If Katie gets a chance to marry the man she had posters of and dreamt about when she was younger, wouldn't it be fair to say that at least I could get a chance to interview the mastermind behind one of my favorite bands? Of course. With that, I had the opportunity to phone into Georgia one Friday morning and speak with Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal, really, of Atlanta. Barnes' pubescent personality onstage marks a sharp contrast to his astute, yet mellow, manner over the phone. Nevertheless, both personas carry similarities in that both Kevin Barnes, and "Mr. Barnes" are intelligent men without whom the music world would just not be as fascinating.
SCTAS: Sunlandic Twins seems to be a spin off of "Rapture Rapes the Musees" (Satanic Panic from the Attic) Is there any reason you were led in that direction to write songs that sort of have that upbeat feel to them?
Kevin Barnes: Yea sort of - I had a lot of fun working with dance music on Satanic. That was kind of my foray into it so.. .that was like "Disconnect he Dots" and "Rapture Rapes the Muses".. .yea it's just sort of like the beginning.. . it was just kind of like a phase to me. I wanted to explore that a little bit further. And create something that had that effect; you know, those sort of dance-y songs that are also a little bit more intelligent than a lot of dance music. Lyrically it's a little bit more intelligent than a lot of dance music. I spent more time on the lyrics than a lot of people do on disco music or whatever.
Kevin Barnes: Well we like to do something different because you know when you go to see a show it's so common that the band will just show up in their street clothes and just knock out the songs off the record and it's cool but we like to do something a little bit special, you know, something exceptional, that is hopefully unpredictable and that people haven't seen before. You know, with the costume changes it can get a bit much for some people but I just have a fun time doing it. It keeps it interesting for us, from like an individual perspective - it's more fun for us to bounce around, and change instruments and change costumes and stuff.
Kevin Barnes: It's fun. I mean it's interesting - I used to get bored on tour, but I think now because on the tour we put together, the show we put together, there was so much movement even though we were basically playing the same set every night, I never really got tired of the set. So it was always a lot of fun. I also think the type of music we're playing now sort of elicits more of response from the audience than previous tours we've done. It was still really fun and theatrical but it wasn't as dance-y and I think by getting people moving in an audience, you can really feed off that energy.
Kevin Barnes: Well, the last two records I did myself, like I played all the instruments myself. So then it's just a matter of finding people to go on tour.
Kevin Barnes: Oh yea, not at all. I mean that's the main benefit of being on an indie label - that you have a co-creative control and they don't say stuff like, "Oh Kevin, that record was good - make another record like that." They just allow you to do what you want.
Kevin Barnes: Not really. Like, I just try to get into a state of mind that is conducive - you know, just sort of like a stream-of-consciousness level of thinking. I don't really edit myself while I'm composing. And then afterwards just go back and then iron out what I like and what I don't like and just try to make it more concise.
Kevin Barnes: Usually, I have a majority of the record finished before he starts working on the artwork and then I make rough mixes for him so he'll listen to the recording while he's dreaming up the concepts for the album artwork. So it sort of influences his artwork that way.
Kevin Barnes: Well, it's just sort of a juxtaposition of two sort of totally different things. You have happy music and sad lyrics. It's more interesting to me than having really melodramatic, minor-sounding music and then like really serious lyrics - it's just boring, so I kind of like to combine the two just ‘cause it's more interesting for me.
Kevin Barnes: Well, I mean it's amazing. It's the only radio stations that play records like ours. You don't really get much support from commercial radio. So college radio is where it's at, and I listen to it all the time because there's such great variety. You know if you listen to regular radio stations they just have their format and they just play all music in the same genre - it's boring. But with college radio you get to listen to all sorts of stuff.
Kevin Barnes: Right now I'm listening to Four Tet.
Kevin Barnes: I think it's great that it is growing, because the indie scene to me is so important for music because financially people aren't motivated to make money. They're just making music for arts sake. I think it's very important, it's a good thing that it's growing, especially into the high schools - the way people think and the way they approach music.