Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011-05-10 - Spectrum Culture

Interview: Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal

barnesint1.jpgWhether he's exorcizing personal demons on the harrowing, yet poppy Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? or putting on a stage show with skull masks and people dressed as imaginary creatures, Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal continue to push up against the confines of indie rock. From breaking down traditional song structures on Skeletal Lamping to getting his best Bootsy Collins on with False Priest, Barnes may just make the most fun music about personal trauma and sexual desire. I was fortunate to spend 45 minutes speaking with Barnes about the creative process, Sufjan Stevens, his influences and selling out. I am proud to present the Spectrum Culture interview with Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal.

Your new EP Thecontrollersphere seems like a departure from what you were doing with False Priest.

Well, the songs were written and recorded around that same time period. It's very much a sister release to False Priest. There were songs that could have been on False Priest, but for whatever reason didn't make the cut.

I read an interview with you that said when you were making False Priest you were consciously trying to keep the length of the album down. Were these the songs that got cut off or a different batch of songs?

I only briefly toyed with putting "Black Lion Massacre" on False Priest but "L'age D'or" and "Slave Translator" were definitely intended for False Priest, but I cut them at the last minute.

I feel like the music on False Priest is more traditionally constructed pop songs while these break down the structure of traditional songs, especially the first track.

Yeah, definitely. On False Priest I was trying to make something that was a bit more accessible. Just a really well put together pop record without asking too much from the listener. Some of the Controllersphere songs are a bit more esoteric and not really for everyone.

Was that decision for the format of False Priest a reaction to Skeletal Lamping? That one definitely demands more from the listener.

Maybe to some degree, instead of making another Skeletal Lamping. I was excited to make something different than that.

You mention all of these titles on Hissing Fauna near the end. Was there a conscious trilogy in your mind at that point or did it come after you wrote the lyrics?

It just sort of happened organically. I didn't have a real vision of how the records would sound. I just knew those would be the titles for the next three records that followed Hissing Fauna.

Did those titles play on any obsessions of yours or were they free association?

They are definitely more free associations. At the time, I was just trying to come up with interesting song titles and that was part of the process. I got three album titles out of it.

Speaking of titles, the song titles on this new EP are less esoteric, to use your word, than many of your past ones.

I kind of go back and forth on that. You can name it anything you want to. You can give it a name people recognize and would make sense or give it a name that has a connected meaning with the song or maybe it doesn't. Sometimes I feel like giving it a totally sensible title and sometimes I feel like giving it some other kind of title. Like "L'age D'or," for example, I could have easily called it "She's My Party Drug" or something stupid like that. I guess a lot of times when you think a lyric is powerful or interesting then you can put more of a focus on it by titling the song that way. If you don't really care or don't really feel that strongly about any of the lyrics or you don't really want to put a spotlight on them then you give it some other title.

Traditionally bands title their songs after the chorus because it's the hook. Where with "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse," most people would probably call it the "chemicals" song.

Exactly. Especially with Hissing Fauna there's so many Norwegian words that nobody can really pronounce. It's not like I would even know how to say it either and I lived there for that time period. Titling songs is a slippery slope sometimes.

Is "L'Age d'Or" a direct reference to the Buñuel film?


It seems to me a lot of your music practices the same principles as of Surrealism. Two major hallmarks of Surrealism are sexuality and savage desire. Those are things you are not shy about putting into your music.

Definitely not. I think we share the same spirit. The same excitement about life and its potential and being broad-minded and open to new experiences. Exploring different aspects of the psyche.

Do you notice a difference in reaction between American and European audiences when it comes to the sexual and violent parts of the stage show?

Not really. It's pretty much the same when we go to Europe or other countries. I think we appeal to a certain kind of person all over the world. That kind of person is definitely in the minority as far as human beings go. But there's a good contingent of them all over the world. We're pretty much playing to same species of human or whatever you want to call it.

We have a pretty puritanical country here and if you played a show for non-Of Montreal fans they would definitely be more upset about you taking a person in a pig costume from behind than people shooting at one another on the stage.

Yeah, but I think it's always very cartoony. Unless you have no sense of humor you will probably find most of the theatrics entertaining. You might find it juvenile. All of it is really tongue-in-cheek. We hardly ever have a serious agenda that we're trying to push or try to make people uncomfortable. We're just having fun. We feel so free. We feel so liberated physically and emotionally and intellectually that there aren't really any taboos that we're afraid of.

Are a lot of the sexual lyrics tongue-in-cheek also?

I don't know. It depends on what specific lyrics. There's definitely songs that are more personal to me and they come from a darker place. Those aren't necessarily that fun. But they can help me resolve certain issues. It's always better to talk about something and get it out in the open. It's not always fun but it's therapeutic.

Yeah, Hissing Fauna felt more confessional than the albums that followed it.

That record is out of necessity. I was going through such a difficult time and I was using music as something to help me heal. It's not like I set out to make a really personal, confessional record, I just needed to make that. If that makes sense. It wasn't a premeditated thing, "Well, this record is going to be very confessional." I was going through such a terrible time and I was using music as therapy in a way.

Now that the dust has settled, is looking back on that record and that period harder for you to re-experience? Do you feel the same pain? Are those songs closer to you because they spring from a more personal space rather than a persona?

I like that record. I like playing those songs. It's funny because we have so many songs that we haven't touched live. We haven't played anything from any of the records that came before Satanic Panic in the Attic in forever. I can't remember the last time we played any of those songs. It's kind of weird, like my mind turned around Satanic Panic in the Attic and these last couple of records. We seem almost like a different band. I just feel so disconnected from those other records but I feel really connected to Hissing Fauna, Sunlandic Twins and Satanic Panic in the Attic. I definitely feel really connected to them but some songs are harder to perform night after night. Like "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," we've played that many, many times. But it's not something I'm really feeling right now and don't want to do it. But it's cool to have songs like that. If you are in a certain mood you can exorcize those demons with a song. If all you had was really happy songs, you'd be kind of fucked if you're in a shitty mood (laughs).

"The Past is a Grotesque Animal" has to be hell to play, especially on your voice.

I'm a weird vocalist. I'm really taking chances because I am not trained at all. I have no idea really how to protect my voice or even how to warm up. I have some really rudimentary techniques I use to warm up but a lot of times I don't even warm up. A lot of times I just
take the stage and realize, "Oh shit, I'm not warmed up yet! I can't sing this yet!" Then you just have to work your way through it.

I know that as a fan singing "Past" it wears me out.

Yeah, that song is super wordy. There are songs on Icons, Abstract Thee EP that came out right after Hissing Fauna that we've never played and I can't even listen to them because it still hurts me. It's way too sad still. But I guess there is a form of detachment that happens with songs. It's detaching from the source or inspiration and taking it somewhere else. Then I can deal with it. I've played "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" so many times and it doesn't really hurt me in that way. It just felt good to do it. But with those other songs I would just feel bad (laughs). I don't even want to sing them or think about them.

I'd like to back up for a moment about the longevity of the band and not playing the old stuff. Every time I see Of Montreal I feel like the audience gets younger and younger which is pretty fantastic for a band that has been around for so long. Is it hard to attract new fans without alienating the old ones?

To be honest, I don't think it's that healthy to think about your fans because you could be a fan of one record or one song. It could change. You don't really have to be beholden to some concept of the fan's perception of you or what they want from you. What one specific person wants from you or what a majority of people want from you. I don't think it's healthy for an artist to even consider that. So, I don't really think about that when I'm writing and recording. I'm not really worried about alienating people or pleasing people. I don't really think it would help the process at all. It's very important to me when I'm creating something to not let anybody else into my little bubble. I feel like that makes it impure and takes it out of this place it needs to be for it to happen organically.

So what is it about your music that attracts the 16-year-old? There is a sophistication about it that's different than what is on the radio these days or lack thereof radio.

I'm not sure really. I can't really say. Maybe because it's liberating. Maybe seeing people wearing interesting outfits and dressing up. I think it appeals to the side of people's personality that is in a hibernating state most of the time. Then they get a chance to cut loose because it's like Halloween or a costume party. It's always fun to go to a costume party when Halloween rolls around because everyone gets into it. Pretty much everybody has that side to their personality but most of the time it's in this hibernating state.

kevinbarnesint4.jpgBack to the breaking down of song structures - another artist I feel is doing similar things is Sufjan Stevens with his newest record The Age of Adz.

Yeah, I love that record.

Someone was telling me that you do. I do see some similarities between his music and yours. I know that record, like Hissing Fauna, came out of personal strife.

That record has really meant a lot to me. It is probably the record I have connected with the most over the last five years or so. Not only because of its emotional content but also musically I feel like I've never heard music like that before. It's one of the most groundbreaking records we've ever had as humans. It is weird to me that it hasn't gotten more acclaim. I mean, it has gotten a lot of critical acclaim but I saw the records making critics' album of the year lists and I just couldn't believe that record wasn't on top of all the lists. Anybody who really loves music and loves the art form should see that it was the most fantastic, most exceptional record made that year.

I think one of the problems was that people were expecting another Illinois and it's completely different than that.

With artists, all of their records are held up against each other. If that was his first record and there was no other reference of what Sufjan does and what he is capable of it probably would have had a completely different impact on people. I was thinking about a review I read of the new Deerhoof record. I love Deerhoof and I think they're incredibly creative and extremely wonderful and important. I couldn't believe this writer was giving them such a mediocre review. I was thinking about all the other records that were getting good reviews that were so much more derivative and so meaningless. Well, not meaningless but I can't imagine them having any sort of value 10 years from now. It's weird that certain records that are more adventurous, more cutting edge and more valuable....

Not everyone wants to be challenged when they listen to music.

Yeah, that's true.

Have you seen Sufjan play those songs live?

No, I haven't seen him yet but I think we're playing a festival together this summer so hopefully I will get a chance to see it. I can't imagine how he'd do it live.

