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Arcade Fire

The Arcade Fire is an indie rock band formed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada comprising band members Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara. Howard Bilerman, who played drums on the album Funeral, has since moved on to other projects. Neufeld, Parry, and Amato also play in the instrumental band Bell Orchestre. As of May 2005, the touring band includes horn player Pietro Amato and violinist Owen Pallett. Pallett, though not listed as a band member on the band's official site, both play with the band live and, according to Butler, helped with the string arrangements for their forthcoming album, Neon Bible. Another member in the touring band is Marika Anthony-Shaw, a violist who played on Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light along with Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry with Bell Orchestre.



Arcade Fire formed around the husband and wife duo of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Starting in mid-2003, the current lineup solidified in late 2003/early 2004, when their first full-length album Funeral was recorded. Before this an eponymous EP (often referred to by fans as the Us Kids Know EP) had been sold at early shows. The EP was subsequently remastered and given a full release once the band started becoming more prominent. Arcade Fire is known for its enthralling live performances, as well as its use of a large number of musical instruments. In addition to mainstays guitar, drums, and bass guitar, members play piano, violin, viola, double bass, xylophone, keyboard, French horn, accordion, hurdy gurdy and harp. With several able musicians, Arcade Fire takes most of its instrumental diversity on tour and band members switch instrumental duties throughout their shows. The number of instruments, along with a wide set of musical influences has provided a substantial number of resources on which to draw during the recording process. The promise showed by the band in its live shows allowed it to land a record contract with the independent record label Merge Records.

When asked about the rumour that the band's name refers to a fire in an arcade, 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."


Their first album, Funeral, debuted in September 2004 in Canada and in February 2005 in the UK, and was highly acclaimed by critics. The title of the debut album was chosen because of the deaths of several relatives of band members during recording. These events created a somber atmosphere which influenced songs such as "Une année sans lumière" ("A Year Without Light"), "In the Backseat", and "Haiti", Chassagne's elegy to her lost homeland. "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" is based on their experiences of the North American ice storm in 1998.

Without a major label backing, the success of the band and the album Funeral has been acclaimed as an Internet phenomenon. After a 9.7 rating from Pitchfork, Merge Records sold out their inventory of Funeral and it became the label's first album in the Billboard 200 chart. An early tip from David Bowie was also influential. The band booked small clubs for their 2004 tour but growing interest forced many venue changes, far beyond the band's expectations, and continued internationally into mid-2005 throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and the SummerSonic Festival in Japan. Taking much of the summer of 2005 off, the band made four key festival appearances at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Sasquatch! Music Festival, Lollapalooza and Reading Festival in the UK. Funeral made many top ten album lists for 2004, with Pitchfork, Filter and No Ripcord crowning it the album of the year. With the release of Funeral in 2005 in the UK, Japan and Australia, the Arcade Fire also made many top lists for 2005. The MTV2 2005 Review hosted by Zane Lowe named Funeral Album of the Year, and NME named Funeral Number 2 in their list of 2005's best albums and "Rebellion (Lies)" the best track. By November 2005, Funeral had gone gold in both Canada and the UK and sold in excess of half a million copies worldwide, a phenomenal number for an independent release with minimal television or radio exposure. It has also surpassed Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea as the biggest selling Merge Records album to date.

Arcade Fire was featured on the April 4, 2005 cover of Time Magazine's Canadian edition, and hailed as a band who "helped put Canadian music on the world map". On May 1, 2005, the band performed to approximately 15,000 fans at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival; their performance is often viewed as the highlight of Coachella 2005. In May 2005, the band signed a short-term publishing contract with EMI for Funeral and in June, the band released a new single, "Cold Wind", on Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends, the second soundtrack album to the popular HBO series Six Feet Under. The BBC used the track "Wake Up" on an advertisement for their autumn 2005 season and the tracks "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" on adverts in January 2006. On September 9, 2005, the band appeared on the UK/US TV special Fashion Rocks, where David Bowie joined them for "Wake Up". This recording, as well as recordings by the collaboration of Bowie's "Life on Mars" and "Five Years", were made available on the iTunes Music Store in a virtual live EP. The same trip to New York City took them to the Late Show with David Letterman and a concert in Central Park. The Central Park Show had a surprise appearance by Bowie, and capped a great touring season for the band. On September 11, 2005, Arcade Fire appeared on the long-running BBC music series Top of the Pops, performing "Rebellion (Lies)" - on what was one of the band's first mainstream UK television appearances. The band also performed to a TV audience in Paris for Canal +, and the show was later screened on UK television channel, Channel 4. The band has scored two number one songs on MTV2 (UK) NME Chart Show, with "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and a three week run with "Wake Up". However this followed Rough Trade Records (the label that distributes Arcade Fire's music in the UK) deciding at the last minute not to release "Wake Up" on CD, and only on 7" vinyl.

Arcade Fire's song "Wake Up" was played immediately before the Irish rock group U2 opened their concerts on their 2005 Vertigo Tour; the band would subsequently open three shows for that tour, and at the third show, they appeared onstage during U2's encore to join them in a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

Arcade Fire's album Funeral and their single "Cold Wind" were respectively nominated for Grammys in the best Alternative Rock Album and Best Song Written for Television, Film, or Other Media categories (Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends). On April 2, 2006, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Arcade Fire received the Juno Award for Songwriters Of The Year for three songs from Funeral: "Wake Up", "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)".dead link; view archive here The band was nominated for, but not awarded, three Brit Awards; Best International Group, Best International Album and Best International Breakthrough Act.

