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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