“This song partly springs from The Second Coming by [Irish poet] William Butler Yeats: ‘What rough beast, its hour come round at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?‘” Butler explained, referring to the 1920 poem.
“Like a lot of folks, I woke up after the election in 2016 mad and sad and scared and exhausted. This song is born of that emotion.”
He added that the song’s bridge is “a corrective to my (appropriate?) freaking out – this isn’t the apocalypse”.
“History has not ruptured – this shit we’re in is contiguous with the shit we’ve been dealing with for a long, long time. But still, we sometimes do need an apocalyptic vision to make change. Even if it’s technically wrong. I dunno. It’s an ongoing conversation.”
‘Bethlehem’ arrives with a sinister official video that was co-directed by Butler alongside Adrienne Anderson.
Speaking to NME upon the release of ‘Surrender’, Butler revealed that Arcade Fire had been in the studio working on their sixth record prior to the coronavirus crisis taking hold.
“Arcade Fire was recording. Well, we were recording…But now our drummer is in Australia, two of us are in Canada, and the rest are in America,” he said. “Australia are having a crazy outbreak, the border to Canada is sealed right now…like, Jesus Christ.
“It takes more logistics to get together. It always took a certain amount of logistics, but right now it’s insurmountable.”
Meanwhile, the band’s drummer Jeremy Gara recently released his experimental new album ‘Passerine Finale’.