Speaking of stage shows, the last time I saw Of Montreal, it seemed to be more Kevin Barnes-centric than ever before. The band surrounded you in a horseshoe shape and you had the entire stage to roam around. Will we be seeing less and less of the other band members?

That was just an idea for the last tour because we wanted to do something different from the previous tours where we had a lot of action with the performance artists. We'd done tours before where we had this room where most of the theatrics took place but that was an insanely heavy stage and it broke everyone's backs (laughs). So we decided to make it a little easier on ourselves so we created that horseshoe shape. I wasn't playing guitar on that tour. It was fun for me to be a front man and dancing around and have that sort of persona. On this new tour, it's kind of similar to that but we're getting more people involved with singing songs. We're getting band members involved in different ways. We kind of felt it was weird to have the band so displaced in a way and have them pushed into the shadows. We want to get people more involved this summer.

Is there a line where theatrics can overshadow the music?

I never really felt that because the music doesn't change just because something is happening on the stage. It doesn't get quieter. If people are really trying to focus on the lyrics but they're getting distracted is one thing, but I don't think you could ever have too much going on on stage for me. If I go see a concert 99% of the bands that really have any sort of theatrical elements to their shows, they might have some video stuff but I would never think that. It's obvious if you've seen our shows that we wouldn't think that. I wouldn't feel that way about theatrics. I always loved what George Clinton did. I always loved the theatrical side of Parliament and how they had so many different layers to what they were about. We view ourselves in that vein. We think of ourselves as the grandchildren of Parliament.

On your last tour it seems like you found a great foil for yourself in Janelle Monae.

She's amazing. She has become a really close friend of mine. It's amazing to develop new friendships, especially artistic relationship like that. It's something I treasure and hold very close to my heart.

Did she help you come up with that Michael Jackson tribute at the end of the show?

No, that was our idea. We wanted to come up with something we could all do together. We didn't really think of the tour as Janelle Monae and Of Montreal. We wanted there to be a lot of integration between the two groups. We just wanted to have a lot of cross-pollination. The Michael Jackson thing at the end was a really great way to close the evening together, holding hands.

I also saw you do a Franz Ferdinand cover and a Nirvana cover once to end your show.

It's kind of hard to pick them though. That's the tricky thing. It's always fun. The Nirvana was great. It seemed like the right time and it had been long enough for people to get back into Nirvana. It was around the time of the anniversary of Nevermind. That record meant a lot to me at one point so it was great to do that one again. It's a great song. The most badass rock song ever.

Which cover song ideas have been floated around that will never see the light of day?

We tried a number of things we felt like we couldn't do. It's hard to do a Marvin Gaye song or Al Green. If you don't have that voice, it's going to sound kind of weird. I guess you could always do it. We were listening to the Slits version of "Heard it Through the Grapevine" yesterday and realized how incredible that version is. In a lot of ways, it's just as good as all the other versions out there but it's not Marvin.

Speaking of your voice, I feel like your vocal style has been moving closer and closer to Prince. I know you referenced '70s musicians such as Parliament and Stevie Wonder but has Prince been a direct influence on your songwriting as well?

Yeah, definitely. Without question. I adore him and I adore everything about him. He's an incredible professional.
He's an incredible musician and incredible vocalist and dancer. You couldn't really ask for a better human (laughs). I mean on an artistic level. Especially his earlier records like Sign O' the Times, Parade and basically everything up until Diamond and Pearls is, I think, the most incredible pop writing we have.

I remember reading somewhere they floated doing a Prince and Bob Marley duo at one point. But Bob Marley wouldn't do it because Prince was too effeminate. I should probably Google it to be sure. That would have been pretty interesting.

I guess Stevie Wonder did some stuff with Bob. I was doing some Googling about that. That's awesome but I don't think there is any footage of it. There's a recording of a show Stevie did in Jamaica maybe, and Bob Marley played and they played some songs together. It was pretty amazing. Yeah, Prince and Bob Marley would have been pretty great.

Stevie Wonder is another guy who had an amazing run of albums.

Yeah, it's insane. I was listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder when I was doing False Priest and rediscovering Songs in the Key of Life and Innervisions and Music of My Mind and that whole period. Songs in the Key of Life is one of those records that really inspires you and you really love it but at the same time it can make you feel like, "Why do I even bother?" I'm never going to make anything that great (chuckles).

Is it reasonable to hold yourself to a standard like that?

No, definitely not. That's why I have to be like, "Fine, I'm not Stevie Wonder. I'll never be that great." But I'm not going to not make music because I'm not Stevie Wonder. There is that little voice sometimes that's like, "God, man. I wish I was that good" (laughs). You know, that's all right. I'm sure he probably felt that way about other people too. I'm sure he probably felt that way about James Brown or Otis Redding or whoever. Everyone has that insecurity. Jimi Hendrix didn't like his own voice. Things like that. How could Jimi Hendrix not like his own voice? He sounds great!

You have definitely mined the funkier side of Stevie Wonder but have you ever thought of doing something as heartbreaking like "All In Love Is Fair" or something like that?

Those kind of ballads are actually my least favorite Stevie stuff, even though it's great. I can appreciate it but I don't know. Writing about love like that is kind of tricky. If it really comes from the heart, that's one thing. But so many times people will sit down and write a song and they just write about love because it's the conventional thing to do. But I'm not really that into love ballads at all. They just don't seem that genuine most of the time.

barnesint3.jpgYou don't feel like something like "Let's Get It On" isn't genuine?

No, that's genuine, for sure. Sexuality is a real, natural thing. If I thought about it I'm sure there's some love songs that really touch me. I feel like John Lennon's songs for Yoko seem genuine. There has to be a rawness too. If it's just super flowery and sentimental it doesn't really have much impact.

What songs in your lifetime have meant the most to you?

Definitely the first two John Lennon solo records.

Plastic Ono Band and Imagine?

Yeah, Plastic Ono Band plus Imagine. Definitely Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. There is always an emotional impact and potency in those records. All the Beatles records. All the '60s Kinks records, Os Mutantes, Sly and the Family Stone with everything up until Fresh. Curtis Mayfield's first couple solo records. There's just so many.

It's pretty amazing that we get to experience this stuff, isn't it?

Yeah, it's great. I was talking to someone yesterday about as an artist it's kind of incredible that in 2011 that you have Stevie Wonder, Parliament, Prince but you also have Sufjan Stevens and Animal Collective and Caribou and other people like that. There's so much incredible music from earlier times and even world music. Especially now, everything is so accessible. All this incredible stuff from the '60s like Ethiopian funk. You can get your hands on that. Like Cambodian music. It's crazy how much access we have to so much incredible stuff.

How do you find time to listen to music?

I like listening to music when I'm doing little things around the house like cooking or chilling out. I always want to have music on when I'm doing something non-musical. It's not going to be a distraction. A lot of times if I come into the studio before I start work on something, I will listen to something to get into the spirit of it and let that inspire something out of me.

Let's talk about the music industry. I just watched Morgan Spurlock's movie about advertising. The whole conceit of the film is selling out vs. buying in. This is about the Outback thing. I feel like the whole attitude of the country has changed lately. Back when Of Montreal started out, people would have been pissed off about a band jumping from an indie label to a major. Now there is no radio or MTV and people don't care about a Wilco song on a Volkswagen ad or your song on an Outback commercial. Was it hard for you to make that decision? Is that the only way to get your music out?

It's kind of a tricky thing. As an indie artist, everyone is always so broke all the time. They've been broke their whole lives probably. When these big companies come to you with a check for more money than you've ever seen at one time, more money than you'd probably make all year, it's really, really difficult to say no to that. But then there's that dilemma because you know there's going to be a bad backlash. I think it still exists in the community. Not with everybody but there's definitely a punk rock attitude still prevalent in the scene where you don't lip synch or do certain things. There's these unwritten rules as far as maintaining your credibility. If you put a song in a commercial and it's pitching some stupid product and your song gets associated with that stupid product it's kind of terrible because the song has been ruined for people. You just throw trash on the song in a way which is not respectful to your own art. But at the same time, you need that money to keep going and to keep putting out records.

People would say, "Well, R.E.M. wouldn't do that and Radiohead wouldn't do that," but they are not in the same financial position as a lot of indie acts.

Totally. For them, there is no reason to do it because they don't really benefit, necessarily, from having a song in a Volkswagen commercial. It depends who you are. I think what you're saying is true. People aren't as critical as they used to be and it probably wouldn't be death to band. There would probably be a handful of people that would be like, "Fuck that band. They're sell outs, blah blah." You don't really hear "sell out" that much anymore. It doesn't seem like it really comes into the conversation that much anymore.

Right, the attitude has changed.

I'm sure if you're a punk rock band and that was your whole thing , anti-corporation, then you'd lose everything if you did that. For most people, you gain people who are like, "Oh, actually that song was really cool."

What was your experience with it? Did you gain more fans or was there backlash?

I think we had both. Definitely there was major backlash. We had people coming to the shows....There was one show we played in Austin, Texas where these people brought a big Outback Steakhouse banner. They went so far out of their way. They got napkins from Outback Steakhouse and were throwing them in the air (laughs). It was something they had to spend money on actually and that's a lot of time. That was like next level backlash. But we had people still come to the show and stuff. It wasn't like nobody was supporting us anymore.

No one threw a Bloomin' Onion at you?

I think they had a Bloomin' Onion that they wanted to throw but then someone somehow caught it beforehand (laughs).

Would Kevin Barnes circa Cherry Peel feel the same way?

About selling out?

If you got approached with that sum of money.

