He might warble in pitch-perfect English but a part of our interview with Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars, conducted at Saturday’s Good Vibration Festival in Sydney, was lost in translation. “On Tuesday we’re meeting an orchestra that specializes in rhyth…I don’t know how to say in English” Mars said, performing the universal sign for “drummer” before bassist Deck D’arcy jumped in to clarify: “We’re going to record a bunch of percussionists in Byron Bay.”.
That’s right Northern New South Wales, the Parisian four-piece have enlisted a local orchestra and the Byron-based “Dad of a friend” to lend some rhythmic might to demos for their new album, the as-yet-untitled followup to 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. And if they like what they hear, they’ll return to Australia later this year to record the musicians proper.
According to Mars this represents one of many changes to the band’s guitar driven pop sound, comparing their new stuff to the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) the French equivalent of the Shinkansen. If you’ve no idea what a bullet train sounds like, Mars describes the new cuts as “nostalgic”, “futuristic”, “experimental” and “minimal” while hinting at a departure from (and boredom with) the pop sensibilities of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
“I think ’cause we do a lot music with drum machines and we blend a lot [of] drum machines and real drums, I think for us, it’s a way to escape that.” Mars explained. “You know, there’s something a little frustrating when you do pop music. And drums are the DNA of our music, ’cause we’d like to go somewhere else, we’d like to change that DNA.”