Surprise Grammy win hasn't changed Arcade Fire

by Kevin C. Johnson

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

20 April 2011


Arcade Fire, fresh off one of the most shocking Grammy wins of all time, is touring middle America. Drummer Jeremy Gara talked about the rising indie band.

Q: What was the band’s first reaction when Barbra Streisand announced your win for “The Suburbs”?

A: The funny thing is, she stuttered. We were by the stage because we knew we would be performing a second song, and she stuttered. We look at it now and we see she did screw up. We thought she reread the nominees again. Then it sunk in. It was a total shock, and amazing.

Q: Who did you think would win the award?

A: I would have bet with the odds. The Eminem record was good, and people thought it would win. But the Grammys are kind of a world we’re not superfamiliar with. I didn’t know how the Grammys work or how people vote on the records.

Q: How has life changed for Arcade Fire since the Grammy?

A: Not at all (laughs). It was kind of perfect. We weren’t on tour when it happened, we went directly to the Brit Awards afterward, flew home for three weeks, and went to Haiti to check out things there playing music for people who don’t necessarily see rock ‘n’ roll. We didn’t get a chance to get caught up in whatever it is that means.

Q: Some people heard of Arcade Fire for the first time thanks to the Grammys. What do you want them to know about the band?

A: People who watched the show can tell we’re just a straight-up, real band. We play music; no lip synching. The Grammys for me were refreshing. We’ve done TV stuff before where it felt canned. But here was Katy Perry on a swing, and it was kind of a nice night. It felt like real pop music.

Q: Why did “The Suburbs” connect the way it did?

A: It’s hard to say. I feel like hopefully people connect with it’s coming from a real place. There’s a really organic process we go through. We write songs, record songs and play songs in an artful way, and I believe people can relate to that. It’s real.

Q: Why didn’t “Neon Bible” (2007) take off and draw the same kind of attention as “The Suburbs”?

A: The songs were begging for big, demanding attention with lots of details thrown on top. So we let it go that way. This newer one didn’t feel like it needed the huge orchestration, the bells and whistles and horns.

Q: Has the band starting looking at the follow-up album yet?

A: It’s in the back on our minds, and we’ll work it out when it feels right. There’s no direction yet, and I don’t believe any of us really have any expectations about what the music will be. We’re open to whatever we want.

Q: Is there new pressure with the follow-up record after winning a Grammy?

A: I feel like the pressure was after “Funeral” (2004) and with that tour. We’d show up and people would be like, “When does the band get here?” I feel like if we could get through that, then easily nothing will affect us. We’ll just keep acknowledging how lucky we are, make the music we feel like making and at a bare minimum we’ll be happy.

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