The Canadian band are due to release their sixth studio effort on May 6 via Columbia Records. It was produced by long-term Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich along with the group’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne.
During a recent interview with the Montreal Gazette, it was noted that Gabriel contributed to a dance-orientated album track called ‘Unconditional II (Race and Religion)’ on which Chassagne takes the lead.
“[Gabriel] came to the studio and we had a day to work on it,” Butler told the outlet. “He does this thing where he double-tracks his voice, high and low. As soon as he put the high vocal down, I was like, ‘Oh s—, that’s Peter Gabriel’.”
In a separate conversation with The New York Times, Butler and Chassagne said it was gratifying to spend time with an artist who had a similar approach to pursuing music.
“We feel crazy sometimes,” Butler explained. “It’s nice to meet other people that know what we’re talking about.”
Chassagne, meanwhile, said it was “so special” to hear the finished collaboration.
Elsewhere in their chat with the Montreal Gazette, Butler opened up about the experience of him and Chassagne being separated from their bandmates as the couple worked on new material throughout the pandemic.
“We didn’t know when or if it would be possible to get the band together. We were very inspired and very plugged in, but the world we were making the record for was changing so much,” Butler remembered.
In the NYT’s interview, it was revealed that Joshua Tillman – aka Father John Misty – flew in from Los Angeles to act as an external “sounding board” for Butler and Chassagne early on in the songwriting process.
Butler told the Montreal Gazette: “The goal was to write — independent of genre — songs we could play around the piano with guitar, and to just work on structure, melody and the bones of songs as much as we could, because we had time.”
Six months later, Butler and Chassagne reunited with the rest of the band and ‘WE’ started to properly come together. “Every night, I would grill food and we would sit around the fire and play songs,” the frontman recalled. “It was a very uncertain but beautiful time.”
Peter Gabriel previously covered Arcade Fire’s ‘My Body Is A Cage’, with Butler and co. later returning the favour by recording a rendition of the former Genesis musician’s solo track ‘Games Without Frontiers’.
Back in 2015, Father John Misty put his own spin on Arcade Fire’s 2010 song ‘The Suburbs’ from their Grammy-winning third album of the same name.
Arcade Fire have previewed ‘WE’ with the double lead single ‘The Lightning I, II’ and are expected to release ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’ soon. The band played the forthcoming track during their surprise Coachella set last weekend.
The group will make their return to the UK next Friday (April 29) to play an intimate concert at London’s KOKO to mark the long-awaited reopening of the venue. Tickets are now sold out.