Speaking with Stereogum for the outlet's "We've Got A File On You" interview series, Phoenix, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, said they worked with Bangalter to produce Alpha Zulu, the band's seventh full-length album.
Frontman Thomas Mars said the legendary Daft Punk member at times filled the void of Philippe Zdar, their late French compatriot and a deeply influential musician who helped produce a handful of the band's albums. Zdar tragically died following an accidental fall in Paris in 2019.
"The mixer played an important part on this one," Mars said. "And Thomas [Bangalter] from Daft Punk came a few times to help us out, just to play the role of Philippe, who was this charismatic force that knew who we were and could give us advice because he knows where we want to go, he knows where we come from, he’s a friend. Thomas played a little bit of the same role. He knows the potential of a song; he knows what a demo could sound like. He would help us choose a little bit."
Bangalter's involvement in Alpha Zulu, Phoenix's first album since 2017, pours gasoline on a record that has the feel of a tour de force for the band. It was recorded at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, which is part of the iconic Louvre Palace.
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And in the wake of the robots' shocking split after 28 years, it seems Daft Punk's fate mirrors the album's thematic concepts.
"It's technicolor, and at the same time it's about death and aging," Mars said of Alpha Zulu.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mars and Laurent "Branco" Brancowitz, Phoenix's lead guitarist, discussed the epic Daft Punk cameo during their encore at Madison Square Garden in 2010, when they brought out the duo to perform "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger."
"It’s fun to see the set list and then to see 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,' '1901.' That was a really fun memory," Mars recalled. "And to keep the secret was also really fun. We had to pull out big drapes so that the staff of the Madison Square Garden wouldn’t see them because they had to rehearse as robots to make sure they would see what they were playing. We kept it a secret even from people in the crew or from people that work for us because they’re going to tell all the record companies that tonight something special is going to happen and then it’s going to leak. So we kept it secret and that was really fun."