Arcade Fire aren't feeling the pressure ahead of Tuesday's release of their fourth album, Reflektor.
So says multi-instrumentalist Will Butler when asked about following up their 2010 collection, The Suburbs, which won the 2011 Grammy best album honour in the biggest upset of the night.
Remember the "Who The F--- are Arcade Fire?" Twitter campaign immediately following their win?
"To be honest there was no external pressure and little internal pressure to top anything," says the Montreal-based Butler, brother of Arcade Fire's frontman Win.
"I mean there was external pressure to make something great, which is always the same. But yeah, no unique pressure."
One thing is for sure, Reflektor -- which was preceded by the first single and title track featuring backing vocals by David Bowie -- will make you dance with its '80s New Wave-meets-Caribbean rhythms vibe.
"We always have a few goals going in, but we wanted to have some songs that people who didn't know who Arcade Fire was would still really enjoy dancing to them," he says.
"You always enjoy dancing to the music you know. It's nice to have people dance when they don't even know you."
The parents of Montreal band member Regine Chassagne -- Butler's sister-in-law who is married to Win -- are Haitian, and the couple, who just welcomed their first child in April, spent some time in Haiti along with the group.
Obviously it made an impact on Reflektor's sound.
"There were a few trips (to Haiti)," says Butler. "We went as a band during The Suburbs tour and we played in Port-Au-Prince and we played in rural Haiti, in Cange, which were very influential for us as a band. I mean that really set a challenge for us ... We played some of our own songs, but it was mostly cover songs because you wanted to play music that people would dance to.
"And we played the shows with this Haitian band called Ram that were really great and we would play first and then they would play and it would be like the most epic party you've ever seen 'cause people knew the music.
"And it was like, 'Oh, it'd be nice to be able to go into rural Haiti and play a song to a bunch of strangers and have them go that nuts over it.' "
Arcade Fire also played the New Orleans Jazz fest towards the end of The Suburbs tour, which led to another highly influential moment for the group in terms of crafting a new sound for Reflektor.
"Afterwards me and Regine and the percussionist from Ram stayed and we went to a studio outside Lafayette, and mostly Regine worked with them, but I would come in too and we would all kind of jam together on different ideas.
"We had them record different rhythm loops and different traditional rhythms and then like, 'Oh, play that traditional rhythm but with a drum beat from Age of Consent by New Order,' and they'd go, 'OK.'
"There was a lot of that. I mean the (new) song Awful Sound has one of those loops and (second single) Afterlife has a lot of the fills from it. We learned a lot from those sessions."
In the end, for Reflektor, Butler says "about a third of the congas are from the Ram guys and two-thirds are from Montreal and I think even some Regine and some James Murphy percussion."
For Reflektor's dance heavy direction, Arcade Fire teamed up with co-producers James Murphy of the late and lamented LCD Soundsystem and previous collaborator Markus Dravs (Coldplay, Mumford & Sons).
"We really wanted to work with James forever," says Butler. "We toured on the Neon Bible tour together and he's a really talented man. And in terms of modern producers, he can make a classic synth sound feel very modern. It's hard to do. It's hard to have a synth that just sounds like it's from the '80s but also sounds like it's from 2013 and he's a specialist in that."
Unfortunately, there won't be a proper Arcade Fire tour until the spring, says Butler. But the group has been staging a number of North American record release shows since September -- including several in their hometown of Montreal -- with a rumoured top of the Capitol building in L.A. gig on the CD's actual release day.
Butler says the new Reflektor material is creating the desired effect -- dancing -- on road tests so far.
"It feels great and it translates great. More so on this album than any other album we knew how to play the songs when we recorded them. And we actually played a show in the middle of recording to kind of feel and see what we could do better on the songs. And just playing for people changes how a song is. It just feels very natural. They're all kind of party songs -- I mean not all of them -- but a lot of them are party songs so it's easy to throw a party with them."
There's a distinct aesthetic evident in Arcade Fire's visuals for Reflektor, including those awesome, slightly creepy papier-mache masks worn by the band members.
You've seen them in the video for their first single, the title track from Reflektor, and in some of their live TV performances.
To quote that SNL skit, what's up with that?
"We originally had them made a long time ago as a joke, 'Oh, we can just do photo shoots now just in the masks," says Arcade Fire's Will Butler.
"But especially when we were filming the Anton (Corbijn) video (for Reflektor), it was like, 'Oh, this will be a funny scene.' And then you watch it and you're like, 'Oh, that was like eerily beautiful.' And I actually have since then talked to theatre nerds who are into masks, studied masking and things like that, and are like, 'Oh, right, obviously, it's a thing. Obviously, humanity has worn masks for thousands of years. Obviously, there's a whole realm of reams of studies about it.'"
The masks were originally made by artists in Jacmel, Haiti.
"Actually my mask was made by a later group of guys because we sent our masks to be filmed in Haiti and mine got lost so mine is particularly creepy with a funny expression on it."
ARCADE FIRE IN NBC SPECIAL
Arcade Fire not only performed on Saturday Night Live Sept. 29, but they were given a half-hour NBC special following the show.
Shot at Montreal's Salsatheque, the special came about thanks to Toronto-born executive producer Lorne Michaels. "Lorne Michaels basically did that for us and we were really blown away..." says multi-instrumentalist Will Butler. "I think his kids are fans and I think he respects his kids."
Butler says they also weren't told what they could do.
"We were given free reign. I mean it had to be better than an infomercial. It had to not embarrass Lorne ...
"Our requirement was that it would be better than the ShamWow (ad)."
So the bar wasn't set that high then?
"The ShamWow commercial's pretty good though," argues Butler. "I think more people have seen the ShamWow commercial than the special."
A-listers who made cameos included James Franco, Ben Stiller, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Zach Galifianakis and U2's Bono.