Kevin Barnes has taken his band, Of Montreal, on a quest of original expression through rock music, provoking individuality in all who stand in his path and show up to music clubs around the world. Of Montreal’s last tour, in support of Bostonist 2005 fave The Sunlandic Twins, brought Barnes and company through Cambridge twice last year. These shows were so successful, Of Montreal return to the Middle East on March 5. Bostonist caught up with Kevin by phone shortly after the band kicked off the latest leg of a tour marked by hysteria, harmonies, and plenty of dancing.
The last two albums have quite a different sound than your previous work. Would you say you made any sort of conscious decision in the shift to Satanic Panic in the Attic  and Sunlandic Twins…why did you make that change?
Well I guess I got kind of bored with doing the 60s concept. I was just kind of obsessed with it for a long time and then I eventually hit a wall where I was not really that excited about this anymore so I wanted to do something different. I had never really messed around with programmed drums or with dancier elements and I kind of wanted to explore that more because I’ve always really loved dance music. I go to a lot of dance parties and I would always think it was so cool how a certain song would come on and people would freak out and say, “Oh I really love this song,” and I wanted to write a song like that.
At the same time, the lyrics are kind of similar and even some of the sounds. For example, there are elements and sounds throughout The Sunlandic Twins than can be found on The Gay Parade, but it just doesn’t have that beat, the danceable beat.
Right, there will always be some continuity with everything because it’s coming from my brain, but the influences might be different.
You said that you got bored with the 60s pop sound, do you think you’ll ever go back to that? Do you have a vision about what you want to do next?
The next record is going to be in the vein of Satanic Panic and The Sunlandic Twins. I’m already about 70 percent into it. I do some writing on the road in a pocket journal that I keep and write down ideas. [On the road] we could do some stuff with a laptop, but our schedule has been kind of grueling and there isn’t that much time. I have a home studio in Athens where I do the recording.
Speaking of Athens, do you still have any association with the Elephant 6 Recording Co.?
Yeah, I’m friends with all those guys and for a while I was kind of a part of it but I’m just sort of doing my own thing now.
What have you been able to listen to in the van that hasn’t gotten completely played out?
I really like the new Animal Collective record, Feels, the new Fiery Furnaces, and Wolf Parade. [The Fiery Furnaces] are one of the few bands that are really taking chances and you never know what you’re gonna get.
With your busy schedule have you been able to get out and see any good shows?
I saw Fiery Furnaces before Rehearsing My Choir came out, and that was really good, and I saw MIA recently and that was really good, too.
For [Bostonist's] last year, the Of Montreal show at the Middle East was an eye-opening experience and a lesson to expect more enjoyment out of a rock show. Do you have any memories of going to really good shows that have inspired you?
Neutral Milk Hotel—those shows were bordering on spiritual, like being transported to this totally different, amazing place. I saw them play so many times and every time was just amazing.
Any great memories of Boston?
We’ve been doing this since 1997…we always have a great time in Boston. It has always been one of the cities we’re really looking forward to because the audiences are really energetic, fun, and uninhibited. Our last Middle East show was the first time playing downstairs, and we didn’t know what to expect and we had such a great time. So now, going back there, we’re really excited about that show.
There’s been news of an album of Satanic Panic and Sunlandic Twins remixes. Any news on that?
We’re still trying to iron out all the details and figure out who is going to do the remixes, but hopefully that will come out before the summer.
Contributed by Michael Walker.