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The road to Reflektor, Arcade Fire’s fourth album, began when The Suburbs won the Grammy award for album of the year on February 13, 2011. Since that day, the buzz has barely let up on the Montreal-based band, culminating in the No. 1 debut made official today.
According to Nielsen SoundScan (via Billboard), Reflektor sold 140,000 copies in its first week out. An impressive feat for Win Butler and crew who’ve delivered their most ambitious and accessible album yet, it also follows a long and steady, nearly perfectly executed roll-out, as THR details in the timeline below.
The band visits multi-instrumentalist Régine Chassagne‘s home country of Haiti and performs in the small village of Cange and at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-Au-Prince. Footage of this trip and another from February, 2012, are later featured in a video montage the band releases in March, 2012. The culture of Haiti would serve as a massive influence on Arcade Fire’s new album.
The band travels to Jamaica and spends nearly a month working with producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, The Suburbs, as well as Mumford & Sons, Coldplay and Björk) on some 60 songs to work on. They live and record at the empty Trident Castle in Port Antonio, bringing in their own beds, instruments and recording gear.
May 19, 2012
Arcade Fire performs with Foo Fighters and Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live.
The band returns to its hometown of Montreal with more songs written and sketch recordings. As they whittle down the choices, they call on James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem to help tweak songs and develop the album further. The two parties continue working together on and off through the remainder of the recording process and without public knowledge until the end of the year.
April 21, 2013
Butler and Chassagne celebrate the birth of their first child, a boy.
October 6, 2012
First video of new Arcade Fire material surfaces following a performance at a Partners in Health event at Guastavino’s restaurant in New York City on Oct. 4. The song in the video, “Crucified Again,” will later appear on the Reflektor album.
October 25, 2012
Drummer Jeremy Gara tells Ottawa radio station CKCU 93.1 the band is working on a new album expected to be out late-2013.
December 1, 2012
Under the pseudonym Les Identiks, Arcade Fire performs secret show for 100 at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, debuting new material from the band’s forthcoming album. All in attendance agreed to a no phone/video/photo policy.
December 7, 2012
The Arcade Fire fan community Arcade Fire Tube spreads news confirming the rumor Murphy is recording with the band, following an interview with the band’s manager Scott Rodger in Music Week.
March 19, 2013
The Twitter account of Murphy’s DFA recording studio furthers buzz over the collaboration when it posts: “Arcade Fire STILL with us at DFA… This is going to be one great sounding album!”
July 12, 2013
Arcade Fire announces Oct. 29 release date for new album via Twitter. The band confirm the date in response to a fan, who simply tweeted at them, “you’re my favorite.”
July 16, 2013
Murphy tells NME his work on Arcade Fire’s new album is finished. “It’s really f–king epic,” he says.
August 1, 2013
Cryptic emblem street art starts popping up in various cities, chronicled by an Instagram account and users’ own documentation. The Instagram account also features a short video of the cymbal being drawn that is also playing at the website www.TheReflektors.com. Unconfirmed rumors begin circulating this is the work of Arcade Fire and its new album is titled Reflektor.
August 12, 2013
The Reflektor Instagram account posts three images that spell out “9pm 9/9”.
August 26, 2013
Arcade Fire confirms Reflektor campaign is its with a four-story street mural in Downtown Manhattan reading, “Arcade Fire 9pm 9/9” with the Reflektor logo repeated.
September 2, 2013
The band releases a 15-second music clip on Spotify titled “9pm 9/9” under the album name Reflektor.
September 4, 2013
The band further teases its 9/9/9 event with a 40-second YouTube video featuring clips of the band recording the album.
September 4, 2013
Director Anton Corbijn tells The Daily Beast that Arcade Fire will debut a music video for “Reflektor” on September 9.
September 7, 2013
The album’s first single and title track, “Reflektor,” is leaked on Pitchfork and later removed.
September 9, 2013
Arcade Fire Tube finds the New Zealand iTunes listing for the album, including artwork that features a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, from the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Following the discovery, the band’s online store lists Reflektor for pre-order and confirms that it will be a double album.
The band performs again as the Reflektors at the Montreal salsa club Salsathèque. Tickets cost $9, show starts at 9 p.m. Flyer says formal attire or costume mandatory, prizes for best costume.