I think it would be the same situation. It hasn't really changed. During Cherry Peel I had this telemarketing job. All of us had these terrible jobs so I think if I had got offered a way out of that even in spite of losing some credibility in some people's eyes, I don't think I would be able to refuse it. You have to really sacrifice a lot to maintain that level of anti-corporate whatever. You can't really get around it. Everybody shops in the same places. Everybody is supporting these corporations anyway. What difference does it make if you have a song in a commercial or you go there and buy their hamburger? It's the same thing in a way. At least if you sell a song for a commercial, you're getting something out of it. I could see it both ways. I can see how it's potentially damaging
to a song, at least, and to some degree people's perception of you and your commitment to your art. There are other hard realities you have to accept as an adult.

I interviewed one indie artist who said the goal nowadays is not to be rich but not have to work a day job anymore.

That's pretty much it. You just want to be able to make your music. No one is really trying to get yachts and Mercedes Benz. We're just trying to stay afloat and be in a situation where we can focus as much as possible on our art.

Do you self-finance all your own records?

I have a deal with Polyvinyl where we split all the expenses. But I have my own studio where I record. With the exception of False Priest everything I have ever recorded was recorded in my home studio. Studio might give you an exaggerated concept of what it was, especially back in the day. It was basically a 4-track and a $100 mike. Slowly, with each record, it has gotten a little bit better. I have understood how to get better sound, slowly, over time, by just learning little things, little engineering tricks and little mixing tricks. Pretty much everything is done on a shoestring budget or no budget at all.

You seem to have a lot of ideas circling around your work. Where are you headed next?

I started working on a new record. I'm basically done, actually. All of the songs are a lot longer. Much of the songs are about eight minutes long. It's a little bit like I was doing with Skeletal Lamping, having these longer, slightly fragmented songs. These ones are less fragmented. They feel more like one composition and not a bunch of different compositions pieced together. I've incorporated a lot more symphonic instruments. There are a lot of woodwinds and strings and brass. Things I haven't really used in the past very much.

Are you playing these or do you have people coming in?

Yeah, I can't play those instruments. K Ishibashi, who plays in the band now, plays violin and is doing all the string arrangements. He's turned me onto a bunch of his friends that are really talented and also excited about experimental arrangements. Which is important because a lot of people can play an instrument, but they don't have much imagination. They have all these rules in their heads, especially classical musicians. They have all these rules in their heads about what you can do and what you can't do. They are a bit robotic about it. Then you get that great combination of virtuosity and imagination. I feel really fortunate that I've met a couple people that fit that description.

Is there a thematic preoccupation in your new songs?

It's definitely more intimate. It's more personal. It's not really as sexual. There are a couple of funkier moments but I wanted to make something that sounded more intimate just because I was going through some different things as of late. Similar to Hissing Fauna, I was using music as therapy to get over these things and resolve them.

Do these songs have movements and tempo switches like the Sufjan songs?

Each one is different. The Sufjan record definitely feels almost like a through composition. You could listen to the whole thing and think about them as different suites because it definitely feels consistent throughout, which I can't even imagine how he was able to sustain that focus on something, to my ears and to my mind, that seems so complex. To have that complexity sustained throughout the 70 minutes or however long it is, that was something I was extremely inspired by. There is a lot more repetition on his record than there is on my stuff. I don't repeat very many sections. I create these expansive soundtracks. A lot of the songs go into these weird, less lyric-based and more music-based moments. There are definitely moments of heavy lyricism but there's really, really moments of instrumental periods. That's really different for me because I haven't really worked much with instrumental music.

I know Sufjan used a visual artist as his inspiration. Do you use any external stimuli when it comes to writing or does it all come from within?

There are definitely a lot of outside influences, especially musically. I hear something like Stevie Wonder for example or I hear something like "Boogie on Reggae Woman" and I listen to what he's doing on the keys and I think, "I want to do something like that. That's so incredible." So then I'll make something like that. It won't sound like Stevie. Nobody can sound like him, anyway. But often, Parliament and Prince and Sly, all these people influence me greatly.

by David Harris

2010-11-08 - Eater

Of Montreal Talks Southern Gourmet and Tacos in Mexico

Welcome to Sound Cheque, where we sit down with one of our favorite bands to get the scoop on their city-by-city dining picks.

Of Montreal. Top - Jerrod Porter, Dottie Alexander, Davey Pierce, Matt Wheeler, Dan Korn, Pual Nunn, Nick Gould, Kevin Barnes. Bottom - Clayton Rychlik, Nicholas Dobbratz, Nikki Martin, Thayer Sarrano, Michael Wheeler, Brian Poole. [Photo: Patrick Heagney]

Of Montreal's sound is shaped by an ever-changing cast of characters and love for the whimsical community of Athens, GA. When frontman Kevin Barnes moved to Athens in the late 90s, the band morphed from a pop solo project to a sort of psychedelic collective, with dramatic stage shows, and elaborate costumes. Flash-forward to today and the band is a regular on MTV and Late Night, has performed on SNL, and even had their song used in an Outback Steakhouse commercial! I caught up with one of the group's core members and keyboard player, Dottie Alexander, to talk hometown eats and mystery meat.

Having lived in Athens, GA for over a decade - have you cultivated a Southern food bias? Any Southern dishes you feel pretty strongly about?
Definitely. Athens has really cultivated the "Southern Gourmet" aesthetic over the last decade, and I find myself missing that kind of food when I'm away. Shrimp and grits and collards are two of my favorites.

What are your favorite restaurants in Athens and what are your regular dishes there?

I'm a big fan of The National, which has a revolving seasonal menu, and the Diner Burgers at The Globe are amazing!

You recently got married. I heard the celebration was a blast with a killer after party to boot. Can you tell us a little bit about the grub at the big event?

We wanted the entire event to be a celebration of Athens, as well as the two of us, so we went local on everything. White Tiger catered with amazing yummy barbecue. We did our rehearsal dinner at Big City Bread, and they really pulled out all the stops!

Of Montreal is notorious for its bigger-than-life stage shows and massive entourage. How do you handle dining requirements with such a big group?

We have a few vegetarians, and some... "choosy" folks, but the rest of us are pretty adventurous. We just had an amazing trip to Mexico where we tried everything from upscale seafood to street tacos.

Do you usually eat together or does everyone fend for themselves?

It really depends. We like to have a few "family dinners" while we're on the road, but everyone's schedules (the crew and the band) are different, so we usually split into smaller groups.

Any special requirements you have on tour yourself?

I avoid fast food, but other than that, I'm pretty open. I like to try regional things when I can.

What has been your best food-experience on tour?

Well, like I said, we just got back from Mexico, where there wasn't a bad meal to be found. Japan was pretty amazing too. We had a meal in Osaka that consisted of a bunch of chopped up mystery ingredients (Maybe octopus? Maybe duck?) which were grilled in a barfy-looking blob on a hibachi in front of us. We were each given tiny spatulas to shovel the goo into our mouths. Turns out, it's delish!

Do you guys ever treat yourselves to high-end dining?

Sometimes. I like to try and get away with my husband when I can, and we'll Yelp a fancy place from time to time. There are a string of amazing Italian places on Thompson Street in Soho in New York City that we love. Sushi is also a favorite for everyone.

How do you guys feel about fast food? Any favorite chains?

We avoid fast food like the plague. This does not apply to certain members of our crew, some of whom have found McDonald's on the four corners of the globe. Personally, I will go for street food (kebabs, tacos, etc) over fast food every time. If we are somewhere remote with no other options, we'll stomach Subway as a last resort.

What is your favorite city in the US to tour in because of the food?

It has to be New York, right? The "slow food" trend is everywhere in the City now. A new favorite of mine is a place called The Farm on Adderley in Brooklyn. Craft is also amazing.

What is the one food item you can't live without when you're on tour - your rider staples?
Fresh veggies and cookies.

You guys play a lot of festivals, which ones in the US have the best food?

Coachella wins. Hands down. Filet mignon and crab legs.

And now for your top picks in the US!
Best burger: The Farm on Adderley, NYC
Best taco/burrito: La Super Rica, Santa Barbara, CA
Best barbecue: Anywhere in Georgia
Best diner: Brunswick Diner, Brunswick, ME
Best coffee/tea shop: Anywhere in Seattle
Best bakery/sweets shop: Sees Chocolates, San Francisco, CA
Best pizza: (and best sandwich!) Amato's, Portland, ME

2011-01-10 - Spin

Of Montreal Announce Spring Tour

By Kevin O'Donnell on January 10, 2011 9:15 AM

Of Montreal

Barnes tells SPIN the new material will appear on an upcoming Of Montreal EP titled The Controller Sphere, which is due out this spring. "It's not completely different — the songs were written in the same period as False Priest," he says of the five or six new tracks. "Some of them are a bit noisier and a little bit less groove-based, and some are just a bit artier."

Of Montreal will still bring their wild, over-the-top stage show, which features the band and their entourage dancing around the stage in all manner of freakish costumes: winged dancers, "spooky kids," dragons, and bondage fetishists. The storyline — conceived by Barnes' brother David — is loosely based on a crew of people traveling through an alternate universe.

But Barnes says there's plenty of room for improvisation. "We'll have some new props and things, but those ones are secret," he says. Also expect plenty of surprise covers — similar to the group's takes on Michael Jackson's classics like "P.Y.T." and "Wanna Be Startin' Something" from the last tour. "Maybe I'll come out and do a muddy waters cover or something," Barnes jokes.

Once the tour wraps, Barnes will return to the studio to work on the next Of Montreal record, but he tells SPIN that he's also started writing new songs. His inspiration? Sufjan Stevens' latest experimental record The Age of Adz. "I love the spirit of that album," says Barnes. "You don't get the sense that he's making something to play on the radio. It's just this pure artistic statement. I'm trying to get back to that place."

So far, Barnes has sketched out three tracks, tentatively titled "This Planet Is an Orphanage," "Ye, Renew the Plaintiff," and "We Will Commit Wolf Murder." "I don't know what the titles mean," he says with a laugh. "They're definitely all over the place — it's a lot of genre hopping. 'Orphanage' is more soulful, more Motown-y or Curtis Mayfield sounding. And "'Ye, Renew the Plaintiff" has moments that sound like Sonic Youth. Not a lot of distortion, but just open guitar tunings, slightly angular and slightly dissonant."

