Phoenix Foundation's new EP, Tom's Lunch, marks a move further up-tempo from than their customary melancholic ambience.
Front man Samuel Flynn Scott said co-founder Luke Buda had driven a conscious effort to go a bit more upbeat, enabled by a very powerful new drummer.
"We can do stuff that's quite fast and intense but doesn't lose control," he said.
The group's original sound had been a reaction to grunge and metal after they discovered cult guitar balladeer Nick Drake.
His music was more challenging than the Nirvana that they had been listening to, Flynn Scott said.
"I think the laid-back melancholy approach was just about what seemed fresh 10 years ago, when we were making Horsepower it seemed more interesting to us."
The band emerged from Wellington High School in the mid 90s. The pair have made their living from music, one way or another ever since, be it touring with the band, sound tracks or music lessons.
"Whatever we can find that doesn't feel like you're being untrue to you dreams," Flynn Scott said.
They have put out five albums and their soundtrack work includes the music for Taika Waititi's Boy.
It was a lot of music output, which Buda was proud of.
"Quality fades but quantity always remains the same."
Quality was always subjective, Flynn Scott said.
The EP Tom's Lunch will be released on May 16 on CD, in digital formats from Itunes, JBHIFI and direct from bandcamp and it was likely to be a while before the musicians could properly enjoy it.
"There's a kind of statute of limitations on albums," Flynn Scott said.
For the three months it took from completion to release, they were likely to go through an initial phase when it felt like the best music they had ever made, followed by a phase where they would detest it. Perhaps a year later they could come back to it and listen with fresh ears and appreciate it as just music, rather than their own product.
Along the way the band played a live gig on BBC Television, on Later with Jools Holland, alongside ColdPlay.
Flynn Scott said the experience was "kind of intimidating" but relaxed because of the process the "outrageously pro" producers put them through - two days of rehearsals, and live-audience rehearsal, a recorded show for Friday night and finally, the Tuesday night show on live television.
"By the time you're ready to play live on British television you're kind of in the zone, ready to do the show," he said.
It had been a privilege to work in the legendary BBC Television Centre in White City, west London, before it closed in 2010, but the best part was finding a nearby Palestinian felafel store.
Growing families have curtailed the band's tours - Buda has two children and Flynn Scott has one boy. Four weeks is now the optimum tour length but they keep busy in the studio and with solo projects.
The Phoenix Foundation will play at King St Live in Masterton on May 23, at The Cabana in Napier on May 24 and at the James Cabaret in Wellington on May 30.
Visit www.undertheradar.co.nz for more information or to buy tickets.
- Hutt News