Leave it to David Bowie to make his presence known in the afterlife.
In an interview with Zane Lowe on Tuesday (May 3), Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler talked about his experiences with Bowie, both before and after the legend died in 2016. Bowie was an early fan of the band’s and collaborated with them several times. Butler told Lowe how Bowie and David Byrne were both at Arcade Fire’s first headlining show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. He went on to talk about how Bowie influenced a song from the band’s upcoming album We. “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)” references the term Bowie used to describe his Young Americans-era music: “plastic soul.” Butler recounts that when he and his engineer were recording the track in New Orleans, they both heard a “whispery weird sound” in their headphones. Things got even spookier when, moments later, Butler’s phone started playing a Bowie song.
“My phone was on the other side of the room, and it just started playing of its own accord a song off Low that was in the same key,” Butler said. “It wasn’t on a playlist. It was some random song on Low. We were both just like, ‘What the hell was that?’ I don’t even believe in that sort of sh–, but it’s New Orleans and… you’re just like, ‘OK, yeah, that was really strange.’”
The frontman also said that later, when the band was performing that same song for one of the first times at the Bowery Ballroom, after Butler said “Hi David, hope you’re doing well” — a nod to this being the place where they first met Bowie — the digital piano suddenly cut out.
“I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in David Bowie,” Butler punctuated the anecdote.
Elsewhere in the interview, the 42-year-old musician, who grew up in Texas, spoke about his deep hate for Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, and how it inspired Arcade Fire’s latest single “The Lightning II.” While writing the song, Butler said that he was thinking about the Haitian migrants who made a long journey through South America to seek asylum in the United States, only to face severe pushback from border patrol and Texas troopers.
“I don’t hate a lot of people. I hate that motherf—er. I don’t even believe in hell, but if there’s a hell, that motherf—er’s going there. Just to meet people with the absolute absence of compassion, these pretend Christian, fake f—ing Christians, he should be ashamed of himself.”
Finally, Butler touched on his younger brother, Will Butler, announcing his departure from the band last March. “I left at the end of last year, after the new record was complete,” the now-former member wrote on Twitter. “There was no acute reason beyond that I’ve changed—and the band has changed—over the last almost 20 years. Time for new things.”
The oldest Butler shared his thoughts on his brother’s decision with Lowe, saying: “I love Will,” he said. “He’s my only brother and he’s always had interests that transcend music. I think that he sort of followed his big brother into this band. It was his first job. He’s got three young children, and [my wife] Regine and I are able to bring our child on the road. But I think that if I wasn’t, there’s things way more important than music.”
The frontman continued, “My brother has his own path… I think that there’s things other than music that he has interest in. But I think fundamentally you only have one chance to raise your family and to kind of have a life with your family. I think it’s very, extremely understandable. I’m proud of him for doing his own thing.”
You can check out the full interview below.