Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes is currently in his Athens, Georgia, home studio working on the band's tenth album, which will be titled False Priest and is tentatively due out next spring. We briefly spoke to Barnes this past Wednesday about his progress on False Priest, which he says is influenced by Parliament and the '80s No Wave scene. "We're kind of making this psychedelic, No Wave, funk album," says Barnes.
So what are you guys working on right now? Are you working on the new record already?
Kevin Barnes: Yeah actually, I'm working on a new record it's gonna be called False Priest. Right now, I'm just kinda like fooling around, just making songs and experimenting. And I'm not so much thinking about what songs are going to be on there or what I'm going to do with the songs. I'm just going to be really free and not think about the outside world at all. I think that's the best way to make music—if you're not thinking about anything other than just being absorbed by the creative process. So that's what I'm trying to do now is just listening to a lot of music and making a lot of music and just kind of immersing myself. I have enough songs now for one album, but I want to just keep writing, see if there's anything else pops up. And then we'll probably release it in the spring of next year.
You said you're listening to a lot of music. What kind of stuff are you listening to that's informing what you're doing?
I've been listening to a lot of Parliament. I've got like The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and of course Mothership Connection and there's this crazy one called Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome. I love it because it's so playful. And it's so funky and groovy. But I just watched this documentary of them and I couldn't believe that we weren't really necessarily influenced by them directly, because we have so much in common. Like the stage show is just so crazy, and there's just so many people on stage, and wild costumes. And you know, so far beyond what everybody else was doing—especially as a black artist. I guess you have Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix and people like that, but at that time [Parliament] were like the biggest freaks in the world! The best band in the world! I think, when I'm watching this, I'm like, 'man if I was alive back then, I'd just would've been like a Deadhead for them, just following them everywhere because I just connect with it so much'—it's just so free and crazy and so awesome. There's a lot of Parliament that I'm listening to, and Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder—a lot of soul stuff and funk stuff. Then I've got a couple of No Wave compilations from the New York, early '80s, No Wave scene. Like Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and people like that. I'm getting into that. So we're kind of making this psychedelic, No Wave, funk album.
Cool! You should get George Clinton to come down and sing guest vocals or something.
Man. I'd be extremely intimidated, first of all. Because he's like the real deal. Seriously just out there, kinda like in a Sun Ra sort of way. Probably not as far as Sun Ra. I'd be like, 'man, sitting next to George.' Just even being on the same block as him would be just amazing.
I saw him at the airport recently.
Are you serious?
Yeah, he was at the baggage claim area at the same time I was.
Oh my god, that is so funny!
He was in a wheelchair and he had some woman like, wheeling him around.
He was in a wheelchair?
Yeah, he probably couldn't be bothered to walk. He's George Clinton man; he doesn't have to walk if he doesn't want to.
Yeah, it's easier to sit in the chair. How old is he?
I don't know, he's probably in his 60s or 70s at this point [Editor Note: He's 68]. I'm not sure. Maybe he has a reason to be in a wheelchair, but I got the sense that he just wanted to be pushed around by a lady.
But I don't know for sure.... Well, is there anything else you can tell me about what you're working on? You think it's going to come out next spring?
It sounds like it's going to be funkier than your last record? Is that the plan?
Well, our last record was extremely schizophrenic. I was trying to piece together the different compositions to create something very unpredictable. It was still had sort of funky, dancy elements, so it's not like this new thing I'm doing is completely new for me, it's just this weird evolution, sort of freaky evolution that is just sort of happening and I'm just letting it happen. So it's not going to be a total departure from Skeletal Lamping or Hissing Fauna, but it's definitely different, it has a different quality to it. But it's really difficult for me—I'm sure for you too or anybody—to describe music with words. It's kind of visceral.