Arcade Fire’s Will Butler Is Writing Music Based on the News
With his debut solo album, Policy, hitting stores on March 16, Will Butler is embarking on another ambitious undertaking: writing a song a day based on the news.
The Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist will browse news stories, searching for inspiration to write a song every day for a week in a partnership with The Guardian. The Guardian will start sharing the songs next week, beginning on Feb. 23. Butler says another intrepid songwriter inspired the project -- Bob Dylan.
“It was partly inspired by Bob Dylan, who used to announce that certain songs were based on headlines,” Butler told the U.K. newspaper. “It would be a song he wrote in two weeks or something, such as ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,’ which is one of the greatest songs ever. So I’ve set myself an impossible bar.”
When seeking out inspiration, Butler says everything from international political scandals to scientific developments have proved to be potential fodder for his next song.
“I’ve been reading The Guardian every day, perusing the different sections. Some of them possibly lend themselves to songs,” he explained. “It’s a cruel thing, but sometimes you read something and think, ‘Uh oh. I could make something really meaty out of that.’ Something like the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial – my God, that’s the gnarliest story in the world, but it’s interesting. Or you might read a science headline and think, ‘The universe is so much bigger than I thought it was.’ There’s something really beautiful in that.”
In the interview, Butler expanded on comments he made earlier, saying that his solo work was “forced” on him after helping score the 2013 film, Her.
“Owen [Pallett] and I got the nomination, but the whole band worked on the score,” Butler explained. “I thought, ‘Well, if I have my name attached to something, I might as well do something of my own.”
Butler recorded Policy at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Arcade Fire also recorded their 2013 effort, Reflektor, there, and Butler recounted a run-in with none other than David Bowie during that time.
“He’s lovely, the best smelling human I’ve ever smelt,” Butler said. He even recalled Bowie saying, “‘Electric Lady, I haven’t been here since we recorded John Lennon doing backing vocals on Fame. I’m like, ‘Oh, I see. Well, come on in.’”