Arcade Fire are one of the most successful bands to come out of Canada. With each of the members playing multiple instruments and the synergy they exude onstage, the Montreal indie rock outfit has provided fans with albums that have been heralded as some of the best in the genre. After releasing their self-titled EP in 2003, followed by their debut full-length, ‘Funeral,’ they have traveled the world and received countless awards and nominations.
With their critically-acclaimed fourth album, ‘Reflektor,’ Arcade Fire toured their costume-themed musical party to packed venues across North America. For a band with this much exposure — and thanks to the interwebs — you would think we’d know just about everything there is to know about them. But, sometimes things fall through the cracks, and that’s where we come in. Here are 14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Arcade Fire:
Win and William Butler come from a musical family. Alvino Rey, their grandfather, was an American Swing era and big band musician as well as the ‘pioneer of the pedal steel guitar.’ Alvino’s wife and their grandmother, Luise King, was a member of the King Sisters.
Although Arcade Fire are a Canadian band, both Win and William were actually born and raised in the U.S. Win was born in Truckee, Calif., while Will was birthed in the Woodlands, Texas.
Win has been playing basketball since he was a student at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. And at 6’4″, he’s still shooting hoops when he can and competed with Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner in a three-point shootout.
In Will’s senior year at Northwestern University (where he studied poetry and the Slavic language) he had to ask a professor to be excused from class in order play ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien.’ Weeks after the gig, he brought the professor a copy of Rolling Stone to prove that he wasn’t playing hooky.
Win and Regine Chassagne wrote ‘Headlights Look LIke Diamonds,’ which ended up on the band’s 2003 self-titled EP, on their first date.
Regine Chassagne’s emigrated to Montreal from Haiti, and she’s explored her family’s roots in a song with the same name off 2004’s ‘Funeral.’ She and the band have been active in raising money for the country, usually with Partners in Health, an organization that helps the poor around the world get medical help.
Stuart C. Wilson, Getty Images
Aside from being full-time members of Arcade Fire, multi-instrumentalists Richard Parry and Sarah Neufeld are also part of a post-rock instrumental group in Montreal called Bell Orchestre. Their 2009 LP, ‘As Seen Through Windows,’ was nomrinated for a Juno award in the Best International Album category.
‘Brazil’ is Win’s favorite movie of all time. And in 2010, Terry Gilliam, the film’s director, took the directing lead on the band’s live webcast in Madison Square Garden.
Richard played double bass, electric guitar and piano, did vocals and arranged backing vocals for ‘Conversation 16′ for the National’s ‘High Violet.’ He has also performed the song with the band live.
Instead of making a music video for ‘We Used To Wait’ off ‘The Suburbs,’ Arcade Fire teamed up with director Chris Milk and the Google Creative Lab to create an interactive video using HTML5 on Google Chrome.
The church in Quebec where Arcade Fire recorded ‘Neon Bible’ and ‘The Suburbs’ was put on sale for $325,000, a markup from the $200,000 they paid in 2006. Since listing the property in 2013, it’s been taken off the market.
Sutton Real Estate
Not only did Arcade Fire record the score for 2013’s ‘Her’ with Owen Pallett, but it was also nominated nominated for a ‘Best Original Score’ Academy Award in 2014.
‘Supersymmetry,’ which is the last track on the ‘Reflektor,’ was originally meant for ‘Her.’ While it didn’t get play in the actual movie, you can hear the track in the movie’s ending credits.
Many of the lyrics on ‘Reflektor’ are inspired by the 1959 film, ‘Black Orpheus.’
These guys really like to work with movies: Win and Regine teamed up with Owen Pallett on a score for 2009’s ‘The Box,’ starring Cameron Diaz. While it does play in the film, an actual soundtrack was never released.
Sometimes Will, Richard, Jeremy Gara and Tim Kingsbury take a break from being part of Arcade Fire to play in Phi Slamma Jamma, a cover band that’s covered the Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Run for Your Life.’ They also apparently like to rock Devo’s ‘Uncontrollable Urge’ in Hawaiian shirts.
What Obscure Facts About Arcade Fire Did We Miss?
If you already knew all these facts about Arcade Fire, then kudos on proving your fandom — or your skills on Google. If you’ve got some info that we didn’t include in the list, feel free to share it in the comments below!
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