[Exclusive Interview] Phoenix – Crowd-surfing, Tips on Touring and the Number of 10

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Photo recap – Phoenix – Live in Hong Kong
Written review – Phoenix – Live in Hong Kong

“My mom wants me to stop crowd-surfing!”
THOMAS MARS, vocalist of Phoenix

We talked to the French alternative rock superstars Phoenix before their show at Asia World Expo in Hong Kong on 19 January 2014.

P: Phoenix
DJ: Dinosaur Journal
M: Media

M: What do you think about the Asian fans?
P: It’s very different from European fans. Last time we’ve only been to Jakata and Japan. So we don’t know Asia that much. This tour we’re exploring. Very amazing. What we love is how they react to the new album, they way they sing along. The fact that they know every lyrics of the songs is very… strange.

DJ: This question is for Thomas. You mentioned about stop doing crowd-surfing? Are you gonna stop it?
P: My mom want me to stop it haha. I don’t know. It’s not something I planned to do. It think I’m in a strange position ’cause when we start the music, we are entertainer. We are just musicians. Sometimes it’s weird when we see each other on stage. I mean… we know how to play music, but we don’t feel like entertainer. Always there’s a point when something strange happens, I lose the sense of time and space. So suddenly I’m in the crowd. I don’t know how I get there.

DJ: So how does it feel to be the headliner of so many music festivals in the last summer?
P: It was great. But at the same time you disappoint. It was like… one and a half hour multiplied by fifty thousand people. Precious time. But it’d be hard to say we do not enjoy it.

DJ: Which one do you prefer? Huge music festival, stadium concert or intimate club show?
P: One of my favorite American comedian Steven Wright. He was performing at a stadium and was asked by the question of did he prefer a small comedian club with only 20 people or stadium. He said “when you’re in the ocean, it does not matter how deep the water is. All you have to do is swim” I think it’s the same to us. The only thing we can do is swim. Playing music is the only thing we know how to do. So it doesn’t matter where we are. Once we are there, we’ll just play music.

DJ: So do you think intensive touring will kill a band? ’cause some musicians think playing the same songs over and over again is killing their creativity.
P: The thing is the show is changing everyday… you know very small details. But for us, it’s different so it keeps it cool. And so it’s the way how we tour. Touring is hard if you don’t do it right. If you feel the same everyday, getting drunk and having British chips everyday, you’re not gonna do it. We can play the same thing but the feeling is never gonna be the same. It’s cool (to tour).

M: What’s your favorite thing about touring?
P: We love to discover the world. We are very bad tourist. When I’m a tourist, I feel very sad and alone. But when I’m touring, I have this trying to convince (ourselves). So this sense of duty makes it worthy. There’s a sense of sadness. But when I’m a tourist I feel useless haha.

M: Have you heard the cover of your songs?
P: I never like covers. Covers are never meant to exist. It’s so much better to do the original. We like Dinosaur Jr.’s cover of Entertainment which is a good exception.

M: Do you enjoy filming Tryin to be Cool‘s video in Canada?
P: Yes, it was fun. The thing is we know there’s gonna be mistake, that everything may not fit together. You can always edit an video in thousand ways but this one can only exist in one way. There were only two cameras. We have done (the filming) a few takes and then we edit for a few time… For example, the motorcycle cannot happen at the same time because of the smoke.

M: Why do you limit your album of containing only 10 tracks?
P: It’s a comforting idea. It’s a square. You know, every picture is square. It stays perfect. It’s a very stupid idea. 10 is a good number. Not too long, not to short. It’s perfect… I like it haha. It’s the best number.

Photo recap – Phoenix – Live in Hong Kong
Written review – Phoenix – Live in Hong Kong

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