2011-01-11 - Creative Loafing

A Q&A with of Montreal visionary frontman Kevin Barnes; the Athens psyche pop group plays The Ritz Ybor on Saturday (with videos)

Posted by Leilani Polk on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Kevin Barnes [pictured below] is the high priest of intellectually stimulating, cleverly cheeky pop culture-infused lyricism, an idiosyncratic self-trained musical genius who serves as the visionary frontman of Athens, Ga. electro-lush glam rock and psyche pop outfit, of Montreal. The band released a Top-10-of-the-year worthy LP in 2010, False Priest, which found them fully exploring their funkadelic and R&B tendencies along with pumping up the richness of their sound with help from producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, Fiona Apple).

I had the pleasure of chatting with Barnes several weeks back while he was taking a break before gearing up for the next leg of the band’s False Priest tour. Check out our lengthy conversation below along with various videos for songs off the new album.

Leilani: So how are you doing? You enjoying some time off? Or is there really any such thing as time off for Kevin Barnes?

KB: Yeah, I’ve been getting some recording done. It’s been good. I feel lazy if I don’t do anything, just sitting around seems like a waste of time.

How have the False Priest tour dates been so far? I know you played some international dates ...

Yeah, it was great, it was definitely one of the most successful tours we’ve ever done, on every level. We also recently went to Mexico and we went to Brazil, before that we went to Europe. We’ve kind of been all over the place.

Were these your first dates in Mexico and Brazil? What’s it like playing down there?

It was our first date in Brazil, but we'd played one other show in Mexico. The first time we went down there, actually, it was sort of under dubious circumstances because we were playing this festival — it was a massive festival [Corona Music Fest] — but we were playing a smaller stage. And the festival was actually in a soccer stadium that was, if it’s not the biggest, then definitely one of the top five largest soccer stadiums in the world. Just massive. But we weren’t there, we were in the parking lot, one of the side stages in the parking lot of the giant soccer stadium.

Most of the kids were there to see NOFX. So they didn’t want to see us at all, you know? And they were really insane and it was crazy weather, pouring down rain, and these kids were really into the whole punk rock thing and the role-playing of “Oh, we’re so punk rock, we hate everything,” so they were spitting at us and throwing shit at us. It didn’t bother me because it was so surreal and so cinematic in a way, you know? It was definitely an extraordinary experience.

We went back a couple weeks ago and played a proper show in a venue, and we were the headliners. And that was great. We got to really connect with people who were on our side. So that was nice.

Do you find that your overseas fans respond differently to your music, or are there certain songs they respond to more enthusiastically?

I think we’ve been sort of spoiled because our U.S. fans are really amazing, it’s not like we're coming from this uptight place and then going to these other places where people are less uptight.

But sometimes we feel like, in a weird way, we are an American band that seems to make sense more to Americans than we do to people in other countries. But one thing that does seem true is when you go to other countries, people don’t have to know the material to get into it, they’re naturally inclined to dance and they want to dance and celebrate and have fun. When they see a band, as long as the band is giving them something that they can work with, they will be very supportive and vocal about it.

I guess if you put on a good show people will like it regardless of what you’re doing as long as the music is good and the entertainment matches the quality of music…

It’s kind of cool to go places where maybe you haven’t been before, and maybe your records aren’t really available or widely available, and you have to really sort of get by on the talent, or the presentation, or whatever it is you’re putting forward. You really have to have your shit together in order to put something across that’s positive for people.

Sometimes it’s easy, if the fans are there to see you and they know the material. You can’t really lose unless you’re just completely wasted and can’t even function or can’t stand up or whatever (laughs). As long as you can, like, do your thing, then people are going to like it and it’s fine. But it’s kind of an interesting challenge to go places where you don’t really know if they know you, and they don’t really have the context to understand you, but they can still get into it.

Let’s talk a little about False Priest. I know you’ve said in interviews that it was pretty much complete when you brought it to producer Jon Brion. What motivated you to work with him?

I had only worked in my home studio and I’ve only worked in bedroom studios my whole life, so I’ve never really been to a real classic studio and worked with anyone who had a track record like Jon’s. So it was really me wanting to go and see how real records are made, rather than what I considered my little bedroom project. And I was really intrigued by going to Ocean Way, where Frank Sinatra used to record, and all sorts of other crazy people over the years, and then working with Jon, who’s a genius, a total icon. I knew I’d learn a lot and I did. So it was great.

[Video below for "Famine Affair" off False Priest]

What ultimately convinced you to incorporate more live instrumentation on this album?

The live drums was sort a of a semi-new thing – the last couple years have been more drum programming and loops. I’ve kept a lot of the drum programming, then also integrated live drumming onto the tracks as well. But the main thing is instead of using the software versions of synthesizers, using the actual synthesizers.

Jon has an incredible collection of vintage synthesizers, vibraphones and the most incredible collection of musical instruments you could ever imagine. We had so much at our disposal. He’d listen to something I made just using my computer software, piecing it together myself like that, and he’d go, “Oh, you want to use a Mellotron sound, or that Chamberlin sound? I have an actual Chamberlin. We can just plug it in and replace it with that.”

We did that a lot, replacing software versions with their actual physical instrument. And then the big thing, too, was mixing, ’cause I’d always just mix it myself, but Jon has an engineer that he works with and he pretty much mixed the whole thing. I was there with him and made some suggestions, but he was the one moving the faders and turning the knobs. That was cool, too. To have someone else I respected mixing it, after it was all said and done, was really great for me. I kinda just looked at it as an education …

It seems like you go through a different stage of creativity with each album. How did your creative process work and evolve into what became False Priest?

A big thing for we was meeting the Wondaland Arts Society, which is the art collective that Janelle Monáe is part of. I met them in Atlanta after a Skeletal Lamping show and we started hanging out. One of the guy’s in the collective, Chuck Lightning, he and I became really good friends and he turned me on to a bunch of different things I hadn’t really explored very much, like the whole P-funk scene and a lot of science fiction writing and things like that. I owe a lot of that inspiration, that spark, to Chuck and meeting those guys. It was great because they were working on the Arch Android, Janelle’s record, at the same time and we would kind of email each other, works in progress. Getting their feedback and support was very important to me.

I know she’s on the album, specifically one of the songs I wanted to talk to you about, “Enemy Gene” – how did that song come about?

The creative process has always been a bit of mystery to me, it’s sort of this unconscious evolution. I just sort of sit down at piano or guitar or whatever it is, and it sort of happens in this organic way, and I just sort of let it happen, and whatever it is, if I’m laying down the music first, I’ll listen to it a bunch of times and figure out what I want to sing about here. I have a journal that I keep all my lyrical ideas in, so I’ll go through the journal and see if I find something that seems to fit or that has some sort of glow to it, like, oh, that’s the direction I should be going in. You know? And then I sort of piece it together. All of this really happens very organically and very mysteriously.

But getting Janelle to sing on it … once I discovered what an incredible vocalist she was and how versatile she was, I got to a point where I wanted her just to sing on every track – basically I wanted make a Janelle Monáe record. But you know, I couldn’t be too greedy.

We actually wrote that song “Our Riotous Defects” as a duet. It was sort of like a he-said she-said – she took the second verse, and we had a whole separate verse that she sang that was more from the female perspective. But it kind of became too campy, so we shelved it. It might be available via iTunes [it is on the Deluxe Version of False Priest]. That was the original idea. But after we shelved that, we ended up getting her to sing on “Enemy Gene.”

[Kevin Barnes performing "Enemy Gene" solo acoustic on piano below.]

You’ve been known to take autobiographical experiences and incorporate them into your songs. How much would you say what you’re writing these days is inspired by things that have happened to you as opposed to things you’ve made up or things that have inspired things you’ve made up?

It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think, maybe about 50 percent, it’s sort of split. A lot of the stuff, maybe it didn’t actually happen, but I don’t really differentiate that much between what physically happens or what just happens in my mind. In a way, it like, if it happens in my mind then it’s just as real as if it happens in real life.

Also, I think about music and I think about the things I sort of identify with and writers I identify and the writers a lot of other people identify with, are the ones that speak, for the most part, from personal experience, and it just feels more real and more emotive and in a way, more fulfilling to hear stuff like that because it has a universal appeal to it. Someone like John Lennon, for example, and the Plastic Ono Band, it’s one of the best examples of that, just completely raw and coming straight from his heart, straight from his soul. That’s something you can’t really do on every record, necessarily, but those are magical moments in music, and we’re lucky to have a few. It’s something I’d like to do more and I think I’m getting in a state of mind where I can do it a little bit more. Because you do have to put yourself in this vulnerable position and really not think about the outside world – at least for me, anyway, it would definitely throw me off. If I think about someone writing about it, commenting on, hearing it, even, then it takes me about of that space that you need to be in where you’re just unconsciously doing this thing, stripping it directly from your psyche and not conscious of it. Otherwise, you might just become too self-conscious to even do it. I think you have to be unconscious in that in that way – you’re speaking to god, or whatever, you’re speaking to something that isn’t necessarily human…

I know you guys have another outrageous stage production put together for this tour. What is different on this tour from your last big album tour as far as what’s happening on stage?

When we were putting the False Priest show together, my brother [multi-media artist David Barnes] and I were talking about our vision. The Skeletal Lamping show was basically just a collection of all these theatrical moments and they weren’t really connected at all – we’d have this Old West barroom brawl break out during one song, a creepy religious figure molesting little kids or something in another, and then we’d have this guy getting harassed by John McCain dolls, then hanging himself, and then getting covered in blood in some Aztec ceremony. Randoms ideas that we created and threw together.

