Win But­ler is on a mis­sion to make Ar­cade Fire the big­gest band in the world — whether the rest of the band likes it or not. The fact that some mem­bers of this art-house band, which con­quered the world, would pre­fer to be play­ing small clubs is just one o

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - TRAILBLAZERS -

Win But­ler is al­ways up for a fight — even if it ’s with his au­di­ence. “I re­mem­ber we were on the Sub­urbs tour,” But­ler is say­ing one af­ter­noon in New York, “and we got booked at the Mon­treux Jazz Fes­ti­val in Switzer­land. We’d al­ready played Switzer­land a cou­ple of times, and we’d made a rule we were never gonna do it again. The shows were so aw­ful, and the peo­ple were just so rich and spoiled.

“So we showed up at Mon­treux, which we didn’t re­alise was in Switzer­land. And it was the worst fuck­ing au­di­ence we’ve ever played for. Peo­ple were giv­ing noth­ing. Just a black hole. So I started push­ing. Be­fore ev­ery song, I was, like, ‘And this is the last time we’ll play this song in Switzer­land!’ Just try­ing to get a rise.”

On­stage, Ar­cade Fire have a rep­u­ta­tion for feel-good pos­i­tiv­ity. But But­ler of ten de­scribes their shows as a con­fronta­tion. Even Wake Up, the tri­umphant, show-clos­ing num­ber that helped make them he­roes to a gen­er­a­tion of indie-rock fans, started out as what But­ler has called a “fuck-you song” — it was meant to grab the au­di­ence by the throat and force them to pay at­ten­tion.

Tonight, Ar­cade Fire don’t have to work at get­ting any­body’s at­ten­tion. It’s just af­ter 5pm, four hours un­til show­time, but kids are al­ready lined up around the block for the band’s gig, un­der the alias, the Re­flek­tors, at a di­lap­i­dated ware­house in in­dus­trial Brook­lyn. But­ler — wear­ing a black Pub­lic Enemy T-shirt and an old-timey Pitts­burgh Pi­rates cap — is gi­gan­tic in per­son: a few months ago, when he played with the Rolling Stones at a con­cert in Mon­treal, Mick Jag­ger and Keith Richards came up roughly to his ster­num, and when Ar­cade Fire per­formed on Satur­day Night Live in Septem­ber, host Tina Fey jok­ingly com­pared him to a “Ser­bian bas­ket­ball player”.

Ar­cade Fire are kick­ing off a se­ries of ap­pear­ances in sup­port of their fourth al­bum, Re­flek­tor, which will be re­leased 10 days later. Over the next two and a half weeks, they’ll ap­pear on the YouTube Mu­sic Awards, US satir­i­cal show, The Col­bert Re­port, and at five shows at the kind of un­der­size clubs and ware­houses that they out­grew nearly a decade ago.

“The idea was to play th­ese like they were our first shows ever,” But­ler says. To get back to ba­sics — a tempt­ing pos­si­bil­ity for a band that’s much big­ger than it ever thought it would be. In 2014, Ar­cade Fire have fully as­sumed their place in the pan­theon, wel­comed by some of rock’s all-time greats. Bono is a friend, and he ap­pears in one of their videos. Bruce Spring­steen gives them per­son­alised ad­vice. (But­ler: “One of the things he told us was ‘Play Italy.’”) David Bowie ap­pears on their sin­gle, Re­flek­tor. This spring, the band em­barks on a US arena tour that will find the six-piece Cana­dian crew bring­ing its grandiose art project to the likes of the KFC Yum! Center.

Such are the spoils of be­ing one of the most suc­cess­ful bands on the planet, which Ar­cade Fire have been since at least Fe­bru­ary 2011, when their third al­bum, The Sub­urbs, won a Grammy for Al­bum of the Year, beat­ing out favourites Eminem, Lady Gaga and Katy Perr y. A be­fud­dled Bar­bra Streisand, pre­sent­ing the award, thought The Sub­urbs was the name of the band; But­ler seemed to ex­press the con­fu­sion of most of Amer­ica when he stepped to the mic and said, “What the hell?”

