Friday, April 03, 2009

Intervjudags med Win

En bra artikel och intervju om Miroir Noir där Win som vanligt har några sådana där självklart sanna, klarsynta och kloka svar. Ni kan ju om ni vill gissa vilken mening jag framförallt tänker på medan ni läser den. Svar utlovas efter artikelns slut.

Eternal night of Arcade Fire
Documentary Miroir Noir is arty, spooky, innovative and exhilarating
T’Cha Dunlevy, Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, March 27, 2009

I arrived at Arcade Fire's new "office" on Ontario St. E. in mid-March to find Win Butler and Vincent Morisset playing Ping-Pong.

The cozy fourth-floor loft was vacant except for the game table – these guys have their priorities in order – and a small sitting area with a couch and a couple of chairs. Sunlight streamed into the room via three walls of windows.

In many ways, the scene was the diametric opposite to the setting for the internationally renowned Montreal rock band's stark new concert film, Miroir Noir.

Directed by Morisset, the 76-minute documetary follows the group on tour for its 2007 sophomore album, Neon Bible. It takes place in what feels like eternal night. Arty, spooky, silly, innovative and ultimately exhilarating, it's an unconventional rock-doc tailored to reflect the unique universe of one of the planet's most exciting music acts.

And yet, as made clear by Morisset and Butler during a one-hour interview with the Gazette, there were no grandiose aspirations. They started the project knowing what they didn't want more than what they wanted.

"We knew we didn't just want to make a Live From Paris-style film," said Butler, the band's leader and main songwriter along with wife Régine Chassagne. "I just don't find them that interesting. Even my favourite concert films, I can skip three-quarters of them, usually."

Morisset concurred: "I'm not a fan either of rock documentaries. That was the beginning point. ‘We know what we don't like, what we find really boring. Let's start from that, and try to capture the things ... those little parts we like.' ''

Miroir Noir is filled with "little parts," scattered snapshots of the band on stage in front of thousands of people, behind-the-scenes rehearsing, recording, goofing around, performing their striking songs in odd locales (often with no one else around). The segments are interspersed with disembodied voice messages left by fans calling the 1-800 number the group set up for Neon Bible as part of the album's playfully mysterious, viral promotional campaign (which included a strange, staged YouTube video and a Neon Bible website).

"It's something that evolved," said Morisset, who conceived the site with the group. "At one point, we thought of using the the phone messages as a link, un fil conducteur, but it wasn't planned at the beginning. We didn't know what to do with (the messages) – we put a bit on the website. It's something that built up progressively and organically."

The recordings range from a woman talking about her soon-to-be-5-year-old daughter's infatuation with the band to existential queries, a non-fan's spiteful rant and another's knowing indulgence ("Hello, Neon Bible head office"), tying the film together with a surreal combination of post-millennial tension and unexpected intimacy.

A graduate of UQAM's multimedia program, Morisset is not a fan of traditional narrative structures.

"I didn't want something chronological or linear," he said. "I'm more into interactive. Linearity is not something I'm comfortable with in the first place. For us, it was (about) putting together pieces, making connections between energy or vibes or songs – from testimonies or random stuff the band shot in (their Eastern Townships recording studio) La Petite Eglise. There's a narrative, but it's more about concept, ideas and mood – and the songs, because it's still music, and music is more interesting for me than the talk."

There is a notable absence of interviews in the film. Despite Morisset's familiarity with the band members – he has followed the group since its beginnings, and helped out with projections on tour for Arcade Fire's 2004 debut Funeral – there are no sit-down chats with Butler or others about the deeper meaning of the band's music.

"When I watch rock movies," he said, "the talking head thing – I much prefer to read interviews than watch half a movie of faces."

"We tried to film some interview stuff," Butler explained, "but you never really want to do it. It's always really last minute, and just kind of bla-ba-di-bla-bla. People are interested in our band 'cause we play songs, not because we talk about our songs really good."

Artistic flourishes notwithstanding, music takes centre stage in Miroir Noir. Shot largely in black and white by Parisian filmmaker Vincent Moon (who has gained acclaim for his Concerts à emporter series), songs are presented in a range of interesting settings.