So for False Priest, we thought it’d be cool if it was more thematic and everything had a narrative to it, that maybe wasn’t completely linear, but the parts connected together, so felt more like a contrived piece of work. And we actually tried that for the first couple shows, but it became almost a bit Spinal Tap (laughs). It wasn’t the way we envisioned it in our heads, it just came off in this awkward, sort of pretentious silly way. So then we just said, fuck it, and abandoned it and we were like, we’ve got all these components, we’ve got all these costumes and all these props, and everything, so what are we going to do?

So we tried to make it more playful and fun. I think we always just naturally gravitate towards that anyway, and any time we try to be too ambitious in creating some sweeping epic in our mind, it never really comes across. It’s always better if we have fun and do things spontaneously. And when you’re doing something night after night after night, even if it’s a complicated thing where you have lots of roles to play, it can still become mundane. To have that freedom, where you don’t have to follow any script, is very important.

It’s kind of funny, too, though, with the theatrics, because you realize that one certain theatric works really well with this specific song, but if you tried to do it on another song, it’d be awkward and just wouldn’t work. So a lot of times the theatrics actually sort of determine what the setlist is going to be.

So what’s next? I know you guys have an EP with some more material from False Priest on the way …

Yeah, that’s going to come out in April. It’s called The Controller Sphere. I’m really excited about it. It’s only five songs but there’s some different material, it’s sort of new territory for us, a bit noisier, a bit artsier. Just kind of bizarre stuff. But that’s done. And like you said, I’m not gonna take a break, so I’ve been working on more new material, working on some new projects, and I’m sort of in a transitional stage right now trying to figure out what I want to do next. I’ve made so many records by now, I’m trying to figure out if I should do should do something different, involve different people, to figure out different things I want to do, but still writing and exploring…

[Video for "Coquet Coquette" from False Priest below.]

2011-01-14 - Broward Palm Beach New Times

Q&A With David Barnes: Of Montreal Concert This Evening Will Involve a Dragon

False Priest album cover by David Barnes.

Of Montreal frontman, Kevin Barnes, and his brother, David, the band's artistic director, grew up in West Palm Beach and are returning to their South Florida roots tonight for a show (or, more aptly, an energetic, colorful, costume-laden spectacle) at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale.

The tour promotes their latest album, False Priest, which NPR calls "bonkers," but in a good way. False Priest is as energetic as a candy-addicted toddler and listening to it instantly transports you to a party -- a party full of dancing and dark secret rooms. The music, with its synthetic sound-glitter along with the band's penchant for theatrics promises a Friday night that is border-line otherworldly. County Grind caught up with David, the artistic brain behind both the album art and the performances, known to involve human hair clippings, pig costumes, and a Susan Sarandon cameo...don't worry, we'll get to that.

Your performances are known for crazy costumes and lots of energy, so what do you have planned for Fort Lauderdale?
Our whole thing is really just creating a scenario for escapism, and that's why we do have all the theatrics. Me and the bass player, Davey Pierce, made a bunch of -- we made our own masks and stuff like that out of fiberglass and so we have these weird little school children characters. We have these characters that we call 'the builders,' and they're kind of modeled after Catholic priests a little bit. They kind of are bumbling idiots though. That's a little jab at organized religion I suppose. [And] we have a giant dragon that Kevin rides on.

I heard he rode on a white stallion before so I guess a dragon is the logical next step, right?
Yeah, we have a lot of theatrics going on. We have four performers with us on the trip, and just because we know so many people we tend to grab our friends every now and then.

Earlier, I was watching the clip of Susan Sarandon slapping a pig while on stage during an Of Montreal performance (video below). Was that your idea?
Yeah, it was just kind of a joke because a friend of ours was friends with her son. She could be this harsh school teacher that disciplined the pig characters for biting, and it was one of those surreal moments where what could have been just a funny idea somehow becomes reality.

Were you on stage at that point?
I was a pig, yeah. I didn't get spanked. Sometimes you give the lead character role to someone else so that you can enjoy it more. You can actually see it.

Where do you draw your inspiration for these stage performances and for the album covers you design?
draw a lot, I'm just always drawing, and so if you're always drawing and you're also reading and watching things, somehow it just all blends together naturally. There's definitely a comic book superhero influence for sure. I would definitely prefer it if everyone wore costumes all the time. False Priest, the album cover is kind of based on the idea of a false priest, which dosen't have to be religious. It can just be anyone that pretends to be something that they're not. If you meet a fish that's wearing a gas mask, then he's lying about something because fish would never need a gas mask. Maybe he's not a fish (laughs), or...

Have you ever had any ideas for performances that were just too crazy to carry out?
I have a friend that is a hairstylist, and so I had him save the hair for like two weeks. So, I had three garbage bags filled with hair, and I wanted to drop it onto the audience. The joke was kind of like, "Do you like flowers?" and every one's like, "Yea," like super excited that flowers are about to fall down, and then it's like, "Too bad, you get hair." And then hair drops down. We asked our lawyer about it, and he sent us a letter that I actually still have that's really funny..."Under no circumstances do you drop human hair on the audience." It was just a liability. It wasn't until after it was like no, it's not happening, and I kind of felt some of the hair and realized, "Oh, this is pretty disgusting." I got these weird little boxes and just put a little bit of hair in each box, and threw the boxes up so that it didn't get on them. It was not symbolic or intelligent in any way. It wasn't even really a prank. Sometimes ideas like that are just funny.

How would you describe the general vibe of False Priest compared to other Of Montreal albums?
Definitely more influence by '70s funk bands I would think. Kevin was just listening to a lot of that at the time. And there are some pretty heavy -- like the last song is the darkest ending to any of the records, which is basically God kind of apologizing for the Old Testament, basically -- for the idea that humans should worship God, so God's basically saying, "I was guys should start worshiping each other as human beings and take care of each other, and if you're going to put your ideology above your brothers and sisters, you're going to hurt them for your ideology, then that's not right."

Do you think that message is more poignant now with the Tucson shootings?
I don't know if it's any more relevant now. I mean, people die all the time, and every now and then the nation cares about someone dying, but you know, people are being cruel to each other every single second of the day...I went to a Catholic school, so I tend to poke fun at not religion but organized religion in the sense that it's so stuffy, and there are so many rules and the rules are very arbitrary...

Did you and your brother go to the same Catholic school? I went for all four years; he went for, he couldn't even make it through a year so then he went to public school.

Was that an influence behind False Priest?
Probably not Catholic high school, but definitely we grew up in a Catholic household, and so, it definitely effects you. I'm kind of obsessed with the concept of God and religion, I suppose.

What do your parents think?
They're pretty religious, but they're also super supportive. There are certain things we've done on stage that my mom will be -- my mom especially will be like, "Ohh no, why did you do that?" But they're super super supportive and always have been. And my dad's like a business man, so he has this really funny outlook on it where it's like, "I don't understand half of what you guys do, but it appears to be working."

Video, as promised: Susan Sarandon Spanks a Pig

2011-04-22 - Record Online

Of Montreal plays for Vassar crowd

Indie band showing off quite a lot

Of Montreal has a reputation for putting on quite a concert. Members of the acclaimed indie pop/rock group dress in gender-bending ensembles that go heavy on the brightly colored spandex and baroque styling. Dancers will appear decked out in eerie gas masks or sinister pig costumes. Band leader Kevin Barnes has been known to belt out a tune while riding a white horse across the stage.

So when band member Davey Pierce said the group's concert at Vassar College's Walker Field House will be a more restrained affair than shows past ... well, it's all relative, right?

Don't expect a radical shift in the band's aesthetic. (Pierce spoke approvingly of the new spandex suits custom-made for the show.) Rather, after amping up the razzle-dazzle on the last couple of tours, he and the other members sought to make their current concerts a little more life-size.

"We're trying to make it more intimate," Pierce said. "It will still be theatrical and have a lot of surprises, but we're trying to make it more about the music and less about the spectacle."

He's particularly looking forward to the spontaneity a stripped-down concert provides. Like many of the band's other members, Pierce is a multi-instrumentalist who will often play bass, keyboard and percussion over the course of a single set. Fewer production details offers the possibility for a less rigid set list, more audience interaction and even a fruitful slip-up.

"I like the idea of something going wrong," Pierce said. "I like the idea of not knowing what the performers are going to do."

It also means a little less handiwork for Pierce, who constructed many of the elaborate props designed by art director David Barnes (brother to Kevin) on the band's previous tour.

Like other Of Montreal members, Pierce also works on side projects. His band Yip Deceiver released its self-titled debut EP April 12.

Pierce originally conceived of Yip Deceiver as a solo project, but ultimately found himself collaborating with fellow Of Montreal members Nicolas Dobbratz and Clayton Rychlik.

Such close musical affinities form the bedrock upon which their delirious live displays rest, and they will be front and center tomorrow night.

"The whole group works as kind of a family," Pierce said. "And it doesn't hurt that everyone is a fantastic songwriter and musician. You never have to bite your tongue and say it's good. It really just is good."

2011-05-04 - Pop Renegade

If you wanted to get all psychoanalytical about it, you could say Kevin Barnes’ soaring falsetto is a mere manifestation of his restlessness. And all those words he crams into Of Montreal’s songs? Same thing. The dude feels he has so much to say and so little time to say it in that he spits them out a mile a minute as his voice reaches Dirty Mind-era-Prince heights.

Check out this line from “Our Riotous Defects,” one of the best songs from last year’s False Priest: “My God, I should’ve realized on our second date when you dragged me into the bathroom at Tameka’s house and screamed at me for like 20 minutes because I had contradicted you in front of your friends/I was like, Oh/And then later that night at my apartment, as punishment, you killed my betta fish/You just threw it out the window.”


At times, Barnes is a marvel to behold. Other times he verges on annoying. Either way, no band has made a transformation quite like Of Montreal over the past 14 years.

