Montreal’s band of multi-instrumentalist oddballs saved indie-rock in the 00s with sheer chorus-hollering, stadium-sweeping fervour – and championed suburban drudgery and Haiti en route
The Canadian group’s founding members are anything but ordinary: in Win Butler, they had a Texas-raised, goofy, 6ft 3in boarding-school kid who would later be dubbed a “Serbian basketball player” by Tina Fey. The other half of the husband-wife team was Régine Chassagne, a daughter of Haitian refugees, who fled to Montreal during the dictatorship of François Duvalier. These two are best known for being backed by a round-robin of cellists, violinists, multi-instrumentalists of all shapes and sizes. It didn’t start that way, however. The apocalyptic No Cars Go, a song from second album Neon Bible, began as a cut from their self-titled EP. The release was launched in March 2003 with a show at Montreal’s Casa del Popolo, defined by tensions boiling over into an onstage bust-up. At the time, they were the opposite of the life-affirming oddballs cherished today.