Thursday, March 05, 2009

Win Butler is so missing Wayne Coyne's point

Is it me or did Win Butler of the Arcade Fire just colossally misunderstand and then cluelessly reinforce Wayne Coyne's broadside against his band?

Here is Coyne's diss in its entirety, because it really is great stuff:
I'm a fan of them [The Arcade Fire] on one level, but on another level I get really tired of their pompousness ... We've played some shows with them and they really treat people like shit. Whenever I've been around them, I've found that they not only treated their crew like shit, they treated the audience like shit. They treated everybody in their vicinity like shit. I thought, 'Who do they think they are?' I don't know why people put up with it. I wouldn't put up with it. I don't care if it's Arcade Fire or Brian Eno. If either of them walked into a room and treated people like shit I'd be like, 'Fuck you, get outta here.'

... People treat Arcade Fire like they're the greatest thing ever and they get away with it. Those sort of opinions change my view of their music. They have good tunes, but they're pricks, so fuck 'em. Who does Arcade Fire think they are? I've been around groups. I've been around the Edge from U2 and he's the fucking sweetest guy ever. I was around Justin Timberlake when he was young and he was just a normal, nice, kind person. Anyone can be polite and kind and people who have the privilege and money and attention should understand that. If they don't, then fuck 'em.
Emphasis added, but I think it's obvious to anyone who reads these comments that Coyne is talking about social equality. His sense from being around them is that the members of The Arcade Fire place themselves above the lowly crew members, audience members, etc. That's why the Edge and Justin Timberlake are relevant examples: They are "big stars" who Coyne has seen treating potential social inferiors -- crew, people in the general vicinity -- as equals. That's the point.

But now in his precious, wounded response on his band's incredibly pretentious website (you need a road map to find this response: go here, click "Win" and then "Win's Scrapbook" -- or if you are a regular person just click here to read it transcribed), Butler responds this way:
The only time we have ever shared a stage with the Flaming Lips was our last show on the Funeral tour at a festival in Las Vegas (over 3 years ago)...we arrived the morning of the show from Brazil, slept all day and awoke into some kind of surreal Vegas jet-lag dream in which we were playing after the Flaming strange...I was really excited to meet Wayne. Clouds Taste Metallic was a huge record for me, and growing up in the weirdness of Houston, I always imagined Oklahoma City to be in the same universe. I was really nervous to meet him and I felt a little weird that we were playing after them. We traded a little hello, but he was a hard guy to get a read on. Steven Drodz was super nice, and I felt good after talking to him...

So...I am not sure Wayne is the best judge (based on seeing us play at a couple of festivals) if we are righteous, kind and goodhearted people like The Edge and Justin Timberlake (who I am sure he knows intimately as well). I can't imagine a reason why we would have been pompous towards The Flaming Lips, a band we have always loved, on that particular night, all those years ago. [...]

At times like these I am comforted by knowing that even though Wayne slammed Beck all those years ago, he seems like a really nice guy to me. I guess everyone has a different idea of what being pompous means.
(Cluelessness emphasized.) But Coyne wasn't really complaining that the Arcade Fire were rude to him -- he's saying they were pompous dicks who placed themselves on a higher plane than the non-celebrity-musicians who surrounded them!

And to counter this charge, Butler responds that he, Win Butler a.) was perfectly polite to fellow celebrity musician Wayne Coyne, b.) doubts that Coyne is really that well-acquainted with super-famous celebrity musicians the Edge and Justin Timberlake, and c.) is unlike Coyne in that he, Win Butler, actually is friends with super-famous celebrity musician Beck.

We're going to score this one a big win for Wayne Coyne and a big loss for Win.

(image stolen from BrooklynVegan)


the cold cowboy said...

in Winifred's defense, dear Robert, you did sybhect his one real zinger to ellipses: "I hope I was less of a "prick" then [sic] telling Rollingstone that a bunch of people I don't know at all are really assholes."

is shit-talking someone to the press better than being a dick to someone one night? hard to say. sounds to me like both are pricks; pricks who had good early albums and poopy recent ones.

Rob said...

No sir! Dishing to the Rolling Stone is great form. It's good copy, it's funny, and it gives us readers some actual human insight into the world as Wayne Coyne sees it. Arguably it's even an example of Wayne Coyne treating his audience as social equals -- because why SHOULD he keep his opinions of other musical celebrities secret, except to protect the feelings of that secret club of famous musical celebrities? I see no downside at all to him talking shit to a reporter about people he doesn't like.

And another thing: Win's premise in that zinger, again, is that you can't judge if someone is good and kind-hearted unless you really know them. Maybe, maybe not. But you definitely CAN judge whether or not they treat people around them as social equals. That's not a deep, hidden truth of the soul, it's just a social reality -- do you order people around and act like an entitled prick or don't you? That is not hard at all to suss out, it's actually completely obvious. Watching someone interact with the crew backstage at a rock show would be PLENTY of information to make that judgment...

Michael said...

I guess 2006 qualifies as "all those years ago" for the Arcade Fire guy in reference to Coyne slamming Beck? I thought the Beck "slamming" (re: Scientology) was fairly appropriate, I like a lot of the Flaming Lips catalog (even the recent stuff), and I've never heard anything from Arcade Fire that was particularly impressive (recommendations?), so I think I'm in Wayne's corner on this one.

I just can't see Arcade Fire reaching out to their fans and involving them in their music the way Flaming Lips has so I imagine there is a some truth in what Coyne is saying.

There is also Beck's response to Coyne from a long ago yesteryear: "He's a showman and he picks on people sometimes. He does it to everybody, his band, his friends, anybody who walks in the room. I think in the press it comes off as an attack, but he's just on permanent truth serum." Maybe Arcade Fire are actually the kind of dickholes who deserve to be picked on.

the cold cowboy said...

dishing to rolling stone may "make good copy" and hasn't it been fun debating it? but it's so obviously a dick move to go whining to the press spreading rumors based on largely nothing.

point taken on win's worthless rebuttal. as previously stated, i'm no fan of the dude (nor website, nor...,etc.). but setting him aside, i can't see how this makes coyne awesome. am i missing something? am i to believe coyne some kind of latter day cesar chavez? perhaps if he had witnessed some systematic proletariat-hating on the part of the arcadians. maybe if they poured their beer out on the roadie's heads. but complaining about them being dicky the one night you met them? come on. even if it's true, it's whiny, gossipy poor form to go spewing it to the press.

Frederick Foxtrott said...

So I'm gonna get in on this late...but I have to ask cold cowboy, what exactly was Flaming Lips' good early record...and poopy recent one?