Revenge of the Music Nerds: Arcade Fire Wins
"I miss how green everything was all the time always," he says of his youth in The Woodlands from his current home in Montreal. "You'd come home in December and the lawns would still be green, and there'd be flowers and...you know, that feeling. I like one day of summer that feels like Houston, like one day where it's 100 degrees and 102 percent humidity, where you walk outside and you're just like, 'This is stupid.'
"I like that one day, or maybe three days," continues Butler, who is two and a half years younger than his brother Win, the band's front man. "But not necessarily in a row. I do occasionally miss that aspect of the weather."
When Arcade Fire last played the Houston area, at May 2011 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Win announced from the stage that he had once been an usher at that same venue. Unlike his brother, though, Will -- who more or less plays anything with strings or keys, plus glockenspiel, trombone, clarinet (his first instrument) and pan pipes on Arcade Fire's latest album, 2013's Reflektor -- attended boarding school in New Hampshire, leaving him with somewhat different summer employment opportunities.
"I was a bellhop up in New England," he says. "I never had the counter job at Blockbuster music or anything."
But Win and the rest of Arcade Fire -- besides the two brothers, the Montreal-based group's core members are Win's wife Regine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara -- took the front man's fanciful experiences of his adolescence in the well-to-do master-planned community and turned it into The Suburbs, their conflicted, confrontational, sprawling 2010 double album. It wasn't quite as critical of suburbia as many people assumed it would be, finding room to appreciate the familiar comforts of home amid its general yearning to be elsewhere. As a reconciliation of Arcade Fire's stadium-rock sound and their indie-rock ideals, it was nearly perfect.
The Suburbs also came out of nowhere to win the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year, beating out Katy Perry, Eminem, and Ladys Antebellum and Gaga. Presenter Barbra Streisand's announcement came out as more of a question, and Win opened his acceptance speech with, "What the hell?!" The victory gave Arcade Fire carte blanche to make Reflektor exactly how they wanted to, with little worry of any outside interference.
"I'm hesitant to say that [the win] didn't affect us at all, but it mostly confirmed that we were doing something right," says Will. "So there was no need to panic or switch gears -- there was no pressure to change. If anything, it put less pressure on us. We had made every album to our own exacting specifications, so when the world appreciates that, you say, 'Oh, well, I guess we'll just keep making music to our own exacting specifications.'
"In a way, it took pressure off, because it made us able to ignore the world even more," he continues. "And then, yeah, we just kind of got to work on our own."
Story continues on the next page.