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Arcade Fire: Scenes from the Suburbs

As the Canadian septet continue to tour last year's critically acclaimed album, we chat to Jeremy Gara about their new Spike Jonze-directed film

For the second consecutive summer, the indie rock band Arcade Fire has been bringing the Texan suburbs to festivals around the world, delivering epic, near-spiritual live performances to ecstatic crowds. The Canadian septet has been covered in prizes for their third record The Suburbs released in August 2010 and is currently one of the most talked about band in the world, amassing a fan base as devoted as to any religious cult. We caught up with band member Jeremy Gara at Main Square Festival in Arras, France, a couple of days after their biggest ever UK gig in London’s Hyde Park, to find out more about their tour, the Spike Jonze-directed short film ‘Scenes from the Suburbs’, and their post-tour plans.

Dazed Digital: Have you been enjoying the tour so far?
Jeremy Gara:
Luckily we’re such good friends in the band that it feels like a summer vacation most of the time, especially in an environment like this where you also get to see friends of yours playing. We’re definitely spoiled, we get to hang out and play music for the summer. It’s pretty cool.

DD: How was the Hyde Park gig last Thursday?
Jeremy Gara: It was great ! Really huge and really bizarre, but awesome. There was something like 60,000 people, so it felt totally surreal to play for that many people. We had all of our friends playing (Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Beirut), it was a great atmosphere and the weather was good, thank god.

DD: Is it more difficult to connect with the crowd when there’s such a big audience ?
Jeremy Gara:
The Hyde Park gig was particularly weird because there was a good 20 feet between the stage and the audience for security reasons. I think we’re better now at connecting with the people even from a great distance. And the crowd was really up for it, they were really excited, so it wasn’t hard.

DD: Can you tell me a bit more about Arcade Fire’s collaboration with Spike Jonze on the short film 'Scenes of the Suburbs'?
Jeremy Gara: The film serves as a music video for the entire album. The plot is fairly ambiguous, it’s like a snapshot of a fictional suburb and these kids that live there. There’s no real message behind the film, it just gives you a feeling of their lives. The collaboration happened super naturally. We met Spike years ago, he’s been a friend of the band for a long time, just from coming to shows. We always wanted an excuse to work with him because we all really like his work obviously.

This project came up when he had just finished doing Where the Wild Things Are and wanted to do something more casual than a huge production. We also wanted to do a casual production because it’s cheaper and music videos are so expensive, so it worked out perfectly. We spent just over a week writing and filming it. Win and Will contributed to writing the script and the rest of us jumped in for the filming part. It was really loose and fun. It was also a good excuse to hang out in Austin, Texas for a couple of weeks.

DD: So what’s next for Arcade Fire? Are you looking forward to some time off?
Jeremy Gara: The tour goes on and off through late September, this is the longest tour that we’ve done in many years ! Once we get home I think we’ll probably just jump in the lake for a few days. To be honest when we’re in Montreal it’s nice to have a bit of time and to not do any music-related activities for a little while. I have a garden that’s growing great at home and that’s as excited as I need to be when I go back.

DD: What would you do if you weren’t a musician?

Jeremy Gara: I really don’t know. Sometimes I like to daydream about opening a coffee shop or just something totally unrelated. But of course if I took a break for a month I would go absolutely crazy and would need to play music.

DD: Will you be playing in the UK again soon ?
Jeremy Gara: We play in Manchester and Edinburgh in August, that’s it. It’ll be our last UK shows for quite a long time actually.

See Dazed & Confused's July issue for a Head to Head between Win Butler and Spike Jonze about the film

Text by Lauren Houssin