The next day, But­ler is down­stairs at the band’s ho­tel, push­ing his in­fant son around in a stroller. The boy — whose name But­ler and his wife, Regine Chas­sagne, would rather not make pub­lic — is only six months old, but he al­ready weighs as much as a baby twice his age.

“We’re hop­ing he’ll be a point guard,” the bas­ket­ball-lov­ing But­ler says. “Here, let me show you my favourite gag. I call it the iBaby.” He plucks his son out of the stroller and starts push­ing on his belly like it’s a key­pad. “Beep, boop, boop, beep, boop,” he says. He holds the baby up to his ear. “Yes, I’d like to or­der a large pizza, please. OK, I can wait. I’ll just check my email real quick.”

But­ler takes the baby away from his ear and starts scrolling down his belly — swip­ing emails and delet­ing them. The baby laughs. “He loves it!” But­ler says. Then one of the nan­nies takes him out­side for a walk. (Chas­sagne, Ar­cade Fire’s co-band leader, isn’t quite as dot­ing in pub­lic, but it might be be­cause she’s been keep­ing the baby with her all night, shar­ing her ho­tel bed with him, so But­ler can get a full night’s sleep in a sep­a­rate room.)

This is the kind of thing But­ler has dreamed of ever since he thought about start­ing a band: his wife and his kid, all play­ing to­gether on the road. But­ler’s

ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, Alvino Rey, a big­band leader and pedal steel vir­tu­oso, who backed Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, of­ten per­formed with But­ler’s grand­mother, Luise Rey, who sang in a group called the King Sis­ters. Some­times, But­ler’s mother, Liza, would sing, too. They all per­formed on a va­ri­ety show on ABC tele­vi­sion in the US and flew around on a pri­vate jet.

“It’s kind of part of our her­itage,” says But­ler’s younger brother, Will, one of Ar­cade Fire’s guitarists. “The fam­ily band.”

Both of the But­ler boys were born in Truc­kee, Cal­i­for­nia, near where their dad worked as a ge­ol­o­gist in Reno, Ne­vada.

But, when it be­came ap­par­ent that there was no gold left in Reno, he switched to oil, which meant ei­ther Al­berta or Texas. They chose Texas.

Win was five. “I never re­ally felt su­per-Texan,” he says. “It wasn’t like I was un­happy, but I wasn’t su­per­happy.” So, when his dad floated the pos­si­bil­ity of board­ing school at his alma mater, Phillips Ex­eter Academy in New Hamp­shire, Win took it. He moved into a dorm called Ab­bot Hall (“I was re­ally lucky, be­cause there were much douch­ier dorms”) and met kids from Hong Kong, Africa and “all dif­fer­ent parts of New Eng­land”. “It was way more di­verse and in­tel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing,” he says, “so it was kind of hard to turn back af­ter that.”

Af­ter Ex­eter, But­ler en­rolled at Sarah Lawrence Col­lege to study photography. But he soon re­alised that he hated it. “The idea of peer cri­tique, of talk­ing about each other’s art — I just found it so use­less,” he says. “I don’t want to talk about some­one else’s shitty photo, and have some­one I don’t re­spect tell me what they think about mine.” He quit af­ter one year and moved to Bos­ton with a friend, then moved with that same friend to Mon­treal, where they started in earnest the band that be­came Ar­cade Fire.

“The first time I saw Ar­cade Fire, it was in a loft in Mon­treal,” re­calls Tim Kings­bury, the band’s gui­tarist and bassist. “It was Win and Regine, two drum­mers, this guy, Myles, play­ing gui­tar, and this girl, Anita, play­ing the harp. I just re­mem­ber 30 peo­ple sit­ting on the floor, and Win be­ing su­per­tall and im­pos­ing, and stand­ing over ev­ery­one.

