Canadian rockers Arcade Fire maintain DIY mystique

Tue Jul 6, 2010 1:55pm EDT
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By David J. Prince

NEW YORK (Billboard) - The seven members of Arcade Fire, the Montreal band renowned for its fierce DIY commitment and aversion to the record-industry grind, are gearing up to release their first album in four years next month.

"The Suburbs" comes out on August 2 in the United Kingdom and a day later in Canada and the United States. It marks the follow-up to 2006's "Neon Bible" and their 2004 debut "Funeral," which each sold about half a million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Neon Bible" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

The band retains a tight grip on its destiny: it owns its own recording studio, master recordings and publishing rights; licenses those rights to different labels across the globe, territory by territory; refuses corporate sponsorships, private-party gigs and most commercial placements; and calls the shots for every major decision.

It's an approach that serves Arcade Fire extremely well, giving it the ability to manage its affairs in a way that embodies the DIY ethos born in the hardcore punk scene of the early '80s while writing anthemic, cathartic songs and performing them to arena audiences.

Now, with "The Suburbs" about to land in cities and suburbs alike, the band's "new DIY" tactics can serve as a road map for artists of all sizes and styles navigating the 21st-century music business.

"They march to the beat of their own drum, and people really respond to that," says C3 Presents promoter/talent buyer Huston Powell, who booked the band for the first Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in 2005 and will see it return as a headliner this summer. "I wish for the whole music industry there were 10 more Arcade Fires out there."


The album will once again come out in North America through North Carolina-based indie label Merge Records, which has a profit-sharing deal with the band. It will be released with eight different covers (which will be distributed randomly and not to specific retailers; none will have bonus tracks), with a deluxe version for sale only through the band's website.   Continued...

<p>Canadian band Arcade Fire perform on stage during a concert in Oslo November 4, 2007. REUTERS/Kyrre Lien/Scanpix Norway</p>