Formation and early years
Vocalist Thomas Mars, bassist Deck d'Arcy, and guitarist Chris Mazzalai started playing together as a "garage band" based out of Mars's house in the suburbs of Paris, France. In 1995, Laurent Brancowitz, Mazzalai's older brother, permanently joined the band on guitar after the end of Darlin, a short-lived band that Brancowitz had formed with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (Bangalter and de Homem-Christo later formed Daft Punk.) Two years later the band took on the name Phoenix and pressed 500 copies of a single on their own label, Ghettoblaster. Shortly after, they were signed to the Paris-based Source Records. Phoenix became well acquainted with labelmates Air when they acted as their backing band on several U.K. TV appearances.
Following their two singles "If I Ever Feel Better" and "Too Young", United was released in 2000. Their track "Too Young" was in the soundtrack for the movie Lost in Translation (which was directed by Thomas's later wife, Sofia Coppola), and was also played in the movie Shallow Hal.
The band's second album, Alphabetical, was released in 2004 and saw the band reach more mainstream success, with the singles "Everything Is Everything" and "Run Run Run" reaching some alternative rock airplay charts.[which?] Hedi Slimane commissioned a special mix of their song "Victim of the Crime" as the soundtrack to one of his runway shows for Dior Homme.
Live! Thirty Days Ago (2005)
Following Alphabetical, the band toured three continents, playing 150 dates. This tour was followed up with a live album, Live! Thirty Days Ago, released only 30 days after the end of the tour.
It's Never Been Like That (2006)
Phoenix then spent time in Berlin during the summer of 2005, making use of Planet Roc studios to produce their third album, It's Never Been Like That. To promote the release of It's Never Been Like That, Phoenix toured the United States and Europe in 2006. American band Paramore performed a cover of the song "Long Distance Call" live on Taratata, a French TV show.
Kitsuné Tabloid (2009)
The band curated a compilation album for French electronic music record and fashion label Kitsuné .It was released on March 23, 2009, just about 2 months short of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.The mix tape includes music by Elvis Costello, Roxy Music, Kiss, Lou Reed and others.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
In early 2009, it was announced that the band was returning with a new album titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which was released on May 25, 2009. The album was recorded in Paris, and was co-produced and mixed by Philippe Zdar of Cassius. The track "1901", a tribute to early Paris, was released on February 23, 2009, as a free download prior to the release of the first single, and aired for the first time on Australian radio station Triple J.
"1901" was also featured during Super Bowl XLV in a Packers montage.
Phoenix performed "Lisztomania", "1901", and "Too Young" on Saturday Night Live on April 4. They also performed "Lisztomania" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, "Girlfriend" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and "1901" on the Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix won Best Alternative Music Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010. Shortly afterwards, "1901" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Alternative Songs chart.
Following the album's release, Phoenix appeared at various major music festivals, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2009, Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California in 2010, the 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Southside festival in Neuhausen Germany, the 2010 Lollapalooza Music Festival, the Mile High Music Festival, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, California, Rock Werchter 2010 in Belgium, and the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festivals. On October 20, 2010, Daft Punk made a special appearance for their show in Madison Square Garden.
Allmusic.com, a review website, commented favourably on the release of the album. "Beyond containing the band's best, most efficient songwriting, the album also stands apart from the first three studio albums by projecting a cool punch that is unforced," a reviewer commented. Vocalist Thomas Mars, described as "more bright-eyed and youthful than ever," is more prominent in these songs, harmonising well with the instruments. "Maybe they've just hit their stride," the reviewer says.
Phoenix are the subject of a documentary, From a Mess to the Masses, about their 2009-2010 tour in support of their breakout album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It was directed by Antoine Wagner and Francisco Soriano.
On April 5, 2011, the band posted a blog update on their website entitled "Songwriting..." revealing CCTV stills of a studio in which the band was currently working. The band has stated in interviews that the album is going to be a departure from the pop sounds of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and they are trying to create something more experimental.
On January 16, 2012, the band revealed that they had completed four songs for the fifth album and it is scheduled for a late summer 2012 release, with a fall (autumn) tour. Daniel Glass,the founder of Glassnote Records, stated in relation to the new material, "It's very hard to beat Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but this could be revolutionary,"
The band then updated its webpage to display the cryptic words. Pluviôse, (until the end of March 2012), Thermidor (since April 2012) and Vendémiaire (since September 2012)—the words replaced the CCTV still that was published in October 2011. Pluviôse, Thermidor and Vendémiaire are three of the months of the French Republican Calendar (also known as the Revolutionary Calendar).
On January 16, 2013, exactly one year after the announcement that the band had completed four songs for the album, Bankrupt! was revealed as the title of the fifth album and a teaser was released on the Phoenix website.
On February 12, 2013, a redesigned Phoenix website further promoted the "Bankrupt!" album, with an official release date of April 22, 2013 published on the website's opening page that features an animated writing sequence.—a message from the band is written by an invisible hand, while music (presumably from Bankrupt! plays) and states, mostly in English, with some French: "Dear all, our new album, Bankrupt!, will be released the week of April 22nd. Here [the word "Here" is a link to the website page that reveals both the album cover art and the tracklisting] is the tracklisting as well as the album cover. Much love et a bientot ["and see you soon"]. Thomas Branco Mazzalai Deck." The cover depicts a color drawing of a peach nest to a peach slice, with a pink flower and two green leaves; the tracklisting includes song titles susch as the title track, "SOS in Bel Air", "Bourgeois", and "Oblique City".
Consistent updates in relation to the fifth album have appeared on the band's Facebook fan page and, as of February 12, 2013, the new fan page reflected the new aesthetic of Bankrupt!. On January 21, 2013, the fan page's cover photo was changed to a straightforward pink and black image in which the words "Phoenix Bankrupt!" were written in large, bold and black capital letters against a plain pink background—this cover photo was then replaced on February 12, 2013 with a image of the word "Phoenix" written in large, bold and white capital letters against a light grey background.
Phoenix will play various major music festivals across the world in support of the new album. Announced dates include headlining spots at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Primavera Sound. They will also play huge european festivals such as Optimus Alive!, Rock Werchter and Rock am Ring and Rock im Park.
On February 18th, the band released its first song off the new album called, "Entertainment".