“The first time I ac­tu­ally talked to him was when he and Regine came to one of my band’s shows. Af­ter­ward, he came up to me, like, ‘I re­ally liked that sec­ond song — but you should prob­a­bly cut the last verse.’ Just im­me­di­ately coach­ing us. I was like, ‘Who is this ass­hole?’”

There was a lot of turnover in the early days. At one show, their pre­vi­ous drum­mer messed up one of his parts, and But­ler started scream­ing, “No! No! No! No!” at him in time to the beat — prompt­ing the drum­mer to hurl his kit across the stage. (He left, too.) The cast of char­ac­ters changed through­out the first half of the 2000s, with Chas­sagne and But­ler at the core. But, af­ter the ad­di­tion of Kings­bury, drum­mer Jeremy Gara and key­board/gui­tar player Richard Reed Parry, the line-up seemed to so­lid­ify.

But­ler runs the band as a kind of dicta-democ­racy, in which all mem­bers are equal, but one is more equal than oth­ers. “Win has the loud­est mouth for sure,” Parry says. “There’s no ques­tion he’s the leader of this

‘Win has the loud­est mouth for sure. There’s no ques­tion he’s the leader of this band. Which is fine by me. I’m a Quaker’

band. Which is fine by me. I’m a Quaker, and con­sen­sus is fuck­ing slow and hard.

“And, at the end of the day, the fact that we can all get be­hind any idea and move for ward is a small mir­a­cle.” But­ler is unapolo­getic about his man­age­rial style. He half-jok­ingly refers to the crew as his “staff ”, and com­pares his role to that of a di­rec­tor on a film set. “When you make

Lord of the Rings, maybe there’s 500 peo­ple build­ing an Orc vil­lage that costs $10 mil­lion, and it ends up on the edit­ing floor,” he says. “That fuck­ing sucks if you were work­ing on that vil­lage for six months — but I’m still cut­ting the Orc vil­lage.” That said, he adds, “I don’t think for a sec­ond that I could do this with­out ev­ery­one else. Be­cause it’s so much big­ger than the sum of its parts.”

But­ler and Chas­sagne sit down to lunch at their favourite Mi­ami restau­rant, a Haitian place in South Beach called Tap Tap. Chas­sagne grew up poor in a sub­urb of Mon­treal, the daugh­ter of two Haitian im­mi­grants, and the band has made Haiti its cause.

Chas­sagne co-founded a non-profit called Kanpe — Cre­ole for ‘Stand Up’ — that helps ru­ral Haitians ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal care. One dol­lar/euro/pound from ev­ery ticket the group sells goes to a Haitian aid or­gan­i­sa­tion called Part­ners in Health.

Chas­sagne digs into the feast on the ta­ble: pork frit­ters, roasted goat, sole fil­let, rice, beans and corn bread. She clearly doesn’t like to be in­ter­viewed, as if ex­plain­ing things about her­self or her mu­sic will ruin the magic. As a girl, Chas­sagne was a mu­sic prodigy, who taught her­self to play part of

a Mozart sym­phony by ear on an old elec­tric or­gan she found in the fam­ily’s base­ment.

But, when she stud­ied mu­sic in col­lege (it was her sec­ond de­gree, af­ter one in com­mu­ni­ca­tions), she quit for rea­sons oddly sim­i­lar to But­ler’s. “Class was driv­ing me crazy,” Chas­sagne says. “You have to write all th­ese as­sign­ments, but what are you sup­posed to do with this piece of shit mu­sic you com­posed just for the as­sign­ment?

“In my third year, the teacher was, like, ‘OK, for next Thurs­day, write me a 12-bar blues,’ and I was, like, ‘I’m done!’ There’s enough 12-bar blues in the world. I’ve got other things to do.”

