Will Butler has left Arcade Fire

Will Butler

Will Butler
Photo: Jason Oxenham (Getty Images)

It’s been a momentous week for veteran indie rock outfit Arcade Fire: Earlier this week, the band announced it had completed WE, its first album since 2017’s critically divisive Everything Now. Now Will Butler—one of the band’s longest-serving members, and brother of founder and frontman Win Butler—has announced that he’s departed the group after 18 years together.

Butler announced his departure on Twitter this afternoon, noting that he’d actually left the band late last year, after WE was completed. He also expressed positivity toward both his now former band members, and the group’s fans, writing that, “The band are still my friends and family.” (Which, again, is literal: In addition to his brother, Arcade Fire member Régine Alexandra Chassagne is Butler’s sister-in law.)

Butler joined the band shortly after its founding, serving as a multi-instrumentalist and writer on every release since their debut album, Funeral. The nature of Arcade Fire’s often-eclectic sound led him to bounce around the orchestra freely, but he was most often seen playing on synthesizer and bass. In addition to his work with the band, Butler has released three solo albums; the most recent, Generations, came out in 2020.

News of Butler’s departure from the band comes just as the group is gearing up for public performances, with sold-out shows at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. (The group also just released the first single from WE, titled “The Lightning I, II”.)

In his Twitter message, Will Butler made it sounds like the parting with Arcade Fire was amicable. “I left at the end of last year,” he wrote, “After the new record was complete. 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.” He emphasized that he would continue working on the charitable projects he’s embarked on during his time with the band, and expressed plans to begin working on a new album some time soon.

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