"Fame, makes a man take things over," indeed.
As if Reflektor, the first single from Arcade Fire's forthcoming double album of the same name, wasn't hotly-anticipated enough -- it also features David Bowie on vocals.
Turns out the 66-year-old legend -- an early Arcade Fire fan -- was coming to visit the Montreal art-rock group in their New York City studio. Coincidentally frontman Win Butler - who shares the tune's lead vocals with wife and bandmate Regine Chassagne - had written the song with a third vocalist in mind.
"When Win and Regine were writing the song ... he had kind of pictured this third point of view cause Reflektor is this back and forth between two characters," says Arcade Fire's multi-instrumentalist Will Butler, who is Win's younger brother.
"And I forget how it happened (but) we were in town mixing Reflektor in New York and (Bowie) was going to come by. And I was like, 'Well, David Bowie is a really good outside perspective,' and like apropos, not totally random. Like kind of in the spirit of some of the (late '70s-early '80s dance flavoured) music that we were making that it felt aesthetically appropriate also."
Bowie buzz aside, Arcade Fire had been fuelling interest in Reflektor with a graffiti and video 9-9-9 campaign referring to Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. That was when the title track and its accompanying video, the latter also in a second interactive version, were released.
"It was a bit of an experiment for us to do a proper teaser campaign," says Butler, who is also working on Arcade Fire's score for the Spike Jonze film, Her.
"I've always been excited by movie campaigns ... So there was a sense of kind of wanting to do that with the album of just creating trailers that were kind of aesthetically satisfying like, 'Oh, that's a great trailer. When is that coming out? Oh, October. Oh, yes!'"
The group, who co-produced the double CD, due Oct. 29, with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, has also been staging record release secret shows in North America.
There were four (not including the TV special that aired following their Saturday Night Live appearance) in Montreal - and now two in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday, two in Miami Oct. 23-24, Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit Oct. 26 in the San Francisco area, and one announced in L.A. for Oct. 29 rumoured to be on the rooftop of the Capitol Records Tower.
"We did all these shows at (Montreal's) Salsatheque which had a really special vibe and we're kind of trying to bring that vibe elsewhere to just give people a sense of the album as they're first listening to it."
Butler doesn't anticipate any more Canadian shows until the new year but adds you never know.
"I don't think so but I couldn't swear to it because we're too busy to be organized," he says.
"I think we're doing some in Europe in the fall and then we're going to do a proper tour in the spring."
BOWIE LIKENESS IN NEW VIDEO
Even though Arcade Fire enthusiast David Bowie doesn't appear in the Reflektor video, his likeness does.
"There is a David Bowie mask, in the very last second of the film, of the video, that creepy mask that Win (Butler) is wearing is in fact a David Bowie mask," says multi-instrumentalist Will Butler.
Just don't expect a Bowie-Arcade Fire live performance of the song "because he does so little."
As for Bowie's 2013 record, The Next Day, Butler says, "I love the album. It's great. It feels very current. ... And I don't mean to call him old, but it feels like old David Bowie and it feels so in tune (with the times). It doesn't feel fake in any way, which is an achievement."