French pop outfit Phoenix have gained a lot of momentum in the U.S. since releasing 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The band’s fourth studio effort has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide with the band picking up the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in the process. But while the group continues to make waves in the pop-rock world, the electro-rock quintet is also sending ripples through the industry. In 2009 the band caught the eye of major label execs when they departed EMI and for indie labels V2 and Glassnote, while also creating their own record label in the process (Loyauté). Variety caught up with guitarist Laurent Brancowitz and bass player Deck D’Arcy before the band’s Coachella set on Sunday afternoon.
There were reports that the volcano in Iceland would prevent you guys from playing this weekend. Glad you guys made it OK.
Brancowitz: Luckily we all got here before it happened except for our I.T./lighting guy who is currently stuck in Madrid, which is too bad because tonight we had actually prepared a new, artisitc light show, but apparently the volcano was against it.
How would you compare Coachella to other festivals you’ve been to?
D’Arcy: It’s very cool, lots of indie bands and emerging artists that you’ve never heard before.
Brancowitz: There are festivals in Europe that feel like you are in a slaughterhouse and they expect the sausage to come out of the machine (laughs). Does that make sense?
Do you like playing festivals? Or can they be a distraction from your touring schedule?
D’Arcy: This is what makes the tour interesting and exciting. Intimate headline shows are great but huge amounts of people are fun too. We like the big contrasts. Yesterday we played at a small venue in Santa Cruz. And tonight, it’s woo! Coachella! (laughs)
The industry has changed so much over the past 10 years with so many levels of distribution and output. Do you have a preference how people listen to your music?
Brancowitz: We feel very close to the album format with a bunch of songs. All of this new distribution on the internet where there are single tracks isn’t the best way for us. It isn’t the best for anyone, in my opinion. We’d rather you get the entire album, the whole cha’bang.
You have your own record label, Loyauté. Why did you decide to create your own print?
D’Arcy: We used to be on a big major, EMI, but this fits way better for us, just the music that we’re doing. Major companies can be a bit controlling and this gives us more freedom.
Your are the only act on your label, is that correct?
Brancowitz: Yes. We don’t dare putting out music for someone else. We don’t want to destroy their life.