Stoic hymn Wake Up is performed by the band in the thick of a large crowd; Black Mirror brims with intensity through straightforward images of the group onstage; Intervention is rendered, karaoke-style (complete with moving dot) with band members standing stonefaced in front of an abandoned theme park castle; Neon Bible is played unplugged, with the whole group squished into an elevator; Butler and Chassagne also choose an elevator for a memorable rendition of Windowsill, reprised by Butler at film's end from the backseat of a car; and rousing anthems Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and Rebellion (Lies) are performed before an immense arena audience in the film's climactic finale. Throughout, Moon's cinematography helps bring the music to life, adding a sense of mischief and excitement at every turn.

"He's very good about getting in there," Butler said. "Onstage a lot, you forget he's there. He's diving around – on the camera audio, you can hear him going ‘La-la-la!' ''

"We were together most of the time," Morisset said, "but he's so much (of a) better cameraman than I. He has a talent for capturing stuff, going for it. Also, the band was giving us access to the stage all the time, so we were able to go wherever."

Standouts among the memorable camera angles include a shot from behind drummer Jeremy Gara's kit during Intervention, another of Butler walking through a huge cheering crowd between songs, and of audience members singing along during Power Out.

Reflecting on why the band was intent on presenting its songs in such an array of ways, Butler drew a connection to the group's roots, to a time when nothing was taken for granted and intensity was everything.

"That whole idea is true to the very origins of the band," he said. "We played a lot (of small shows) in the early days. I remember playing Brantford (Ont.) to 10 kids ... and you feel like you're going to throw up when you're done ... We're constantly trying to find ways to find that original spark of why we started doing it in the first place."

Notoriously media-shy, Arcade Fire goes to great lengths to avoid getting caught up in the music industry rigamarole. Coming off a year-long hiatus (which has found Butler playing a lot of basketball, among other things), the group has recharged its batteries. While he won't go into detail (prior to our meeting, a publicist asked that the interview be only about the new film), Butler and his bandmates are ready to get to work on the next project.

"I don't really want to talk about it," he said, "but we feel really creative right now. We're in a really good space as a band. This last year was the first break we've had in five years. Everyone feels really rejuvenated and excited. I'm happy to play music."

The Texas-born Butler is also happy to see Barack Obama in the White House. Arcade Fire played several benefits and rallies during the president's campaign, even performing at the Obama Staff Ball in January, alongside American rap star Jay-Z.

"Just before I came here, I was watching Barack talk," Butler said. "He was going out to do a town-hall meeting in California. As insane as the stuff we're facing is right now, I'm just so glad that there's a smart person in charge."

Butler is not so foolish as to think the world's troubles are over, and he won't say how the new political climate might affect Arcade Fire's next album. Funeral was marked by a sense of urgency and escapism; inspired by world events, Neon Bible was a very dark album – hence Miroir Noir's sombre tone.

"I wanted to relate to the Neon Bible era," Morisset said.

"We can be hard to pin down," Butler admitted. "We tried to finish other film projects before, and always failed. The great success (of this film) is that we finished it. I'm happy with it. I think it's interesting, and I think it's true to the band, which is the main goal."

But it's not meant to be taken totally seriously. There are moments of levity and romance throughout the movie, which begins with the band members lying down and closing their eyes in a failed hypnosis experiment, and ends with everyone waking up, as if from a dream. In between, there is music, magic and sprinklings of Lynchian drama.

"We're definitely a bunch of jokers, compared to our image," Butler said. "I think that comes through in the movie ... Shit is dark, but that doesn't mean you can't make fart jokes."

Miroir Noir – Neon Bible Archives premieres Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Le National, 1220 Ste. Catherine St. E. Tickets cost $12.50. Call 514-845-2014 or 514-529-5000. The DVD is in stores April 7. The film can also be purchased online at For more info, see or or

Så vilken var då den där meningen jag tänkte på i inledningen av detta inlägg? Det var "People are interested in our band 'cause we play songs, not because we talk about our songs really good". Så otroligt enkelt och sant.

No comments: