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The History of Arcade Fire

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 2003 in Montreal, Quebec, Arcade Fire has become one of the biggest indie rock acts to come out of the new millennium. Thanks to their live shows and critically acclaimed albums, the group has gained international recognition. In fact, their 3rd album "The Suburbs" won Grammy of the Year much to the surprise and delight of many. As they continue to tour and create more music with their signature sound, Arcade Fire are sure to continue their success into the future. In this video, takes a look at the history of Arcade Fire.

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Indie rock band Arcade Fire formed in Montreal, Quebec in the early 2000s. Tensions within the group led to various line-up changes, and while an EP was recorded in 2002, the band was only solidified in 2003. That year, songwriter and vocalist Win Butler would be joined by multi-instrumentalists Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler and Tim Kingsbury to promote the self-titled release.


Arcade Fire’s live shows soon caught the attention of independent label Merge Records. They released their full-length debut Funeral in 2004. The indie rock album was a critical success and earned a Grammy nomination the next year. It became Merge Records’ best-selling album to that point and contained singles such as “Wake Up” and “Rebellion (Lies).”


The band then supported the record with a tour that grew to include dates in North America, Europe and Japan. As the buzz around them grew, they appeared at several high-profile music festivals and made numerous television appearances. In 2005, they played at the Fashion Rocks charity fundraiser with David Bowie and this performance was released as the Live EP. Arcade Fire also opened up for U2 during their 2005-2006 “Vertigo Tour.”

Sophomore Effort

Prior to the release of their second album, the band spent time writing and recording in a church-turned-studio in Quebec. They released Neon Bible in 2007. The record was once again a critical success. It debuted at number one in Canada and at number two in both the U.S. and the UK. Arcade Fire experimented with different sounds on the sophomore effort, and these could be heard on singles such as “Keep the Car Running” and “Intervention.”

Live Shows and Charity

The band then promoted the album with live shows and a tour that lasted until 2008. Some of the proceeds from that series were donated to Partners in Health, which was a health care organization that Arcade Fire previously supported and continued to support thereafter. Later that year, they came out with the documentary “Miroir Noir.”

Number One Third Album

The Suburbs dropped in 2010. The indie rock effort topped the U.S., UK and Canadian albums charts. It was also critically acclaimed and won multiple awards, including a Grammy and a Juno for Album of the Year. The album included singles such as the title cut and “Ready to Start.” The song “We Used to Wait” was used in an interactive music video for “The Wilderness Downtown,” which was a project that demonstrated the features of the Google browser, Chrome.


Arcade Fire spent the rest of that year touring and playing more festival dates. This included their second appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” and their Madison Square Garden gig that was captured by director Terry Gilliam for the concert series “Unstaged.” In 2011, they released a deluxe edition of The Suburbs that featured two new songs and the Spike Jonze-directed short film “Scenes from the Suburbs.”

Growing Line-Up

Throughout the decade, Arcade Fire’s line-up has grown to include violinist Sarah Neufeld and drummer Jeremy Gara. The band also often takes other musicians on tour with them.

More to Come

Just a few years into their career, Arcade Fire has already topped many best album lists and will surely continue to wow fans and critics with their flawless indie rock.

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