Ahead of the May 6 release of Arcade Fire’s new album WE, lead singer Win Butler is discussing the future of the Canadian indie rock band following his brother and longtime bandmate Will Butler’s exit from the group.
“I love Will. He’s my only brother and he’s always had interests that transcend music,” Butler tells Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an exclusive clip obtained by Consequence, ahead of the airing of the full interview.
“I think that he sort of followed his big brother into this band. It was his first job,” the vocalist continues. “He’s got three young children, and [my wife] Régine and I are able to bring our child on the road. But I think that if I wasn’t, there’s things way more important than music.”
Win explains that there are “things other than music” that Will has an interest in, personally.
“I think fundamentally you only have one chance to raise your family and to kind of have a life with your family. I think it’s very, extremely understandable. I’m proud of him for doing his own thing,” he tells Lowe.
Although Win is supportive of his brother’s decision, he could never see himself parting ways from Arcade Fire.
“The whole band is my family and there’s family you’re born with, and family that you choose,” the musician explains. “I think sometimes the family you choose can be just as big a thing, because it’s love and life, all that s**t, it’s not a straight line. I’m not really scared of any of it. I feel really grateful to be able to play still and to be able to do shows. It was really dark not having access to that for me. This band is my life so there’s no out for me, fortunately.”
After nearly 20 years with the band, Will announced his exit from Arcade Fire back in March, revealing he left “after the new record was complete.”
Also in the interview, Win talks about the inspiration behind the title of the upcoming album WE.
“George Orwell is sort of one of my great heroes, and he has an essay called ‘Why I Write’ that I read when I was 15. And in it, he says, ‘Never use a long word if there’s a short word that means the same thing,’” the musician shares. “And to me, we is one of the most meaningful words with the least number of letters, so it’s a very potent word. It’s tough to define as well.”
Explaining why he feels he needs music in order to survive, Win says, “There’s different types of musicians. There’s musicians that are talented and have great voices and really want to play music, and when they’re done and people applaud, that’s what they’re there for. When they hear the cheers and the gratification of someone saying, ‘Job well done,’ that’s ultimately what they’re in it for.”
He continues, “Then there’s these other that will die if they don’t play music. They will just fade away and they will die, and I’m in that category, and most of the people I f**k with are in that category. It’s not a choice. It even transcends vocation. It’s like my soul and my body needs this to exist. Otherwise, I probably would have no function at all. I would just be wandering around and just totally useless to society.”
One of the artists featured on the new album is music legend Peter Gabriel, and Win talks about the influence that the former Genesis musician has had on the band.
“We covered his ‘Games Without Frontiers’ and he did a cover of ‘My Body’s a Cage’. Peter Gabriel for Régine is a massive influence as well. I mean, and for me as well,” Win says. “I think for Régine being Haitian in a kind of predominantly white Quebecois milieu and hearing Peter Gabriel’s music in the eighties, and just hearing African drums and something that connected to her family roots, I think was really profound. It was really hard to find anything like that in the eighties. It’s like almost like it didn’t exist.”