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Will Butler on His New Broadway Banger Stereophonic


In 2013, playwright David Adjmi came up with the idea for Stereophonic, a show about a group of ego-clashing, Fleetwood Mac–esque musicians working on their soon-to-be-epochal rock album in the mid-’70s. The play would need music — mostly bits and pieces of it as the band struggles to finish their own RumoursA friend had suggested Adjmi reach out to Will Butler. He joined the project the following year.

At the time, Butler was still a multi-instrumentalist in Arcade Fire (he left the group in 2021). He had never worked in theater before but was drawn to the concept. He knew what it was like to be in a band, struggling to put out a single good song and striving to find collective inspiration that didn’t compromise his own creativity.

Eleven years later, Stereophonic is making its Broadway debut in April. In the fall, it received rapturous reviews during its Off Broadway run (it was one of our picks for best play of 2023) with special praise reserved for Butler’s songwriting. The music in Stereophonic challenges the audience to both sympathize with and loathe each of the five band members — guitarist and vocalist Peter, bassist Reg, vocalist Diana, keyboardist and vocalist Holly, and drummer Simon — most of whom are entangled in thorny romantic relationships with one another. This tension comes to a head with “Masquerade,” a groovy stomper of a tune that the band agonizes over. It’s the only full song heard in the play. First, the tempo is too slow. Then it’s too muddy. The drummer nearly walks out in a rage because he can’t nail the beat without the help of a click track. They finally nail it on take No. 37 — a rare moment of euphoria in a studio plagued by deception, jealousy, and cocaine. The song is confirmation to the audience that the band indeed has the talent...READ MORE



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