The Phoenix Foundation


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Six piece Wellington band The Phoenix Foundation were formed in 1997 by Samuel Flynn Scott (vox/gat), Luke Buda (vox/gat/keys) and Conrad Wedde (gat/keys).

Having jammed for a couple of years, recorded This Charming Van and releasing the China Cove EP in 2000, they were joined by Richie Singleton (drums), Will Ricketts (percussion) and Tim Hansen (bass) in 2001. Songs begat songs until The Drinker, which received special attention from the Bnet radio network and went on to win Best Unreleased Song at the 2002 Bnet Awards.

Other ‘hotcuts’ Blue Summer and an early mix of Let Me Die A Woman also received significant airplay, with Blue Summer becoming the second most played song on New Zealand alternative radio in 2002.

The Phoenix Foundation recorded their debut album Horsepower during the winter of 2002 with Lee Prebble (The Black Seeds, Trinity Roots) at The Surgery in Newtown, Wellington. The gruelling late nights and scurvy resulted in one of the most acclaimed New Zealand albums of the 2003.

Horsepower was the only album to be nominated for ‘Best Album’ at both the Vodafone NZ Music Awards (aka the Tuis) and the Bnet Awards. It was also voted the ‘Best NZ Album’ of 2003 by and was the only New Zealand album selected in The Listener’s ‘Top Ten Albums of 2003’ by Nick Bollinger (Listener/Radio NZ).

The video for the album’s first single Let Me Die A Woman was made by esteemed video director/producer Richard Bell (One Collective) and went on to win the ‘Knack Award’ at the 2003 NZ Music Video Awards. The follow up video for Going Fishing, also directed/produced by Richard Bell, again went on to win the ‘Knack Award’ at the 2004 NZ Music Video Awards as well as ‘Best Cinematography’ at the 2004 Handle The Jandal Awards.

In 2004 Horsepower was released in Australia on Remote Control Records (The White Stripes, Badly Drawn Boy, The Pixies) and, following a quick tour of ‘the lucky country’, received strong reviews and radio play on Triple J and RRR.

In May 2005, The Phoenix Foundation released Pegasus through Festival Mushroom Records. The 11 track album was again recorded and produced by Lee Prebble at The Surgery in Wellington and featured new bass boss Warner Emery. The first single Hitchcock reached the top spots on the New Zealand Alternative Charts and stations. The video for Hitchcock was directed by esteemed New Zealand producer Rueben Sutherland and is set for release in February.

The band recorded the original score to the Taika Waititi film Eagle vs Shark in early 2006. The film was released world-wide on Miramax at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. Following this success they also provided the score to Waititi’s 2010 film, Boy.

The Phoenix Foundation signed a deal with US label Young American Recordings to release their records. The first American release was Horsepower, released March 13th 2007.

They released Happy Ending, their third album, in New Zealand in September 2007. This release was a switch from the Festival arm of Warner Music Group to Flying Nun and featured the singles Bright Grey, 40 Years and Bleaching Sun.

The material The Phoenix Foundation collected between Happy Ending and Buffalo was large enough to release the Merry Kriskmass EP in December 2009. It included songs that, according to the band, wouldn’t fit in to the atmosphere of their then soon to be released LP.

The Phoenix Foundation’s fourth album, entitled Buffalo, was released in New Zealand on 26 April 2010. For the first time in the history of the band, their album was released on vinyl and as digital download together with the The Do Son EP.

Warner Emery left the band during the recording of Buffalo on amicable terms. He was replaced by Tom Callwood, who had previously provided double bass on the Merry Kriskmass track Forget It, and cello on Happy Ending.

At the end of September, The Phoenix Foundation announced signing a record deal with UK record label Memphis Industries, which saw them release the award winning album Buffalo on January 24, 2011.

Last edited: 31.05.16

From AudioCulture

A decade ago, Wellington's music scene was known for dub-reggae hybrid bands and hard rockers Shihad, rather than a sextet of often hirsute alt-rockers named after a well-known TV show. In 13 years, The Phoenix Foundation has gone from being a band with a local cult following to winning national awards and playing on international music shows and festivals, while their recordings regularly gain good press. (By Amanda Mills) Read moreProfile from Audioculture, available under a Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence

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Albums by this artist

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  • View on NZ On Screen The Phoenix Foundation

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music Video

    "The Phoenix Foundation rose from the ashes of Wellington's late-90s high school music circuit to become one of the country's most acclaimed bands. Like MacGyver (the TV show the band name references) the six-piece have brought an eclectic DIY approach to six albums of accomplished alt-pop, plus some quirky soundtracks (Boy). The Herald rated Happy Ending "one of the best examples of pop music to come out of New Zealand"; Following 2013 double album Fandango, the band's sixth long player was 2015's Give Up Your Dreams." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Hitchcock

