Many Arcade Fire fans tingled with excitement when the Canadian alt-rock outfit announced the Oct. 29 release date for its next album via a reply to a fan’s tweet. Blissfully unaware of this news, however, was producer James Murphy.
“I didn’t even know that’s what they did,” Murphy said on the phone from rehearsals for last week’s Manchester International Festival, where he debuted a new sound system with McIntosh called Despacio. “When you work on a record you don’t know any of the things around it. So when it comes out I’ll just be like, ‘The Arcade Fire record’s out — oh, right!’ It’s been the food I eat and the air I breathe for a long time now. That happens with my own records. I am officially done with it, we’ve just been passing things back and forth making choices on mixes”
Murphy said the recording and production duties were split between the band’s home base in Montreal as well as New York, and that the experience with the seven-plus collective was “way better than I expected it to be. Producing is always really hard, and you can never tell who’s going to be easy to get along with and who’s going to be difficult. So I wasn’t sure what was going to be the case, since there’s a lot of them. I figured, they’re all super talented, do they need another dude there with his opinions? It turned out it was really nice, and everyone was amazingly respectful of one another.”
As for the creative direction of the album, Murphy couldn’t confirm whether the new project would be a concept album a la 2010’s “The Suburbs”. “I dealt with the holistic record in a non-verbal way. We don’t talk about where the songs come from unless somebody says, ‘What I’m going for is more this…’ That’s all I got into. I’m not trying to conduct an opera, or a rock opera — a ‘ropera” in this case.”