Not My Job: 'Arcade Fire' Founder Win Butler Answers Questions On Odd Arcade Games
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where people who do interesting things answer questions about things they are not interested in. It's called Not My Job. A lot of people think that Arcade Fire is a Canadian band because they were formed in Montreal. But their founder, Win Butler, is not Canadian. He was raised in Texas. So the next time you hear choral harmonies, ethereal instruments and angsty lyrics about your feelings, remember that's the Texas sound.
SAGAL: Win Butler, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
WIN BUTLER: Hey. How's it going?
SAGAL: So, first of all, I want to talk about Arcade Fire, your band.
BUTLER: That's not my job.
SAGAL: No. Then all right. You don't want to talk about your band?
BUTLER: Not really. But we can.
SAGAL: All right. Well, I'll tell you what - let's talk about basketball because we understand that you are quite the basketball player.
BUTLER: Yeah, yeah. I grew up watching a lot of Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston. I'm a big basketball fan.
SAGAL: Right. And we're told that you are actually quite the player yourself.
BUTLER: I'm not bad for an extremely slow, unathletic, undersized power forward.
HELEN HONG: Wow.
SAGAL: That's quite a lot of qualifications.
SAGAL: Do you feel that if you went up against, say, the Decemberists or other great indie bands - that you'd be able to take them in basketball?
SAGAL: Because Colin Meloy is dangerous in the paint - is what I'm saying.
BUTLER: Yeah. I still feel pretty confident.
SAGAL: Really? So now...
BUTLER: It's all of them, you're talking about, right?
BUTLER: Against me?
SAGAL: Yeah, all of - you would take on, like, the entire Decemberists. It would just be, like, you against them.
BUTLER: Yeah, that'd be fine.
HONG: Such confidence.
SAGAL: You can handle this. You moved up to Montreal to go to McGill University, right?
BUTLER: I kind of moved to Montreal and then ended up going to McGill just so they wouldn't kick me out of the country.
SAGAL: I understand. Do these Canadians understand your love of basketball?
BUTLER: They're picking up on it. Like, in Toronto, I mean, they've had the team in Toronto for a long time. But Montreal is definitely hockey central.
SAGAL: Oh, yeah. Does that - have you become a hockey fan?
BUTLER: No, it's a horrible sport.
HONG: Oh. You're going to get shanked in Montreal.
TOM BODETT: Yeah, I know.
SAGAL: Really. Wow.
BUTLER: I wish I felt differently. Like, I would so love to be into hockey. It would make my life so much easier.
SAGAL: Right. Well, we've got to talk a little bit about Arcade Fire. You are one of the biggest-selling bands of the last decade. But the band went from being a small group - I'm told that you did your first record for, like, 10,000 bucks.
BUTLER: Not my job.
BUTLER: I need the fact checkers on that one.
SAGAL: This is great because actually this is awesome because we have three multiple choice questions about the band Arcade Fire for you...
SAGAL: ...Coming up.
SAGAL: You are married, in fact, to your band mate Regina, right?
SAGAL: And you've been married for a long time. Is that - I've been married. So I'm going to ask you - is it difficult to be married to your band mate?
BUTLER: I wouldn't know. I mean, it's kind of the - it's the only - I have no basis of comparison.
SAGAL: Since you've never been married to anybody else...
SAGAL: ...You don't know what it's like not to be married to your band mate.
BUTLER: Right, yeah.
SAGAL: So, I mean, I - again, I don't know how I know this, but a lot of marriages devolve into sort of passive aggressiveness.
SAGAL: I'm just wondering how that would go in a band. It's like, so yeah, that's the bass line you're playing, huh?
BUTLER: Oh, yeah, no. There's never any of that in the band anyway.
BUTLER: There's never any passive aggression in bands. Everything's super cool always.
SAGAL: Really? Everything's aggressive. And your little brother Will is also in the band, right?
SAGAL: I also have brothers. So I wonder - does that go smoothly all the time?
BUTLER: It always goes completely smoothly, yeah.
SAGAL: Wow. So basically...
P J O'ROURKE: So what drugs are you guys on?
SAGAL: All right. So I...
BUTLER: I think that's the secret - is no drugs. It really helps in the rock band thing.
SAGAL: OK. All right.
O'ROURKE: Had that ever been tried before?
BUTLER: I think we're the first, actually.
O'ROURKE: You probably are.
SAGAL: No doping. I just got to ask. All right - so you have an incredibly successful band playing the music that you create. Everybody loves you. You have a great relationship with your wife, who's in the band. You have a great relationship with your brother. Is there a downside to your life?
