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The Phoenix Foundation

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Luke Buda, Conrad Wedde, and Samuel Flynn Scott are three guys from New Zealand who grew up listening to Pantera, Slayer, and Sepultura and decided to form a band. However, the band they formed, the Phoenix Foundation, suggested they left all their adolescent influences at the door once they picked up guitars -- embracing a sound that incorporates the pastoral calm of alt-country and freak folk as well as the cool passion and sonic wanderlust of indie rock, the Phoenix Foundation play smart, mature, and expressive pop music that has made them one of the most successful independent acts to emerge from New Zealand in recent years. Singer and guitarist Scott, guitarist and keyboard man Wedde, and Buda on vocals, guitars, and keyboards formed the Phoenix Foundation in 1997, but spent their first two years woodshedding and mapping out their creative direction. The Phoenix Foundation released their first EP, China Cove, in 2000, and a year later the band grew to a six-piece with the addition of bassist Tim Hansen, drummer Richie Singleton, and percussionist Will Ricketts. The new edition of the group began writing and recording songs in their home studio, and one of the tracks that emerged, "The Drinker," was named Best Unreleased Song of 2001 by the New Zealand radio outlet bNet. The band earned a similar accolade in 2002, when "Blue Summer" became the year's most played song on New Zealand independent radio. That same year, the band booked time with producer Lee Prebble to record its debut album, Horsepower; released in 2003, the disc was a major critical success in New Zealand, and the following year the album was released in Australia, where the band again earned enthusiastic reviews. In 2005, Hansen left the group and Warner Emery stepped in on bass; the Phoenix Foundation also recorded and released their second album, Pegasus, and supported it with extensive touring in New Zealand and Australia, including a well-received spot at the Aussie Big Day Out Festival and a sold-out hometown gig at the Wellington Botanical Gardens. In 2006, the group's own Caravan Records label established an American branch to release Horsepower in the United States; the band also came to America for the first time to play a few East Coast shows. They also began scoring for films, with Eagle vs. Shark being released in June of 2007, followed that same year by their third studio album, Happy Ending. Their fourth LP, Buffalo, arrived in 2010, and shortly afterward, they signed with British label Memphis Industries who gave the album a worldwide release. Recording at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios, they delivered the ambitious double-album Fandango in 2013. Sporting a new member in drummer Chris O’Connor, the Phoenix Foundation released their rhythm- and synth-heavy sixth album, Give Up Your Dreams, in the summer of 2015. ~ Mark Deming


1997 in Wellington, New Zealand

Years Active:

'00s, '10s