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The Phoenix Foundation - The Phoenix Foundation Interview - GUYD Tour

05 Oct 2015 // An interview by Ria Loveder

Ria sat down with Luke Buda from The Phoenix Foundation to talk about what it’s like working with his fellow musician pals, what inspires them in making music, their Give Up Your Dreams Tour, what’s next in line for them and also beer.

How did you guys come up with the name ‘The Phoenix Foundation’?

Was there any difficulty choosing what the name would be?

There is always difficulty when naming anything. Latest album a case in point. We had lists and lists but it took our good mate Luke Savage (who has directed many videos for us including The Captain which is an underrated clip…) to suggest it.  When he said "It's who MacGyver worked for." that we knew it was right.

Your ‘sound’ has been described as Indie Rock, Alternative, Neo Psychedelic, and Post Progressive, do you think you have a certain sound? What would that be?

Oh man, I dunno. I just make the music don't make me try to "fit it in a box". What does neo psychedelic even mean?  One thing I can definitely say is that it is usually quite warm.

There are six of you in the group, what is it like trying to include everyone’s creative ideas into your songs?

We have gotten better and better over the years. We've had a long time. People instinctively know when it is time to say something and when it is not! These days we are much better at getting on with it, as the song says...

Not many New Zealand bands can say they are about to release their sixth album. Is there any temptation or pressure to try and be more commercial and try and get more time on commercial radio stations?

What would be the point? Sure I'd love for our band to have more support from commercial radio but I'd be an utter fool to try to ignore my own taste and instances and joy and attempt to make "popular" music. The only thing you know for sure is what you like (and sometimes you don't even know that), wouldn't it be a bummer if you made something that you didn't like, in the hope that it will be popular, and then it wasn't popular and you didn't like it? Then no one likes it. Then you probably don't like yourself. Anyway these are very awkward sentences, hopefully they make some kind of sense.

You guys recorded the original scores for two of Taika Waititi’s films, ‘Eagle vs Shark' and ‘Boy’ (one of my dad’s favourites). What appealed to you about those two films that you wanted to create music for them?

It was very appealing to be offered money to make music. Luckily both of these movies were really cool too!

Your lyrics are known for creating surreal imagery, how do you go about searching for the right words to create such unique sounding songs?

More of a Sam buzz.

Your new album is called Give Up Your Dreams (GUYD), what was the inspiration for the name? As this name could be deemed as being quite negative.

It's about liberating yourself from the constant disappointment of unrealistic expectations. 

What do you feel are the challenges when creating a new album?

Trying to do something that feels like it's new but without it sounding like a contrived new direction.

Were there any challenges creating GUYD?

This was the easiest album yet really. Especially afterFandango which took 15 months and we lost our old drummer Richie and old manager Matt during that time! Hard out. So this was smooth sailing. Really fun band take sessions, pretty relaxed overdubbing and tracking vibe. Great 3 weeks at the surgery with Lee Prebble to finish. Low stress!

Neil Finn recently did a remix of GUYD which got played on BBC 6, what was that like?

Well… I asked him if he'd be keen and he said yes. I sent him the files and he sent back a remix. Actually he sent back 2 remixes, the second one was probably better and that's the one that has been released. The first one was cool though, kooky… very very kooky. Kookier than you might imagine. Obviously it's pretty chuffing to have someone of his stature and legacy do that but we've hung out lots so I kinda knew he'd be into it… I think he did a great job, for a first timer (ha!)

I hear Sam’s sister did the artwork for GUYD? Did you have some sort of idea what you wanted for the album art before it was made? What is the meaning behind the artwork created by Rosemund Scott?

We just wanted something very pristine and otherworldly. It had to be high spec. We also wanted to acknowledge the occult beliefs of our drummer Chris O'Connor… hence the Unicursal Hexagram.

On tour there is going to be a GUYD beer, which is going to taste like an NZ draught. How much input did you have on the taste? Do you guys like it?

We didn't have direct input into the taste however we had a good long chat with the Garage Project peeps about the ethos of GUYD. They took it on board as a manifesto and their take on it was that giving up their dreams would be making a very plain and common beer (in case you don't know they make extraordinary beer usually, Trufflr and Porcini Porter, Salted White Peach Sour etc.). We're all very happy with their embracing of the concept.

You have gone all out with the branding for GUYD, with CDs, Vinyl, Cassette tapes, stickers, pillows cases and sleep masks. Why is that?

You just gotta work hard to get people to buy music these days. It is not enough that they like the album. They need more incentives! So we incentivised! It's incentive city! Plus it was fun. Our manager might mot think it was fun, he might think it was HEAPS AND HEAPS AND HEAPS of work...

How does it feel to be touring NZ for your sixth album?

Good. We are REALLY excited to be playing this new album, we will play ALL the songs on it, PROMISE.

After touring for GUYD, what’s next for The Phoenix Foundation? Do you guys have any solo projects you are working on?

Mine and Tom's side project band TEETH (with Anthony Donaldson and David Long) will finish our awesome debut album… Sam and Con and I will go straight into a film project. Sam and I have just finished producing Dave Dobbyn's new album… Phoenix will probably slowly but surely start writing and recording… there is no other way, there is no let up, we must keep on keeping on!


About The Phoenix Foundation

The Phoenix Foundation have been performing and producing music together for just on 20 years. As one of New Zealand's most accomplished acts, they have either won or been nominated for every music industry award NZ has to offer.

With a career releasing and performing such a diverse range of music they appeal to any demographic. Their recent releases of Give Up Your Dreams, Fandango and Buffalo, have seen them receive high acclaim from publications such as Mojo, Q, Uncut, NME and The Guardian. BBC Radio Personalities such as Lauren Laverne and Jarvis Cocker are fans. They have performed on stages around the globe from ‘…Later with Jools Holland’ (BBC TV) to The Big Day Out to Glastonbury.

They have written soundtracks for many TV Shows, Commercials and Films, including New Zealand’s Top grossing film of all time Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy and Eagle Vs Shark by Oscar Nominee director Taika Waititi.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Phoenix Foundation


Life Boat
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Friend Ship
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Give Up Your Dreams
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Tom's Lunch
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Merry Kriskmass
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Happy Ending
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Horse Power
Year: 2003
Type: Album
China Cove
Year: 2001
Type: EP

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