Will Butler

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Will Butler
Will Butler performing in July 2007.
Will Butler performing in July 2007.
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Pierce Butler
Born (1982-10-06) October 6, 1982 (age 39)
OriginThe Woodlands, Texas, U.S.
GenresIndie rock
  • Musician
  • composer
LabelsMerge Records

William Pierce Butler (born October 6, 1982) is an American multi-instrumentalist and composer who is best known as a former member of the indie rock band Arcade Fire. He plays synthesizer, bass, guitar and percussion. He is known for his spontaneity and antics during performances. He is the younger brother of Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler. In 2014, Will Butler was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on the original score of the 2013 film Her.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Truckee, California, United States,[1] and raised in The Woodlands, Texas, Will is the son of Liza Rey, a classical musician, and Edwin Farnham Butler II, a geologist.[2] His maternal grandfather was guitarist Alvino Rey. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2001, where he lived in Abbot Hall, and subsequently attended Northwestern University, majoring in Poetry and Slavic studies.[3] During this time, he worked as a DJ for the WNUR Rock Show, where he also hired Nathan Amundson of Rivulets to be a substitute DJ at WNUR-FM. He also served as the poetry editor of Northwestern's literary magazine, Helicon. An excerpt of a poem from his senior thesis is quoted in Brian Bouldrey's book, "Honorable Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica." While at Northwestern, Butler lived in Chicago, Illinois. He moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the mid-2000s to join his brother Win Butler and band Arcade Fire.

In January 2008 Butler married dancer Jenny Shore.[4]

In January 2014, Butler and Owen Pallett were nominated for Best Original Score at the 86th Academy Awards for their original score of Her.

Butler was a student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he pursued a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration.[5][6]

In March 2022, Butler announced he had left Arcade Fire at the end of the previous year, stating "there was no acute reason beyond that I've changed--and the band has changed--over the last almost 20 years. Time for new things."[7] The band's album We, released on May 6, 2022, will be Butler's last performance with Arcade Fire on a studio album.[8]

Despite leaving Arcade Fire, Butler does not expect to leave the music scene and has "a few other projects percolating."[8]

Solo career[edit]

On March 3, 2015, Butler's debut solo album Policy was released under Merge Records, accompanied by an international tour alongside Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara. According to Butler, Policy is intended to reflect his omnivorous musical taste.[9]

Butler wrote five songs for The Guardian, based on news headlines, with each song created and shared a day apart. They were mixed properly and released on Policy Deluxe in May 2015.

Butler's song "Sun Comes Up" from the 2016 solo album Friday Night caught the ear of DJ B-Roc of The Knocks, and subsequently the Knocks-produced remix of the song was released alongside a video directed by Butler, filmed in part on the New York City subway system.[10]

Butler has written original songs for the new David Adjmi play Stereophonic, scheduled to premiere on Broadway in 2021.

Solo discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]


  • "Anna" (2015)

Music videos[edit]

  • "What I Want" (2015)
  • "Anna" (2015)


  1. ^ "Hear Two New Arcade Fire Songs and an Interview". Npr.org. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Arcade Fire: 'We're not a band that's out to party until we die'. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2015-03-10.
  3. ^ "Weinberg alumnus Will Butler talks civic engagement". North by Northwestern. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  4. ^ Zaleski, Annie (January 11, 2008). "Arcade Fire's Will Butler Got Married in St. Louis". Blogs.riverfronttimes.com. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  5. ^ "WILL BUTLER'S PITCHFORK RADIO SESSION". Arcade Fire Tube. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ "Will Butler takes Kennedy School lessons to Arcade Fire". News.harvard.edu. May 15, 2017.
  7. ^ @butlerwills (March 19, 2022). "I left at the end of last year, after the new record was complete. There was no acute reason beyond that I've chang…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ a b Kreps, Daniel (March 19, 2022). "Will Butler Has Left Arcade Fire: 'Time for New Things'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  9. ^ Will Butler: Policy | Album Reviews. Pitchfork.com, (March 6, 2015). Retrieved on 2015-03-10.
  10. ^ "Will Butler and The Knocks join forces to rewire "Sun Comes Up" for the dancefloor". Mergerecords.com.