10 Things You Never Knew About… Arcade Fire

Looking back on a decade of powerful music...

Arcade Fire have graced the indie landscape for over a decade with their conceptual albums and political statements.

Following 2013’s ‘Reflector’ it has been quiet from the Canadian outfit, though this summer they will bring their immense live act around a handful of events, including the Isle Of Wight Festival.

With new album ‘Everything Now’ set to drop tomorrow (July 28th) here are 10 things you might not have known about the Montreal band.

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The band name was rumoured to stem from a fire in an arcade. When asked about it, frontman Win Butler replied: "It's not a rumour, it's based on a story that someone told me. It's not an actual event, but one that I took to be real. I would say that it's probably something that the kid made up, but at the time I believed him."

For the recording of ‘Neon Bible’, Arcade Fire bought a church in the Quebec area. Turning it into a recording space, the church was also the studio for 2010 album, ‘The Suburbs’. The band had to leave after the roof started collapsing, and a real estate listing came up for the building in 2013 with the description: “Charming church which housed a small concert hall, followed by a recording studio also offering accommodation. Its architecture makes it a perfect location for an artist's studio, a place of worship, a cultural, community or other organization. Offer here a unique setting to your project!”

Arcade Fire and David Bowie were quite a music love affair. The group have stated that “David Bowie was one of the band’s earliest supporters and champions.” From early on Bowie would come to their gigs, and he even bought all the copies of ‘Funeral’ at Tower Records in Houston. The artist stated that: “There’s a certain uninhibited passion in the Arcade Fire’s huge, dense recording sound. I bought a huge stack of the ‘Funeral’ CD last September and gave them to all my friends. I made so many converts.”

David Bowie and Arcade Fire also collaborated on a joined Live EP to raise money to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Further on, Bowie’s vocals are featured on the group’s most recent studio release, ‘Reflector’.

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Arcade Fire’s breakthrough record ‘Funeral’ got its name from the trio of deaths that haunted the writing and recording of the masterpiece. Regine Chassagne’s grandmother, Win and William Butler’s grandfather and Richard Reed Parry’s aunt all set colour to ‘Funeral’s music and title.

Arcade Fire have never been subtle about their political stands and their backing of President Obama even saw them play alongside Jay-Z at the Obama Staff Ball in Washington. The group played songs from ‘Funeral’ and ‘Neon Bible’ along with a cover of Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A.’.

The Canadians were less pleased with Trump. The band released new single ‘I Give You Power’ on January 19th to coincide with Donald Trump’s inauguration. The song featured guest vocals from singer and civil rights activist, Mavis Staples. “It’s the eve of the inauguration and I think it’s easy to get sucked into sitting on the couch and checking your news feed and watching things on CNN, and we’re just musicians and the only thing we really have to offer is our music,” Win Butler stated in an interview with Zane Lowe.

Due to Regine Chassagne’s Haitian heritage, Arcade Fire has, throughout their career, raised awareness and supported Haiti. On December 26th, 2006, the band was supposed to release ‘Intervention’ on iTunes to support the Partners In Health charity. However, they accidentally uploaded the wrong track leading to ‘Black Wave / Bad Vibrations’ leaking two days too early. As Butler stated. “I guess it is sort of charming that we can send the wrong song to the whole world with a click of a mouse… oh well.”

Across the band’s seven members, Arcade Fire can play over 16 instruments, including violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, Glockenspiel, French horn, harp, mandolin, and hurdy-gurdy. They also bring most of these with them on tour.

William Butler and Owen Pallett spent over a year collaborating on the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Her. “Working on something where you had to defer to the director and see it through his eyes was a great musical challenge that you could apply to everything else,” Butler said about the experience that ultimately gained him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.

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'Everything Now' will be released on July 28th.

Words: Aurora Henni Krogh

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