Pop Quiz: Will Butler of Arcade Fire


Aidin Vaziri | Will Butler, Arcade Fire’s hyperactive multi-instrumentalist and younger brother of front man Win, is using his downtime away from the group to start a solo career. After the Oscar nomination he netted last year for co-writing the score to Spike Jonze’s “Her,” Butler plays it fast and loose on “Policy,” an eight-track album for which he wrote and played everything. He is now on tour in a van playing venues considerably smaller than the ones he did the last time around. Butler, 32, performs at the Great American Music Hall on Tuesday, May 26.

Q: Did you need to get back to basics after coming off a tour that was such a large-scale production?

A: Very much so. I like doing it myself — and not in the DIY aesthetic way, but more in the carpentry way, where you’re like, I built that table and now I’ll eat bread on that table.

Q: You played everything on the album. Did you realize you could make so much noise?

A: Weirdly, I was influenced by modern American cooking: Here are the four things that are in season, and I’m going to make something out of it. It was the quickest way I knew to make a record. Also, there’s a little bit of just trying to make something epic. The songs themselves aren’t epic, but as a collection it becomes epic. It becomes more “Moby-Dick,” like where you spend 200 pages trying to find the whale. There’s something of that spirit in there.

Q: “Policy” only has eight songs on it. How are you filling a whole set without people demanding their money back?

A: Half the set is new songs. It’s exciting to play new material in rooms small enough where you can look into people’s eyes to see how they’re reacting. It’s been properly experimental.

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