Canadians and their homeland have become pretty hot over the past few months, and while this may all just be the biggest fad since hula hoops, The Arcade Fire (hailing from Montreal) are much more than the flavor of the month. To those who are lucky enough to hold tickets to tomorrow nights show at Bowery, hold on to them...no matter how much you are offered.
Their album, Funeral, was made around the time several of the bands family members passed away. It's an operatic, orchestral homage to everything in life that is mourned, celebrated and otherwise experienced. Our personal #1 album of the year. And seeing them live, you are drawn into their world as the band transforms any venue into a makeshift church of sorts, everyone moving to the dramatic optimism and cascading sound; preaching a common gospel.
We saw this much buzzed about troupe during CMJ. The energy hovered above in the air even before the band took the stage, and with the first hit of a tambourine and the first drumstick being whacked against an inanimate object—the room exploded. The Arcade Fire is a kind of magic that we had not witnessed before. We hope it does not dissipate as they become "bigger," and we have a feeling it will only transform into something not yet describable.
Believe the hype.
The Arcade Fire are Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Richard Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, Jeremy Garaand and Win's little brother Will. They all play a lot of instruments.
Win took some time out at a local library, just after CMJ, to answer some of our questions...
Let me start off by just saying that I first saw you guys about a week ago at Mercury Lounge and was immediately among one of the converted in the audience. You gained a lot of fans that night, a lot of excited music lovers who were waiting with bated breath for something new, and a lot of digital ink praised you on blogs the next day. At that show you introduced yourselves as the flavor of the month. Is that how you see yourselves? Do you feel pressure now to live up to the hype?
That was more of a joke...Of course we have liked our band for a lot longer than a month, but people are pretty cynical about music these days...We just spent 2 hours chopping wood yesterday...what pressure, what hype?
You thanked the internet in a NY Times article, and bloggers have been mentioned in articles about you. Since we're a website we found this pretty interesting. Do you think blogs are pertinent in getting the buzz started about bands? Do you read any in particular?
I was kind of joking about thanking the internet as well, but I do think that people are very influenced by what other people think, and passionate blog writers get some people stirred up!
Do you find it hard to channel the energy you have during your live show in a studio?
The studio has a very different energy and the goal is totally different...there is no way to just bash around in the studio the same as the live show and have it come across...live energy does a lot to distract people from blemishes! I have never been a fan of bands who sound the same live as in the studio...
You all seem to play just about every instrument, do you each focus on any one instrument in particular or are you working to become proficient at them all?
There isn't much of a risk of us becoming too proficient...we tend to write better when we are playing instruments we are less familiar with...there is a strange energy, that I think is really the origional source of the excitment of punk music...
Funeral is essentially dedicated to lost loved ones. I see Arcade Fire as the quintessential Phoenix rising from the ashes of past tragedy. Your music has a very operatic feel at times. Do you think your next album will have as much of a dramatic feel and effect?
I don't know...The songs aren't super dramatic to me, this has been pointed out to me by outsiders, though I guess I can see what they are talking about...The band is changing and trying new things all the time, and we are already experimenting with the opposite kind of energy as is in our live show; stillness and quiet.
Your live show seems to capture an innocence that you have somehow been able to maintain throughout your experience thus far, are you afraid the industry will somehow taint this?
I heard you all stayed at my friend Jordan of the band Snowden's house in Atlanta when you were touring with the Unicorns. Give us the dirt
Leather couches, drinking beer, watching Apocalypse Now during a BBQ, it ain't a pretty picture!
And finally, where does the name Arcade Fire originate?
The first kid who beat me up when I was 12, was a high school kid who always used to talk about how the old arcade burned down and all these kids died...
The following are meant to gauge your feeling on New York as a city/scene/etc.
What is your first conscious memory of New York?
Isn't the Secret Of My Success based in New York?
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
Richard tried to buy a fake ID from these kids and they took him in an alley and beat him up.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York?
Now it's time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
You know you've made it when...
You are annoyed all the time and have no time write music.
It'll be time to pack up the gear for good when...
We collaborate with Sting.
I'll never forget the first time I...
Cut my finger and hit an artery, and they wrapped up my hand and played one armed baseball with my friends, because I didn't want to go to the emegency room.
I'll never forget the first time [insert another band members name here]....
Tim told me the story about how his brother in law got so sick that he threw up his own shit.
Let's have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if You've got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):
stole money from my parent to buy a daryl strawberry rookie card
Bridge & Tunnel
rocking new years eve
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Questions inspired by movies...
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
The existance of evil.
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
A few quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
The Beatles with Leonard Cohen as a lyricist, and Perry Farrel as a vocalist.
If you released a 7-inch what would you put on the cover?
A womans hand with a giant ring made of diamonds and feathers...
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
Def Leppard (the one with Pour Some Sugar On Me), Radiohead Kid A
Check out their upcoming tour dates here. They'll be back in New York in January/February.
And buy their album, we guarantee you'll love it.
[Photos via Stereogum]