Will Butler Leaves Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Will Butler has left Arcade Fire. He wrote this op-ed in The Atlantic last year:

I have another concern that’s hard to shake. After this pandemic year, I’m more aware of the responsibility I have not only to the people who buy tickets, but to the driver making deliveries to the show and to the family of the woman working arena concessions, people who really don’t care about what I’m doing onstage. Vaccination numbers will grow, and the pandemic will end, God willing. I’m not worried about the spread of the coronavirus in particular. But these links of responsibility remain. The analytical part of my brain turns off when touring starts. Before scrambling back to normalcy, I want to make sure that this sense of connection becomes embedded in how I think. I would really love to just be a musician—but I’m also an employer and a player in an industry that has chewed up and spit out plenty of people, especially in this past year.

My hesitations are all about shows, though, not music. Over the past year, I’ve rarely played music with others—a few practices and filmed performances; work on the new Arcade Fire record in November; a handful of Zooms with bandmates to help a school’s PTA fundraiser or support a candidate in the city-comptroller race. But in all of those instances, I’ve experienced an ease, a rightness to the communication—not through the screen with whoever was listening, necessarily, but the people I was playing with. That connection felt restorative, like having a night of deep sleep that repairs parts of yourself you don’t know how to access.