HONG: He just said no drugs.
SAGAL: I think he was offering that as a plus.
BUTLER: Yeah, my dad's physician actually suggested he start smoking weed recently. And maybe I got to go to my doctor.
BUTLER: Downsides - I mean, I guess, like, living out of a suitcase for a year at a time could be construed as a downside. But you get to eat a lot of cool restaurants.
SAGAL: That's true. That's true. Can you remember one really cool thing you've eaten on tour?
BUTLER: First thing that pops into my head, I guess - there's a hot chicken place in Nashville called Prince's that...
SAGAL: I've been there.
SAGAL: That'll kill you, that stuff. That's great.
HONG: Yes. It's spicy.
BUTLER: And we went with our Haitian percussionist. So they gave us, like, the extra extreme hot that they typically don't serve. And it was pretty mind-blowing among other things.
SAGAL: Did you eat that stuff before you performed? Because I can imagine you getting up to sing after eating that stuff and you being, like, (vocalizing).
BUTLER: A story that I heard, which I'm sure is not true - but I found very amusing - was that the recipe was basically, like - the wife caught her husband cheating on her and basically messed with his chicken. And...
BUTLER: And there you have the greatest thing from infidelity of all time.
BUTLER: Beautiful chicken brought into the world.
SAGAL: Yes. God bless. Well, Win Butler, we are delighted to talk to you. We have invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: I've got Pac-Man Fever.
SAGAL: So you're the founder and lead singer of Arcade Fire. So we thought we'd ask you three questions about that one time a Chuck E. Cheese burned down.
SAGAL: But never actually happened as far as we know. So instead, we're going to ask you about some strange arcade games. Answer two out of three questions correctly - you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Win Butler playing for?
KURTIS: Ruby Bennett of Portland, Ore.
SAGAL: Ready to play in this?
BUTLER: Yeah, let's do it.
SAGAL: OK. Arcade games reflect real-life concerns sometimes, such as which of these arcade games from the early '80s? A, Blow Dry Job, in which you have to keep a model's hairdo from collapsing with a pixelated blow dryer B, Wall Street, in which you have to catch stockbrokers who are jumping from buildings or C, Flash Dance, in which you have to keep dancing no matter what liquid is dumped on your head?
BUTLER: I want to say Wall Street just because I want it to be true.
SAGAL: You're right. That's the one.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Wall Street. There's a screen in which you run around, and you catch falling brokers. And then there's, like, a Pac-Man-like screen where you run around collecting money and girls. The '80s. It was a time.
SAGAL: All right. Japanese arcade games are really much weirder than ours. For example, there's a famous Japanese arcade game called Boong-Ga Boong-Ga. And that's a game in which you do what? A, spank a life-sized plastic human behind sticking out of the console; B, actually lick images of food as they appear on the screen or C, virtually attend a party hosted by Silvio Berlusconi and collect as many STDs as possible?
BUTLER: I'm definitely going to go with the spanking, based on my experience with Japanese culture.
SAGAL: The spanking. You are right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Did you know that? Have you toured Japan, gone to an arcade?
BUTLER: No, just that image was so clear. I mean, I'm sure it...
BUTLER: ...Is definitely a thing.
SAGAL: And I just want to say if that image, whatever it may be - the real one is much more disturbing than whatever you're thinking.
BUTLER: Yeah, I'm sure it is.
SAGAL: All right. Last one. Let's see if you can get this. Maybe the best arcade game of all time is a game called The Last Barfighter. Its special amazing feature is what? A, it just takes your quarter, makes a rude noise and says, now go find a friend; B, if you win, it pours you a beer or C, while you're playing, it takes pictures of you and uploads it to a dating site, so by the time you're done you might have a date?
BUTLER: Well, the only one that's really time-appropriate to the '80s would be B, I would say.
SAGAL: You're right. It is, in fact, B.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It's a retro-style game, but it was actually invented recently as a one-off for a brewery in North Carolina. It's very hard to find, sadly. Bill, how did Win Butler do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Win won.
SAGAL: Win won.
KURTIS: He won big. 3-0. Win, you're good.
SAGAL: Win Butler is one of the founders and is the lead singer of Arcade Fire. Their new album "Everything Now" is out now. Win Butler, thank you so much for joining us. And have fun on the tour.
BUTLER: Thank you, guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCADE FIRE SONG, "WAKE UP")
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill sleeps with the fishes. It's the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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