Arcade Fire member and Northwestern alumnus Will Butler (he was a poetry/Slavic languages major) returned to the school last night to talk about his band and their work with Partners For Health, a group that creates and supports health clinics around the world. The charity’s first and biggest focus is Haiti. There’s no video of his talk yet, though Northbynorthwestern.com says he joked, “Shouldn’t you be voting? Just kidding. Voting’s for nerds.” Butler did a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal about the role of charity in music. The takeaway: Arcade Fire want to keep “the art” separate from “the charity”:
Would you say Arcade Fire is this generation’s Bono?
Isn’t Bono this generation’s Bono? I mean, when we perform, we say we usually want a dollar per ticket going to PIH. We say thank you for that. We try to leave art out of it a little bit. We do write songs about Haiti and stuff like that but we try to draw a line a little bit between our work with PIH and the artistic side of things. In our personal lives, we help out. We have volunteers at the shows giving out information. We try to keep them a little bit separate because I think if they get too entwined, it can hurt the artistic process. Once we start making that album then I think we’re getting a little more preachy.
As we mentioned, the band has raised nearly a million dollars for Partners In Health through their $1 surcharge. At the end of the interview, we also get a hint at what the band’ll be up to in early 2011.
You’re touring Europe through the end of the year, then what’s next for the band?
We’re going to experiment this winter. We’re not quite sure what we’re doing in February, but January and March we’ll probably be off. We’ve never successfully written or done anything really in a middle of a touring cycle. We’re going to see if we can maybe get into a different rhythm besides the tour, tour, tour, rest, rest, rest, tour, tour, tour, rest, rest, rest. We’re going to see if we can intertwine them a little bit. We’ll definitely be touring next spring because the weather will be nicer to drive around in the springtime than the winter.