s always been a synchronicity with us and Vampire Weekend.
“A couple years ago, Laurent brought a sample of [Japanese cult star Haruomi] Hosono to us, and then two weeks later we heard the same sample on their song ‘2021’ [from Vampire Weekend’s 2019 album ‘Father of The Bride’].
“We’re curious about the same things and we’re reaching for the same sounds and inspirations,” he added.
Phoenix recently performed ‘Tonight’ on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Koenig was not in the studio for the appearance, with his part handled by a synchronised video that appeared to be the same footage used in the track’s music video.
Watch that performance below.
Elsewhere in the cover feature, the band paid tribute to Philippe Zdar, the late composer and producer who worked with the band throughout their career. Zdar died in 2019 after he suffered an accidental fall from a rooftop in Paris. He was 52 years old.
“He was joy and chaos; a whirlwind,” frontman Thomas Mars said of Zdar. “A producer that you dream of working with. I’m sure that any band that worked with Phillippe came out of it stronger. You can not split after you work with Philippe: he’s a great producer and therapist.”
“He was here in a way, more than ever on this album,” guitarist Christian Mazzalai added. “The first song we wrote for the album, ‘Identical’ [first released in 2020 for Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks], was written just days after he passed. From the beginning to the end, it was impossible to not feel Philippe.”
‘Alpha Zulu’, the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Ti Amo’, will be released on November 4. The group are currently on tour in North America, and will head to the UK and Europe in November.