Z Magasine

Will Butler Brothers’ Bitter Battle Lead to Arcade Fire Break-Up?


Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…

A source tells us that there’s trouble brewing at the arcade—the Canadian rock band Arcade Fire, that is.

Just six short years ago, Arcade Fire was on top of the world, winning a Grammy for Album of the Year in a stunning upset of Katy Perry’s unstoppable Teenage Dream.

But now the brothers behind the band—singer-guitarist Win Butler and younger brother and multi- instrumentalist Will—are so brutally at odds that they’ve been reduced to screaming matches in back hallways at Europe’s biggest festivals. They’ve even come to blows—and there’s grainy web video to prove it! In a video that’s been making the rounds, Win Butler exclaims, “You can’t do this!” while Will holds him a chokehold.

Initial reports from near the band’s camp say that problems arose when Will began to feel excluded from the close relationship between Win Butler and his wife, Regine Chassagne. Will was upset at his far-from-center-stage position during Arcade Fire’s live performances.

Now word is that Will has been spending his downtime rehearsing with another group of musicians. The rehearsals aren’t for another Will Butler solo album, but for Arcade Fire songs. Last week, a music-business site briefly posted tour dates for a new band called “The Arcade Fire Experience Featuring Will Butler.” The dates were quickly taken down, but at least one intrepid Arcade Fire fan caught a screen shot—and the dates line up perfectly with days that the main band does not have concerts scheduled.

What’s behind the rift? Some sources cite Will’s embarrassment over the new, Cirque du Soleil-themed live shows the band is planning for the North American leg of its “Infinite Content” tour. On condition of anonymity, a close friend of Will’s told us that Will also feels “trapped” and “blindsided” by a clause buried deep in one of his new contracts. “Basically it says that he personally is responsible for recouping one-sixth of this ridiculous investment in a film project, and he doesn’t have that money. He’s required to exploit his position in Arcade Fire to pay it back. He just paid off his Harvard loans and bought a nice little house, so he’s super cash-poor. This whole Gilliam thing really made a mess.”

When pressed about the “Gilliam thing,” our source ended the conversation. We can only speculate that it has something to do with Arcade Fire’s rumored project with film director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys), details of which are scarce.

It remains to be seen whether The Arcade Fire Experience Featuring Will Butler will ever find its way to a concert venue near you—or if it will put an irreparable crack in one of Canada’s biggest bands, right as they embark on their world tour.

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