Earlier this year, we had Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, come in to meet with our Vancouver team to play songs from his outstanding album, I Love You, Honeybear. We also asked him if he’d do a Canadian cover song for us. He ended up performing Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," which more than 400,000 people have seen so far.
Explaining the song choice to NME magazine, Tillman chalked it up to business as usual. "That’s how these radio things go," he said. "And then, on the internet, it gets spun into this like … 'I just love doing these covers, I got so many under my belt, I just love whipping 'em out at a moment’s notice and regaling the internet with reappropriated music.' But I do love that song, and I really enjoy performing it."
We recently sat down with Arcade Fire's Win Butler at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it turns out there’s a bit more to it than that. The two artists are friends, and Tillman asked Butler if he could cover the song, promising him he would do it justice. Turns out Butler's a fan of the result.
"It’s great," said Butler, before going into how he first met Tillman on the set of a horror movie Arcade Fire were shooting, called Festi, in which Tillman played a "bearded singer."
"Josh is a good friend of mine. He was living in New Orleans when we were spending time there. He’s always someone that I've related to as a songwriter. We did a joke horror movie called Festi when we were on tour for Suburbs and he has a cameo in it. He was on tour with the Fleet Foxes, and that’s actually how we met him. We were backstage at a festival and asked him to do a cameo in our crappy budget movie we were making and, yeah, he’s one of the few writers, lyrically, where I’m always interested in what he’s going to do next. He always goes lyrically where so many people don’t go."
Watch Tillman share his mutual admiration for Butler's songwriting, and if you haven't heard it yet, here's that "The Suburbs" cover again.
Follow Jesse Kinos-Goodin: @JesseKG