How did you get started in music? When did you discover the good music you are into now? How did you start creating your own music? Was it an obsession for you or just a talent that sort of developed?
I became interested in music around the age of 14. My first instrument was the drums. I played drums in a couple bands in middle school and high school. I started playing guitar around that time also. I used to sit in my room learning Rolling Stones songs all day long. It was fun because most of their songs have only three or four chords so I was always able to figure them out.
I went through a heavy metal phase in high school and began listening to Motley Crew, Ratt, Kiss...I got really into that music and bought the mags and dressed in ripped jeans and denim jackets the whole nine yards. Sometime around my Junior year of High School I started listening to the Cure, the Church, the Replacements, Flesh For Lulu and different things like that. I discovered the Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society", the Velvet Underground and Nico album,and the Beach Boys "Smile" shortly after high school. Once I moved to Athens I was exposed to os Mutantes, Faust, Soft Machine, the Pretty Things and all sorts of great music.
Since I got my first guitar, around the age of 14, I have been writing a couple songs a month. Most of my early songs were love songs and I used to sing in the style of whoever I was into at the time. I didn't really try to write anything original I tried to write songs that sounded like the bands I was into. It was very frustrating because I never succeeded to write anything that sounded as cool as Brown Sugar or Just Like Heaven or Riders on The Storm or whatever it was I was trying to imitate. When I was about 17 I realized I had a slightly original style of writing and that I should try and develop it.
If I moved to Athens, would I notice all these amazing artist-types walking around with guitars and dreams?
Yes. There are hundreds of bands and singer songwriters in Athens. It is a very cool scene.
athens vs. the whole world
Of Montreal's members are involved in so many side projects! How close are the members of Of Montreal, and does that play into your songwriting? Do you ever have rockstar fights over hotel rooms getting trashed and 'hey i was using that blanket' on the tour bus?
We are really close. I consider them my best friends and I think they would say the same. Jamey, Derek, Dottie and I have all lived together for two years now so we are completely wrapped up in each others lives. Andy doesn't live in the house with us but I feel just as close to him as I do the other members of the band. I'm not sure if the differences in personalities affects the band positively or adversly. We all definitely have very strong personalities. sometimes we get in arguments but we are just like a family in that we all are resigned to living together and don't ever talk of breaking up the band just because so and so and so and so are quarreling over such and such.
Do you feel as if you have done your best work, or that you are working toward something greater than yourself that has yet to be realized?
I definitely feel that of Montreal is a work in progress and that the future is open to any number of possibilities. I don't feel that our best work is behind us. We are always striving to do something different from the previous release and so, though a new album might be considered less enjoyable by some people, at least it won't be a self parody.
idol singers and japan
What has been your biggest fear as an artist?
That I would lose my inspiration for life and art and become a washed up prosaic middle aged bore.
What have you found to be a positive driving force, if anything in particular?
I am very inspired by other people's art. Namely my brother David's work. He is my favorite artist because his style never feels stale. He is alwyas trying to develop his style and work in different mediums and I that encourages me to do the same. We have a special connection.
I am also very inspired by books and film.
Each album was heavily influenced by the writer I was into at the time.
How has your experience in music and the success you've achieved effected your writing?
Well I don't really feel like we have been tremendously successful because we all still have to work full time day jobs. My writing has been effected by touring and traveling and just growing older.
Do you think of the band as being successful?
I feel we have been successful artistically but not financially.
Are you happy with where you've come so far?
I feel very good about all of our albums and I am happy that each one has its own personality and charm. I am deffintely not at the point where I just sit back and reflect on all the good times though. I am very excited by the future and think we have a whole lot more left to accomplish.
When are you happiest?
I am most happy when I am free from self consciousness and feel like I am living in the moment. It is rare for me to have that experience but when it comes it is great. I think I am most happy when I am by myself following an entertaining train of thought and oblivious to the outside world.
How would you define your music? New psychedelia? Indie Pop?
I would define it as metamorphosing "now" music with a trailing eye on the past.
Is there one thing that annoys you about reviews for Of Montreal or do you think that your music is well-received, generally?
The only thing that I find annoying about our reviews is when writers dismiss us as childlike and simplistic when in reality our music is anything but simple. I don't think of myself as "deep" but I do feel there is a lot going on musically and lyrically that is over looked by a lot of critics.
james and the giant bee
Your preference in an ideal world:
Analog or Digital?
Analog but using the better elements of what the digital world has to offer.
Vinyl, CD, or Tape?
I prefer C.D.s to vinyl just because I have never owned a hifi turntable so everything sounds muddy on my system. I definitely prefer the art work on 12" and the organic feel of vinyl though.
Promotion or Obscurity?
We have no ambition to remain unknown and unappreciated so we'd definitely prefer promotion over obscurity.
When you are in public places, do you listen in on other people's conversations?
Only if they are talking about Roald Dahl.