Win Butler talks The Reflektor Tapes and next album
In the October 2015 (Q351) issue of Q Magazine Win Butler has a chat about Arcade Fire’s upcoming film The Reflektor Tapes, which incidentally is out 23 September – not 24 September as the article says. Win lets us know he sees the film as a time capsule for people 20 years from now discovering the band and that Arcade Fire are in no rush to make the next record. Read a transcript of the full piece below.
REELS ON FIRE
Win Butler talks exclusively to Q about Arcade Fire’s new feature film The Reflektor Tapes.
Playing the carnival in Haiti, drawing on French New cinema and intercutting scenes with portentous quotes from Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard are not tropes typically associated with rock documentaries. Then again, Arcade Fire were never going to make a pratfalling jamboree like Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Dig! or a tearful journey of discovery like Metallica’s Some Kind Of Monster.
Out in cinemas on 24 September The Reflektor Tapes bookends the recording and touring of the band’s fourth album through 2013 and 2014, shot almost entirely in black and white by Kahlil Joseph, who has previously worked with Kendrick Lamar and FKA twigs. “I don’t think he owned an Arcade Fire record,” frontman Win Butler tells Q about their choice of director. “We liked the idea of someone with a completely outside perspective on the band.”
Joseph, who cut his teeth working with critically revered director Terrence Malick, scrapped any narrative arc, taking a more abstract and meditative approach. Its illusory motifs are hammered home with the opening scene in which Butler recounts a dream in which Elvis appeared and told him his fledgling band had to practise 37 hours a week if they were ever to make it.
Butler claims it is less a document for fans today and more a time capsule for people 20 years from now discovering the band for the first time. “I never saw The Clash live and most of what I have seen of them has been in films that were cobbled together over the years,” he says by way of example. “We wanted something that captures the spirit of what a band is about artistically.”
Perhaps pre-empting criticism of the film slipping into indulgent folly, Reflektor Tapes wilfully riffs on the irony of a band uncomfortable with celebrities turning the cameras on themselves. One scene has them showing up outside their own show wearing giant papier máché heads, like a colony of solemn Frank Sidebottoms. “The thing about being in a band that is tough to get your head around is the constant cameras and people constantly mediating their experiences through cameraphones,” Butler says.
While the film marks the end of the Reflektor period, the band aren’t in any rush to make the next album. Butler says they all have to “live a little” and bring those experiences to the “Rubik’s Cube of trying to figure out how everything is going to fit together.”
So there’s no chance they’ll do a Beyoncé and bang out a new album on iTunes next week then? “No,” says Butler. “Not next week.” With no new Arcade Fire album on the horizon any time soon, The Reflektor Tapes provides a suitably arty trip into the band’s singular universe.
The Reflektor Tapes is in cinemas worldwide from 24 September.
Thanks Andrew for the tip and swift work on this!