It is hard to say where collaboration like Phoenix really began, but we do know one thing for sure. Just like Rome, it was not built in a day. It all began in France when two close friends by the names of Thomas Mars. Jr and Deck D’Arcy decided to play music together solely as a little something to do after school. They both improved, and were soon joined by their third member, Christian Mazzalai. Circa 1991, the three musicians formed their own garage band with Mars as their vocalist, Mazzalai on guitar, and D’Arcy on bass. With no record deal, the band was limited to temporary gigs at bars, coffee houses, and any place else that would give them a shot. However, this changed in 1995 when a new member was recruited; Laurent Broncowitz.
Broncowitz was put on guitar right after becoming part of the band, which finally allowed the foursome to finish their search for musicians and officially name the band Phoenix. Two years later, the band created their own record label known as Ghetto Blaster. This was a dream come true and a huge milestone for the band, considering that now they could finally record their own tracks and distribute them to millions of potential fans. That same year, they began their first 2-track EP entitled Party Time. Only 500 copies were distributed, and they did not really gain too much recognition until a few recording sessions later. The next year, the foursome began to catch the eye of a record label Source, which signed them immediately after hearing a few of their tracks. Once they were signed, fans came pouring in when their first real album was released.
In June of 2000, the band’s first and one of their most popular albums was completed entitled United. Less than a month after its release, Phoenix’s beats were being played at clubs, restaurants, and was even back ordered all over the UK, Europe, and US. However, like in anything else, there is always a bad thing that comes with all the good. The men and woman back in Phoenix’s homeland, France, disagreed with the way that they were going about producing their music. Phoenix told many newspapers that they refused to sing in French because they wanted to remain popular to Americans, which made French music critics angry. They were even called “little rich kids” that made poppy Californian music (stated by French newspaper Liberation in June 2000). To please their critics in France, Phoenix decided to add a French twist in some of their songs, which for the most part, satisfied the critics.
Four years, Phoenix was riding off the success from their first album. The band had the most trouble producing music in 2004 when they had to go through several trials before actually releasing their second album. After a lot of tedious and hard work the band released their Album Alphabetical in March of 2004. Surprisingly, this album pleased the French critics by fixing their last mistake and making their music a mix of French and American styled beats. By that spring, the foursome was back on tour and making it big. They even expanded their horizons to Japan and Germany where they played several gigs in April of that same year.
In 2006, Phoenix decided to go all out with their new album It’s Never Been Like That. This album quickly gained popularity in the United States. It’s Never Been Like That was a little different then the rest of their albums because their new record label EMI decided to try something different. Basically, instead of the normal 12 track CD, this also contained a small biography of the band and how they made it to where they are. They used pictures and short statements, and at the end of the little booklet there was a website where fans could go and legally download previews of their songs. This album’s huge success got them even more exposure, and shortly after the album was released, they were asked to record a new song for the upcoming movie Marie Antoinette.
I just came across this band very recently, and after listening to a few of their songs, I can honestly say that I’m hooked on them. My favorite album by far is It’s Never Been Like That because of its originality. The fact that they thought to put a small biography of themselves in the album is a genius idea in itself. In my opinion, hearing the story of a band and the events that lead to a song makes listening to it even better. Once you understand how an album came to be, it makes you able to feel for that artist and listening to the song more meaningful and symbolic. To conclude my thoughts on Phoenix, I can definitely say that they are one of the most innovative bands of all time and I am extremely excited to see what they will accomplish in the future.
Phoenix is rumored to currently be working on a new album and it is supposed to be released in the next few months or so. The name or any of the tracks have yet to be released, but knowing Phoenix, I can safely say that it will be another success.