Canadian band Arcade Fire are due to kick off their European tour with two dates in Dublin this week - but it seems that the tour will be overshadowed by another matter in the band's camp.
Over the weekend, Pitchfork published details alleging sexual misconduct claims made by four people - three women and one person who is now gender-fluid and uses 'they/them' pronouns - against frontman Win Butler in recent years.
The people were all between the ages of 18 and 23 when they had what they describe as inappropriate sexual relations with Butler, who is married to his bandmate Regine Chassagne. The pair have a 9-year-old son together.
The alleged incidents took place between 2015 and 2020, and include one person recalling Butler's advances when they were 21 and he was 34. They claim that he touched them inappropriately and without consent, and turned up at their apartment without an invite or permission.
"I opened my door and he pinned me up against the wall and was aggressively grabbing my body and sticking his tongue down my throat,” they told Pitchfork. “Eventually he pulled me onto his lap on my couch. I don’t know if he was holding me by the waist or what, but I was physically constrained by him as he was putting his hand down my pants. At some point he tried to go down on me … The anger and the power in my voice surprised me. I will never forget it."
Butler gave his own account of the incident by denying that any non-consensual action had taken place. "Ot felt like the mood was weird so I stopped and asked if [they were] OK," he said. "It seemed like maybe things were moving a little fast. [They] never asked me to leave, and I never berated [them]. I did express some genuine confusion as to how the mood had shifted so suddenly and become awkward. I said it was no big deal at all. I stopped and I left."
Another woman claimed that she met Butler when she was 18 and he was 36, and he bombarded her with sexts and explicit pictures of himself, while another connected with him on Instagram after attending an Arcade Fire gig in Montreal, and later developed a sexual relationship. Butler responded to the latter's claims by saying that it was consensual. "We would sext and eventually slept together a couple times. The first time, I realized she had a tattoo of my band, which honestly felt a little weird," he said.
He released a statement admitting that he had had 'consensual relationships outside of my marriage' and blaming his poor mental health, "the ghosts of childhood abuse" and his wife's miscarriage as he dealt with "the heaviest depression of [his] life".
Chassagne, meanwhile, released her own statement saying "I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together."
So far, both Dublin gigs are set to go ahead as planned.
Read both statements below:
I love Régine with all of my heart. We have been together for twenty years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soulmate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But at times, it has been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clear the air about my life, poor judgment, and mistakes I have made.
I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage.
There is no easy way to say this, and the hardest thing I have ever done is having to share this with my son. The majority of these relationships were short lived, and my wife is aware – our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some. I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud. Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.
I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.
While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.
I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse. In my 30s, I started drinking as I dealt with the heaviest depression of my life after our family experienced a miscarriage. None of this is intended to excuse my behavior, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time. I no longer recognized myself or the person I had become. Régine waited patiently watching me suffer and tried to help me as best as she could. I know it must have been so hard for her to watch the person she loved so lost.
I have been working hard on myself – not out of fear or shame, but because I am a human being who wants to improve despite my flaws and damage. I’ve spent the last few years since Covid hit trying to save that part of my soul. I have put significant time and energy into therapy and healing, including attending AA. I am more aware now of how my public persona can distort relationships even if a situation feels friendly and positive to me. I am very grateful to Régine, my family, my dear friends, and my therapist, who have helped me back from the abyss that I felt certain at times would consume me. The bond I share with my bandmates and the incredibly deep connection I’ve made with an audience through sharing music has literally saved my life.
As I look to the future, I am continuing to learn from my mistakes and working hard to become a better person, someone my son can be proud of. I say to you all my friends, family, to anyone I have hurt and to the people who love my music and are shocked and disappointed by this report: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I caused – I’m sorry I wasn’t more aware and tuned in to the effect I have on people – I fucked up, and while not an excuse, I will continue to look forward and heal what can be healed, and learn from past experiences. I can do better and I will do better.
Win is my soulmate, my songwriting partner, my husband, the father of my beautiful boy. He has been my partner in life and in music for 20 years. And for all of the love in our lives, I have also watched him suffer through immense pain. I have stood by him because I know he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, friends, and our family. I’ve known Win since before we were “famous,” when we were just ordinary college students. I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together.