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Arcade Fire's Win Butler: 'I probably throw away 25 songs a month'

Jesse Kinos-Goodin

It's been two years since Arcade Fire released its Haitian-inspired album Reflektor. It's a precise amount of time that usually means a followup is on the horizon, especially considering the Grammy Award-winning band has averaged one album every three years.

"It feels like we never really know before we start making a record, we don't really know when or where it’s going to go," frontman Win Butler said when asked about new material during a stop at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote the band's documentary, The Reflektor Tapes, which will be widely released Sept. 23.

"We usually take time after touring to kind of live a little. Unless you want to write a bunch of songs about hotel room service and being backstage, I generally find it's important to live," he adds. "People talk to me about album cycles and stuff like that and it's generally a very foreign concept to me because songwriting just comes out of living."

But that doesn't mean the band hasn't been writing music. It just means it's a matter of time before that turns into an album.

"We write hundreds of songs for each record," he says. "I probably throw away 25 songs a month. Since I was 15, I spent every free second that I had writing music. We’re a band that really takes a record seriously. We think of the record as that body of work; something that reveals itself to you."

So how do they know when an album finally comes together?

"You’ll be writing for a while and then you have these songs and it starts to feel like, at some point, you have a record, which is usually when two or three songs start talking to each other," he says. "Then you start to realize there is more going on than just writing a song."

The Reflektor Tapes screens at TIFF on Sept. 18 and is widely released on Sept. 24.