Phoenix on the rise
Phoenix on the rise

According to Thomas Mars, front- homme for French indie pop favourites Phoenix, there are two kinds of music festivals. "Some are wonderful and some are awful," he says from New York, where he lives with his wife, film director Sofia Coppola, and their two daughters.

"There are the ones that are made for music and the ones that are made by people to put 30,000 kids in a field and figure out how much beer they can sell to them."

One wonders in which category Mars will place Future Music Festival next year, when Phoenix join fellow headliners Canuck DJ Deadmau5 and chart-topping hip-hoppers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Other big names revealed this week include Dutch DJ Hardwell, Swedish turntablist Eric Prydz, Perth-via-London electronic duo Knife Party and rising UK outfit Rudimental.

Phoenix are used to pulling out all the stops for festival audiences, including a skin-of-their-teeth performance at Coachella with R&B demi-god R. Kelly in April.

"When I think about it, I still can't even enjoy this moment," Mars says. "We didn't know if he would show up. When we got on stage he was still stuck in traffic. We never rehearsed with him and it was the opposite of what we usually do."

But it turned out all right on the night, and Kelly has subsequently remixed Trying to be Cool, the second single from latest album, Bankrupt!

Phoenix's fifth album, their first Top 10 in Australia, saw the band members return to classic French pop of their childhoods for inspiration - think Serge Gainsbourg, Charles Aznavour and Francoise Hardy.

Mars concedes that Phoenix, along with Daft Punk, Air, Cassius and others are creating another belle epoque of French music.

"There were no musicians coming out of France and then suddenly there were all these bands," he says. "We were probably the first generation to be able to record in our bedroom and make it sound decent."

Mars says there is no rivalry with Daft Punk, with whom Phoenix have shared stages since the mid-90s. Guitarist Laurent Brancowitz played with the robot rock duo in early-90s Beach Boys-inspired group Darlin'.

"The record collection is probably the same, you know, we have the same tastes, but what we do is pretty different," Mars says.

The singer, who reveals wife Coppola just finished making her first-ever music video for Phoenix, looks forward to resuming their love affair with Australia.

"For us, it's always the best reward," Mars says of touring Down Under. "It's funny that growing up in Versailles, no one wanted to see us live and we have to go to the opposite side of the world to be appreciated."

The West Australian

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