They. Are. Back. The indie legends hailing from our nation's capital are about to embark on a nationwide tour in support of their sixth studio album ‘Give Up Your Dreams’. Ironically, following their dreams it what led them to a continually solid career since their first few gigs, down in Wellington in 1997 (although, technically, it was founded in 1994 by Wellington High School buds Conrad Wedde, Samuel Flynn Scott, and Luke Buda). The band's new LP is a reminder of the unique and slightly bizarre musical world that Phoenix have immersed themselves in, which will quench the thirst of long-time fans, as well as wetting the appetite of some newcomers. I remember seeing TPF performance when I was but a young boy, and what a performance that was. In modern terms: dudes killed it.
We spent a few minutes with Luke Buda, one of the founding members of The Phoenix Foundation, sometimes solo artist, and scorer of well-loved film, Eagle vs Shark.
Your new album is called ‘Give Up Your Dreams’, but if you’d followed your own advice, we may not have the wealth of material that you’ve released over the years. What’s the story behind the album title?
It's a kind of Buddhist self-help mantra. It's more "stop worrying start living" than it is a call to lay down and die. So we haven't played Wembley yet, and never will. So what?
The addition of Chris O’Connor on the kit has really put more emphasis on the rhythm section of the band, which can be heard in your new release. Did the addition of Chris help you gel more as a group with the writing and recording of GUYD?
Yes, and no. There were never any problems before, but our process was always much more post production based. Though GUYD may not sound like it, it's actually the most live-band album we've ever made... Chris probably had a bit to do with that.
You are somewhat flag-bearers of the Wellington music scene and culture. Do your roots laid there inspire material lyrically?
Definitely. The opening track from our 4th album Buffalo, "Eventually" is about tripping on mushrooms in the town belt. A formative teenage experience. But, surely, wherever you live will influence you creative output in some way. I think there are many outside influences also.
We’re really looking forward to the upcoming tour in support of the new record. But let’s reflect: what’s the best/worst show of your entire career?
It's easier to think of a worst one. Many years ago, we played with an Aussie band called Dappled Cities Fly at the then INDIGO (now San Fran). I had a bottle of Ouzo and brought it to the pre-gig function, thinking everyone would have some. But only Warner (our bass player) and I drank it. All of it. During the gig, Warner began playing the bass line from Stand By Me over the intro of every single song. I think I played much of the gig lying down. It was Blink's favourite Phoenix gig for years, maybe still is. It was utter shite though.
What are some of the shows you have on the horizon that you’re really looking forward to and why?
Just really looking forward to playing this album live. We actually finished it in December last year. We've hardly played a gig since then! We are very excited! We wanna play all of the tracks from it - hopefully we can pull it off.
Photography by Will Moore