Chas­sagne and But­ler met at McGill Univer­sity in 2001. Around the same time, he saw her sing jazz at an art gallery and asked her to play with him. Think­ing he was just hit­ting on her, she blew him off. She says he called her five times be­fore fi­nally talk­ing her into com­ing to play with him, at which point, she put on her ugli­est jeans and made sure her hair was a mess. But they wrote a song to­gether that night, went on their first real date soon af­ter ( Crouching Tiger, Hid­den

Dragon), got en­gaged at a New Year’s Eve party, and were mar­ried in the sum­mer of 2003 at a maple farm near Mon­treal. The fol­low­ing year, Ar­cade Fire’s first al­bum came out.

Chas­sagne’s par­ents fled Haiti dur­ing the vi­o­lence of the 1960s, when Papa Doc Du­va­lier’s Ton­ton Ma­coutes death squads were elim­i­nat­ing po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies. Her fam­ily came from Jeremie, where a lot of light-skinned, up­per-class Haitians lived, and which was a par­tic­u­lar Du­va­lier tar­get.

Chas­sagne’s great-un­cle was a doc­tor and diplo­mat, who helped lead an at­tempted coup. Chas­sagne says many of her rel­a­tives were rounded up dur­ing that pe­riod. Her un­cle, Al­bert, wrote a book about those days, called Bain de Sang en Haiti, or

Blood Bath in Haiti. Her fa­ther es­caped as a teenager, moved to the US, got a green card — and was promptly drafted and sent to Viet­nam. (“He’s in­cred­i­bly not bit­ter about it,” says But­ler.)

Her par­ents met at an army dance; her mother died in the late Nineties, and her dad now lives near Bakersfield, Cal­i­for­nia. Chas­sagne says she’s of mixed racial de­scent. Her par­ents were both darker than her, she says, “but, some­how, I just came out like this.”

For the band’s new al­bum, she wanted to cap­ture some of the is­land’s en­ergy — to blend Ar­cade Fire’s trade­mark or­ches­tral up­lift with some earth­ier Caribbean grooves.

“I had this idea about hy­brid beats,” she says. The band mem­bers would spend hours work­shop­ping songs, tr ying to get Chas­sagne’s hips to move.

Once she started danc­ing, they’d know they were on the right track. “I was driv­ing ev­ery­one crazy,” she says. (“There’s no driv­ing crazy,” says Gara diplo­mat­i­cally. “Regine’s just like, ‘I re­ally have this strong idea, let’s chase it.’”) Chas­sagne smiles. “I just need to dance, OK?”

That Satur­day, the band flies to Cal­i­for­nia to per­form at Neil Young’s an­nual Bridge School Ben­e­fit. Back­stage at the Shore­line Am­phithe­atre in Moun­tain View, the vibe is one of post-hip­py­ish utopia. Gra­ham Nash chats with the dudes from My Morn­ing Jacket, and David Crosby — dressed in a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young T-shirt —

‘Per­son­ally, I don’t feel like we need to be­come any more pop­u­lar. It’s kind of ab­surd’

chats with But­ler and Tim Robbins. “I feel so short next to you guys!” Crosby says. But­ler looks at Robbins and they both play­fully go down on bended knee.

Af­ter sound­check, But­ler spends a while play­ing ping pong with his gui­tar tech, Tyler Mes­sick. But­ler, a fierce com­peti­tor with a wicked serve, tells him fre­quently to “get that shit out of here.” Dur­ing one game, he lunges so hard that he splits his pants. Mes­sick says But­ler hates to lose: “He’ll cheat, he’ll change the score. He’ll even flip over the ta­ble.”

Mes­sick and But­ler met five or six years ago, play­ing hoops at the Mon­treal YMCA. “He gets in fights al­most ev­ery time we play,” Mes­sick says. “He’s an in­sti­ga­tor — I have to hold guys back ev­ery time. He gets his ag­gres­sion out on the court. He doesn’t take crit­i­cism very well. But he can dom­i­nate a room like no one else.”