Arcade Fire releases the official interactive video for “Reflektor,” essentially turning the viewer into the “reflektor.”
Bowie confirms in a Facebook post he sang backup vocals on the Murphy-produced “Reflektor”.
The band releases a second Anton Corbijn-directed video for “Reflektor” and a limited quantity of “Reflektor” 12″ vinyl singles at select independent record stores across the world.
September 12, 2013
Slate magazine publishes an article reporting on property damage caused by the Reflektor promotional campaign. Butler responds with a hand-written apology explaining the wall stencils were meant to use water soluble paint or chalk so they would come off in the rain. “The chalk campaign was supposed to echo Haitian Veve drawings that are drawn in chalk or in the dirt,” he writes.
September 23, 2013
The Reflektor tracklist is leaked and then confirmed by the band via Twitter. Around the same time, news begins to trickle out about the band teaming up with Capitol Music Group for the release. With the might of Universal Music behind it, the road to a “Reflektor” radio hit is paved, although longtime indie label Merge Records stays in the picture.
September 28, 2013
Arcade Fire appears on Saturday Night Live‘s 39th season premiere as the show’s musical guest and is included in a game show sketch called, “New Cast Member or Arcade Fire?” with host Tina Fey. The band performs “Reflektor” and debuts “Afterlife.”
Immediately following SNL, the NBC show segues into a 30-minute Roman Coppola-directed concert special, Here Comes the Night Time. The performance features cameos by Rainn Wilson, Bono, Ben Stiller, James Franco, Michael Cera and Zach Galifianakis, and band debuts three more tracks: “Here Comes the Night Time”, “We Exist” and “Normal Person”.
October 12, 2013
The band releases a teaser video with 30 seconds of the song “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice).”
October 13, 2013
News begins circulating about Arcade Fire secret shows in New York and Los Angeles, as well as Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center, the Bridge School Benefit in the Bay Area and the YouTube Music Awards.
October 15, 2013
October 16, 2013
Arcade Fire releases a new video trailer for the album.
October 18, 2013
At a Bushwick, Brooklyn, art space, the band debuts new material to an adoring New York City crowd. Immediately following, videos and photos flood the Internet.
October 21, 2013
Arcade Fire releases a lyric video to “Afterllife” cut to Marcel Camus‘s 1959 film Black Orpheus. Butler had earlier told Rolling Stone that film is one of his favorites of all time and the Orpheus myth’s love triangle narrative was an inspiration for the album.
The band appears on The Colbert Report performing “Normal Person” and “Afterlife” (as a web exclusive). The episode also features an interview with Win and Will Butler.
October 23, 2013
Los Angeles fans are invited to win tickets to attend Arcade Fire’s Oct. 29 record release show with MTV and Intel Music’s Music Experiment series by completing a series of social media challenges including interestingly photographing themselves with the Reflector logo.
October 24, 2013
A full official stream of Reflektor is released on YouTube. The video is 85-minutes long and, like the “Afterlife” lyric video is set to Black Orpheus. The stream is later taken down.
October 28, 2013
Live from Capitol Studios in Hollywood, Arcade Fire performs Reflektor for a live “First Listen” session on NPR. The concert is aired live on public radio stations nationwide. The band paid tribute to Lou Reed, who passed away the day before, with covers of “Perfect Day” and “Satellite of Love.”
The band announces more shows through November in L.A., the U.K. and Paris.
October 29, 2013
The band live streams its record release show in Los Angeles with MTV and Intel Music’s Music Experiment series atop the Capitol Records building. Footage of the show also airs on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
October 31, 2013
The marquee of Los Angeles’ famed Palladium touts a Halloween show by The Reflektors. Arcade Fire performs to a capacity crowd, most dressed in costume.
November 3, 2013
Arcade Fire appears at the YouTube Music Awards, performing a “live music video” for “Afterlife” directed by Spike Jonze and featuring Greta Gerwig . In a mid-show spoof, Win Butler pulls a Kanye West and hijacks the microphone just as an award is being presented to Taylor Swift (who was not present).
Nov. 6, 2013
Reflektor‘s No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 is made official by Nielsen SoundScan, which reports that the album sold 140,000 copies in its first week. It’s the band’s second chart-topping debut.
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