Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty One of rock's royal families has just gotten a…
- Posted on Sep 22nd 2011 2:00PM by Aaron Brophy
Courtesy of Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire bought the church in Farnham, Quebec (population 7,809) after putting out their first album, 'Funeral,' and since then it's become ground zero for emerging indie artists, including three who were nominated for this year's Polaris Prize.
"We started a studio outside of Montreal after our first record and whenever we haven't been using it we kind of let bands go in there and record for pretty cheap," said Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler at a Polaris press conference. "The band Timber Timbre who played tonight recorded there, and Colin [Stetson] has recorded there a bunch.
"It's important to have a place in a music scene that's kind of a world class studio where people can record, because if you don't document it then no one will ever hear it."
Trendspotters covering this year's Polaris Prize were quick to point out there were four records which prominently featured saxophone (Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs,' Destroyer's 'Kaputt,' Colin Stetson's 'New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges' and Timber Timbre's 'Creep On Creepin' On'), four acts based in Montreal (Arcade Fire, Braids, Galaxie and Colin Stetson), and that Stetson himself had played on three of the 10 short list nominated albums (his own, Timber Timbre's and Arcade Fire's). But Petite Eglise's influence over the Polaris Prize spans years.
Beyond Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre and Stetson, past Polaris winner Owen "Final Fantasy" Pallett and past nominees Wolf Parade have also recorded in a town who's highest profile industries are a parachuting school, a peat bog and a beet sugar refinery. Acts like Beirut, Clues, Hot Springs and Pacific Theater are just some of the other's who've recorded there.
The band say the building is part of how they give back to the community.
"We were really lucky from the get-go with just people being generous with us and giving [recording] time and giving space and offering something," said Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry. "So I feel like we try to, and will try to keep doing it as much as we can, just offering it up to our friends because we've been blessed and fortunate to have a wealth of resource at our disposal and as artists that's like the greatest luxury in life -- to have resources and just the time to work on the art."
Certainly Timber Timbre's Taylor Kirk considers working at Petit Eglise a magical experience, in part because of when Stetson showed up to work on his album.
"It was a really special time, a really neat experience," said Kirk at Polaris. 'We recorded in the church with Mark Lawson, who was also an engineer on the Arcade Fire record.
"We had Colin in one day and we were quite far along in the tracking, we were mostly doing auxiliary things like that, and he came in and set up all of his stuff and we recorded 'Do I Have Power' and he just began stacking this crazy heavy, heavy sax part in the way that he does and it was just extraordinary to watch him do that. It was just rad."
If you think the three-makes-a-trend Polaris nominations for Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre and Stetson means the influence of Petit Eglise has crested, you'll likely be wrong. That's because of an offer Parry made to Arcade Fire's fellow nominees immediately after it was announced that they had won the Polaris Prize along with $30,000 in prize money.
"We built a studio in Montreal awhile ago," he said from the stage. "Timber Timbre recorded an album there, and Colin Stetson recorded an album there, and everyone here tonight is invited to record a record there, that's what this [money] is going towards."