Phoenix On Why The Exclamation Point In Bankrupt! Is So Integral To Its Meaning

Phoenix’s Bankrupt!, one of the year’s early frontrunners for our Best Albums of 2013 list, finally hits stores today. The album is their first since the 2009 release of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, a record which contained two singles (“1901” and “Lisztomania”) that propelled them from a well-respected band into international superstars. When we sat down with the band recently, the conversation turned towards the weight of expectations, which is reflected in both the title that the group chose for this album, as well as the punctuation mark attached to it.

“It’s about vertigo,” guitarist Laurent Brancowitz explained to us. “You are standing on a cliff, and it’s a feeling of mixed emotion of pure joy and pure fear. The title [Bankrupt!] is about that. The possibility of falling.”

He continued, “We discovered it’s a more powerful thing when you know you can fail. When we’re on stage, we know that our songs are fragile. Sometimes we miss, sometimes we hit. People can feel that you can fail, and this shared knowledge brings you to a new level.”

Well, the band certainly didn’t fail while performing at Coachella for the last two weekends, particularly when the band brought out surprise guest R. Kelly to perform with them. In fact, we saw a great number of exclamation marks on social media describing their set, which gets us back to the title of their album. Knowing that it’s an emotionally resonant title for the group, why did they feel the need to punctuate their trepidations with an exclamation point?

“It adds a bit of fun. It’s for fun! (laughs),” Brancowitz explained. “No, we love the headline aspect of it. When we imagined it as a headline of a newspaper, you know like Andy Warhol’s headlines? Replicate the headlines and make it art. The exclamation point is very important.”