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Interview with Arcade Fire, the Grammy winning band play ‘Jimmy Fallon’ Thursday

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Kingsbury talks about the time they had the late David Bowie record vocals on an Arcade Fire track.
Credit: Michael Marcelle
Arcade Fire are lit and ready to play Fallon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tonight, in support of their new album, “WE”, Montreal band Arcade Fire are performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. (11:35 p.m. EST)

This past weekend they played on Saturday Night Live.

Arcade Fire embark on a world tour this fall. The North American leg of the “WE” arena tour — with Beck playing a special acoustic set — kicks off October 28th in Washington D.C.

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Kingsbury spoke from Montreal:

What was it like having David Bowie sing on your song "Reflektor"? How did that come about?

TK: We were in New York at Electric Lady mixing the album, working on that song. He came over to the studio to visit and heard it. We always had the idea that the part he sings on the song would be sung by a third voice of some kind, we weren't sure who. 

When he was there, it dawned on us that he would be more than perfect. So we presented it to him, and he was happy to do it. He came back the next day to track. It's pretty amazing to be working on a song you've heard a thousand times, and then you hear David Bowie's voice on it. It was a surreal experience.

When he came into the studio, he said, "I haven't been here since I recorded vocals with John Lennon for "Fame." He was very open to feedback, too. We were like, "Can you try this and try that?" He did it all, and was great about it. 

He also had a bunch of his own ideas. He'd initiated contact with us a long time ago. We'd played with him in 2005. Right away he treated us well. He treated us as peers, so we thought, "Wow, if he's going to treat us like people, I suppose we'll treat him like people." [Laughs] He's very lovely to hang out with and to work with.

What would you have done if his singing wasn’t working for the song? Would you have told David Bowie, one of the most celebrated artists in history, "Hey, Dave, that take was great, but we're going to need a little more gusto. Try it with a tad more Ziggy Stardust." ?

Thankfully we didn't have to cross that bridge. The very first second he opens his mouth, you're like, "Oh, I know that voice. Oh right, that's the one and only David Bowie." 

See the new video for “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)”, directed by Academy Award nominee Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).

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