Arcade Fire: Funeral Party
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: Nov. 26, 2004
The Arcade Fire
Nov. 29, 9 p.m.
13th & Martha
The Arcade Fire's new record already is being heralded
as the album of the year by a handful of critics including The
New York Times, so how does it feel to be the band to release
this year's Slanted and Enchanted, OK Computer or
Turn on the Bright Lights?
Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry just laughs at the notion. "It
feels the same as it ever did, except now there's more people at
shows," he said via phone on the way to the night's gig in
Parry, incidentally, wasn't the first band member to pick up the
call. Tim Kingsbury answered the phone, then handed it to frontman
Win Butler, who said joking, "
and that's why we called
it Funeral," (laughs rang in the background), before handing
the phone to Parry, who apparently had pulled the short straw.
"Everyone seems to be asking us what it's like to have all
this hype surrounding us, when they're the ones causing it,"
Parry said, clearly exasperated by the question. "I guess it
means a lot to us. We can play in towns where we don't know anyone
and don't have any friends, like Lexington, and have 250 people
show up. We're pretty lucky and it's pretty great."
If there's media hype surrounding
the band and Funeral, the just-released debut on Merge Records,
it's justified by the fact that it is, indeed, one of the year's
finest. The Montreal-based six-piece (though an orchestra of friends
contributes on the CD) blends a rare variety of styles influenced
by bands as diverse as The Rapture, The Strokes, The Pixies and
David Bowie. Though flaunted as experimental and edgy, their music
is as gorgeously catchy as it is sonically challenging.
And while Parry insists the CD isn't a concept album but rather
"just a bunch of random songs that have linked themselves together,"
Funeral's recurring themes are impossible to ignore. Recorded
on and off throughout the past year, the CD got its name after band
family members began dying, including vocalist/instrumentalist (and
Butler wife) Regine Chassagne's grandmother Nancy, Parry's Aunt
Betsy, and Win and brother Will Butler's grandfather, Alvino. Don't
go to this Funeral expecting a morbid tribute to loss and
longing, however. The CD instead is a guitar-chiming, dance-inspired,
angular celebration of life's strange mysteries, with lyrics overflowing
with images of parents and children, lightening and ice; and love
and death, with the special added bonus of occasionally being sung
The tour that brings the Canadians to Omaha Nov. 29 is only the
band's second sojourn to the U.S. after spending last summer crossing
the lower 48 with The Unicorns. Parry said before conquering America,
the band first needed to garner a following throughout Quebec and
"The U.S. is new to us," he said. "We've met some
special people and personal heroes since we've arrived."
seems to be asking us what it's like to have all this hype
surrounding us, when they're the ones causing it."
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the whole, bars are not the healthiest places, and it's sad
that that's all that exists for most bands."
Among them, The Pixies' Joey Santiago,
who the band hung out with just the day before in Cincinnati. "David
Byrne came to our show in New York. He's a big inspiration to us,
and David Bowie was there, too," Parry said. "The more
you do something like this, the more the whole rock 'n' roll myth
sort of fades and is debunked. It's easy to put people on a pedestal,
especially your artistic heroes, but then you meet them and they're
just really nice dudes."
Parry said one disappointment about the tour is the venues. "None
of us are fans of bars," he said. "They're shitty places.
We've been successful going this route, but we want to do something
more interesting and special next time. On the whole, bars are not
the healthiest places, and it's sad that that's all that exists
for most bands. There are ways around them."
Such as playing theaters? "Yeah -- theaters, churches, Masonic
temples, something a little bit more beautiful than playing in a
bar where it's a drunken, stinky dance party," he said. "After
we get this first stage of touring under our belt, we're going to
try to create something distinct and exciting that will be a step
removed from a beer hall."
Published in The Omaha Reader Nov. 24, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.