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Phoenix focusing on music, less on success

French bPhoenix released their latest album April. They make stop Arag(with British bThe Vaccines) Sept. 28 Aragaon. | Pierre Andrieu

French band Phoenix released their latest album in April. They make a stop at the Aragon (with British band The Vaccines) Sept. 28 at the Aragaon. | Pierre Andrieu ~ GETTY IMAGES

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With the Vaccines

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence

T ickets: Sold Out

Updated: October 3, 2013 12:58PM

Frontman and singer Thomas Mars says Phoenix’s latest album, “Bankrupt!,” was born out of the negative influences going on after the unprecedented success of the band’s Grammy-winning 2009 album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”

“At that time, we started talking about success and not music,” Mars said. “I guess it was time to protect ourselves and focus on music again.”

The band said it took some time to get on track when they began writing songs for “Bankrupt!,” released four years after “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” was named a Top 10 album on end-of-the-year lists for Rolling Stone, Time and Spin magazines, among others. The album also reached gold status, a first for the band.

“I guess we’re perfectionists in the way that when we make an album, we know it’s going to last. It’s important that it’s exactly how we want it to be,” Mars said. “But when the record is done, it’s all about imperfection. It’s all about playing live.”

Ironing out things worked for the French-based band: “Bankrupt!” — Phoenix’s fifth album — debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in April. “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” peaked at No. 37.

Part of the band’s success in America can be attributed to the ubiquity of the song “1901,” which appeared on Phoenix’s last album and was used in a Cadillac commercial. The platinum-selling track became a Top 5 jam on the rock and alternative songs.

“Back when we did this Cadillac commercial, we were unknown here. The idea of doing something for such an iconic [car] was really funny to do,” bassist Deck d’Arcy recalled (brothers Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz round out the foursome).

Not having a hit before “1901” took off proved to be an advantage for the band on the road.

“We’re lucky that we didn’t have a hit single for a while, so when we play live, people are not expecting just one song and we don’t tour as a greatest hits band, which can be sad I’m sure,” said Mars, who is married to actress/director Sofia Coppola. “It’s always the new album, and some from the last one, and less and less from the older ones.”

D’Arcy feels the band attained gradual success over their 14-year career, but said they weren’t prepared for the overwhelming reception they received in America.

“The U.S. was a surprise. ... We never expected the big bang,” d’Arcy said. “The rest of the world we kind of experienced success on a smaller scale.”


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