On their 1997 debut, theAthens,Georgia, group distilled many of the same influences as other bands in their Elephant 6 collective, making a sort of artsier version of Beatlesque indie pop. But they’ve evolved – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly – over the years, until they ended up what they are now: a theater-like troupe of funky performance artists made up of more than a dozen members. “I view it as a life form that has its own trajectory,” says Barnes. “I think back to [those first albums] and I don’t really identify with them, like a completely different person made them. It’s like a typical human evolution: The early albums are very sweet and naïve but they evolved into something more mature and sexual.”

The evolution began in earnest with Of Montreal’s ninth album, 2008’s Skeletal Lamping. That’s when Barnes (who plays most of the music on the band’s records himself) let his R&B-singing, cross-dressing alter ego Georgie Fruit take over for an entire album. False Priest is a bigger and tighter version of its spazzy predecessor, using live instruments instead of synths, and singers Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister), who add sweetness to the sometimes sour mix.

“I wanted to make something that was more accessible and immediate,” says Barnes. “I have a tendency to put too many ideas into my records. Any song can go in so many directions, and there’s that tendency to just take it there.”

Just as Of Montreal’s music has gotten more ambitious, straying outside its comfort zone, same goes for the feather-boa-wearing man behind it. False Priest is the first album Barnes recorded outside of hisAthens studio (it was made inLos Angeles) and the first time he’s worked with a producer.

Jon Brion (who’s helped shape albums by Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, and Kanye West) arranges sounds that Barnes just kinda threw out there before. The post-disco beats running through songs like “I Feel Ya’ Strutter” and “Our Riotous Defects” lead to messy, glorious trips. “There are so many different ways to listen to music,” says Barnes. “There’s so much going on in Stevie Wonder’s records. When you dissect them in your head, you hear all these things going on. That’s the great thing about music. It can be very complex but also very sneaky.”

Barnes’ continuous restlessness yielded thecontrollersphere EP last month. He calls it a folk record, but that genre tag is debatable, since the highlight — a sprawling and amp-shredding five-minute workout called “Black Lion Massacre” – is the noisiest thing Of Montreal have ever recorded. “I’m never really satisfied with the things I do,” says Barnes. “I never feel like I’ve accomplished anything, so I’m always looking for the next thing.”

Thecontrollersphere isn’t baroque pop or funk machine or anything else, really, found in the group’s bag of sounds (even though most of the songs are False Priest leftovers). It’s Of Montreal between stages, once again, and is likely a sign of things to come. “It’s a bridge,” says Barnes. “It’s noisier and more cacophonous, which is where I’m heading. But it’s hard to say where you are in a moment. I really don’t know where I’m at right now.”

2011-02-23 - Ethos

of Montreal, Touring With Soul

Story & Photos by Catie Keck

of Montreal mastermind, Kevin Barnes, has grown notorious during the span of his musical career for the organic production of his collective body of work, the majority of which he has recorded out of his own home. The eccentric songwriter and multi-instrumentalist switched gears while producing of Montreal’s tenth full-length studio album, False Priest, which he recorded at the world-renowned Ocean Way Recording studios. The LP, which was released last September on Polyvinyl Records, represents of Montreal’s strongest sound to date.

The False Priest tour has been one of the band’s most elaborate productions in fourteen years. Concerts featured individual acts with props and obscurely costumed actors for the performance of each song, subsequently landing the band on SPIN Magazine’s 25 Best Fall Tours list in 2010. of Montreal also booked dates with Janelle Monaé, who made a guest appearance on three tracks of False Priest.

The conclusion of their last tour hardly meant a break for members of the band. of Montreal bassist, Davey Pierce, has been busy touring with a group of five musicians who comprise two bands, Yip Deceiver and Sugar and Gold. Yip Deceiver, an electro-dance pop duo, also includes of Montreal’s Nicholas Dobbratz. The group is prepping the release of their debut LP on April 12 after nearly a year of preparation between of Montreal tours. Pierce met with Ethos to discuss of Montreal’s upcoming tour and his work with Yip Deceiver.

Catie Keck: of Montreal’s last tour was more of a production than just a concert. What can be expected of your forthcoming tour?

Davey Pierce: On the Skeletal Lamping tour, every show was exactly the same. We wrote one gigantic show and gave it to everyone. We wanted the False Priest tour to be more organic and constantly evolve. Every show, everyone was getting something different. The upcoming tour will be more of a stripped down, intimate kind-of-thing.

We have a little bit of a touring formula where we’ll do the biggest, most lavish over-the-top production that we can and go for as long we can do it. The next one, we go out and do a more intimate tour that’s more about the music than the tour circus.

CK: There are a number of new collaborations that happened during the production of False Priest. What are the details about these?

DP: For this album, [Barnes] brought in special musicians to play the drums because he wanted a big, produced sound to this record, whereas all of his other stuff has been recorded in his home studio. On this one, he went in with Jon Brion to Ocean Way Recording in [California], which is a multi-million dollar studio, and re-recorded everything. All of the gear that he had been trying to emulate, he’d do it again with the real instruments.

He also brought on Janelle Monaé and Solange Knowles. It’s weird. With Janelle, I woke up one day and she was one of our good friends. I can’t remember how it happened; she just became a part of the family. With Solange, we were playing at the music hall in Willamsburg, and Solange came out to see Janelle’s show, and she and Kevin kept in touch. Eventually she decided to be on the record, too.

CK: Kevin has said he was heavily influenced by R&B during the writing of this record, particularly Prince.

DP: I know he’s been really influenced by funk, like Parliament and Curtis Mayfield. It shows on this new record cause there’s a lot of R&B and funk whereas the other records were very synth-pop. It’s a departure, and people are coming around to it, which is good. At first a lot of people were unsure about it because it’s so different.

I think his songwriting style and the way he sings is influenced by Prince. In the live show, there’s overt sexuality and over-the-top everything.

CK: That element of ‘overt sexuality’ seems to be present on all of Montreal’s albums, particularly on False Priest.

DP: It’s a running theme on these records for a reason. He’s a very outgoing sexual person in that way. I admire him for being able to do that because a lot of people might have these thoughts or feelings, but Kevin shares it with the world.

CK: Kevin has an on-stage alter ego known as Georgie Fruit. Do you have an of Montreal or Yip Deceiver stage persona?

DP: I would say so. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world in my normal life, but on stage I’m getting paid to give people a good time and give people a show. I don’t like when bands just stand there and play, or look at their shoes. It’s not fun. And plus, that’s the only time I get exercise. I try to get my exercise in then.

CK: What do we have to look forward to on Yip Deceiver’s upcoming album?

DP: It’s dancey and fun. We like to make music that makes people happy. For us, it’s just about getting up there and enjoying ourselves every time. There wasn’t an intended, ‘This is going how it’s going to turn out,’ but we’ve been listening to a lot of early ’90s R&B and Bobby Brown and New Edition, and the album’s been getting a lot of that lately. Whatever we’re listening to gets incorporated. There’s been an evolution from synth-pop to R&B and dance, so there’s a little bit of everything.

2011-05-?? - Metromix Harrisburg

Q&A: Of Montreal

Wild frontman Kevin Barnes ponders Prince and another stab at live comedy

By Jessica Jardine

Special to Metromix

It’s a bizarre feeling to realize there are indie rock bands that have been around long enough to already have, in the case of the band Of Montreal, 10 full-length albums under their collective belt. After last year’s well-received “False Priest,” the Athens, Georgia-based band has another EP they’re rolling out, “thecontrollersphere,” full of the typically upbeat, electro indie-pop that has come to define their sound.
But lead singer-songwriter Kevin Barnes—who has earned a reputation as an exuberant showman willing to strip down nude during shows or cover his body in mountains of glitter—fell in love with R&B in recent years and the band’s sound has reflected those newer funk and soul influences. That led to a collaboration with celebrated newcomer Janelle Monae on her critically lauded “The ArchAndroid” album and Beyoncé’s lil’ sis, Solange Knowles, who popped up on “False Priest.”
As the band hits the road for one of their celebrated, wildly visual live tours, Barnes continues to rely on the organic nature of collaboration between his creative team, which includes his brother and wife. And considering previous tours have included a live horse being trotted out on stage, those who’ve seen the art-rockers in action know that it often means expectations are going to be blown away.

What can someone expect for the live show? You guys are known for being incredibly over the top and then, other times, pretty minimalist in terms of production.
It’s something that sort of evolves over the course of the tour. We might start off with a concept or a set of ideas and then, the more shows that we play, the more that we switch it up and change it. We have a bunch of performance artists and a bunch of interesting cartoons for this one, though. My brother is the main one who creates most of the content for the stage theatrics of show. I mean, I talk to him about it but, for the most part, it’s his thing.

“Thecontrollersphere” EP was recorded at the same time as “False Priest.” Do you feel the songs differ much?
It’s a similar feeling but, in the way that all the songs are pretty different on “False Priest,” there are a decent variety of different kinds of songs: slower songs, faster songs, and funkier songs. It’s in that ballpark I guess.

What was the determination for holding off on including those songs on “False Priest”?
They would’ve fit but we really didn’t want to make a double album. So, we had to take some of the songs away. There are even more songs from that period that haven’t been released yet. I think we might even do another EP because it was a really productive time for me.

Is there any particular reason why it was so productive?
I think it was kind of discovering a certain kind of music that I’d always liked but hadn’t worked with, as far as a genre. I was rediscovering funk music and soul music and just really riding that wave of excitement.

In terms of that R&B influence, who are the artists that you love?
Well, my all time favorite vocalist would be Sly Stone. I love all the Family Stone records and all the Marvin Gaye ‘70s records, Curtis Mayfield, Parliament, and Stevie Wonder. There are so many great artists from that time period.

