Phoenix's joyful new album, Ti Amo (available now), was written and recorded from 2014 - 2017 in the middle of Paris during the height of terrorism fears in France.
Singer Thomas Mars tells Q104.3 New York's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke that the band surprised itself at the blissful songs it was writing.
Phoenix's studio, La Gaîté Lyrique, is in the middle of a typically bustling Parisian neighborhood. But following attacks like the one at Bataclan, what the band encountered there was the eerie silence of worry and fear.
"The whole place emptied because people wouldn't want to go out," Mars recalls. "And somehow we made this very hedonistic, joyful music. The first thing we thought was, 'We'd better explain why this music is so cheerful and so light.' Because we felt like something was wrong with us the first week."
Mars says the band had to stop at one point and ask if the band members were in denial; "are we just doing escapism?"
The singer also discussed the band's changing expectations over time. Phoenix went from a group of "pretentious" '90s teens who "thought [they'd] be the next Beatles" to alternative rock darlings whose 2009 Grammy award win felt like confirmation that they weren't insane, Mars says.
Phoenix was humbled after the first album—then again and again when the band goes on tour. But it's part of the experience.
"We've had experiences where you go from one place and you have, like, police escort and you go to another country and no one cares about you—you play in front of 10 people. That's the fun of it."
Watch the full interview above.
Get all the tour dates and info about the new album here.
Here's the official video for the album's title track: