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Ten Things About... Arcade Fire

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Arcade Fire

© WENN / Carsten Windhorst

"Who is Arcade Fire?" the Twitterverse exclaimed as the Montreal-based band picked up their 'Best Album' Grammy this week for The Suburbs, and again when they repeated the feat at the Brits. As well as showing that our society is much more culturally fragmented than many would have you believe, the response to the group's double-victory makes it a perfect time for us to dig up ten little facts you may not have known about everybody's favourite artsy rockers.

1. Arcade Fire are Win Butler, his wife Régine Chassagne, and a bunch of others - namely Richard Parry, William 'brother of Win' Butler, Jeremy Gara, Sarah Neufeld, Tim Kingsbury and touring member Marika Anthony Shaw.

2. The band were rumoured to be named after a tragedy at a local funfair. "It's based on a story that someone told me," Win explained. "It's not an actual event, but one that I took to be real. I would say that it's probably something that the kid made up, but at the time I believed him."

3. Despite being known as a Canadian band and being based in Montreal, Win was actually born in Truckee, California and raised in The Woodlands, Texas. He moved to Montreal in 2000 to study at McGill University, where he met future wife Régine. She was born in the city when her parents moved there from Haiti during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. The despot is namechecked in the song 'Haiti' from the band's first album Funeral.

4. That album, bleakly titled after the death of several relatives of the band, topped loads of critics' 'Best of 2004' charts and Pitchfork - a famous early champion of the band - later decided that it was the second-best record of the decade (just behind Radiohead's Kid A).

5. To record follow-up Neon Bible, the band bought the Petite Église café in Farnham, Quebec and converted it into a studio. The building had previously been used as a church and Masonic Temple! The album wasn't as critically adored as its predecessor but still won many rave reviews, and it also took them to the dizzying heights of No.2 in both the UK and US album charts. The album wasn't named after John Kennedy Toole's 1989 novel, but Win assured an interviewer that he had of course read it, natch.

6. The band also have friends in very high places. Mr. David Bowie recorded a cover of 'Wake Up' with the band for 'Fashion Rocks' in 2005 and also joined them for versions of his own 'Life On Mars' and 'Five Years'. They've worked with Terry Gilliam - who filmed last year's Madison Square Garden gig - and Spike Jonze. Meanwhile Win, Régine and frequent collaborator Owen 'Final Fantasy' Pallett composed the score for Richard Kelly's 2009 movie The Box.

7. U2's Bono is also something of a megafan. The band joined him on stage in Montreal in 2005 for a rackety cover of Joy Division's classic 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Despite all the barmy smashing and thwacking going on around him, Bono did his best to make sure he was still the centre of attention by sporting a silly jacket, daft hat and ridiculous sunglasses!

8. You don't make that many friends without making a few enemies. Wayne Coyne of psych rockers The Flaming Lips claimed that the group were "pr*cks" (though he later apologised) and more recently filmmaker Vincent Moon described them as "disgusting" and - much, much worse, "a mainstream band". Oooooooh! *grasps handbag*

9. Some more fisticuffs kicked off at a 2007 gig in Nottingham, when a grumpy Win started berating those in the seats for not getting to their feet during the livelier numbers. He then joined a list of people including George W. Bush, ex-Aussie PM John Howard and Israeli chief justice Dorit Beinisch by having a shoe flung at him. Ouch!

10. The band weren't best pleased when their song 'No Cars Go' (originally on their self-titled 2003 EP and re-recorded for Neon Bible) was used by Fox for an NFL ad without their permission. They had a (completely understandable) change of heart about using their tunes in ads a few years later, happily licensing 'Wake Up' for use during the Super Bowl breaks in aid of Partners In Health's Stand With Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

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