The venturesome indie art rock group, of Montreal, is currently touring for their latest release titled “Paralytic Stalks” out now on Polyvinyl Records.
of Montreal is largely the brainchild of its front man, Kevin Barnes, since 1996, and Barnes has no intention of stopping any time soon.
The band is known for its ever-evolving sound that dates back to Barnes’ roots. He is heavily influenced by his hometown Athens, Georgia and he said that it has shaped him as an artist.
“It is a mellow place, not much going on. People have to make their own entertainment,” Barnes said. “All my friends and those around me were always making art- there wasn’t much to do except make my own art.”
Barnes first started making music with a very simple set up: guitar, drum, cymbal, and his voice.
“I taught myself how to make interesting sounds out of different instruments,” Barnes said.
His sound has progressed along with his set up, but he still primarily makes all the music and writes all the lyrics. Although his influences have changed from 60’s psychedelic pop to funk, soul, r&b, and prog rock amongst others, the basic goal has been the same.
“We mainly just stay open-minded and do it for the right reasons,” Barnes said. “To me it’s fulfilling, it’s what I live for.”
Barnes has released several different albums on various labels, with each release having its own distinct concept. The production and concept for Of Montreal’s latest album follows the same trend and Barnes said that his expectations haven’t changed much.
As far as his lyrical inspiration, Barnes says he can’t really say where it comes from but he does draw influence from the likes of Lou Reed and David Bowie.
“I just avoid predictability,” Barnes said. “With most pop music, the lyrics don’t really matter, it’s the complete opposite with me.”
He said his lyrics are exceptional, special, and his own personal style. He says this process takes him a great deal of time, but it is the time he puts in that makes his music followers coming back for more and more.
Barnes has released his meticulously crafted music on several different formats, most notably “Skeleton Lamping” was released in vinyl, cd, cassette tape, buttons and even paper lanterns.
“Vinyl is the coolest format. The artwork is bigger, and it’s also fragile-you have to be careful with it,” Barnes said.
Although he agrees that the quality of the sound in mp3 can degrade and cheapen the experience; he also admits that the convenience of digital music is awesome and extremely portable.
of Montreal’s most recent release, “Paralytic Stalks,” has a special edition fuchsia vinyl limited to only 1500 copies and includes an instant mp3 download along with a free sticker and double-sided poster.
If you’re not really into the vinyl, you can also purchase it on cassette tape which also comes with a free download. Additionally, of Montreal is also selling a box set that includes 10 of their albums on cassette tape.
It’s a great way to capture the scope of the band’s music that never ceases to transform and reinvent itself.
by Israel Gallegos
additional reporting by alex aventura
Very special thanks to Fusion Magazine!