Arcade Fire were founded by multi-instrumentalist Win Butler, Will’s brother, in Montreal in the early 2000s, with Butler joining in 2004 ahead of their debut album ‘Funeral’.
After the band returned in March with news of their sixth album ‘WE’, and a video for its first single ‘The Lightning I, II’, Will confirmed on social media that he had left Arcade Fire.
In a series of tweets posted on March 19, Will revealed that he had left the band at the end of last year, saying that it was “time for new things” and that the band remain his “friends and family”.
“Hi friends— I’ve left Arcade Fire,” he wrote. “I left at the end of last year, after the new record was complete. There was no acute reason beyond that I’ve changed—and the band has changed—over the last almost 20 years. Time for new things.”
He added: “Thank you to anyone who’s come out to AF shows, or bought a record, or loves our music. It’s meaningful to be part of your lives. Thank you to the crew, staff, management, label people, bands, artists, and friends who have helped bring our vision to life for so many years. The band are still my friends and family. I’ll be around! See you around!”
Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read, Arcade Fire have now opened up about Will’s departure.
Discussing his brother’s next move, Win said: “He’s our family and everyone in the band’s family, and he’s such a brilliant guy – he has so many things that just aren’t this band.”
He added: “And on a human level, he’s got three young children, he just has so much other stuff to do – we’re fully supportive of his path, and can’t wait to see it.”
Elsewhere in the interview the band spoke about the making of ‘WE’, which has been released today (May 6), and reflected on their early days and roots – such as when David Bowie and David Byrne both came to see them at a show early on in their career.
Bowie championed Arcade Fire in their early days (he once joked that “he discovered them”), and in 2013 leant his vocals to ‘Reflektor’. A decade earlier, in 2004, Bowie and Byrne showed up to the band’s first New York show at the Bowery Ballroom.
“What business did they have going to check out a punk band from Canada in New York City in 2004?” Butler reflected to NME.
“They’d already done everything: if they’d never done another thing, their legacies are completely cemented and they didn’t need to prove anything. But what I learned from them was that they were still hungry and they were still interested and curious.”
Reviewing the band’s latest album, NME said: “Come the subdued acoustic title track, all oppression, doubt and anxiety has evaporated and Butler is so in love with life again that he wants to get ‘wild’ and ‘free’, sell all his possessions and have another ride on this mortal rollercoaster: ‘when everything ends, can we do it again?‘
“Our global journey from fear to appreciation is played out in what Arcade Fire themselves accurately describe as a ‘concise 40-minute epic’. Philosophically, they haven’t been so focussed since 2010’s ‘The Suburbs’, nor so musically dramatic since 2007’s ‘Neon Bible’. Subscribe.”