Next Friday, a roster full of famous people will descend on New York’s Madison Square Garden to take part in the 2015 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. One of those famous people is Win Butler, lead singer of Arcade Fire and die-hard hoops fan, who’ll join the likes of Kevin Hart, Common, Nick Cannon, Ansel Elgort, and more on teams that will be coached by Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and Spike Lee on one side, and ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on the other. We caught up with one of the world’s few genuine rock stars to see how he’s prepping for the big game.
What’s up? Are you already in New York? New Orleans, escaping the winter of Montréal.
What’s new with Arcade Fire? We toured last year, so I’ve been enjoying having some downtime. I’ve been DJing under the alias DJ Windows 98 and kind of doing shit on the side, but it’s really just for fun. I just love music, so any excuse just to get out and listen to music and be open to other influences — that’s the kind of stage I’m in right now.
Any influences you’re particularly open to right now? I’m deep into African and Haitian music that not a lot of people would have heard of, but out of the Montréal scene Grimes and Mac DeMarco.
So, how did you get picked for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game? There was talk of me playing last year since I was in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, but it didn’t pan out.
I noticed that your fans began tweeting #LetWinPlay after an interview you did with SLAM back in August. Did the NBA reach out to specifically because of their efforts? I’d like to think that I qualify.
Of course. I played in high school, and I play in leagues in Montréal — pretty much wherever I am. When I’m on tour, I’ll play pickup games anywhere in the world. Eastern Europe, Chicago — wherever.
Does anyone ever look up and realize, “Ohhhhh my god, I just got destroyed by Win Butler”? Once in a while I get noticed. The rock world and the basketball world don’t really intersect. They’re parallel worlds — that’s something I like about it and the friends I have there.
How have you been prepping for the All-Star Celeb Game itself? I’ve done a couple charity games for Matt Bonner from the San Antonio Spurs, and we’ve played ball together in the past. He’s been my main NBA buddy over the years.
Do you have any entrance music picked out? I always thought “Born To Run” would be a funny song for warmups.
Any goals you’ve set for yourself? Baskets? Obnoxious victory dances? It’s a team sport, so I just want to win.
Any plans if you do win? Matt and his brother [Luke Bonner] have a charity thing [for their Rock On Foundation] called Alt-Star, where I’m going to be DJing after the game at the Bowery Ballroom.
Are you going to hit up the actual All-Star Game on February 15? No, I’m going to be in the audience at “SNL” for some big 40th anniversary special. But, I did see the game last year in New Orleans. Holy shit, seeing Anthony Davis in person — that’s the kid right there. I haven’t seen anyone like him, maybe, since Kevin Durant, someone with that kind of freakish athletic ability and that size. Going back further, he reminds me of Hakeem Olajuwon. I grew up in Houston when the Rockets were doing really well. I’m just a fan of the game.
Text by John Walker.