We talked to the French alternative rock superstars Phoenix before their show at Asia World Expo in Hong Kong on 19 January 2014.
What do you think about the Asian fans?
They are very different from European fans. Last time we’ve only been to Jakarta 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… the way they sing along. The fact that they know every lyrics to the songs is very… strange.
This question is for Thomas. You mentioned about stop doing crowd-surfing? Are you gonna stop it?
My mom wants me to stop it, haha. I don’t know. It’s not something I planned to do. I think I’m in a strange position ’cause when we start the music, we are entertainers. 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 entertainers. There’s always a point where something strange happens, and I lose the sense of time and space—suddenly I’m in the crowd, I don’t know how I got there.
So how does it feel to be the headliner of so many music festivals in the last summer?
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.
Which one do you prefer? Huge music festival, stadium concert or intimate club show?
One of my favourite American comedian Steven Wright was performing at a stadium and was asked whether he preferred a small comedian club with only 20 people or a 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 just play music.
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.
The thing is, the show changes everyday… you know, very small details. For us, it’s different, so it keeps it cool. 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).
What’s your favourite thing about touring?
We love to discover the world. We are very bad tourists. 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.
Have you heard the cover of your songs?
I never like covers. Covers are never meant to exist. It’s so much better to do the original. Though, we like Dinosaur Jr.’s cover of “Entertainment”, which is a good exception.
Did you enjoy filming “Trying To Be Cool” MV?
Yes, it was fun. The thing is we knew there’s gonna be mistakes, that everything may not fit together. You can always edit a video in thousand ways, but this one can only exist in one way. There were only two cameras. We did a few takes and then we edited a few times. For example, the motorcycle cannot happen at the same time because of the smoke.
Why do you limit your new album to only 10 tracks?
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.