Of Montreal performing in Athens, Georgia, 2005
|Origin||Athens, Georgia, United States|
Bennett Dean Lewis
Matthew Paris Dawson
Of Montreal (stylized as of Montreal) is an American indie rock band from Athens, Georgia. It was founded by frontman Kevin Barnes in 1996, named after a failed romance between Barnes and a woman "of Montreal." The band is identified as part of the Elephant 6 collective. Throughout its existence, of Montreal's musical style has evolved considerably and drawn inspiration from 1960s psychedelic pop acts.
Kevin Barnes founded "of Montreal", allegedly naming it for a failed romance with a woman from Montreal, Quebec. Barnes was the only member of the "group" prior to his relocation to Athens, Georgia. There, he met Derek Almstead (Circulatory System, M Coast, Elf Power) and Bryan Poole, who also performs as The Late B.P. Helium. Together, they recorded their debut album, Cherry Peel, and subsequent releases The Bird Who Ate the Rabbit's Flower and The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy.
After production on The Gay Parade, the band's third album, began in 1998, Poole left the band to focus on his duties with Elf Power, another Elephant Six band. Barnes then recruited James Husband and Dottie Alexander, who had been performing together as Lightning Bug vs. Firefly. Derek moved from drums to bass, and Marshmallow Coast's Andy Gonzales joined soon after. Prior to the release of The Gay Parade in 1999, of Montreal released a number of singles and a re-release of The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit's Flower.
Following the release of The Gay Parade, the band signed with Kindercore Records, and in 2001, the concept album Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse was released.
Kindercore Records would fold shortly after the release of Aldhils Arboretum, and Andy and Derek left the band. Barnes took to writing and performing their 2004 album Satanic Panic in the Attic mostly by himself. Released by Polyvinyl Records, it became one of their more successful efforts until that point. During the tour for Satanic, the Late B.P. Helium (Bryan Poole) rejoined the band. In 2003, Kevin was married to Nina Grøttland, who would also play some bass for the tour. The album marked a shift to an electronic bass, with drum machines and synthesizers featured in singles such as "Disconnect the Dots."
This style would continue to evolve into 2005's The Sunlandic Twins, which was even more of a solo effort by Barnes. Recorded in Athens, with the exception of one track recorded in Norway, it was a much more pronounced electronic album. The album became a success, mostly due to the singles "So Begins Our Alabee" and the MTV clip for "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)". The band released several collections of singles in early 2006.
Kevin Barnes recorded most of the band's 2007 release, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, by himself while living in Norway and Athens, Georgia. Barnes also released a companion CD to Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? called Icons, Abstract Thee. In 2007, Kevin Barnes performed five songs nude during a performance in Las Vegas. In Paris, they did a Take-Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.
of Montreal's next album, Skeletal Lamping, was released on October 21, 2008. It was released in ten different formats, including conventional CD and vinyl, as well as T-shirts, button sets, wall decals, tote bags, and a paper lantern, the latter formats complete with a digital download code for the album. All items for the collection were designed by The Bee With Wheels (David Barnes) and Gemini Tactics (Nina Barnes). In an essay addressing the concept behind the album's release, Kevin Barnes stated, "We feel that there's no reason to produce another object that just sits on a shelf. We only want to produce objects that have a function and that can be treasured for their singularness." In an interview with NPR, Kevin Barnes revealed that the concept of the CD may be going the way of the 8-track in favor of MP3 downloads. David Barnes joked that fans would buy the album via MP3 download and the version that comes with an amazing sandwich.
In August 2009, the band contributed a T-shirt design, which was printed and sold through the Yellow Bird Project website to raise money for the St. Judes Children's Hospital. The shirt was designed by David Barnes.
During this era, the band lent its songs many times to commercials, television programs, and films. The song "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)" can be heard on radio and television commercials (with words changed) for an advertisement for Outback Steakhouse. Similarly, their song "Every Day Feels Like Sunday" was used in television commercials for NASDAQ. "A Sentence of Sorts In Kongsvinger" was used in a Comcast commercial. "Gronlandic Edit" was used for a T-Mobile commercial which also featured the band as actors.
On October 25, 2011 of Montreal released a Cassette Box Set of all 10 full-length albums via Joyful Noise Recordings. The release was limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, and housed in a custom-built wooden box (screen-printed with original artwork from David Barnes). Each of the 10 cassettes were pressed on multi-colored tape shells and included original album art. Like their previous cassette release, MP3 download was included.
Kevin Barnes had revealed some information on the following album in an interview with Pitchfork Media. On 20 October 2011, Barnes announced that the next album was complete. In November 2011, the band released a new track titled "Wintered Debts" via the band's Soundcloud site, a track off the new album Paralytic Stalks. In January 2012, of Montreal released "Dour Percentage," the first single from the new album. Paralytic Stalks was released on February 7, 2012.
On November 12, 2012, the band created a Kickstarter page to help in the funding of a career-spanning, feature-length documentary called Song Dynasties. The film will consist of footage collected throughout of Montreal's entire career, including touring and studio sessions, as well as other musicians such as Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT. The tentative release window for Song Dynasties was announced as Spring 2013. An update regarding the documentary's progress was posted on the band's Facebook site in February.
On April 25, 2013, of Montreal posted an announcement on their Facebook page stating that a new album entitled Lousy with Sylvianbriar had been completed. The post went into detail about the album's conception, including that Barnes' writing occurred while on a "self imposed isolation experiment in San Francisco" in early 2013. He was influenced by Sylvia Plath, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and the Flying Burrito Brothers in his writing. The album was recorded with a new lineup of musicians, including Jojo Glidewell, Nicolas Dobbratz, Bennett Lewis, and Bob Parins, with Clayton Rychlik and Kevin Barnes as the only returning members. The album and subsequent tour also featured Rebecca Cash on vocals. Lousy with Sylvianbriar was released on 8 October 2013. On 10 July 2013, the band released the first single from the album, entitled "Fugitive Air." On 31 July 2013, they announced that they would be touring their new album in October and November. This tour featured the same musicians that performed on the album, instead of longtime band members such as Bryan Poole and Dottie Alexander.
By means of a Facebook post and a Kevin Barnes interview conducted by Stereogum.com, of Montreal's album Aureate Gloom was announced. The record was influenced by "the mid-to-late 1970s music scene in New York," including bands such as Talking Heads and Led Zeppelin. The album captures Barnes' emotions borne from his separation from his wife of 11 years and its aftermath. Barnes described the album as being "all over the place musically", lending to its reflection of his mindset during the time of its creation. The album was released March 3, 2015.
In August 2016, of Montreal released Innocence Reaches, which incorporated new, EDM-inspired sounds, as well as the progressive rock sounds of the previous two albums. For the tour following the album's release, bassist Davey Pierce returned to the band, replacing Bob Parins.
True to the style of most Elephant Six recording artists, Of Montreal's members have been in a variety of side projects with other bands: