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Steven Bach's biography Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl examines the filmmaker who celebrated the Nazi ideal and created the Third Reich's iconic images in Triumph of the Will and Olympiad. Bach details Riefenstahl's ruthless, opportunistic ambition, analyzes her "self-righteous entitlement," and explores her relationships with Hitler, Goebbels and Albert Speer. What emerges is a compulsively readable and scrupulously crafted work.




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Other segments from the episode on June 4, 2007

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 4, 2007: Interview with Win Butler and Regine Chassagne; Interview with Steven Bach.


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of the band Arcade
Fire on their new album "Neon Bible" and their choices musically
in some of the songs

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily
News, filling in for Terry Gross.

The Montreal band Arcade Fire work with your standard set of instruments:
guitars, keyboards, drums. But within their art rock anthems, there's also
the sounds of accordions, pipe organs, xylophones, mandolins, dobros, violins,
and the hurdy-gurdy, a centuries-old string instrument that's played by
turning a crank. Arcade Fire was formed by our guests today, the husband and
wife time Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. The band gained attention in 2004
with their first album "Funeral." The record was dedicated to the memory of a
number of the band's family members who had passed away, including Win
Butler's grandfather Alvino Ray, a pioneer of pedal steel guitar, who led his
own big band in the '40s.

This spring, the band released their second album "Neon Bible," which was
recorded in a Quebec church the band converted into a studio. Writing in the
online magazine Pitchfork, Steven M. Deusner says, "If `Funeral' captured the
enormity of personal pain, `Neon Bible' sounds large enough to take on the
whole world." Terry Gross spoke with Arcade Fire in May. Here's a track from
"Neon Bible," "Keep the Car Running."

(Soundbite of "Keep the Car Running")

ARCADE FIRE: (Singing) Every night my dream's the same
Same old city with a different name
Men are coming to take me away
I don't know why but I know I can't stay

There's a weight that's pressing down
Late at night you can hear the sound
Even the noise you make when you sleep
Can't swim across a river so deep
They know my name 'cause I told it to them
But they don't know where, and they don't know
When it's coming, when it's coming

(End of soundbite)


That's "Keep the Car Running" from Arcade Fire's latest album, "Neon Bible."

Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, welcome to FRESH AIR. This album is so
terrific. Now, what directions were you each heading in musically before you

Mr. WIN BUTLER: I started out university at Sarah Lawrence College in New
York and, you know, partway through my first year I kind of realized that I
was spending all my time just recording on the four-track and it was kind of
an absurd waste of money for me to be going to an expensive liberal arts
school, so I dropped out and just started doing music pretty much--it just
kind of occurred to me that I could be in a band and that's kind of what I was
spending all my energy on anyway so kind of from that point on I was just, you
know, writing songs all the time and trying to--wanting to play for people.
So that's kind of the path I was on.

GROSS: And Regine, what about you?

Ms. REGINE CHASSAGNE: When we met, I had finished my degree in
communications sound, and I was in this medieval band. I was playing medieval
music, because I like medieval. I was really interested in--not like the
fantasy type, but like the like historical medieval, but also we would arrange
songs, and I was actually studying jazz at McGill when we met. Yeah.

GROSS: Well, I want to play another track from your latest album, "Neon
Bible," and the track I want to play is "Intervention," so why don't we hear
it and then we'll talk about it. And my guests are Win Butler and Regine
Chassagne of Arcade Fire, and this track has an incredible pipe organ on it.
So here it is, "Intervention."

(Soundbite of @"Intervention")

ARCADE FIRE: (Singing) I can taste your fear
It's gonna lift you up and take you out of here
And the bone shall never heal
I care not if you kneel

We can't find you now
But they're gonna get their money back somehow
And when you finally disappear
We'll just say you were never here

Working for the church while
Your life falls apart
Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home
Here the soldier groan, `We'll go at it alone'
Here the soldier groan, `We'll go at it alone'

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's "Intervention" from Arcade Fire's latest album, "Neon Bible,"
and my guests are Win Butler and Regine Chassagne from Arcade Fire.

That track is really spectacular. I love the bigness of the organ and the
kind of small chimey-ness of the xylophone. Was that a xylophone?

Mr. BUTLER: Yes.


GROSS: And what are you each playing on this?

Ms. CHASSAGNE: I'm playing the organ and singing the backups.

Mr. BUTLER: I'm singing and playing guitar.

GROSS: How did you decide that this song needed a pipe organ?

Mr. BUTLER: I mean, that's kind of the perfect example of kind of how we
influence each other, because Regine had put an organ on one of her medieval
songs and had a really powerful experience playing the organ. And she was
playing the initial chords, which ended up turning into the song, and I heard
it and just initially really felt strongly that it should be built around the
pipe organ and we played it live a couple of times when we were touring the
last record, but with a different sound and it never quite--there was just
something missing. And then we found this organ in Montreal, and we went into
play it and it just made me cry hearing the chords on that instrument. It was
just really overpowering sound. So that's definitely an example of us kind of
influence each other, I think.

GROSS: Regine, when you're playing that pipe organ, I imagine the vibration
is so powerful that you feel it in your body, that your body resonates with
the chords.

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Yeah. That was pretty intense recording that song because,
well, because the way we had to do it is I had to play the--like we couldn't
record the entire band in the church, so we had to record the church organ
separately, and me listening to the band on my headphones and playing the
organ. But the delay, you know, was so big because it's a big church that I
had to like play basically blind and not listen to the sound that was coming
in but just like--it was like being the pilot of a plane but blindfolded.

GROSS: Now, what made you think of putting like the bigness of the pipe organ
together with the small kind of bell-like sound of the xylophone? They're
such interesting contrasts.

Mr. BUTLER: Well, I kind of originally wanted the band to kind of sound like
a stop on the organ, almost like, you know, there's this little tiny metallic
band underneath this giant instrument. Because the bed tracks of this song
were recorded very simply, actually, in another small church, and you know,
only a few microphones, and recorded live off the floor, and I kind of like
the idea of taking this little live band and combining it with that huge

GROSS: Now, Win, I know that when you were studying at McGill University in
Montreal that you were a religion studies major?

Mr. BUTLER: Yep. Religious studies.

GROSS: How did that end up being your major?

Mr. BUTLER: I started out in fine art, in photography and creative writing
and stuff, and I ended up taking a lot more religion and philosophy classes as
I went along because I found that with music and art I didn't really need
school to make me do work, and with philosophy and religion it was really
useful to have the structure of school to force your--you know like, it's
really hard to read St. Augustine unless you have a paper due on it. You
know? It's really interesting, but it takes a little pushing to really get
through it, but I found it really interesting to study.

GROSS: What was your family's religious life when you were growing up in

Mr. BUTLER: I went to church a bit. My mom's side of the family is
religious, and my dad's side isn't. So it was kind of--my mom's side of the
family are Mormon, but they're all musicians so it's kind of like
martini-drinking Mormons is the way I usually describe it but I, you know, I
was kind of exposed to, you know, a lot of different religious beliefs.

GROSS: What kind of music did you grow up with? What was in your parents' or
grandparents' collections?

Mr. BUTLER: My grandpa led a big band, and his wife was a singer in a group
called The King Sisters, and pretty much my mom's whole family...

GROSS: Your grandfather was Alvino Ray.

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah. So I was really influenced by him, actually, and my mom
is a harpist, is a really excellent jazz harpist. So I was, you know--I think
for me, being a musician was almost the most normal thing I could do, you
know, it was like being an accountant or something like that. You know, there
was never really any question in my mind. Like, I think a lot of times people
who want to be in bands go through a lot of struggles like, `Oh, but how am I
going to make a living?' It just seemed like, well, of course, I could do that
if I wanted to, but it was more a question if I wanted to do it.

GROSS: Now I'm thinking you grew up with some unusual instruments because
your grandfather Alvino Ray played pedal steel guitar, which...

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah, I mean he...

GROSS: ...most people don't grow up around, right? And your mother played
harp, which is such a like big and beautiful instrument, which most people
don't grow up around.

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah, I mean I was definitely really--you know, I didn't really
appreciate it as a kid, you know. My mom would be playing Debussy in the
living room and I'd be like, `Mom, stop! I want to play Nintendo.'

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Play Nintendo!

Mr. BUTLER: Or whatever. It was like--now I can really appreciate it and
see how unusual it was but at the time it was, you know, I think that whatever
you grow up with, you kind of think is normal.

GROSS: So, did you ever see your grandfather Alvino Ray perform?

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah. I mean, he was kind of performing all the time. I never
saw him perform with a big band except for on film...

Ms. CHASSAGNE: We played with him.

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah, he played with him. Regine got to play with him. He
would always--whenever he would visit he would--he had his ham radio license
from the time he was eight, so pretty much all day every day you'd just
hear...(he makes crackling noises like radio static)...ham radio sounds and
then you'd hear this kind of Django Reinhardt guitar coming from the studio
and that was pretty much, you know, what he did all day. So you know, like on
the Fourth of July he would wear these like, American flag...

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Boxers.

Mr. BUTLER: ...bathing suit and play like banjo melodies or play guitar or
pedal steel or you know, whatever. He was always in his basement. He
actually taught himself to use Pro Tools and he was recording himself, like he


Mr. BUTLER: Yeah, at 95.

GROSS: Oh, wow. That's really great.

Mr. BUTLER: He was like always wanting to--he was always building electronic
stuff so he was like--you know, he always had the first VCR or the, you know,
like the gigantic...


Mr. BUTLER: ...the disc for television or whatever the newest thing was, you
know. It was like he got the VCR when it was like $10,000, or whatever, you
know. It was like he had to have it. He...

GROSS: Did he make his own pedal steel guitars?

Mr. BUTLER: Well, he--I think that the--he kind of modified what the pedal
steel was, like he was always kind of tinkering with it. He actually built
one of the first prototypes of the electric guitar, which is at the Experience
Music Museum in Seattle now, the slap steel. But yeah, he was like friends
with Leo Fender and, you know, he was like very much at like the forefront of
that. I think he was kind of horrified with what happened with the electric
guitar, because he just kind of wanted to make it a little louder, and I don't
think he ever fully got the whole rock--I even think he thought jazz combos
were kind of a sell-out.

DAVIES: Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of the band Arcade Fire speaking with
Terry Gross. We'll hear more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


DAVIES: Let's get back to Terry's interview with Win Butler and Regine
Chassagne of the band Arcade Fire. Their new album is called "Neon Bible."

GROSS: Regine, you know, I wanted to ask you how your family ended up leaving
Haiti for Canada.

Ms. CHASSAGNE: They left in the '60s during the Duvalier period. They both
like independently--they didn't know each other. My dad and my mom didn't
know each other, but they both had to because, you know, political problems
then. I guess--well, my grandpa got taken and killed from my dad's side so
they basically--my dad just like, my dad's family just had to leave in a
second, and so my mom too because, yeah, it was just like--that's the story of

GROSS: Well, I want to play another track from the new Arcade Fire CD "Neon
Bible," and this track is called "My Body Is a Cage." Now, I think of this as
a great song about inhibition. I don't know if that was your intention, but
that's certainly how it sounds to me. In the lyric of "My body is a cage that
keeps me from dancing with the one I love."

Now, the song starts kind of quiet. Win, your voice is either processed or
it's intentionally off mike--I'm not sure exactly what you did to get that
effect, but then deeper into the track, you know, the organ comes up full, and
there's this machine gun drumming that starts, and it gets really big and
powerful. Would you describe that shift a little bit and...

Mr. BUTLER: Well, yeah. I mean, the kind of idea, because I play the pipe
organ on that song, and Regine's playing the drums, and we kind of started out
processing everything. There are these girls from Montreal who are in a small
gospel group and they're singing backing vocals, and it kind of started with
kind of wanting the gospel choir to sound like robots and the pipe organ to
sound like a Casio and then to start with this really inhibited small
processed thing and then, as the song goes, it kind of opens up and the real
sounds kind of come out, so it's kind of mirroring what the song's about.

GROSS: OK, why don't we hear it. So this is "My Body Is a Cage" from Arcade
Fire's album "Neon Album."

(Soundbite of "My Body Is a Cage")

ARCADE FIRE: (Singing) I'm living in an age
That calls darkness light
Though my language is dead
Still the shapes fill my head

I'm living in an age
Whose name I don't know
Though the fear keeps me moving
Still my heart beats so slow

My body is a cage that keeps me
From dancing with the one I love
But my mind holds the key
You're standing next to me
My mind holds the key
My body is a...

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: That's "My Body Is a Cage" from the latest Arcade Fire album "Neon
Bible," and my guests are Win Butler and Regine Chassagne from Arcade Fire.
That's really another great track.

How did you figure out a performing style that you would be comfortable with
on stage, like who you wanted to be on stage?

Mr. BUTLER: Well, it's always been very much dictated by the music. I


Mr. BUTLER: I remember when we first started playing loft shows and stuff in
Montreal and it was more acoustic and there was like a very you know. I mean,
we didn't need a microphone for the accordion or the acoustic guitar because
the rooms were so small. And I remember being really kind of interactive with
the crowd and going into the crowds and singing, and I think as it became more
electric and we wanted to do something a little more--a little louder, then
the performance kind of changed to fit that.

GROSS: Well, you now--like the band now goes into the audience at concerts
and performance from the audience, but your audiences are sometimes really
big, like Radio City Music Hall. So would you describe the sensation of
performing in the middle of a really large audience?

Mr. BUTLER: It depends. I mean, sometimes--I mean, with the crowds getting
larger, sometimes it's like--it really depends. Sometimes it's--we don't do
it that much anymore because like, it got to the point where like Richard
would be playing the bass and people were like taking pictures with cell
phones and grabbing his arm, and it's just like at certain point, it's like,
well, `Guess we can't do that anymore because'...

Ms. CHASSAGNE: He can't play.

Mr. BUTLER: He can't really play.


Mr. BUTLER: But with smaller shows, it's usually easier just because it's,
you know, it's, you know, less intense. I think big groups of people act

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Mm-hmm.

Mr. BUTLER: People act differently than they would in normal life.

GROSS: And that's not always a good thing.

Mr. BUTLER: It's fine. I mean--I think it's really interesting to be in a
band at this time and it's like you see how much people are like mediating
their experiences through their cell phones and through their cameras. It's
like, `Yeah, no, I'm at the show right now!'

Ms. CHASSAGNE: `I'm right next to Regine!'

Mr. BUTLER: `They're singing the song right this second.' It's like, you're
ruining the song. `No, right now. No, they're looking at me. Oh, they're
looking at me. Here I'm going to hold it up to you.' It's like, why don't you
just have the experience and then have a memory of it instead of like...

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Talking...

Mr. BUTLER: ...telling your friend that you are maybe having a memory of
something. You know, it's like, `Remember when I told you that I was having
this experience?' You know, it's pretty wild, you know. It's just everyone
wants to photograph everything. I guess there will be no major world event
that won't be captured on cell phone video for the rest of time.

GROSS: Well, great to talk with you. Congratulations on "Neon Bible" and
thank you so much.

Mr. BUTLER: Yeah, it was a pleasure. Thank you.

Ms. CHASSAGNE: Thank you. Yeah.

DAVIES: Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of the band Arcade Fire speaking with
Terry Gross. Their new album is called "Neon Bible." Here's some music from
their first album, "Funeral."

I'm Dave Davies and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)"

ARCADE FIRE: (Singing) Alexander, our older brother
Set out for a great adventure
He tore our images out of his pictures,
He scratched our names out of all his letters
Our mother shoulda just named you Laika!

(End of soundbite)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Filler: By policy of WHYY, this information is restricted and has
been omitted from this transcript
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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