Win Butler performing live in 2014
|Birth name||Edwin Farnham Butler III|
|Born||(1980-04-14) April 14, 1980
Truckee, California, U.S.
|Origin||The Woodlands, Texas, U.S.|
|Genres||Indie rock, art rock, baroque pop|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, keyboards, banjo|
|Associated acts||Arcade Fire, DJ Windows 98
Fender Telecaster Custom
My parents live near the ocean, and I’ve spent a lot of time walking through the water at night, being around the water.
I grew up in a somewhat religious family. My dad’s family isn’t religious at all, but my mom’s side of the family is, so I was exposed to church a bit.
I’m not a good hipster – if I let my moustache grow for weeks, it just looks like I have dirt on my face. I’ll never have a glorious handlebar moustache.
I had a somewhat religious upbringing. Not strict, but it was there, and I’m kind of thankful for that. If you grow up just watching MTV, that’s its own form of religion, and it’s not even based on happiness or communal responsibility. I mean, try to construct a worldview out of that.
The film ‘Black Orpheus’ is one of my favorite films of all time, which is set in Carnival in Brazil.
Funny songs aren’t usually that good. Like Weird Al and maybe a couple of Beatles songs, but it’s kind of hard to bring humor into rock music in an interesting way.
There are so many bands that I’m kind of aware of through media about them, and it ends up filtering my experience of the actual music.
The music in Haiti is all tied up in voodoo and African rhythm, and so there’s this funny thing: go to a voodoo ceremony, and then go to a Catholic church and tell me which music you liked better, to which one the music is more integral.
I was really sick of bands just ignoring the audience as a posture in rock music. And I think we fed off each other in terms of trying to engage the audience, not in a hammy way, but actually trying to be aware of the space that you are playing in and trying to connect in some way through the music.
A lot of people get really stuck in this idea that everything’s been done and there’s nowhere left to go.
When I was living in Boston, I worked in this store that played the college radio station. I had to listen to it all day, and I didn’t care for most of it.
I studied the Bible and philosophy in college, and I think in a certain sense that’s the kind of stuff that still makes my brain work.
Our music may sound big emotionally, but that’s more to do with the playing, the level of musicianship and the full-on energy. Often, the lyrics are often quite small and focused.
The idea of peer critique, of talking about each other’s art – I just found it so useless.
Whenever you’re talking about meaning, basically… I think a lot of the human experience has to do with trying to understand what things mean, and there’s not really any tools to do that unless you’re thinking about it in a more spiritual or philosophical realm.
I feel like I’m kind of a bit of a sponge in a way. Like, if people around me are going through things, I find it very hard not to be empathetic.
It seems like the record industry made so much crazy money in the 1960s that everyone wanted to get in on it. Now it’s just become very corporate. So all of these people who despise music end up being in charge.
Everyone has their own talents. It’s up to the individual to see what you can actually do.
Being in a rock band, I feel a certain responsibility to have a weird haircut. I mean, who else gets to do that?
I found out a lot of stuff through MTV, and I didn’t even have cable, I just saw it at friends’ houses. But my culture in junior high was totally influenced by it.
I never really felt super-Texan. It wasn’t like I was unhappy, but I wasn’t superhappy.
The idea of dancing to bad house music is something I could never get behind.
It’s a lot easier to sabotage your career than to have a career to sabotage.
My favorite English teacher in high school showed me ‘Brazil’ when I was 15, and it blew my mind. It’s one of those movies that’s revealed itself in different ways as I’ve gone back to it over the years.
I’m not practising, I don’t go to church, but what I got from it was a sense of belonging to something bigger. What I really miss is being forced to be in a community with people that aren’t the same as you. Then, you really have to work through the ways that you’re different.
If you think about it, if you’ve ever been to a Catholic service, it’s practically a laser light show. It’s very dramatic, very theatrical. The outfits they wear, it’s all designed to be impressive.
The Flaming Lips have been on Warner Bros. forever, and certainly everything I heard growing up was on a major label in some way, from the Cure to Radiohead to Bjork.
Usually, I think you have most of your musical influences locked down by the time you’re 16.
We’re exposed to ideas everywhere. The world is full of ideas. I think that television is a pretty powerful medium in that regard.