(often stylized as of Montreal
) is an American rock band from Athens, Georgia. It was founded by frontman Kevin Barnes in 1996, named after a failed romance with a woman "of Montreal." The band is one of the bands of the Elephant 6 collective. Throughout its existence, of Montreal's musical style has evolved from vaudeville and Beatles-influenced psychedelic twee pop to a mixture of electronica, funk, glam, and afrobeat music influenced by Prince and David Bowie.Early yearsKevin Barnes founded of Montreal, allegedly naming it for a failed romance with a woman from Montreal, Québec. 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, who released a number of singles and compilations. In 2001, the concept album Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse
was released, again featuring contributions from across the Elephant Six spectrum.In 2002, Aldhils Arboretum
was released. This album marks the beginning of the change in of Montreal's sound, with more danceable rhythms than before, particularly on the album's closer, "Death Dance Of The Omipapas and Sons For You". A successful tour ensued, including the band's first trip to the UK, along with a tour-only EP.
Kindercore Records would fold shortly after the release of 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 to 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. The album reached number one on Emusic's Most Downloaded Albums Chart. The video for the album's second single, "An Eluardian Instance", was directed by Jesse Ewles.In August 2009, the band contributed a t-shirt design, which was printed and is currently being sold through the Yellow Bird Project website to raise money for the St. Judes Children's Hospital. The shirt was design by David Barnes.In recent years, the band has 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.
Polyvinyl and Joyful Noise Recordings (2010–present)
Teaming up with Grammy-nominated producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, Fiona Apple), of Montreal's mastermind Kevin Barnes traveled to famed Ocean Way Recording (Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra) to record False Priest
.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 hinted on Twitter that of Montreal's next studio album would be titled "Paralytic Stalks". Kevin Barnes had revealed some information on the new album in an interview with Pitchfork Media. On 20 October 2011 Barnes announced that the new 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. The picture and caption included in the post indicated that the film is now in the post-production stage.On April 25, 2013, of Montreal posted an announcement on their Facebook page stating that their 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. Lousy with Sylvianbriar
is scheduled to be 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.
The group has a style that is typical of many Elephant 6 bands due to its interest in combining musical experimentation and the basic tenets of pop, such as catchy melodies and sing-along choruses. The band's style has been influenced by not only more conventional indie pop and psychedelic music, but also by vaudeville and music hall on their earlier releases and by afrobeat, funk, and krautrock in their more recent releases.The band's style has been known to change between albums. At first, the band embraced a more simple, quirky, lo-fi indie pop sound, which occasionally bordered on twee pop. Later the band moved to a fuller sound, as seen on the concept albums The Gay Parade
and its follow-up, Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse
. These albums contain more narrative lyrics, and often imitating the style of old 1950s radio plays.2004's Satanic Panic in the Attic
marked the result of an evolving change in style. The sound shifted to something more electronic, although at this point still with more standard instrumentation, and prominent guitars on most tracks, with more traditional pop and rock structures, to be further advanced in later albums and new songs. In their most recent releases and concerts, the band has fully embraced a sort of techno-pop glam image, with little of their previous incarnations surfacing.
True to the style of most Elephant Six recording artists, Of Montreal's members have been in a variety of side project with other bands:
- Kevin Barnes played keyboard for "The Difference in the Shades" on the Bright Eyes' album Letting Off the Happiness.
- Kevin Barnes, Nina Barnes, and David Barnes did a comedy tour called "A Pollinaire Rave".
- The band performed as the backing band for Marshmallow Coast on record and on tour.
- Dottie Alexander released the song "The You I Created" on the Kindercore singles club, under the pseudonym My First Keyboard. Of Montreal acted as her backing band.
- Bryan Poole has a solo career as the Late B.P. Helium.
- Davey Pierce and Travis Adams from the now-defunct emo band My Hotel Year, created the band Inkwell in 2004.
- James Huggins released A Parallax I under the name "James Husband" which featured a cover of The Beatles' "We Can Work it Out".
- Ahmed Gallab has a solo career as post-rock jazz Sinkane, and has also drummed for Born Ruffians and Caribou. He currently plays with Yeasayer.
- Derek Almstead has worked with many artists as a musician and engineer including his collaboration with Andy Gonzales M Coast, Elf Power, and Circulatory System.
- The group worked with artist Janelle Monáe on a track called "Make The Bus" in her 2010 LP The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III).
- Kevin produced Solange Knowles latest album.
- K Ishibashi has a solo career as Kishi Bashi and toured as a supporting act with Sondre Lerche in 2011.