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Of Montreal

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Kevin Barnes, am: 20.08.2005 ]

Vielleicht hat noch jemand das Elephant 6 Kollektiv für seine sympathisch versponnene Popmusik im Hinterkopf, die vor allem dem Sound der 60er in ihren Werken zu einer Neuinterpretation verhalf. Einer der ehemaligen Protagonisten, Kevin Barnes, verfolgt schon seit einigen Jahren unter dem Namen Of Montreal seinen ganz eigenen künstlerischen Weg. Dabei werden angesprochene Popelemente genauso aufgegriffen, wie psychedelische Spielereien und einen sympathischen Hang zum Glamourösen, wobei auch Vaudeville-Parallen nicht nur in der Musik der Band anzutreffen sind. Anlässlich des fabelhaften neuen Albums „The Sunlandic Twins“ sprachen wir mit Kevin über eben dieses, Beziehungen innerhalb der Band und das Übel des Perfektionismus.


Musicscan: Please tell me a bit about how the new album came together? Did you approach it any differently compared to your previous efforts?

Of Montreal: Sort of. I wanted to make an album with more of an electronic and dancy feel to it. I experimented a little bit with that on the last record, Satanic Panic In The Attic, and had a lot of fun so I thought I’d expand on what I started. I knew I wanted to have some disco songs and some artsy stuff and just sort of mix it all together. I was very influenced by Brian Eno , Prince and Fela Kuti.

Musicscan: The new album to me sounds a little more straight-forward than some of the previous records? Was that a conscious effort? Do you already have a certain sound and structure in mind when first working on a record?

Of Montreal: I wanted the first half of the album to be very buoyant and poppy and the second half to be a little bit darker and nefarious. I didn’t really have it all mapped out in my head before I started recording because I like to let the albums evolve in a more organic fashion. I never really know what the end result is going to be. I like to be surprised.

Musicscan: Would you consider a live performance something that emulates the recording or is performing live something totally different? In how far do you attempt to recreate the recorded material live?

Of Montreal: We try to stay pretty close to the recordings. It is a fun challenge to try and reproduce the studio productions live. Nowadays it can be done a lot easier than in the Beatles days. We rely on some modern gadgets that people didn’t have 30 years ago. We approach the live show as more of a theatrical performance than a rock show. We incorporate costume changes and on stage weirdness into the set just to keep it interesting for the audience. We never wanted to be the kind of band that gets on stage wearing their street clothes and just plays a couple songs. We have always wanted our shows to be more of a happening or a special event.

Musicscan: Would you consider your records concept albums? I am particularly thinking of “The Gay Parade.”

Of Montreal: Some of them were definitely conceptual. Petite Tragedy, The Gay Parade, Coquelicot Asleep In The Poppies were all concept albums. I like for there to be some sort of thread that connects the album together. Some sort of continuity, whether it be from a songwriting standpoint or a production style or whatever.

Musicscan: Your music exhibits a great love for detail. Would you consider yourselves perfectionists, especially in a studio/recording situation?

Of Montreal: To some degree yes, but we try not to let it get in the way of our good time. I think it is important to really try and bring your vision to life as closely as possible, but it is also important not to lose your sense of playfulness and experimentation.

Musicscan: When do you know that a song is finished? Isn’t there a constant temptation to keep adding further aspects to the sound?

Of Montreal: Yes definitely but I usually have a sense when the song is complete and doesn’t need any more overdubs. That is one of the biggest challenges when recording at home because you have unlimited time and no one telling you to stop.

Musicscan: Do you believe that the best decades of pop music are already over? Are there any genuinely new sounds still to be discovered or has contemporary music entered the phase of eclecticism, recombination and postmodern play?

Of Montreal: I definitely feel that great music is being created today and that the future of music is a very bright one. Music will never become stale as long as people are excited about trying new things. What we really need are more people creating new electronic instruments for us to create with. I always feel really inspired when I buy a new effect pedal or a new synthesizer. Sometime that is all you need to come up with something new and fresh.

Musicscan: What is it like to play with your spouse in a band? Are there sometimes conflicts between the personal and the musical or even the business side of things? How do these spheres intersect and how do you work them out for yourselves?

Of Montreal: Well, right now she isn’t playing in the band because we just had our first child and she is hanging out at home with her. When Nina was in the band there were no conflicts at all other than me nagging her to practice her bass lines. It was great because we didn’t have to be separated when I went on tour.

Musicscan: What inspires you apart from music or art? Could you imagine doing something else besides music?

Of Montreal: I’m pretty one dimensional. I don’t really do anything creative other than make music. I do, on occasion, write short stories and free verse. I think I would like to write an autobiographical novel someday. I have a bad memory though so it would probably turn out to be an unintentional fiction.

Musicscan: Do you feel a certain pressure to be successful now as you also have a kid to support? Did this change the situation for you also with regards to extensive touring?

Of Montreal: To some degree yes, it makes it a lot harder to be away from home for an extended period of time. The band has sort of taken off to a degree and we feel that we need to keep the momentum going, so I can’t really stop touring right now. Hopefully in the future things will slow down a little bit and I’ll be able to spend more time at home.

Musicscan: Three current favorite records, movies and books?

Of Montreal: Records: Four Tet “Everything Ecstatic”, M.I.A “Arular”, The Go!Team “Thunder Lightning Strike.”
Books: Jonathan Safran Foer “Everything Is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, Jonathan Lethem “Motherless Brooklyn.”
Films: Bertolucci’s “The Conformist”, Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s “Afterlife” and Serge Bourguignon’s “Sundays and Cybele”.

Musicscan: What can we expect from Of Montreal in the near future?

Of Montreal: I am working on a new album as we speak. I’m not exactly sure what it will sound like yet but my vision is very interesting. The working title is “The Hissing Fauna”. It will probably combine the electronic and 60’s influences as well as some new influences. I’ll probably start working seriously on it in December.

  Of Montreal
  Track & Field Records
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