2015 Artist Survey: Will Butler of Arcade Fire | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2015 Artist Survey: Will Butler of Arcade Fire

Butler on 2015's Best Albums, Music Streaming, the Election, Disastrous Dates, and Early Childhood Memories

Feb 23, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Photography by Will Butler Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Will Butler of Arcade Fire. Butler also released a solo album, Policy, in 2015 on Merge. A shorter version of this interview ran in the Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is the full unedited version of the interview.

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Highlight: Putting together my touring band. Miles Arntzen as standing drummer, Julie Shore as keyboard bassist, Sara Dobbs on mellotron, and everyone on vocals. Lowlight: You know what? I love Austin, but SXSW kind of sucks.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Play lots of music, record lots of music, don’t mix any music, take two vacations.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I love the convenience of streaming. I blame lots of people for why artists make less money these days, but I can’t bring myself to blame the people who really like listening to music. Since I mostly like the convenience, I’d just as soon have my music on all the platforms.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I don’t know if the change is helping or hurting sales, but I hated, hated, hated that the U.K. and the USA used to have different release days. So I’m down with Fridays.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

I’ve always seen “independent” and “indie” as economic adjectives, not stylistic ones. Independent music comes from small music labels. I’ve always hated garbage music and loved good music. It’s no easier or harder to find good music these days, I find.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist’s album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

Probably 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields, because it’s fun to play.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?


What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

My mom is a harpist. My first music related memory is probably her playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

I would only make outrageous requests in earnest, never in jest.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

John Williams.

How prepared are you for the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise?

Pretty prepared. It’s mostly all about potable water.

2015 is the year that Marty McFly traveled to the future in Back to the Future Part II. Beyond not having hoverboards, what most disappoints you about 2015 now that we’re here?

Cubs not winning the World Series. But I no longer live in Chicago, so it hurts a bit less.

Taylor Swift has been celebrated by indie rock fans and mainstream pop fans alike. Is she truly this generation’s pop genius or is she a talented, if overrated, songwriter?

I really like “Shake It Off.”

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

On fire because of zombies or atomic bomb? Potable water.

Which actor or actress would you most love to have in one of your music videos?

Hologram young Ronald Reagan.

What’s been your best ever Halloween costume? What were you for Halloween this year?

Kind of a zeppelin pilot.

In which way would you least like to die?

Actually? Alzheimer’s.



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