How did you end up connecting with Janelle Monae?
We live in kind of the same area. She lives in Atlanta and we live in Athens. We’d met after a show and just started talking. From there, she was working on the “The ArchAndroid” album and we were working on “False Priests” so I’d send her mixes of stuff I was working on and she and her partners would send me stuff that they were working on. I felt very connected to her throughout the whole process. They were very much a great motivator and inspiration to me. I heard what they were doing and thought it was so fantastic and wanted to do something equally as cool.

You went on a comedy tour a few years back. How did that come about?
Well, it was basically me and my wife and my brother were trying to figure out ways to have fun, earn some money and, basically, get out of town for a period of time. It was a fun experience because it was kind of scary to just set up a tour and have no idea what you’re going to do. Then, once you get to the venue, you just look around and say, “Alright, what’s it going to be tonight?” We put something together and, at first, it was pretty terrible but after about the fourth or fifth show it started to evolve into something a little bit more tolerable and slightly entertaining.

Did the show involve sketches or improv or a combination?
It was sketches that were sort of loose and that we could improv on. We didn’t have long moments with any intense soliloquies or anything. [Laughs] It’s definitely more in the dada realm of comedy.

Having a comedy tour under your belt, can you imagine doing it again?
Possibly. It was a fun experience. It was definitely low profile. I mean, we were playing pretty small places that had, at most, like 50 people. It definitely wasn’t the best way to earn a living. [Laughs] You have to really love it. It’s like anything; like when we first started playing music. You play to 30 people every night and just make enough money to buy gas to go the next city.

I saw that you also released the last album on cassette and that seemed pretty unusual. What went into that decision?
I guess it’s something that’s a bit of a movement. It’s kind of like how for a long time nobody was releasing anything on vinyl and then people started getting excited about vinyl again and now pretty much everybody releases their record on vinyl, especially indie artists. It’s a bit of a novelty because nobody really does it anymore. I think it’s cool and it’s just a different format and you can have a different relationship with this other physical object.

There was an article where Pitchfork called you the psychedelic Prince—as in, Prince the artist. What do you think of such a nice moniker?
Yeah, it’s nice but he’s kind of a psychedelic Prince himself. I don’t know if there’s room in this world for two. [Laughs]

2011-06-01 - Musikknyheter

En prat med Kevin Barnes fra of Montreal
01.06.2011 - Eskil Olaf Vestre

Samarbeid med Casiokids, of Montreals ellevte album og mer.

Vi satte oss ned i backstagen sammen med Kevin Barnes og tok en prat i forkant av bandets konsert på Nattjazz i Bergen. Han ga oss de første nyhetene om samarbeid med Casiokids og of Montreals ellevte album, og ga oss også et innblikk i låtskrivingsprosessen.

Velkommen til Bergen! … Og gratulerer med bursdagen i dag!

Takk skal du ha!

of Montreal utga forrige måned en split-EP sammen med Casiokids. Hva er deres forhold til dette Bergensbandet, og til byen?

Vi hadde samme booking-byrå i England, noe som førte til at vi la ut på turné sammen med dem for et eller to års tid siden. Det var en veldig positiv opplevelse: Vi elsket dem, både som mennesker og som musikere, og følte at vi hadde mye til felles. Nå er vi til og med på samme plateselskap i USA (Polyvinyl), så det er mye som binder oss sammen. Vi hang faktisk med dem i studioet deres her i Bergen i går, og hørte på noen av deres nye sanger, og skrev også noen nye sammen med dem!

Hva annet har dere gjort og sett i byen siden dere kom hit?

Jeg har forståvidt ikke fått sett så mye av Bergen enda, men jeg har hengt på byen til langt ut på natt og vært innom mange bra barer med venner. På dagtid har jeg ikke fått gjort så mye, jeg har heller bare sovet skikkelig ut. (ler)

Du burde ta en tur på Vamoose, hvor de spiller mye bra livemusikk - det er jeg sikker på at du ville likt!

Ja, dit dro vi faktisk i går kveld, og da hadde vi en fet jamsession der. Vi drar dit egentlig hver eneste kveld, det er mitt favorittsted i Bergen!

I tillegg til split-EPen med Casiokids slapp dere forrige månend også en meget god ny EP, thecontrollersphere. Personlig synes jeg den føles som en svært naturlig etterfølger til fjorårets [album] False Priest, og fortsetter mer eller mindre nøyaktig der sistesporet slapp, i et litt mørkere parti. Kan du fortelle oss litt om konseptet bak denne EPen?

Vel, alle disse sangene fra False Priest og thecontrollersphere ble skrevet og spilt inn under samme periode, og det finnes faktisk omtrent rundt seks flere sanger som jeg ikke har fått utgitt enda. Det var en veldig produktiv tid for meg, jeg tok opp mye sanger og følte meg veldig inspirert.

L'age D'or er så annerledes enn Black Lion Massacre, og Holiday Call er igjen ganske annerledes enn Flunkt Sass, så jeg synes EPen egentlig spriker i alle slags retninger, akkurat som alle mine utgivelser. Jeg bare liker rett og slett så mye forksjellige typer musikk, og jeg vil alltid skape nye ting: Istedenfor å lage den samme sangen om og om igjen, vil jeg heller alltid eksperimentere med nye sjangere, og kombinere forskjellige inspirasjonskilder.

Men når det gjelder disse nye sangene tror jeg kanskje jeg ville lage noe litt mer bråkete. Ikke nødvendigvis på numre som L'age D'or eller Flunkt Sass, men deler av Slave Translator er litt mer støyete, og slutten av Holiday Call er jo ganske vill, og Black Lion Massacre er definitivt veldig støyende.

Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse fra Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Albumet Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? var stort her til lands, ikke minst på grunn av de mange Norgesreferansene. I sporet Faberge Falls For Shuggie sang du ordene "skeletal lamping, the controller sphere, false priest", og dette viste seg å bli titlene på dine neste tre utgivelser. Nå lurer mange på: Hva er planen fremover nå som du har oppfylt denne spådommen?

Ja, det kan jeg forstå. Jeg har faktisk et nytt album på gang, og det er mer eller mindre ferdig nå - vi trenger bare en måned eller to til. Det vil sannsynligvis komme ut i februar eller mars neste år, og jeg har ikke kommet på noe tittel til det enda.

Det som er litt morsomt er at da jeg hadde sagt disse tre tingene i Hissing Fauna bare bestemte jeg meg for å bruke dem som titlene til de tre neste utgivelsene mine, og så var det arbeidet unngagjort, for å si det sånn. Jeg slapp dermed i et par år å bruke tiden min på å tenke ut albumtitler, men nå sitter jeg her igjen med blanke ark, og prøver så godt jeg kan å finne på en god tittel for denne nye skiva.

Så det handlet mest om å bare spare seg bryet med å finne på albumtitler, fremfor en visjon om en slags trilogi?

Jeg kan egentlig ikke se noe særlig til rød tråd som forbinder disse utgivelsene. Jeg tror heller at alle mine album fra og med Satanic Panic In the Attic til nå er forbundet med hverandre - de har vært en slags ny retning, eller et nytt kapittel for meg, om du vil. Jeg lagde hele denne rekka med album før det igjen, men jeg har på en måte lagt den tiden bak meg.

Jeg har aldri gått tilbake og reevaluert sangene fra den perioden, og heller ikke spilt dem live: Alt som ligger før Satanic Panic er på en måte en slags tapt periode. (ler) De tidligere albumene var noe som bare skjedde, og jeg likte dem godt den gangen, men så ville jeg bare gjøre noe helt nytt. Jeg føler egentlig fortsatt på en måte at jeg er inne i en helt ny epoke.

Kan vi på dette nye albumet vente oss mer av de nye tingens du introduserte i False Priest, som f. eks. samarbeidene med Janelle Monáe og Solange Knowles?

Det nye albumet kommer ikke til å være like funky og soul-inspirert denne gangen. Vel, det er definitivt fortsatt en viss påvirkning fra funk, soul og r&b der et sted, men jeg har denne gangen fått mer inspirasjon fra moderne klassisk musikk fra det 20. århundret. Komponister som Krzysztof Penderecki og Charles Ives var viktige inspirasjonskilder.

Jeg har også gjort flere nye samarbeid med andre musikere. Fiolinisten i bandet vårt, K [K Ishibashi] bidro med masse bra strykerinnslag, og en annen venn av meg, Zach, bidro med masse blåseinstrumenter. Så det [nye albumet] er annerledes på den måten - lyden er ikke like mye gitar og synth som før, men mer … symfonisk, kan man vel si.

Så du er fortsatt rimelig langt unna lo-fi, og kanskje heller på det sporet du kom inn på med Jon Brion [produsenten for False Priest, som tidligere har produsert for bl.a. Kanye West]? Jobber du med ham igjen også?

Nei. Jeg har bare jobbet på egenhånd i hjemmestudioet mitt igjen denne gangen. Men jeg er ekstremt fornøyd med de nye sangene, og den nye retningen musikken har tatt! Det er veldig interessant for meg, for jeg har ikke jobbet med denne typen instrumenter tidligere.

Den kreative prosessen har også vært utrolig gøy: Nå for tiden gjør jeg det gjerne slik at jeg skriver en sang som i starten er en litt semi-funky popsang, og så sender den av gårde til noen andre, som sier "her er en retning [du kan gå], legg til disse elementene", og fucker det hele opp på en måte som er veldig spennende! (ler)

Det er definitivt sånn at når jeg sender det til dem, så vil jeg ikke at de skal finne på noe veldig konvensjonelt noe, som en konvensjonell strykerharmoni eller noe sånt, jeg vil at de skal finne på noe som er mer avant-garde og overraskende. Derfor var det virkelig flaks at jeg har funnet disse menneskene, som er virkelig dyktige på sine instrumenter men samtidig også har en flott fantasi, og er ikke redde for å tøye grenser.

