Battle of the Bandmates


Every week I check the new releases to see what new music I have to look forward to. Amongst the giant pile of music out this month includes two surprising releases. Arcade Fire bandmates Will Butler and Jeremy Gara were going head to head with solo projects. As far as I am aware the band are not splitting up. They’re just doing their own thing. Which is cool. I just find it weird, that they are deciding to release their new material within weeks of each other.

Whenever a band is having a break, or even split up I don’t expect them to just sit and do nothing. Twiddling their thumbs. They’re creative people. And creative people create new things. But as they will essentially be drawing on the same fan base, it seems oddly competitive. Now, I understand in these modern times most people are not spending money on music in quite the way they used to; going down to HMV and buying CDs. But even streaming requires a commitment. A choice of how to spend your time. So back to back releases, just seems unfriendly. It’s not like they have a tour to squeeze in.

Is there secret friction in the heart of Arcade Fire?

The competition between bandmates (and ex-bandmates) always provides an exciting backdrop for releases. I remember having to make these choices in the past. The big one for my teenage self was Pete Doherty versus Carl Barât. It transcended NME, and became national news. Was I going to be a Dirty Pretty Things or Babyshambles guy. At the time it felt like you had to pledge allegiance to one, and denounce the other. Being a straight-laced little boy, I remember championing Carl Barât “as the real creative force from The Libertines”, and calling Pete Doherty a “waster”. The latter might be a little bit true, but I’m not sure I had much of a leg to stand on. They were very much two sides of the same coin.

It’s especially weird when things are supposed to be on good terms. Take The Strokes. The chief musical powerhouses Albert Hammond Jnr., and Julian Casablancas both have a couple solo records. The last albums which they put out (prior to their recent reformation) were a matter of weeks apart. So I made a snap-judgement. After listening to 2-3 songs I had decided that Albert Hammond Jnr. was not interesting enough and spent a bunch of time listening to the Casablancas project Virtue (as part of The Voidz). Maybe I have just spent too much time alone with my computer and I am just seeing conspiracies everywhere. Or it’s just a lack of foresight by the artists. I just know with my short-attention span that more of one thing is not always a good thing. Even if I like it.

By this point I’m sure you’re wondering the most important question; “Which Arcade Fire project is Matt going to pick?”. Well even after one quick listen to the singles I don’t think I have to worry about too much of the same thing. Despite the fact that Jeremy Gara is normally heard putting some pretty regulation indie drum beats together, in his own time he’s gone deep into weird existential noise music. So even though Will Butler is making some signature indie pop, I am not going to be bored. I have Jeremy Gara to transport me into a visceral and claustrophobic nightmare. Maybe the album should just be called 2020.


Words by Matt Paul.

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