Thrown into the Fire

Sheila Burt

Will Butler foresees three career paths in his life.

“Rock star, poet and, like, president of the United States are my three options,” the Weinberg senior said, leaning back on a couch in his Evanston apartment. “President is like my safety school.”

Lucky for Butler his first option — rock star — seems to be going pretty well.

As a member of the up-and-coming indie-rock band The Arcade Fire, Butler has been thrown into the rock ‘n’ roll limelight — at least when he’s not reading 100 pages of poetry for his classes.

The seven-member, Montreal-based band released its debut album, “Funeral,” in September on independent label Merge Records based in North Carolina. Since the release, the band has received considerable attention, including a recent front-page article in the New York Times’ Arts section when the band played at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York.

Butler, who described his role in the band as “sort of all over the place,” said he joins the band on the road when he can, usually playing bass, keyboards or percussion. He’ll play with the band in upcoming Midwest shows, including two Chicago stints on Nov. 25 at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave. and on Nov. 26 at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.

The band is somewhat of a family affair for Butler. His older brother and sister-in-law both play in the band.

The Arcade Fire began nearly six years ago, when Butler was a sophomore in high school and his brother was a freshman at McGill University in Canada.

“Whenever we’ve been in the same town, we played music together,” said Butler of he and his older brother’s Texas upbringing. “But it hasn’t been hardcore since March 2003.”

At that time Butler, a poetry major in Weinberg’s Writing Program with a Slavic Studies minor, took a quarter off from his sophomore year at NU to spend spring and summer in Canada, playing guitar and helping write some of the music.

“We only started recording towards the end of my stay and we spent a lot of time just playing shows, which we totally needed to do because we’re not a tight band,” Butler said.

The band finished the album in May 2004 and toured in the summer with The Unicorns, a Canadian alternative band.

Butler played in some of the shows until he received a research grant to study rock ‘n’ roll under the reign of communism in the 1980s in Czechoslovakia.

From the first listen, “Funeral,” released on Sept. 14, is a strong indie-rock record, mixing layers of guitar and keyboard against the hush vocals of his brother Win and his wife, R