For the second time in three summers, Of Montreal will be performing on the front lawn of Flying Dog Brewery, this time on Saturday, with Mothers and Old Indian filling out the bill. A few months removed from the release of “Aureate Gloom” this past March, we recently caught up with the band’s leader, Kevin Barnes, via phone to talk about the show in Frederick, how personal his latest album was to record, and how he’s currently working on two separate followups to his most recent breakup-fueled set.
First of all, congratulations on the upcoming tour, because it seems like you guys are going out for quite a while from here on out.
Yeah, we’re going to be busy until basically Thanksgiving.
You guys are coming to Frederick and I know that you were here a couple years ago. Do you remember anything about coming to Flying Dog before? Did you like it?
Oh, yeah. It was great. It was nice because I remember it was a sunny day and we were parked outside the brewery all day long. We were just kind of hanging out in the sun and checking out the beer. We had a really enjoyable day, so we’re excited to go back.
Do you have a favorite Flying Dog beer?
To be honest, I’m not much of a beer drinker, so it’s not really my area of expertise.
With this new record, I read that it was a really hard time for you personally when you recorded it. Have you come out on the other side? How are you feeling these days?
Everything was so very raw at that point. The separation from my wife was pretty new and the songs were sort of representative of that state of mind. But now things have sort of mellowed out and pieces have fallen where they were to fall. I’ve started moving forward, so I’m definitely feeling more positive.
Did you find therapy in music during that?
Oh yeah. Definitely. I think the music and creative process has been consistently really helpful in that way. That’s why I tend to write about things that other people might shy away from because it seems like maybe sharing too much. But for me, it’s important that if I need to get over certain things, I kind of need to write about them. I need to be able to get it off my chest and move forward from it. So it can be a little bit strange, a year later singing some of the songs that at the time were very powerful and important personal statements. After some time has gone by and you’ve gotten over it and resolved the issue, it feels weird sometimes to sing a song that was coming from a place of turmoil and uncertainty.
Do you think this might have been the most personal record you’ve ever done?
It’s definitely up there. Because pretty much every song was a diary entry, pulling directly from my personal life and personal experiences at that time. I wanted it to be this instant karma situation, where I would write it, I would record it and release it as quickly as possible and not second guess it and not overanalyze everything. Just let it be in the moment and encapsulate this period of my life and move forward from it and not think about it. To be honest, I haven’t gone back and listened to the record in many, many months, so I guess it served it purpose and helped me get over that.
Will it be hard to play the songs on tour, then?
Some of them, we just won’t play because they just … I don’t know. I just don’t have enough distance yet to really sing with any sort of protection. It would just be like bringing something up that maybe hasn’t healed enough, so I just have to leave some of them alone for a while. Most of them, maybe they’re universal enough that I can sing them and not feel like I’m being transformed to someplace really dark.
On a lighter note, I also read that at some point, someone called you a “21st Century analog of David Bowie.” That’s pretty high praise. I wanted to get your thoughts on that categorization.
Of course, it’s flattering and he’s someone I look up to and admire. I’ve listened to his records for many, many, many years and take a lot of inspiration from him. So it’s definitely flattering, but I don’t think it’s true because he’s a one-of-a-kind figure. So in a lot of ways, a lot of people could be described that way. A lot of artists are touched by what he did and influenced by what he did. He’s so groundbreaking and such an important cultural figure on so many levels. In a way, I feel like there’s so many of us that are his children.
Do you have anything in store for this trek that you haven’t done before live?
Yeah, it’s going to be a slightly different situation because we have slightly different personnel now. For this tour, we’re going to be a four-piece, so it will be a little bit leaner. Which I think will be cool in a way because it sort of lends itself to doing things that could be a little bit more intimate. When you have so many people on stage, and it sort of feels like a circus all the time, it’s harder to get down to the core of some things. That’s not to say it won’t be a circus — we still have three performance artists and we have a big video production and theatrical stuff and costume changes and all that stuff. So, it will still be a weird, unconventional rock and roll circus sort of thing, but at the same time, it will be slightly different from the way we’ve arranged songs in the past.
This takes you until November and kind of through the rest of the year. What do you see ahead of this tour after that? Do you have plans for another record any time soon? Another tour?
Yeah, we’re pretty deep into a new record. We’ve recorded pretty much all the songs and now we’re just adding overdubs and getting different people involved. Right now, we have some recording dates booked in late September to try and get things a little more finished. Our goal is to finish everything by the end of the year. I kind of have two records going on right now. The one record is almost done, and the other record is kind of starting … no, it’s really about halfway through (laughs). There’s a lot going on.