Mange klassiske musikere, som spiller instrumenter som fiolin, kan ha veldig konvensjonelle tanker om sine instrumenter, jeg mener alle disse reglene, og konseptene om musikkteori, og bla bla bla. Det er sjeldent å finne noen som faktisk har et litt frimodig sinn og vil utforske litt mer, og blir med på å prøve forskjellige muligheter med instrumentene sine.

Fra tidlig lo-fi Beatles-aktig sound, til elektronisk musikk, til din nylige eksperimentering med R&B, så virker det som om of Montreal alltid utvikler seg videre, og prøver nye ting - noe som nok er en av tingene mange elsker med bandet også. Men hvis du kjapt skulle beskrevet hva som likevel er konsistent med bandet og prosjektet of Montreal, hva ville det vært?

Kanskje rett og slett bare den organiske prosessen som alltid driver det videre. Du vet, grunnen for at alle disse albumene skiller seg slik fra hverandre er at på det tidspunktet hver av dem ble til så var jeg veldig engasjert i akkurat den spesifikke tingen, og jeg tillot aldri meg selv å tvile på den, sette spørsmålstegn ved den, eller føle noen slags forlegenhet ved det hele - jeg bare kastet meg rett uti det.

Det til tross for at noen av valgene jeg har tatt kan ha blitt oppfattet som tvilsomme da jeg tok dem … (ler) jeg kan se hvordan noen kan bli forvirret av et album som The Gay Parade eller Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies, eller False Priest eller hvilken som helst av dem for den saks skyld. Jeg kan forstå at det ikke er den typen ting som appelerer til alle og enhver.

Men det appelerer til de menneskene som liker at musikken de hører på er litt esoterisk og semi-utfordrerende, litt interessant og uforutsigbar. Det er jo også den type musikk jeg selv er veldig interessert i. I bunn og grunn er det jo sånn at jeg prøver å lage den typen sanger som jeg selv ønsker å høre, men som ikke har blitt laget av noen enda.

I dine tidlige verker dreide sangtekstene seg stort sett om fiktive figurer, men gradvis dro du inn ditt personlige liv mer og mer, og dette kulmnerte kanskje i Hissing Fauna. Men hvor mye av sangtekstene i dine nyeste utgivelser, thecontrollersphere og False Priest, er basert på dine personlige opplevelser? Har du faktisk hatt en kjæreste som drepte fisken din?

Jo, faktisk, de meste av disse tekstene er basert på personlige erfaringer. Men, på samme måte som hos alle andre som skriver ting, er det selvsagt noen ganger slik at jeg kan overdrive og blåse opp visse figurer litt, slik at de blir mer interessante. (ler) Jeg tror ikke det er mulig å lage noe som helst som ikke er personlig - selv hvis det er fiktive karakter, så dreier det seg fortsatt om dine personlige opplevelser, dine fantasier, dine drømmer.

Så du har "paid some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her"?

Jeg gjorde det. Neida, jeg hadde bare lyst til å gjøre det.

Famine Affair fra False Priest

I Hissing Fauna introduserte du ditt alter ego, karakteren Georgie Fruit. Det snakkes fortsatt mye om han, og ifølge noen teorier på Internett markerte thecontrollersphere slutten på ham. Hvordan vil du selv si at hans rolle har vært i dine nyeste utgivelser?

Jeg kan se at konseptet Georgie Fruit fortsatt eksisterer som en del av meg. Men det er mest av alt bare en slags sinnstilstand som jeg kommer inn i, og jeg pleide å ha behov for å gi den et navn fordi jeg følte at det hjalp meg å si ting som jeg selv ikke ville vært komfortabel med å si ellers.

Nå har jeg derimot blitt mer komfortabel med den siden av min egen psyke, så jeg føler ikke lenger noe behov for å differensiere mellom ulike karakterer. Jeg har innsett at det bare er en del av meg uansett, så det spiller ingen rolle. Jeg er ferdig med å si ting som "Det er ikke meg, men en persona" - det er alt sammen meg uansett.

Så mer enn at karakteren er blitt tatt livet av, så har den bare smeltet inn i helheten?

Ja, nettop.

of Montreal-gjengen har diverse sideprosjekter også, har du noe nytt å fortelle oss om disse? Vi er spesielt nysgjerrige på ditt prosjekt "Blikk Fang" med Andrew Vanwyngarden (MGMT), ikke minst på grunn av det norske navnet. Har du noe nytt å fortelle oss?

Det kommer nok ikke til å bli noe av Blikk Fang med det første. Men hvem vet? Livet er uforutsigbart - plutselig kan Andrew ringe meg og si "jeg har fri i en måned nå, la oss sette i gang og lage dette albumet!", eller kanskje ender vi opp med å gjøre det når vi er 60 år gamle. (ler) Man kan aldri vite!

Men jeg har lyst til å jobbe mer med et nytt prosjekt, som kommer til å hete Viper Fragment. Der kommer jeg til å være mer en 'behind the scenes'-figur, istedenfor å fungere som vokalisten. Jeg kommer kanskje ikke en gang til å være en del av livebandet, men jeg vil i hvertfall skrive sanger, og være han som trekker i trådene. Jeg tror det kommer til å bli veldig gøy, og jeg har allerede begynt å skrive en god del til dette prosjektet!

Du bidra også en del til TheArchandroid, fjorået album fra Janelle Monáe?

Vel, bare på 'Make the Bus'. Jeg laget opprinnelig den sangen til False Priest, men så sendte jeg den til Janelle for å se hva hun syntes. Og hun likte det!

Sangen endte opp med å passe godt inn i albumet.

Ja, og jeg følte meg svært beæret som fikk lov til å få være en del av det albumet. Det er en av mine favorittalbum fra de siste ti årene. Det er utrolig hvor godt vi passet inn i hverandres album, og vi dro også ut på en turné sammen i USA, med totalt noe sånt som 30 konserter. Det var konge fordi hun også har en teatralsk produksjon. På den måten var det mye som overlappet mellom våre to grupper, og artister fra hver av dem hjalp den andre parten under konsertene.

Tilbake til of Montreals nyeste, thecontrollersphere-EPen. En annen ting jeg la merke til var at du, på samme måte som de siste sangene i False Priest, gikk tilbake til en ganske ukonvensjonell sangkonstruksjon. Flere sanger i en, for å si det på den måten. Sanger som 'You Do Mutilate' minner meg om Beatles-sanger som Day In The Life og Happiness is a Warm Gun, med alle temposkiftene osv. Dette gjorde du jo også veldig mye i Skeletal Lamping. Personlig elsket jeg dette, mens andre har omtalt det som "musikk for den utålmodige iPod-generasjonen", med tanke på at det i praksis er massevis av sanger som varer i kun noen sekunder hver, og det skjer så mye forandring og 'skipping' hele tiden. Hva er dine tanker om denne typen sanger, og hvordan foregår den kreative prosessen?

Når jeg lagde False Priest hadde jeg akkurat utgitt Skeletal Lamping, som er en fragmentert og schizofren plate. Hvor sangene var litt ukonvensjonelle, ja, i arrangementene sine. Det var litt av poenget med Skeletal Lamping for min del: Jeg har alltid elsket den typen låter, for jeg har alltid vært en stor fan av album som Beach Boys' Smile, og ting som f. eks. Beatles-sangene du nevnte, og de av Pink Floyd-sangene som er i den stilen også … Det er på en måte en ting som veldig mange gjorde på 60-tallet, og jeg elsker det.

På 70-tallet forandret det hele seg litt, men var fortsatt til en viss grad tilstede i form av alle progrock-bandene, som hadde veldig lange og interessante arrangementer. Ting ble for alvor annerledes på 80- og 90-tallet, da det virkelig ble lite slikt. I of Montreal har vi virkelig tatt mye av vår inspirasjon fra psykedeliske band fra sent 60- og tidlig 70-tall.

Jeg har alltid elsket den skikkelig fri stilen å arrangere sanger på, for det er bare sånn min hjerne alltid fungerer uansett. Jeg mener i henhold til det å ikke klare å fokusere for lenge på én ting, som absolutt skal vare så lenge som i tre minutter. Noen ganger lager jeg noe som bare er interessant i et minutts tid for både meg og andre folk. Etter det blir det litt mindre spennende, så jeg får lyst til å gå over til noe annet, men jeg vil likevel bruke den første delen som inspirasjon til den neste delen.

Da jeg lagde False Priest hadde jeg altså akkuratt gjort det der så mye med Skeletal Lamping, så da fikk jeg mer lyst til å bare lage en perfekt popsang, på en måte. Jeg snudde mot den andre siden av popmusikk, som mindre eksperimentelt materiale av The Kinks og Beatles. Sanger som f. eks. Paperback Writer, der det forsåvidt er en interessante arrangementer, men ikke så mange sprø øyeblikk - den flyter på et naturlig vis. Det var noe sånt jeg prøvde å gjøre det med de fleste False Priest-sangene, med unntak av You Do Mutilate, og til en viss grad Around the Way og Godly Intersex.

thecontrollersphere har definitivt mer til felles med Skeletal Lamping – sangene er mye lengre enn False Priest sine, og albumet føles mer som en uforutsigbar reise igjen. Jeg har også tillatt meg selv å bruke lengde på en måte som jeg ikke har gjort tidligere. Vanligvis føler jeg alltid en viss obligasjon for å presse alt inn i enheter på 4 eller 3 1/2 minutter, men på denne nye EPen har jeg tillatt meg selv å ha lengre seksjoner. Disse er mer abstrakte, og skaper en ambivalent stemning, som du ikke helt kan forstå deg på. Det er derfor litt mer eksperimentelt på den måten - men det er fortsatt definitivt et popalbum i sin kjerne!

Vi synes du har skapt atter et flott album, fullstappet med spennende idéer. Vi gleder oss til å se det bli spilt live! (Les konsertanmeldelsen også)

An Elurdian Instance fra Skeletal Lamping

Foto: Tord Litleskare