I just read the cover story on of Montreal/Kevin Barnes in the November issue of Paste‚ and it's a really good article. It was written by Steve LaBate‚ an associate editor with Paste‚ who first interviewed Barnes for an Athens‚ GA alt-weekly back in 2003. He has incredible insight into the music and the artist -- I imagine that comes from years of seeing Barnes' progression. And the quotes he uses from Barnes are equally surprising and fascinating. You can read the entire transcript here.
My relationship with Barnes' music is bizarre. I didn't really start paying attention until 2007's Hissing Fauna‚ Are You the Destroyer?‚ which after each listen left me stunned. I couldn't decide if I absolutely loved it or hated it. Rarely has this ever happened.
Last year‚ a bunch of us were hanging out at the SOM Headquarters late-night partying‚ streaming live video from the All Good Festival. In between bands‚ there was an option to check out clips from festivals earlier in the year. Coachella was listed‚ so we came across this live clip of "She's a Rejector." I was mesmerized. Besides the band just kicking ass and getting down‚ they looked so futuristic and animated. I thought‚ "How can I not dig this?"
I guess the thing I appreciated most about the interview with Paste was how open Barnes' is as an artist. He's grown past the indie rock (or punk rock) myth of "keeping it real" and in doing so appears to have a wider artistic spectrum when it comes to making music. He talks about how performing is sensationalism‚ and when he's not performing‚ he lives a normal and sometimes boring life that includes sitting home and watching ESPN. They call him "Heir of Bowie" on the cover‚ which might have valid parallels‚ but I actually thought of Pete Townshend first in this regard. He seems like an artist that could easily be misconstrued as weird -- also weirdly gay -- and tortured‚ just for doing his job well: keeping you on your toes‚ being original and making it sensational. But at the same time‚ he seems grounded in the everyday fucked-up realities that we live with‚ within our work‚ in our family and everything else. I think he sums it up perfectly when he says that your work as an artist is going to eventually turn you into a cartoon‚ so you might as well be the one who controls it. And in doing so‚ you might as well be fantastic.
Another fascinating aspect is Barnes' take on performance. The thing that I love the most about seeing shows -- this being especially true with improvisational music -- is the risk and uncertainty. He talks about how his job isn't just to make people who come to his shows leave happy‚ but to make them feel uncomfortable -- make them feel fear‚ tension and confusion. Amen to that.
Check out State of Mind's review of Skeletal Lamping.
of Montreal - "Id Engager"