Also hang­ing out back­stage is Scott Rodger, the band’s man­ager. If Ar­cade Fire have be­come un­likely rock gods, Rodger, who also man­ages Paul Mc­Cart­ney, de­serves a big part of the credit. He came on board a few months af­ter the re­lease of the band’s de­but LP, Fu­neral, and im­me­di­ately set about ne­go­ti­at­ing bet­ter deals. As a re­sult, Ar­cade Fire is a busi­ness that’s been prof­itable al­most since Day One. They paid for their first EP with money from their shows, and in­sisted on keep­ing their pub­lish­ing rights when they signed their first la­bel deal. And, af­ter Fu­neral be­came a smash, it en­sured they would never need to take money from a record la­bel again.

Un­like, say, U2 — who might re­ceive a $50m (€37m) ad­vance, but never see another penny from record sales — Ar­cade Fire pay for ever ything up­front. Re­flek­tor, for in­stance, cost $1.6m to make, ac­cord­ing to Rodger — a hefty in­crease over the $500,000 (€368,000) they spent on The Sub­urbs. But, be­cause the band doesn’t out­source much to its record com­pany — the tiny indie la­bel, Merge — it also gets a much big­ger cut of the prof­its. As Rodger says, “We wanted to fig­ure out a way to sell a mil­lion records, but get paid like we sold four mil­lion. And we did.”

Frus­trated by what they thought was a fail­ure to cap­i­talise on their Grammy win, Ar­cade Fire also brought in some mus­cle for this al­bum. Re­flek­tor is be­ing dis­trib­uted through the gi­ant Uni­ver­sal Mu­sic Group. When The Sub­urbs de­buted at Num­ber One, Laura Bal­lance — the co-founder of Merge — laughed it off. “The whole chart thing is kind of like sports,” she told the

Los An­ge­les Times. But here’s the thing: But­ler re­ally likes sports.

“You can get big­ger or get smaller,” But­ler says, “and it feels bet­ter that it’s get­ting big­ger.” Not ev­ery­one in the band agrees.

“Per­son­ally, I don’t feel like we need to be­come any more pop­u­lar,” says Parry, who says he’d be happy play­ing club shows if the band could af­ford to. “It’s kind of ab­surd. We’re two months be­hind on band meet­ings right now, be­cause the last two months have been so bonkers.”

I ask him what kinds of things they need to talk about. “Ac­tu­ally, part of it is the pub­lic­ity,” he says. “Right now, it ’s dan­ger­ously close to be­ing all Win and Regine all the time. Which is new, and sort of dan­ger­ous.” He says he’s al­ways on guard against the nar­ra­tive that he calls the “royal cou­ple”. Parry doesn’t say any of this bit­terly. Mostly, he just seems gen­uinely con­cerned about what’s best for the band.

That night in Moun­tain View, But­ler is in the dress­ing room mak­ing a joke about “white-peo­ple prob­lems” when, sud­denly, there’s a knock at the door.

“Speak­ing of white peo­ple,” But­ler says, grin­ning, “Neil Young!” Young has stopped by to re­hearse an un­re­leased Ar­cade Fire song that he’s go­ing to per­form with them

tonight. The song came to But­ler in a dream: he woke up, sang it into a recorder and, when he played it back the next morn­ing, he re­alised it sounded ex­actly like a Neil Young song. He, Chas­sagne and Young run through it a few times; But­ler strum­ming an acous­tic gui­tar, Chas­sagne drum­ming her hands on a vi­olin case, Young wail­ing on his har­mon­ica as his har­mon­ica roadie stands nearby. “Cool!” Young ex­claims af­ter they’re fin­ished. “You guys got a great sound, man. You guys are great.”

Ar­cade Fire take the stage a few min­utes later, dressed in match­ing black-and-white-se­quined mari­achi suits. When Young joins them for their spe­cial num­ber, But­ler in­tro­duces it to the crowd un­der the ti­tle, I Dreamed a Neil Young Song. But, re­ally, the

name of the song is A Band With My Friends.

They start to play it — a slow, melan­choly num­ber with a sim­ple, mi­nor-key struc­ture. It re­ally does sound like a Neil Young song: “I had a dream and I woke up singing,/ I was play­ing in a band with my friends./Since I was young,/ I al­ways dreamed about play­ing in a band with my friends.”

Th­ese days, the band mem­bers all still live within about 10 min­utes of one another in Mon­treal. They live pretty mod­estly: But­ler and Chas­sagne are in the same house they bought af­ter Fu­neral, driv­ing the same old Volvo. Un­til very re­cently, Parry still drove a 1989 Camry — a hatch­back, so he could fit his bass in it. (Once he got stopped at the bor­der on his way back from New York with a bunch of plat­inum plaques, and the cus­toms of­fi­cers made fun of him for be­ing in Ar­cade Fire and driv­ing a Toy­ota.)

“The longer we’re a band, the more painfully ob­vi­ous it be­comes why most bands don’t last,” Parry says back­stage. “It’s prob­a­bly the na­ture of any­thing that starts out small and self-di­rected, and be­comes larger and in dan­ger of not be­ing self-di­rected.”

Back on­stage, But­ler sings the last verse:

Late at night, when the house is quiet, some­times I think about the end. What will I re­mem­ber from the years I was play­ing in a band with my friends?”

The next day, the band flies to Los An­ge­les, and But­ler de­cides he wants to play bas­ket­ball. To­gether, we drive from his ho­tel in West Hol­ly­wood to the east side, where a friend of a friend, sup­pos­edly, has a reg­u­lar pickup game. But­ler is dressed in size 15 Nikes and a throw­back pur­ple Utah Jazz jersey (No 7 — ‘Pis­tol’ Pete Mar­avich).

He played cen­tre on the bas­ket­ball team at Ex­eter, al­though he wasn’t a starter un­til the end of his se­nior year.

“I’m way bet­ter now,” he says. “I was al­ways treated as a post player, be­cause I’m tall, but, in my 20s, I re­alised that I could ac­tu­ally shoot. So, I’m much more of a scorer now.” (There seems to be a metaphor in there some­where.) He says, only half-jok­ingly, he’s hop­ing to get to play in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game this year.

We pull up to the gym, a dingy-look­ing rec cen­tre in the heart of Chi­na­town. Out front, some old ladies are do­ing t’ai chi. In­side, But­ler is one of only two non-Asians, and also the only per­son taller than 5ft 10in. He says “Hi” to his friend’s friend, but no­body else seems to recog­nise him.

The teams are set, lights against darks, and every­body takes their places on the court. On

‘The longer we’re a band, the more painfully ob­vi­ous it be­comes why most bands don’t last’

the first pos­ses­sion, But­ler pulls up at the top of the key and drains a three-pointer. The next pos­ses­sion, he does it again. The next one, he brings the ball down­court and dishes a nifty be­hind-the-back pass to a team-mate, who goes in for an easy layup, and then But­ler pulls up and sinks another three. Just like that, But­ler’s team is up 11-0, and he’s re­spon­si­ble for all 11 points.

By the sec­ond game, the other team starts dou­ble-team­ing him, but But­ler keeps at­tack­ing, ig­nor­ing an open man and driv­ing into the paint for another bucket. Then they be­gin triple-team­ing, and But­ler gets frus­trated. “Come on, guys — we gotta box out bet­ter!” he shouts. “They’re killing us on the re­bounds!” Still, thanks to some strong post play, his team ekes out another vic­tory.

The next game, But­ler sits out. Then, back in for game four, he opens with another three-pointer. But, pre tty soon, the frus­tra­tion is back. On one early pos­ses­sion, his team turns it over and the other team scores. But­ler punches a blue mat on the wall, hard. A few min­utes later, he tus­sles for a loose ball and jams his fin­ger. “Mother­fucker!” he screams, com­ing to the side­line to tape it up. “Ow! Fuck! I need this thing for work!”

When But­ler goes back in, he’s full-on pissed. “Grab that fuck­ing ball!” he shouts as his team loses another re­bound. “How many are they gonna fuck­ing get? Fuck!”

