Win Butler sexual misconduct allegations will damage Arcade Fire more than they would other bands

Stories emerge as the band arrives in Ireland to play two nights in the 3Arena

Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire. Photograph: Todd Owyoung/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

With the possible exception of U2, no band has championed empathy and emotion in their music quite as fervently as Arcade Fire. But the indie rock mega-group’s wholesome persona has suffered a blow following allegations of sexual misconduct against frontman Win Butler.

These allegations will damage Arcade Fire more than they might other bands.

Butler fronts Arcade Fire alongside his wife Régine Chassagne. Both on stage and on record, he performs with the fervency of a preacher eager to strike a connection with his audience.

Four women, aged between 18 and 23 at the time, have alleged that the Grammy-winning frontman behaved inappropriately. Butler denied the charges, published by music website Pitchfork, saying the relationships were consensual. Chassagne, with whom he has a son, said her husband had “lost his way” but that she was “certain” he had never touched a woman without consent.


Arcade Fire are about to begin a world tour with two concerts at Dublin’s 3Arena on Tuesday, August 30th, and Wednesday, August 31st. Butler’s young brother Will quit the band in March, saying it was “time for new things”. Arcade Fire released their sixth studio album, We, last May. Butler said it was “about the forces that threaten to pull us away from the people we love, as it is inspired by the urgent need to overcome them”. It debuted at number one in the Irish charts.

Arcade Fire have always had a close relationship with Ireland. The band have listed their 2005 concert at Electric Picnic as an early highlight of their career — the moment they knew their music had struck a chord beyond the Montreal music scene where they had started (though Butler is actually from Houston and is the scion of a wealthy oil family).

“We were truly taken aback by what happened at that festival in 2005. The sense of empathy coming from the crowd — well, it floored us,” drummer Jeremy Gara told me of that 2005 Electric Picnic performance. “As a musician, you want to connect with audiences. And the connection that day was unbelievable. I realise that’s something all bands so but we seem to have a unique effect on people in Ireland.”

Arcade Fire have also spoken in the past about the temptations that come with success. “There’s a lot of pitfalls. We’ve all read the rock biographies,” Butler told CBS in 2014. “I always found it so boring. I have no interest in that. In fact, I find it embarrassing, like, some old rocker who is like, ‘Yeah, groupies.’ I find it embarrassing, you know? Well, it’s like seeing a drunk Santa Claus or something like that.”