This month, Arcade Fire celebrates the 10th anniversary of their landmark debut album, Funeral. To mark the occasion, French music publication DumDum has penned an extensive 9,000 word oral history on the album, which includes exclusive photos and interviews with AF members Win Butler, Richard Reed Perry, and Owen Pallett, along with Superchunk member and Merge Records founder Mac McCaughan, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boecker, and many others.
DumDum plans to publish an English version of the oral history in the near future. In the interim, they’ve provided us with 13 tidbits about the band and the album that you probably didn’t know.
1. Arcade Fire almost renamed itself The Visions
Brendan Reed (former band member): I remember Win, Richard and Régine went to this somewhat religious retreat that Josh Deu’s family ran in New Hampshire. It was after the recording of our EP in Maine. When they got back, they seemed to have sharpened their vision of the future, or have some new toolset to achieve the vision. They actually talked about changing the band name to The Visions, we talked about many names, wolf names, scary names…
2. Arcade Fire considered relocating to Belgium
Brendan Reed: I remember overhearing Win having a conversation with Tim [Kingsbury], I don’t think they knew I was home, about me not moving to Belgium with the band. We had been talking about moving to Belgium.
3. Arcade Fire recorded their debut EP one instrument at a time
Dane Mills (former band member): Most of the songs were recorded piece by piece instead of as a full band. This was because we forgot to bring a mixer that would have enabled us to record live off the floor. So the record didn’t end up having the energy that the live show did. I remember we spent quite a few days just recording the drums for “Submarine”. Making sure each beat was exactly on time and using a click track. “No Cars Go” started with Win and I on bass and drums, then everything else was added after that. “In The Backseat” was originally supposed to be on the EP, but the version we recorded wasn’t up to par.
4.The reason why Howard Bilerman left the band
Michael Barclay (journalist, friend of the band): Howard didn’t want to leave his family and his studio behind, which he realized would probably happen as Arcade Fire blew up. He is also, like many artists associated with Constellation Records, incredibly DIY and suspicious of the compromises – however tiny – involved in being a massively popular band.
5. You can hear Régine press “stop” on a recorder in the middle of “Haiti”
Win Butler: The vocals for “Haiti” were recorded in the bathroom of our loft, because for Régine, it was such a personal song that she didn’t wanna do it in the studio. She did it lights out, in the dark, in the bathroom with a dictaphone. Around the 50th second, you can hear a click sound … you can hear her push the “stop” button on this tape machine.
6. The muted guitar part on “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” isn’t how it was originally intended
Win Butler: For “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, I went to record the guitar part alone, put my headphones on, and it sounded amazing. I said to myself, “I did it.” And then it turns out Howard forgot to put the guitar mic on. He only had the vocal mic on and it was on the other side of the room, and accidentally no one turned it off. That’s the track that’s on the record. If you really listen to it, it sounds insane, it almost sounds like a broken record.