Arcade Fire made an appearance on the BBC show Later with Jools Holland on May 12, 2005, performing "Power Out" and "Rebellion (Lies)".

On December 27, 2005, Funeral was ranked #1 on MTV2's "50 Greatest Albums of the Year" in the United Kingdom.

Neon Bible

On June 26, 2006, Win Butler announced on the band's journal that work had been progressing on their new album and the band had committed 15 tracks to tape, using a wide variety of new instruments. These apparently include a pipe organ, and some recording took place in the living room of Win and Regine.

On July 14, 2006, Win Butler also announced on his online diary, Win's Scrapbook, that the new album would be self-produced, saying that "after trying to decide if we should work with any producers we kind of realized that we already know how we want things to sound so we should just run after that sound as fast as we can and not rely on someone else to guide the good ship Arcade Fire." He also said the band was working with the engineers Scott Colburn and Marcus Dravs.

A tour in support of the new album was announced in December 2006. A five night residency in London, UK, took place from January 29 to February 2, 2007: three nights at St Johns Smith Square and two nights at Porchester Hall, both unusual venues for a "rock" or alternative band, as both venues are associated with classical, sit down concerts. These dates sold out within two minutes of going on sale . On December 11, 2006, the band announced 5 additional shows to be held in their hometown of Montreal, Quebec. Although these shows were thought to mark the first performance of the band in their hometown since November of 2005 when they supported U2 at the Bell Center, they actually performed a mostly secret show at a church in the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal on 20 January and five shows, from February 6th to 10th, at the Ukranian Federation. These will be the first headlining shows in Montreal since April 2005, a 3 night stand at the Corona Theatre.

The album, confirmed to be called Neon Bible, is to be released on March 5, 2007 (March 6 in North America), and the Arcade Fire have announced a European tour to take place during March and April in support of the album, which includes dates in the London Brixton Academy and the Paris Olympia.

As stated by the chief of the Glastonbury Festival (UK), Arcade Fire are said to be confirmed for the event which will take place in June 2007 from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th.

The first single proper, "Black Mirror", was announced in January 2007. In the UK, the first single will be "Keep the Car Running". The album began to appear on Peer to Peer channels as of January 26, 2007.

Starting February 13, 2007, the Arcade Fire performed five sold-out performances at Judson Memorial Church in New York City to promote Neon Bible.

The Arcade Fire played on Saturday Night Live on February 24, 2007, performing "Intervention" and "Keep the Car Running". Owen Pallett wasn't present because he was recording for his own project, Final Fantasy. During the performance, Win Butler ripped the strings from his acoustic guitar and smashed it on the floor until it shattered. On this guitar, "sak vide pa kanpe" was written in duct tape across the front. A Haitian proverb meaning "an empty sack cannot stand" in Creole, this was a reference to the extreme poverty of Haiti, the country of birth of Butler's wife.



  • Funeral (Merge Records) (September 14, 2004) #23 Canada, #33 UK, #131 US, #16 Ireland
  • Neon Bible (Merge Records) (March 6, 2007)


  • Arcade Fire (EP) (self-released) (2003) (Re-released through Merge in 2005)


  • "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" (Merge) (June 20, 2004)
  • "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" (Rough Trade) (March 28, 2005) #30 UK
  • "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" (Rough Trade) (May 23, 2005) #26 UK
  • "Cold Wind" / "Brazil" (Rough Trade) (August 1, 2005) #52 UK (USA on August 9, 2005 through Merge)
  • "Rebellion (Lies)" (Rough Trade) (September 5, 2005) #19 UK
  • "Wake Up" (Rough Trade) (November 14, 2005) #29 UK
  • "Intervention" (Merge) (December 28, 2006)
  • "Keep the Car Running" (Rough Trade) (March 19, 2007)


  • They have performed covers of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song "Maps", for Radio 1, and a version of the Talking Heads song, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)". David Byrne has been a noted fan of the band; like David Bowie, he has been spotted at many of their early gigs.
  • Win Butler has expressed displeasure at the popularity of internet-distributed MP3s labeled 2001 Demos and another called Arcade Fire Christmas Album. The demos do not represent the work of the current band, and the "Christmas Album" was taped at a holiday party with friends who played carols in a parody of the Arcade Fire style, and only part of the band was present.
  • In 2005, both Win and Regine contributed to the UNICEF benefit song, "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?".
  • Win Butler (1998) and William Butler (2001) both attended the elite Phillips Exeter Academy.
  • Arcade Fire were recently featured in the online comic strip, Achewood, in which the character Teodor is (apparently) a fan of the band.
  • Are managed by Björk's managers ().
  • When performing singular songs on television (on talk shows, for example) the band often tried to add something unique to each performance: on the 2005 MuchMusic Video Awards, a marching band played 'dead' until the closing chorus, in which all the players got up and escorted Arcade Fire members off-stage and along the edge of the crowd while playing the closing of the song. On talk shows, band members who don't have as much or any singing to do during a song will be especially eccentric on stage.
  • Coldplay's Chris Martin called Arcade Fire "the greatest band in history" while performing at a concert in Ottawa, Ontario. He reiterated this during a performance at the Montreal Bell Centre in July 2005 and in Austin City Limits Music Festival in September 2005.
  • Arcade Fire played a fund-raiser concert in Ottawa, Ontario, at Canterbury High School in support of the special arts program which Richard Reed attended.
  • "Wake Up" has been played at the start of Manchester City home games and New York Rangers hockey games in 2006, as well as an intro at U2 concerts during the Vertigo tour.