When marriage and music are a perfect match

Rock'n'roll isn't just made by lovesick loners. Elisa Bray on the rise of domestic harmonies

At the creative heart of Arcade Fire is the married couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Arguably it's the strongest partnership in rock music: together they form the songwriting team that has created three of the most essential albums of the past decade.

The pair met in 2000 at McGill University in Montreal, married in 2003 and the following year the band released Funeral, their debut album, which topped many critics' end-of-year lists. It's an example that several new bands are hoping to follow, proving against popular belief – from Abba to Sonny & Cher's creative parting after divorce – that it's a good idea for married couples to release albums. Mint Julep, the Portland husband-and-wife team Keith and Hollie Kenniff are releasing their lo-fi dream-pop debut album at the end of November, while alternative country band Red Sky July, whose debut album is out on 31 October, were founded by Texas guitarist Ally McErlaine and his wife, Shelly Poole, a former member of Alisha's Attic. Another marital musical success story is the Denver couple Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore, who, bored with the 9-to-5 life, saved up for a sailboat, and embarked on an eight-month voyage along the Atlantic coastline, writing songs along the way, leading to their retro girl group pop/surf pop duo Tennis and an album deal with Fat Possum.

This autumn also marks the first time that Neil Finn has formed a band with his wife of 29 years, Sharon, with Pajama Club releasing their debut album last month. The band name might well sum up one of the attractions of being a couple making music – Finn says they called the band Pajama Club because they were dressed in their pajamas when they started.

The practicalities of being at home together and able to seize the fleeting moments that creativity strikes, rather than needing to assemble band members, are a definite draw. As Butler once said in interview: "When we're at home in Montreal, it has been: finish breakfast, pick up a guitar and start writing. We have all our instruments lying around, and it's very much about being around each other when one or other of us is coming up with ideas."

Being in a band for some seems to strengthen the relationship. Dream-pop duo Summer Camp's Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey formed in 2009 and are now engaged, while folk singer-songwriter Alela Diane, who likes to keep it in the family with her father as her full-time guitarist, is now married to her long-term boyfriend and bassist Tom Bevitori.

Jenny Lewis, who formed a band with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice in 2010 – seven years after they first met – and made an indie-pop gem of an album I'm Having Fun Now, says that, in addition to spending all their time together, the extra ingredient that a couple have is honesty. "We are brutally honest with each other. The album is almost like a conversation between myself and Johnny. Johnny sometimes will be working on a song in the other room and I'll be obsessively doing the dishes and I'll just hear the harmony and start singing." She adds: "It's not like it doesn't get uncomfortable. Sometimes we yell."

If the arguing does get too much to bear, you just have to look to The White Stripes' Meg and Jack White, Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane, Portland band Quasi, Siouxsie and Budgie, to see that the music doesn't have to implode when the relationship does.

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?