Monday, February 21, 2005

Five Minutes with The Arcade Fire (with Walter Reilly)

The Arcade Fire is the hot new thing to come down from the great white North. Though the band itself is officially based in Montreal, lead singer and guitarist Win Butler is originally from The Woodlands, outside of Houston. He met and married Regine Chassagne while attending McGill University. The debut album of Arcade Fire, Funeral, influenced by the recent passing of various family members, has been critically acclaimed. After playing to a sold-out crowd at Trees on January 22nd, 2005 Butler and Chassagne relaxed in the band room for a post-concert chat.

SAMPLE: Tell me about the sort of the excitement that you guys must be feeling right now. I mean obviously, there’s an enormous amount of buildup surrounding you guys, buzz and just general good good feelings about what you’re doing. And talk to me a little bit about your feelings about that and kinda the excitement that must be kinda surrounding what you’re doing right now.

Win Butler: The thing that’s exciting is playing for people and like having the opportunity to have a bunch a people come to the shows.

Regine Chassagne: And meet them, the people.

WB: And play, I mean that’s what’s exciting…The rest is kind of, kind of a pain in the ass. I mean honestly.

SAMPLE: No, no I know exactly, I know what you’re saying.

WB: I think a lot of people don’t understand how music gets made. More people are interested in trends than music. The extent to which we have to talk about trends or about fashion… I don’t know jack shit about any of that. It’s not something that I’m interested in. That we have to deal with that is just distracting from what we do, which is play music. But the opportunity that we have right now to be playing for people who are excited and into our music that is really special and we really take that seriously.

SAMPLE: I was talking to Sarah outside, a little bit about the dynamics of the band, and you know specifically the way that you guys write and she was saying that the majority of the material is a collaborative effort between the two of you songwriting-wise. Can you talk to me a little bit about those processes from a songwriting standpoint for the album “Funeral”?

WB: We had an apartment full of instruments and a lot of free time.

RC: We can make a lot of noise. Like, anytime of the day.

WB: We lived over a bar.

RC: And in front of a gas station.

SAMPLE: Very cool, OK.

WB: And all hours of the day, so, we just kinda…

SAMPLE: No neighbors knocking on the ceiling or anything like that.

RC: Um, no.

WB: Yeah, I mean actually we would get complaints from the bar once in a while.

RC: Yeah, the bar said we were too loud. (laughs)

WB: I tried to remind him that they played music until four in the morning every night, and it’s awful, but um, whatever. But, no, I mean for the most part we were left alone. About a year maybe a year and a half ago Regine was playing in a medieval band. And she quit that even though it was a really stupid financial decision, she quit -even when it was not clear that we were going to be able to be doing what we’re doing now- and stepped out and made a lot of time for us to just play, and even though we were racking up a lot of debt. It was an important thing to happen. Cause it was like, ok here we go now, we have to make it happen.

SAMPLE: When was that?

WB: Maybe a year ago, or a year and a half ago. And I just finished school in the spring. So I had the reality of that.

SAMPLE: You were in school then, and (to Regine) you were in school as well?

RC: I was done, I was working. I could have done better jobs, but I didn’t want to because I want to play music. So, working in the bakery, and stuff like that.

SAMPLE: Well, we love the album, it’s just phenomenal. Congratulations.

WB: Thanks.

Originally written for Sample Magazine, parts published with Walter Reilly on

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