A minute later, it hap­pens again, and the other team drives down and scores. But­ler screams again. “That’s six in a row! It’s fuck­ing pa­thetic!”

“Dude, calm down,” one of his team­mates says fi­nally. “Ev­ery­one’s on the same team.” “But they’re get­ting ev­ery fuck­ing re­bound!” protests But­ler.

The guy smiles. “Dude, you’re six inches taller than ev­ery­one else. If you can’t get them, no one is go­ing to.”

The joke seems to calm him down a bit. For the rest of the game, But­ler switches to cheer­leader mode. “Come on, guys! We’re in this! Play hard!” They still lose, 21-19, but, af­ter­ward, But­ler is in bet­ter spir­its. “Thanks, guys,” he says as he peels off his jersey and dons a tie-dyed Ra­mones tee. “I’m sorry I’m so mouthy. I don’t mean any­thing by it. I don’t know how else to play.”

One of the guys asks him to stick around for one more game. But­ler says he can’t, but they’re wel­come on the court in Mon­treal any time. He says good­bye and turns to leave, but then stops just short of the door.

“Se­ri­ously, though,” he says with a grin. “Twelve points from re­bounds.”

A day later, the band plays a big record-re­lease con­cert in front of the Capi­tol Records build­ing that’s broad­cast on MTV and ABC. Traf­fic on Vine Street is shut down, and hun­dreds of fans spill out into the road­way. The group seems en­er­gised play­ing for a big crowd af­ter so many small shows. But, be­fore one song, But­ler goes on a funny lit­tle riff. “Some­times, you’re in a band,” he says, “and you put out an al­bum, and you just want to play songs, you know? But, some­times, things get so . . . com­pli­cated.” On Ar­cade Fire’s fi­nal night in Los An­ge­les, they play a show at the Hol­ly­wood Pal­la­dium, an Art Deco the­atre on Sun­set Boule­vard. Sev­eral of their Hol­ly­wood friends are here. Chas­sagne’s dad drove in, too. But­ler also has a per­sonal rea­son to be ex­cited. “My grandpa used to play here,” he says back­stage. “Mul­ti­ple times.”

Re­flek­tor had come out two days ear­lier, and most of the re­views were pos­i­tive. But the one that got the most at­ten­tion, in the

Wash­ing­ton Post, was def­i­nitely not. “Look, I’m sure they’re very nice peo­ple,” the re­view be­gan, “but, on their fourth al­bum . . . Ar­cade Fire still sound like gi­gan­tic dorks with bor­ing sex lives.”

“Yeah, I read it,” But­ler says, frown­ing. “I don’t want to say it was racist — but it was mildly un­e­d­u­cated.” He was par­tic­u­larly an­noyed by the three jokes about the band’s new bon­gos, point­ing out (rightly) that a pro­fes­sional mu­sic critic should know they were con­gas. He also says, not un­fairly, that there may be some sour grapes: “The guy who wrote it played in a band that we used to open for. It seems like a lit­tle bit of a con­flict of in­ter­est.”

But when I jok­ingly ask if he wants to con­firm or deny that he’s a gi­gan­tic dork, But­ler rolls his eyes.

“What­ever,” he says, his voice drip­ping sar­casm. “I’m a su­per­dork be­cause I play with David Bowie. Bruce Spring­steen wants to cover my songs be­cause I’m such a dork. I’m not a dork,” he says earnestly. “I’m a fuck­ing rock star.”

‘The fact that we can all get be­hind any idea and move for­ward is a small mir­a­cle’ — from left, Win But­ler, Regine Chas­sagne, Tim Kings­bury, Jeremy Gara, Will But­ler and Richard Reed Parry

‘I don’t think for a sec­ond that I could do this with­out ev­ery­one else’ — Win But­ler and wife, Regine Chas­sagne

‘I’m a su­per­dork be­cause I play with David Bowie’ — Win But­ler and Regine Chas­sagne with David Bowie and his wife, Iman

‘I just need to dance’ — Regine Chas­sagne and her hus­band, Win But­ler, on­stage

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