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Indie ; Music Video

    "From The Phoenix Foundation’s second album Pegasus, ‘Hitchcock’ is an eerie “electro noir” instrumental tribute to the great film director. Reuben Sutherland’s remarkable clip (which he shot, directed, animated and edited) features a choreographed army of Russian Lada cars — created out of images shot with a stills camera and layered 90 times. What follows is a surreal, conservation-themed revisiting of the Cold War as the electric powered Ladas of the ‘Petrol Crimes Bureau’ are pitted against a gas guzzling 4x4 (bedecked with the Stars and Stripes)." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Buffalo

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Alternative ; Music Video

    "In this promo for the title track from the Phoenix Foundation's 2010 album a boy practises holding his breath, to better himself for meeting a sea nymph. It's a suitably giddy concept for a song that builds from its simple two-note intro onwards to a surging crescendo. "I'm on the sea floor / I am the mammal you adore / I'm on the sea floor, closer to the planet's core". A submarine South Coast swim and a glide through the pine trees of Wellington's Town Belt later, and our hero is united with his maiden. Directed by Nathan Hickey aka drummer for Beastwars." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen 40 Years

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Alternative ; Rock ; Indie ; Music Video

    "Shot on Wellington's South Coast, the video stars Academy Award-nominee Taika Waititi (who also directs) as a turquoise headband wearing jogger attempting an eclectic confidence course. Shot in one ducks-in-a-row long take, our hero slays knights, frees prisoners and crosses the finish line into the arms of his lover. And a horse. A splendid example of she'll-be-rightism, the clip is refreshingly lo-fi, makeshift and delightful — and undoubtedly took a lot more than four minutes and 15 seconds to make." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Give Up Your Dreams

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Alternative ; Music Video

    "The video for this Phoenix Foundation single features Bret McKenzie excavating a deep hole, in a landscape that evokes the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (although Loren Taylor's video was actually shot in a clearing close to Wellington's wind turbine). The band turns up to watch, and the man finds eye-opening liberation from his toil. Vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott credited inspiration for the song to musician Lawrence Arabia’s recipe for satisfaction: ditching dreams of success, in order to enjoy making music. The result was a finalist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll. " (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Bright Grey

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Alternative ; Indie ; Music Video

    "Taika Waititi's 80s extravaganza wouldn't have been complete without the man himself arriving on set in a DeLorean — the time-travelling car from Back to the Future. The clip is another homage-packed example of lo-fi genius from the Oscar nominee. Note the Eastern European-derived keyboardist Luke Buda's 'Poland' synth. Director Taika Waititi: "I spotted the DeLorean parked near our flat in Mt Cook, and left a note under the wiper saying 'what year are you from?' Turns it was one of two owned by a local doctor."    " (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Taika Waititi: The real story behind 'that' Oscars gag, and much more...

    Source: NZ On Screen

    "Taika Waititi [Te-Whānau-a-Apanui] acted in movies Scarfies and Snakeskin, TV show The Strip (sometimes under the credit Taika Cohen), and appeared on stage as a stand-up comedian. Turning his creative energies towards directing, he made Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night, and Tama Tū, based on the experiences of The Māori Battalion in WWII. He has gone on to great success directing (and sometimes appearing in) feature films. In this ScreenTalk, Waititi talks about: The trials of working with kids on Two Cars, One Night The story behind the now infamous 'falling asleep' gag at the Oscars, and how he was left holding the baby How the amazing, lifelike set for short film Tama Tū was realised The crazy story behind creation of the script for Eagle vs Shark How he approached writing and directing on Flight of the Conchords Working on his feature film Boy His general thoughts on choosing a career as a filmmaker The layout of his hill-top castle-themed mansion" (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Lawrence Arabia

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music Video

    "Christchurch born musician James Milne took Lawrence Arabia as his stage name because he wanted an outrageous persona to front his own band The Reduction Agents, after playing with The Brunettes from 2002 to 2005. He has recorded two albums as Lawrence Arabia — playing most of the instruments on both of them. In 2009, his second album ‘Chant Darling’ was the inaugural winner of the Taite Music Prize for best independently released album of the year; and his song ‘Apple Pie Bed’ (co-written with the Phoenix Foundation’s Luke Buda) won the APRA Silver Scroll." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Apple Pie Bed

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Indie ; Music Video

    "A piece of classic pop, this jaunty love song was co-written by former Brunettes member Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne) and The Phoenix Foundation’s Luke Buda — and it won the pair the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award in 2009. Director Luke Savage’s warts-and-all video won’t land him a lot of work making lingerie commercials as his suburban swingers’ slumber party celebrates the human body and its imperfections in a way not often seen in music videos. Meanwhile, Milne remains poker-faced in the midst of the fleshy jiggling and wobbling." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Fly My Pretties

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music Video

    "Fly My Pretties is a musical collaboration put together by Barnaby Weir of the Black Seeds. The all-star outfit - who come together for live performances - has included members of the Phoenix Foundation, Fat Freddys Drop and Paselode. The group began as a one-off project - a sellout multimedia show performed, filmed and recorded over four nights at Bats Theatre in Wellington in 2004, which was released as a live album and DVD. The one-off nature of the project has expanded nationwide to equally well-received shows.     " (NZ On Screen summary)


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